College Football Betting: Rice at Army

College Football Betting:  Rice at Army

One of the best handicapping concepts in any sport is to ‘bet against recency’. What this means is that a team off a big win is often overvalued by the betting public while a team off a one sided loss is often undervalued. Throw in the fact that teams tend to experience letdown and ‘bounce back’ situations and you’ve got the makings of a very cohesive handicapping strategy. It looks like this game offers a ‘bet against recency’ double whammy. Army is expecting big things this year after opening the season with a 28-13 road win at Temple. The Black Knights were +14 point underdogs in this game against a credible Temple team that finished last season with a 10-4 record. Army could use some excitement–they were a woeful 2-10 last year with their only wins coming against Eastern Michigan (1-11 last year) and FCS entrant Bucknell (4-7 LY).

Rice looks to be heading in the wrong direction. The Owls were 10-4 in 2013, 8-5 in 2014 and 5-7 in 2015. Not much was expected of them heading into their opening game at Western Kentucky and that’s exactly what they delivered, getting thumped 46-14 as +19.5 point underdogs. They looked awful in every phase of the game with only 288 yards of total offense and allowing the Hilltoppers to roll up 649 yards to total offense including 552 yards passing. Rice senior quarterback Tyler Stehling looked as if someone was holding his family hostage threatening to kill them if he threw downfield. That’s a marked–and significant–contrast to his predecessor, Driphus Jackson, who threw the ball all over the place.

Army’s win was no fluke as they rushed for 329 yards and held Temple to 251 yards of total offense forcing three turnovers. The problem is that as impressive as the Black Knights were a week ago this price is getting a bit ahead of where the Army football team is at. Last year, Rice won 38-31 at home (pushing as a -7 chalk). In 2014, they won 41-21 on the road easily covering as a -2.5 point dog. Those two games are significant for another reason–the Army option won’t hold any tactical surprises. Army is on a 3-6 ATS run as a favorite (0-3 as a home favorite last year) and a 4-7 SU/ATS run at home.

Rice is a team that I’ll be looking to go against down the road. But they’re coming off an ugly loss and this is a winnable game against an opponent they know well. Army is 7-18 SU over the last three years and last week’s win might still be fresh in their minds when their focus should be on a team that was embarrassed last week and wants some redemption.