|UMass Odds||+33 (-109) [BET NOW]|
|Florida Atlantic Odds||-33 (-112) [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||51 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 8 p.m. ET|
|TV||CBS Sports Network|
UMass plays its third game of the 2020 season Friday night when it heads south to face Florida Atlantic under the lights in Boca Raton, Fla.
Somehow, the Minutemen look even worse than they did last season, losing by a combined score of 92-10 against Georgia Southern and Marshall in their first two games this season. UMass will try to salvage some of its pride against a Florida Atlantic squad that has Conference USA title aspirations after winning four of its first five games.
Naturally, UMass is a massive underdog again. However, it covered the spread in one of its first two games with a line of more than 30 points. So, do you dare back the Minutemen again in this spot?
Boy, oh boy, is UMass’ offense terrible. In 2019, it ranked in the bottom 10 of college football in both Rushing and Passing Success. In fact, it gained only 4.1 yards per play, which was the fourth-lowest mark in college football.
The biggest problem? UMass has no downfield passing attack whatsoever.
Four different quarterbacks received a shot at running the offense last season, which has been the case so far this year as well. Two quarterbacks had their respective chances against Georgia Southern, but neither could muster anything close to competent football.
Against Marshall, freshman Will Koch earned an opportunity and was better than the other two quarterbacks.
However, if UMass is going to have any offensive success, it’s going to come on the ground. The Minutemen do have one bright spot, and that is rushing explosiveness. It ranked 44th in the country in 2019 and is already 13th in 2020, per College Football Data.
Junior college-transfer Ellis Merriweather is the main back, but he hasn’t found much to build on. UMass does get four of its five starting offensive linemen back, so Walt Bell is hoping for some drastic improvement with more line continuity.
The good news is UMass returns nine of its top 13 tacklers. The bad news? Nine players made up a large part of college football’s worst defense last season.
And how bad was that defense? UMass ranked dead last in Defensive Rushing Success and second-to-last in Defensive Passing Success, per College Football Data. The Minutemen allowed a whopping 7.8 yards per play, which is the second-worst yards allowed per play mark in the last 17 years of college football (UConn allowed 8.7 yards per play in the 2018-19 season).
Through their first two games of the 2020 campaign, the Minutemen have allowed 7.0 yards per play. I guess you could call that an improvement.
The main issues have come against the run, as UMass is allowing 6.9 yards per rush attempt and rank 124th in Defensive Rushing Success. That’s going to be a big issue against Florida Atlantic’s offense, which ranks 14th in rushing explosiveness, according to College Football Data.
Florida Atlantic Owls
New head coach Willie Taggert has the Florida Atlantic offense humming through its first five games. However, almost all of its success has come on the ground. Entering the season, the Owls returned their top four running backs and have been gaining 4.8 yards per rush attempt. Malcolm Davidson has been their best back, averaging 8.1 yards per carry.
The passing attack has struggled, though, as Nick Tronti is only averaging 5.6 yards per attempt. However, it’s been hampered by bad weather the last two games and will be facing the worst passing defense of the season.
The wind is going to whipping in Boca Raton, so I think we’ll see the Owls unleash their rushing attack to run the ball at will on UMass.
Florida Atlantic has gone through a lot of changes on the defensive side of the ball. The Owls returned only 43% of their defensive production from last year, including its entire defensive line.
So far, Florida Atlantic has been solid versus the run and pass, but has been prone to giving up explosive plays, ranking 78th in rushing explosiveness allowed.
If UMass is going to have any offensive success in the windy weather, it’s going to have to come on the ground.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Even though the wind is going to be causing issues, I don’t think the weather is going to have much of a factor because most of the offensive success will come on the ground.
I have the total projected at 56.54 points, so I think there is a little bit of value on over 51 points.
Pick: Total Over 51.