Cokin’s Corner, Friday 9/23/16

  • September 23, 2016

My Thursday was quiet with just a single baseball play. That was a winner on the Brewers, and I’ll similarly have just one Friday wager. This will also be a F5 play. Call it the calm before the storm, as the Saturday college card will be the largest I’ve had in awhile in terms of volume. One of the free plays posted here this week is on the card, and here’s another one that will make the cut and will be on the personal service agenda. Note that I’ll have an NFL selection for Sunday in the Saturday blog. Meanwhile, here’s one I like on the college side for Saturday.

347 SOUHTERN MISSISSIPPI  at 348 UTEP

Take: SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI -10

Southern Miss hits the road following a very disappointing home loss as a double digit favorite to surprising Troy. The Golden Eagles had some turnover issues in that game, and ended up on the short end of a game where they won the stats and should have at least managed to prevail on the scoreboard.

The best remedy for a poor performance might well be this journey to El Paso. UTEP is not a good football team, and the Miners appear to be particularly horrendous on defense. UTEP has a very capable runner in Aaron Jones. But he’s pretty much the show on offense, as QB Zack Greenlee is little more than a game manager.

Even if the Miners do some positive things on offense in this game, I can’t see how they’re going to stop the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss is loaded in the offensive backfield with a talented QB in Nick Mullens and a dynamic running back tandem in Ito Smith and George Payne.

I like the stat matchup here quite a bit. The road team is one that excels in running the ball while doing a good job of preventing the opposition from doing so. UTEP was run over by Army last week, and while this is not a similar style of offense, I would fully expect Southern Mississippi to enjoy a big day on offense.

The loss to Troy was unpleasant to be sure, but it’s not like USM had designs on making the college football playoffs, and it’s therefore not a defeat that I would put in the demoralizing category. In fact, this is actually a bigger game for the Golden Eagles, as it’s their initial CUSA clash for the new season, and this team’s real focus is on winning the conference.

Golden Eagles head coach Jay Hopson has already shown me something in his maiden voyage at the Southern Miss helm. I was more than impressed with his how his team came roaring back to win at Kentucky after falling what appeared to be hopelessly behind. Hopson shouldered the responsibility for last week’s upset loss to Troy and the team has stressed fundamentals this week, with the focus on improved tackling and better pass catching. Southern Miss had a load of drops last week, and that seems to me to be a blip after how the receivers looked in the prior two games.

There’s no question that Southern Mississippi will be the public side as far as the betting patterns for this game are concerned. But on my numbers, the price is a little on the short side here, and I like the idea of the chalk getting a team they really ought to be able to dominate in the trenches to at least some extent. UTEP’s home field advantage isn’t much of a concern, so I’m going to give the points in this one and will back Southern Mississippi.