Hawaii Warriors (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. San Jose State Spartans (2-4 SU, 4-2 ATS), 9:00 p.m. EST, College Football Week 7, Friday, October 14, 2011, Spartan Stadium, San Jose, California, TV: ESPN
by Scotty L, NCAA Football Handicapper Predictem.com
Point Spread: HI -7/SJSU +7
San Jose State hosts the Warriors of Hawaii on Friday night at Spartan Stadium. This is a pivotal WAC game, with the winner of this contest gaining some early foothold in the conference standings. Last season, Hawaii blew out the Spartans 41-7. Perhaps San Jose State can get closer to the form of the 2 years prior to that game-a close loss in ’09 and a win in ’08.
There are good signs coming out of San Jose, though admittedly they could only improve following the disastrous 2 seasons of ’09 and ’10, where the Spartans went 3-22. They are already 2-4 this year. An October 1 win over Colorado State was the first Division I team other than New Mexico State to lose to San Jose since 2008. It has been slim pickings indeed.
At the same time, we are not necessarily gauging the Spartans as a program, but rather a betting option. In that regard, they merit consideration, going 4-2 ATS this season. They covered against BYU on Saturday and won 2 straight before that. They are far from a good team, but when watching them, you can sense them breaking out of their mold, which could make them a good-value pick in certain spots this year.
And let’s face it-this is not one of the better Hawaii teams to come down the pike in recent years. As usual, their offense is high-flying, but defensively, they have a lot of issues-allowing an average of 35 points in 3 road games this season. 3rd-year starting senior QB Bryant Moniz’ stats are shimmering-averaging 300 yards passing in 5 games with 15 touchdowns against only 1 pick.
Their run game is half-decent, with Joey Iosefa and Sterling Jackson getting most of the carries, in addition to the active legs of Moniz. Their best playmaker is WR Royce Pollard (33-550-6), with 5 other pass catchers already in double-digits in receptions. This is definitely a pass-happy offense. Can their attack take flight in San Jose on Friday?
The Spartans defense looks to have suffered from the recent woes of this program. San Jose has managed to recruit some playmakers on offense, but you can sense a talent gap on the other side of the ball, especially when standouts on the other team start cooking. It can hurt to be backing a team that constantly allows 3-yard runs to turn into 8-yard scampers. Seldom is an opposing player brought down cleanly. Invariably, they squirm for extra yards, which makes it hard to prevent first downs.
But Hawaii’s running game is not their bread-and-butter. Maybe this Spartans “D” will match up a little better at home against a passing Hawaii squad. The secondary is picking up a bit and LB Keith Smith (the WAC freshman of the year in ’10) is a menacing presence. There were some clutch moments on Saturday that prevented BYU from sailing to a cover.
The Spartans are reeling from injuries on the offense, with their top runners David Freeman (out for season) and Brandon Rutley (day-to-day) hurt. But some exciting options are available, with Jason Simpson and Tyler Ervin having good moments on the ground on Saturday. Exciting and reliable tight end Ryan Otten leads the nation in yards per catch for his position. WR Noel Grigsby (39-336) is another solid weapon for first-year starting QB Matt Faulkner, who continues to find his bearings. He lacks pocket presence and is sometimes frozen in the face of a pass rush. With added experience, however, he should improve.
Scotty L’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: With 4 covers in 6 games, San Jose State has been undervalued a bit. If they are able to emerge from the terrible team of the past couple seasons into simply a struggling young team, they could get some favorable point-spreads this year. Their pass rush is negligible and their offense is banged up, but their defense is not bad against the pass and they should be able to make some big plays against this Warriors “D.”
Hawaii is coming off a 2-week break, but a 20-point loss at UNLV a few weeks ago suggests a struggling team that might be hard-pressed to cover on the road. Take San Jose State plus the points.
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