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Memphis Tigers vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Odds - Prediction

Memphis Tigers (8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS)
Boca Raton Bowl
Date/Time: Tuesday, December 20, 2016, 7:00 PM EST
Where: FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.
TV: ESPN, DirecTV 206
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: MEM +4.5/WKU -4.5
Over/Under Total: 79

The Memphis Tigers can serve as mentors to guide the way for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers when the two schools meet in the Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Football Stadium on December 20th on ESPN. Memphis can show the Hilltoppers program how to move on after a successful coach moves on to take a job at a Power 5 school.

Memphis is finishing up their first season with a new coaching staff under Mike Norvell, after Justin Fuente left for Virginia Tech late last season. Western Kentucky will be facing life without their head coach Jeff Brohm, who left the program on December 5th to take the Purdue job leaving defensive coordinator Nick Holt to serve as the interim head coach for the bowl game.

Brohm was picked to lead the Boilermakers after a successful three-year run at Western Kentucky that has ended in three straight bowl appearances. Another reason may be the fact that the Hilltoppers under Brohm have always put up scoring numbers like its Techmo Bowl, including this year when they finished second in FBS with a 45.1 points per game average. Western Kentucky also ended the year with seven straight victories, scoring a ridiculous 52.1 points per game during the streak.

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Although Memphis is no stranger to scoring points on offense either. The Tigers “only” score 39.5 points a game and will come into the Boca Raton Bowl fresh off its best game of the season, a 48-44 upset of then 20th-ranked Houston in the season finale just before Cougars coach Tom Herman left town for Austin. But the Tigers defense has struggled this year against prolific offenses, which is one reason why they may have their hands full with the Hilltoppers in the bowl game and why oddsmakers have opened the total for this game at a high number of 79.

Western Kentucky opened the game as 5-point favorites and even though a large majority of the money so far is coming in on the Hilltoppers, the point spread has actually dropped at a few sportsbooks and can be found at minus -4.5.

Both of the QB’s in this game will turn heads with their statistics. The Tigers Riley Ferguson has quietly had almost as strong a year as last year’s QB and high NFL draft pick Paxton Lynch, throwing for 3,326 yards and 00 TDs. But Western Kentucky’s Mike White has thrown for over 4,027 yards and 34 TDs and its not just a bunch of bubble screens either, as he averages 10.43 yards per completion. But perhaps the biggest difference could be the fact that White is not the only threat in the Hilltoppers attack, as running back Anthony Wales rushed for 1,376 yards and 24 touchdowns to provide the run-pass balance every offense strives to achieve.

As far as betting trends go, Memphis has a perfect 6-0 ATS record against CUSA teams and are 18-7-1 ATS in non-conference games over the years. However, they have struggled in neutral site games (1-4 ATS in L5) and have struggled in bowl games with a 1-4 ATS record in December. Despite the fact that Western Kentucky has been a “hot” wager of late (5-1 ATS in L6 this season), their history of struggling to cover the spread in non-conference games is well documented 0-4 ATS.

Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Memphis probably got into this bowl game due to their upset of Houston in the finale. But let’s not forget that Houston had a tendency to play hot and cold all year and speculation that Herman was leaving for the Texas job had to have caused the Cougars players to be distracted all week going into the game. The Tigers lost to Navy, Tulsa, Ole Miss and South Florida, so they have struggled against quality teams all season long. But … and it’s a big but, you just can never tell how a team whose head coach has already left town for greener pastures is going to play. In my mind the Hilltoppers are easily the better team, but motivation for some of the players now that Brohm has left town and some of the current assistants may soon join him could be at an all-time low. It may take them most of the game to pull it off, but I still think Western Kentucky will do it eventually. I’m taking Western Kentucky minus the 4.5 points.

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NCAA Football Week 4 Betting Previews

Here are some additional game previews from this week's college football card.

Free Picks

Editor's Picks - Each weekend our very own in-house All-American Editor makes his NCAA point spread predictions in an attempt to force fumbles, sack and intercept your bookie!

Expert College Football Picks - Free premium college foots plays against the spread from expert handicappers from around the web from week 1 through the National Championship.

Underdog of the Week Pick - We sort through it all and find out which University is getting "too many points" this week. If there was a Heisman Trophy for picking underdogs, we'd be a frontrunner. Expect a 57%+ winning percentage with these picks as we've got a keen ear for loud barking dogs.

Line Movement - NCAA football lines open early in the week and often times move up or down based on wagering activity, injuries to key players and weather. We decipher whether it's square or wiseguy action and predict the point spread winner based on value.

College Football Consensus Picks - We assess the public perception each week and let them pick the winners for us as we fade their selections which provides us with many trips into our bookies endzone.

Computer Picks - We enter them into the computer and the machine makes it's picks. This is a great guide especially when betting totals! These are available after the first few weeks of the season.

Trends - Despite what you have been told or read on tout sites, the trend ain't your friend. We however turn the tables and fade the almighty trend for what should be some great profits over time.

2017/2018 College Football Predictions - Bob gives his picks to win each major conference. At the end, he gives his prediction on who thinks will win the 2018 National Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8th.

2017 Heisman Trophy Predictions - USC QB Sam Darnold is a heavy pre-season favorite to win college football's most coveted award, but Jay isn't buying it. In fact, he's passing up the top (3) favored players in favor of a QB who he's confident will be NCAA football's best player in 2017.

2017-2018 College Football Championship Predictions - NCAA football experts have the Alabama Crimson Tide running away with the National Championship this season and who can blame them? Roll Tide is LOADED! It never happens that easy though. The USC Trojans (+825), Florida St. Seminoles (+850) and Ohio St. Buckckeyes (+875) all have a legit shot. Oddsmakers have Oklahoma (+1300) on the bubble and everybody looking from the outside in at 20/1 or higher. Jay gives his pick to win it all along with how his top 15 rankings for season's end. Get your bets in early before your favorite team's line drops!

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Heisman Trophy Betting Odds - USC QB Sam Darnold starts the season off as a heavy favorite at +350 odds. Sooners QB Baker Mayfield is second on the list at +700 but can he keep his nose clean? Louisville QB Lamar Jackson should dominate this season but will Louisville be taken seriously? Oregon Ducks RB Royce Freeman is worth a pop at 60/1 if he gets the carries. Bama WR Calvin Ridley brings experience and big-time playmaking ability and will be featured on National TV a bunch, giving him a legit darkhorse shot. But will they throw the ball enough with a QB who likes to run? Missing from this year's list of odds is a defensive player.

Odds to Win the 2017 College Football Championship - The Alabama Crimson Tide are heavy favorites to win the National Championship this year at 5/2 followed by Ohio St. at 13/5, USC at 7/1 and FSU at 17/2. Things drop off a bit with the Oklahoma Sooners coming in at 12/1, Auburn Tigers at 14/1 and Michigan Wolverines at 16/1. Check out your favorite school's odds here!

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