College Football Betting for September 24, 2016

Busy day of college football action on Saturday. Our ‘best bet’ is a late start game out West:



This is the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams but Utah State has been tangentially involved in a strange story this week. The former basketball coach of a satellite campus of Utah State was arrested after phoning in a bomb threat at an elementary school. 35 year old Christopher Dewitt Craig was at one point the basketball coach at Utah State University Eastern in Price, Utah. It’s not really apparent what derailed his basketball coaching career but things have really gone South for Craig due to unspecified ‘mental health issues’. That’s a nice way of saying he’s nuts. He looks like a random Utah guy but is reportedly convinced that he’s a ‘Jihadist’. When arrested for his most recent brush with the law he said that his name was ‘Mohammed, then Patience’. He’s always sending email missives to the media with some agenda but there’s little cohesion. For example, he sent emails to the media prior to the bomb threat saying that it was part of a ‘campaign against black people who challenge racism’. Three years ago, he was arrested in Arizona on the campus of Eastern Arizona University after he entered a classroom brandishing a Bible and asking the instructor whether he was Mormon. He then went to another campus building where he continued to rant against Mormons and Catholics. So he’s apparently a racist jihadist that carries a Bible. Prior to his classroom run-in he was sighted wearing a towel around his head and sunglasses driving around the ski resort town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado filming himself. Pro tip–if you live in Steamboat Springs you are *not* a jihadist.

Utah State is an interesting football program. They dropped to 6-7 last year after three consecutive winning seasons. The prevailing opinion is that 2015 was just a ‘rough patch’ but those of us who pay closer attention to the Aggies’ program think otherwise. Matt Wells is a good head coach but the reversal of fortunes is due to circumstances beyond his control. First of all, he’s replacing both his offensive and defensive coordinators this year. He’s also in his first year without longtime quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Keeton was hampered by injuries in 2015 and that didn’t help the Aggies’ fortunes. His former backup Darell Garretson transferred to Oregon State and sat out last season. The starting quarterback is now Kent Myers, a talented enough player who suffers from a lack of ‘big play talent’ around him. USU does have some good news–running back Devante Mays will play against Air Force after being listed as ‘questionable’ all week.

Coach Wells’ problem is systemic and isn’t going to go away anytime soon. It’s tough attracting top flight skill position athletes to Logan, Utah. It’s become even more difficult with two very good programs right down Interstate 15 (Utah and BYU) and another a few hours to the Northwest (Boise State). Salt Lake City is a legitimate metropolitan area and an easier sell to prospects. Logan, on the other hand, is a beautiful and mountainous area but very remote even by Utah standards. As it relates to this game, a bigger problem could be the defense. The offense returns 10 starters but the defense returns only 3. It doesn’t look bad at this point ranked in the 40’s nationally in both total defense and rushing defense. That has more to do with scheduling–the Aggies allowed 45 points to USC but have played Weber State and Arkansas State at home in their other two games.

That’s going to be a problem against Air Force–a veteran laden team that might have more talent running their option than at any time in recent memory. They’ve even got a legit passing attack which doesn’t happen often. Nate Romine is a passing and rushing threat, a senior running back in Jacobi Owens vying for his third straight 1000 yard rushing season and a senior wide receiver named Jalen Robinette that many observers think has the talent to play on Sundays. Most of the Air Force starters are seniors and, more importantly, talented seniors. To be fair, the Falcons have played a weak schedule thus far (Abilene Christian and Georgia State) but having the #1 rushing offense in the country still counts for something.

Air Force won’t have a problem with a big component of the Utah State home field advantage. In fact, the 4,500 feet above sea level altitude of Logan won’t seem daunting compared to 6,000+ feet Colorado Springs. Air Force rushed for 309 yards in last year’s home victory over Utah State. The Falcons are better this year and the Aggies aren’t. Air Force wins by double digits.


About the Author: Jim Murphy

For more than 25 years, Jim Murphy has written extensively on sports betting as well as handicapping theory and practice. Jim Murphy has been quoted in media from the Wall Street Journal to REASON Magazine. Murphy worked as a radio and podcasting host broadcasting to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice. Murphy is an odds making consultant for sports and 'non-sport novelty bets' focused on the entertainment business, politics, technology, financial markets and more.