In line with the flip-flopped nature of this college-affiliated football season in Florida, each member of the state’s so-called Big Three enter this week as underdogs while the other three state schools playing this week open as solid favorites.
Then again, FIU (6-2), UCF (8-0) and Florida Atlantic (6-3) all are bowl eligible. So is South Florida (8-1), which is on its bye week. Only the Hurricanes (8-0) have attained that status among the Big Three. Florida and Florida State, each 3-5, are hoping.
Of course, it’s the Hurricanes in the nation’s premier game of the week, 60 minutes against Notre Dame (8-1) at Hard Rock Stadium Saturday night. According to the sports book consensus at VegasInsider.com, the UM opened a 3.5-point underdog and was a three-point underdog by Monday afternoon. The Over/Under for total points is 57, a number reached in five Notre Dame games but only one Hurricanes’ game.
▪ Outdefending Texas-San Antonio after outscoring Marshall as an underdog each of the last two weeks earned FIU some money love hosting Old Dominion (3-6). The Panthers opened an eight-point favorite and were up to 9.5 points by Monday evening over an Old Dominion team that broke a six-game losing streak by edging hapless Charlotte 6-0. For anybody brave enough to touch the total in a game involving the unpredictable Panthers (21.5 points per game), the Over/Under is 48.
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▪ Books and bettors clearly don’t believe Florida Atlantic will get clamped by a potential trap game. A week before the Shula Bowl showdown with FIU that could decide Conference USA’s East Division, the Owls opened at 5.5-point favorites at Louisiana Tech (4-5) and were up to 6.5 points by Monday night.
Despite Tech’s record, there’s danger there -- the Bulldogs three CUSA losses are by a total of nine points and they lost by one to South Carolina. The Over/Under is 67.5, so there’s belief in FAU, the conference’s highest scoring team led by running back Devin Singletary’s 139.6 rushing yards per game.
▪ UCF’s averaging a national best 48.5 points per game and fifth best 540.4 yards (5th in the nation) leads to a funny combination of numbers -- 37-point home favorites over UConn, but with only a 61.5 Over/Under that’s already bet up to 63. UConn lost 37-20 to South Florida last week.
▪ Florida State opened 17.5-point underdogs at Clemson (8-1) and their defense is showing signs of buckling under the weight of FSU’s ponderously undproductive offense. FSU’s given up 31, 35 and 24 the last three weeks, while Clemson just put up 38 on North Carolina State. Which is why, though the line’s down to 16, the really interesting number might be the 46.5 Over/Under.
▪ The sportsbooks clearly were disgusted by the 45-16 drubbing by Missouri that dropped Florida to 3-5, dismissing the Gators as nine-point underdogs at South Carolina (6-3). Bettors apparently find it hard to believe Florida’s in full free fall, quickly betting that line up to 7.5 points. Unlike many current college football games, you can channel surf without missing a score or four, so the Over/Under sits at 45.