The ESPN college football schedule and bowl picks against the spread kicks off Thursday with Army vs. SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl. Southern Methodist is -7 -115 at most sportsbooks with a total of 52.
Army enters 6-6 straight up, 5-6 against the spread having gone over 8-3 this season. SMU is 7-6 outright and 6-7 to the number.
The Black Knights are perceived to be the much better running team but that’s for those who confuse the accuracy of ratings vs. rankings. In reality, Army gets 4.5 yards per rush to defenses that permit 4.5, 7.5 yards per pass to 7.2, but just 5.0 yards per play to teams that normally allow 5.6, a number that includes special teams.
On defense, Army allows 4.3 yards per rush to squads that normally accumulate 4.2, a generous 7.8 yards per pass to 7.1 and 5.7 yards per play to 5.4.
Southern Methodist rushes for 4.8 yards per carry to defenses that allow an average of 4.4, 7.4 passing yards per attempt to 7.3, getting a nice margin of 6.3 yards per play against foes that are permitting an average of just 5.8.
Their numbers are quite accomplished on defense permitting 3.7 yards per rush versus teams normally getting 4.4, 6.8 yards per pass to 7.3 and a stingy 5.1 yards per pass against teams that usually get 5.8.
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Spread betting trends (all records are against the spread): Army is 6-1 as road underdogs, yet 7-18 as an underdog of 3.5-10.0, 2-8 to teams with a winning record. SMU is 4-13 as favorites, 0-6 after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Over/under trends: Army has gone under 7-0 following a double-digit loss at home. SMU has gone over 10-2 after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.