Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:30 AM EST.
7:30 PM EST. The Bulls are a popular favorite to win The American Athletic Conference in 2017. In addition, some pundits have been bold enough to pencil the Bulls into a New Year's Six Bowl Appearance as the Group of Five Champion Qualifier. These superlatives create a glorified public perception of this program. Don’t get us wrong, as the Bulls are indeed a quality team (offensively) but once again we’re after inflated points and trust we’re getting some here.
The Bulls enter at 3-0, which also has market influence. There is no question that USF has some exceptional talent in its ranks, most notably perhaps one of the game's best players overall in quarterback Quinton Flowers. So far, Flowers has been nothing short of spectacular in his first three outings in 2017. The question mark surrounding this team has never been its offensive proficiencies but rather its defensive proficiencies. Temple utilized this very angle to defeat the Bulls in Philadelphia in 2016 when the Owls hung 46 points on USF en route to a 16-point victory. Just like this year, USF was considered the best team in the American Athletic Conference in 2016 but Temple took the conference hardware. We have yet to see USF in a true high-profile game this year, unless you consider USF steamrolling an Illinois team that beat up on an atypical Western Kentucky as such a feat.
Meanwhile, Temple was televised getting beat down by the Fighting Irish on opening weekend and that has left a lasting impression. Furthermore, despite an impressive 47-23 victory in which USF put up video-game like numbers in total yardage against Illinois when they eclipsed the 680 mark, there are some other statistics worth focusing on. First, the Oskie-Wow-Wows were able to generate 354 yards. This further reinforces that USF is once again living and dying by its offensive exploits. Additionally, Illinois committed three turnovers which is a big no-no against a team of South Florida’s potency. The Illini were penalized 15 times for 138 yards but it is USF that is one of the most penalized teams in America. In this contest, the Bulls were penalized 16 times for 140 yards. On the year, the Bulls average 13 penalties per game. In most outings, such a lack of discipline could be catastrophic. However, Illinois miscues and mistakes fed perfectly into South Florida’s hands.
Temple will not be so inclined to grant such clemency. Though the Owls have looked far weaker compared to its 2016 edition, Temple has only been penalized 6.5 times per game. Furthermore, Temple has only committed one turnover all year and that includes the aforementioned trip to South Bend. Temple also has the blueprint to beat or compete against this familiar team. The revenge angle is one that some will employ in this contest but such a philosophy is often a perilous proposition. In its first high-profile game of the season against Notre Dame, Temple was whacked but followed that up with consecutive victories over Villanova and UMass. Those two victories obviously hold no weight in this market but it did give the Owls an opportunity to clean up some things and also served as a confidence builder coming into this one. Getting whacked again is not a trait of this program. In fact, since 2014, Temple has just one loss by more than the points being offered here. This is a program built to compete.
We are not suggesting that Temple will pull off an upset. However, the Owls can certainly hang around and come in under this number. After all, USF had trouble putting away Stony Brook in Tampa as a 35-point home choice. The final score was 31-17 but USF didn’t pull away until the last two minutes. Very simply, this is a team that cannot be trusted spotting this kind of lumber to Temple and as the #21 ranked team in the country, the premium to back them is too steep.
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Temple +19½ -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)