Today's Free Picks for
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Posted at 9:15 AM EST and odds are subject to change.
New Mexico State +17½ @ UTEP
Sun Bowl - El Paso, TX
9:00 PM EST. We backed New Mexico State in Week 1 at Minnesota as a 36-point underdog, and we ripped up that ticket. There is no sugar-coating a 38-0 loss, that was just as ugly as the final score would have you believe. However, we are going to use that lopsided result to our advantage, as we are coming right back on the Aggies here taking a big step down in competition.
UTEP is 0-2, yet the market has taken a stand in this game, as this line has moved from its open of 14 to the price you see now. The Miners were blown out by Oklahoma, no shame in that, but there might be cause for some concern after the Miners gave up over 250 yards on the ground. Prior to getting whacked by the Sooners, UTEP was blasted by North Texas 31-13. The Miners were a small home favorite in that Week 0 matchup.
Asking a group of kids who have been blown out in two straight weeks to cover a significant number such as this is a little much. We understand that the Miners’ losses might look better on paper after the Aggies completed just four passes and less than 100 yards of total offense last week, but that’s not enough to justify this level of disrespect of Jerry Kill's side. The last time UTEP was favored by this much was way back in 2016 when they were spotting -18 to Houston Baptist. We would probably have to go back 15 years to see them favored by this much over an FBS side.
Big favorites mean small margin for error and therefore need to check a lot of boxes. We naturally want to back good teams and fade bad ones, but the price of admission is often high. In order to lay the really big number, you had better make sure several factors line up favorably:
1. History in the role. We want to lay points with top teams, programs and coaches that are accustomed to being big favorites and have proven they can cover big numbers in the past. It often doesn't go well for the nouveau riche. UTEP is not accustomed to spotting a big number. In fact, they are often taking back two or three TD’s not spotting them.
2. Scoring profile. When spotting a big price, one wants a team with an explosive offense that can score quickly, and also one that scores on defense and special teams. We'll often need the help of some cheap scores to get over a huge number, and we certainly don't want the clock grinding away until after we're on top of it. UTEP does not fit this profile.
3. Opponent profile. The weaker the favorite, the better, of course, but beyond that generality, we want to fade favorites that won't get back over the number once the underdog gets under it. This underdog will play hard for 60 minutes and will absolutely be insulted by this number. We are also mindful of the total in this game, which is just 46. A low total and an inflated point spread don’t jive. If the Aggies get whacked and fail to cover, so be it, but this has to be one of the better value plays on the board today.
New Mexico State +17½ -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)