It might not be college football for FBS, but we’ve got a game tomorrow and our man, Ben Rasa takes a look at his favorite college football betting picks for the first CFB game of the season between Austin Peay and Central Arkansas.
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College Football Betting Picks
Austin Peay vs Central Arkansas
Spread: Central Arkansas -5, O/U 45.5
Time: 9 PM EST ESPN
It is certainly not what we expected for College Football, but it is that time of the year to officially kick off the season. Normally we would be looking forward to some big-time non-conference games with the blue bloods of the sports, but like all leagues NCAA Football is a mess due to the pandemic. Many schools have chosen not to play, while others are going to attempt to get a season completed.
We get the season started in the FCS ranks with a matchup between Central Arkansas and Austin Peay from a neutral site in Montgomery, Alabama. Both teams made the FCS playoffs last season and return some key pieces to try and make the 2020 campaign another successful one. Vegas has Central Arkansas as the favorite in this spot and the spread has bounced around from 3.5 to 6 at various spots. Currently (as of Friday Night) at most books we have Central Arkansas as a 5 to 6 point favorite, and we will have to see how this spread moves as kickoff approaches.
First up we have Central Arkansas Bears out of the Southland Conference who come in off a successful 9-4 2019 season. They are led by Quarterback Breylin Smith who threw 32 TD’s thru the air and will be tasked with carrying this offense. In college its more common to see a run heavy team employ an option type offense, but Central Arkansas is just the opposite. They were dreadful all year on the ground, and I do not see any reason that will change in this upcoming season. That means Smith and his two top end WR’s who both return on the outside will have to be busy for them to grab this win.
Defensively the Bears return 9 starters from last year including an All American cornerback in Robert Rochell. That experience should help them improve on an average at best 2019 season on the defensive side of the ball. Clearly the strength of this team is on the offensive side with the passing game, so all the defense really needs to do is limit the big plays and give the offense opportunities to win games.
The Governors also had an impressive 2019 season where they reached the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs before losing to Montana State. Their offseason has been a little more chaotic with some COVID infections and a major shakeup as head coach Mark Hudspeth resigned. Its anyone’s guess how that will affect the team and with all the unknowns everyone faces this year that is another variable to try and factor in. Austin Peay does get good news under center as Jeremiah Oatsvall returns after suffering an injury early last season against this same Central Arkansas team. Before getting hurt we saw real dual threat ability from Oatsvall during the previous 2018 season and him returning to form is a major boost to this squad.
Unlike Central Arkansas we have a strong defensive unit here for Austin Peay and that should remain this season. The Governors only allowed just north of 100 yards on the ground and their scoring defense only allowed an impressive 20.7 PPG. I would be stunned if UCA had any success running the ball against this front, but the chess match on the outside is the one to watch. If Peay can limit the big plays they will have the advantage in this game, but that is a tough ask against this passing attack.
Before we get into the side that I am backing it is important to note the weather could play a factor here. The hurricane has been causing major damage in the Texas & Louisiana area so its not surprising that Alabama could also be affected. Right now, I see the forecast calling for possibly some precipitation, but nothing that looks like a serious problem. That of course could change, and if it does it will really be tough for Central Arkansas to run the offense, they are accustomed to. Add in that they cannot run the ball and it is a recipe for disaster for them to open the season.
Since I do not see that being the case I lean with Central Arkansas in this spot and am willing to lay the five points. The strength of Austin Peay’s defense is straight up the middle, while UCA wants to attack on the outside with their big play receivers. This should allow them to have the advantage over a strong unit and if the pass protection holds up, I would expect them to be successful on offense. Defensively they will be better this year and I am not completely sold on Peays offense despite getting their QB back. Add in the uncertainty with the head coaching change and its another unknown that Austin Peay will be dealing with.
College Football Betting Pick: Central Arkansas -5
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