Connecticut Huskies (3-4 SU, 2-4-1 ATS) vs. Syracuse Orange (2-4 SU, 1-4-1 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Friday, October 19th, 2012/8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UConn. +4.5/SYR -4.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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With the Syracuse Orange set to bolt the Big East Conference for the ACC next season, Friday’s primetime game on ESPN between the Connecticut Huskies and the Orange at the Carrier Dome will be the last time these two schools meet as members of the same conference.
With both of these programs trying to get back to where they once were (i.e. they both suck), Friday’s game might get overlooked by a strong Saturday card in college football, but action is action and UConn and the Orange will offer some interesting angles.
UConn, coached by former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, enters the primetime showcase on a mini two-game losing streak including last week’s disappointing, 17-14, overtime loss at home to Temple during homecoming weekend. The Huskies were unable to hold a quick 14-0 first-quarter lead against the Owls and not only gave up the game-tying score with 14 seconds left in the game, but also gave up the game-winning FG in OT when their own field goal attempt in OT sailed wide on the opening possession of overtime. You want to talk about a program down in the dumps on homecoming no less. So much for that booster money.
But things aren’t much rosier in Syracuse these days. After scoring a huge win over rival Pittsburgh two weeks ago, the Orange laid a dud on the road last week at Rutgers, 23-15. For the Orange it’s been little things (the Rutgers game turned on a blocked FG returned for a TD) that keep haunting them, because they outgained and outplayed the ranked Scarlet Knights last week, like they have many times this season, only to fall because of habitual mistakes and blowups on special teams.
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The good news for the Orange is that UConn is coming to town at just the right time, and if you can’t get excited for a nationally televised game in your own yard, well then maybe Syracuse fans will be better off watching Midnight Madness practices since hoops season is coming.
The opening point spread was set at Syracuse as 4-point favorites at home in the Carrier Dome, and after a slow trickle at the window the betting line has steadily moved up to minus -4.5 by Tuesday with a few minus -5’s mixed in there at a few offshore sportsbooks.
The over/under total opened at 43.5 at the offshore books, but it has yet to be posted at any of the properties out in Las Vegas.
An offense is what has been lacking in Connecticut these days, as the Huskies have struggled in coordinator George DeLeone’s return to his alma mater. The Huskies rank 109th in FBS in total offense (321 ypg), QB Chandler Whitmer is a loose cannon at times (58%, 6 TD-to-10 INT), their top running back Lyle McCombs is still suspended, and all of those issues have resulted in an attack that can only score 19 points a game (111th in 120-team FBS).
Which is kind of unfair because the UConn defense has been stellar (ranked 6th overall), especially against the pass where the Huskies secondary is allowing just 162 yards a game (8th). The Huskies will match their defensive strength with the strength of the Syracuse offense on Friday, since QB Ryan Nassib (1,896 yards, 11 TD) and a passing attack of 316 yards a game (14th) is how the Orange likes to attack on offense.
Syracuse will also have a chip on it’s shoulder too, since UConn has won five straight games in the head-to-head series including last year’s 28-21 win in Storrs (5-0 ATS too). The last time the Orange won, 20-14 in 2007, was also the last time they won, they last time they won at home in the Carrier Dome, and was the last time the covered the spread in the series. You know the Orange will be motivated to turn those numbers around in their last attempt against the rival Huskies in the Big East.
Let it be known that betting on this game may be hazardous. Connecticut has been terrible on the road (1-5 ATS in L5) and Syracuse has just been terrible (1-4-1 ATS on Fridays, 0-6-1 ATS in L7 vs. Big East, 5-15-1 in L21 overall).
The under may prove to be the best wager for this game, since it has a few solid betting trends in its favor. The under is 7-2 when UConn plays on Friday night, and it’s 9-3 following an ATS loss. The under is also 15-7 in Syracuse’s last 22 Big East games.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: UConn will stay in this game because they have a good defense, and because they always play well against Syracuse. But I’ve been fading UConn for a few weeks now because they just aren’t very good on offense, and you can’t win of you don’t score. Syracuse will win and should cover, but I’m going to take the under just in case they continue to shoot themselves in the foot. I’m betting the under 43.5.
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