Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:15 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Jacksonville St. +110 over UTEP (Texas-El Paso)
Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium – Jacksonville, AL
Streaming: CBS Sports Network (CBSSN)
5:30 PM EST. We could break down the X’s and O’s to tell you why Jacksonville State is the better play, but we are in the business of finding value. As contrarian bettors by nature, we weigh the market’s evaluation of both sides to dig deeper. Depending on where one shopped around, Jacksonville St were as much as a two-point choice when this line first opened at the end of June. Since then, the market has poured in heavily on the Miners and we now find UTEP spotting a porkchop to the hosts. The favorite jumping the fence to an underdog bodes tremendous equity and it is something we’re acutely aware of. However, there is more to it than that, as there are several ingredients which make the Gamecocks a juicy play with the enhanced value.
Jacksonville State will be playing their first game at the FBS level, as they make the jump from the Atlantic Sun Conference in the FCS to the patchwork Conference USA. which like many other leagues in the FBS has been dramatically reshaped thanks to the Wild West that is conference realignment. However, the Gamecocks as a program are no stranger to playing and competing against FBS opponents with a much bigger pedigree than UTEP. Nevertheless, the Gamecocks have been dismissed by the market in this contest as it would appear implausible that a team who has never been a FBS side would spot points to a mid-major FBS side like UTEP. Given the market’s reaction to the initial asking price in this contest, one could surmise that the Miners may look like a steal here, as many are keen to characterize the Miners as the superior side. We would argue the opposite. Despite all of the FBS-constituent bias, the line strongly suggest that UTEP backers approach with a degree of circumspection.
In the opening week of 2022, James Madison University arrived on the FBS scene as a home favorite spotting a few more points to Middle Tennessee State than JSU to UTEP did at the open of this contest. Similarly, the market was infatuated with Middle Tennessee State, the resident FBS side and gobbled up the points accordingly, where they closed as a 4½-point pup at kick-off. The Dukes would carry on to win the game 44-7. A similar scenario can unfold here. Jacksonville State is no slouchy FCS side by any means, they finished 9-2 in 2022 under the first year of storied Head Coach Rich Rodriguez and Offensive Coordinator Rod Smith who put together a rushing attack that compiled nearly 3,000 yards on the ground. The Gamecocks return four offensive linemen and leading rusher Anwar Lewis that spearheaded this attack, along with incoming ULM transfer and stand-out running back Malik Jackson.
Again, we could break down the rosters and schematics, but the point we are trying to make is that Jacksonville State will pick up where it left off and as a home dog, approach this game with a chip on their shoulder. UTEP, meanwhile, with a tenured coach in Dana Dimel and a returning 2,000-yard passer in Garvin Hardison went 5-7 in 2022. We could file UTEP under the false favorite archetype but we rather stick to the point that because of market bias towards Jacksonville State as a former FCS team, we are getting the superior side at a bargain. J-State going big.
Jacksonville St. +110 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.20)