Middle Tennessee State at Florida Atlantic
Saturday, 4 pm PT
CRIS Opener: Florida Atlantic -1.5 O/U 51
CRIS Current: Florida Atlantic -3 O/U 58.5
Four games and four very easy "unders" for Middle Tennessee State who for a third straight game except to be without the services of quarterback Brent Stockstill. The Blue Raiders have played a weird schedule with even weirder results. In Week 1, Vanderbilt was able to control tempo and grind out a low scoring 28-6 win. In Week 2, with Stockstill under center, MTSU traveled to Syracuse in what projected to be a high scoring affair (total closed 72). Instead, the Blue Raiders purposely slowed down the pace of the game and came away with a 30-23 win. Week 3 they stood little chance as Stockstill was ruled out and Vanderbilt-esque Minnesota put the clamps down en route to a 34-3 victory. And finally last week, a game in which I felt set up well for a bet on the "over", never had a chance as MTSU and Bowling Green scored only six points combined in a very sloppy second half after 31 points in the first half. The Blue Raiders accumulated 533 yards of total offense but only 24 points thanks to three turnovers. Overall, MTSU has played two "dead nuts" under teams in Vanderbilt and Minnesota, been without the best quarterback in school history, and coughed the ball up nine times for an overall turnover margin of -7. Those aren't the type of attributes that generally lead to games going over the total.
But this week could change. Backup quarterback John Urzua now has two starts under his belt and made big strides last week when he hit on 75% of his passes for 290 yards (9.1 ypa). He still made a few mistakes but should be fine against a questionable Florida Atlantic pass defense. The Owls' season-long numbers look very good thanks to games against Navy and Bethune-Cookman. Last week, Buffalo used two quarterbacks and posted a season-best 254 yards through the air.
For FAU, the transition to Lane Kiffin hasn't been smooth but that was to be expected. The schedule has been tough with a brutal matchup vs. Navy in Week 1 and road trips to Wisconsin and Buffalo. Still, even without an established starter at quarterback, the Owls have managed over 6 yards per play. And pace-wise they are playing at an above average clip (one snap every 21 seconds).
Oddsmakers really adjusted MTSU hard due to its results (0-4 O/U) and Stockstill's absence as this total opened 51. It's since been bet up to 58.5 and could very well climb higher. Given the unique circumstances for both squads with injuries and opponents, I feel this game has the potential to buck that trend and play more offensive friendly.