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Rutgers and South Florida will kick start the college football card this week with a Thursday night affair down in South Florida. The Bulls are an 8 point favorite at 5 Dimes in a game that saw some +10's on the board at one point this week. The total is 46 and the betting trends are a mixed bag, depending on the source. For example, sportsbook.ag shows the game as being almost split in terms of action while other sources show South Florida taking most of the action. That show's you that one sportsbooks clientele doesn't always mirror another's.
Both of these Big East squads have started 2-0 with Rutgers knocking off Tulane and Howard, while South Florida beat Chattanooga and Nevada. This will be the first conference game for both programs and both obviously look to make a big splash under the bright lights of a National TV Audience on ESPN.
It's hard not to like Rutgers in this spot. A look at the series history shows mostly close games, with Rutgers on top most of the time, or flat out Rutgers romps.
11/ 5/2011 South Florida 17 - 2.5 at Rutgers 20
11/ 3/2010 Rutgers 27 +10.5 at South Florida 28
11/12/2009 South Florida 0 + 2.5 at Rutgers 31
11/15/2008 Rutgers 49 + 8.0 at South Florida 16
10/18/2007 South Florida 27 - 1.0 at Rutgers 30
9/29/2006 Rutgers 22 - 3.0 at South Florida 20
11/ 5/2005 South Florida 45 + 3.5 at Rutgers 31
What's different this time around? Well, Rutgers has a new coach in Kyle Flood. But it's not as if Flood is the new kid in town who is coming in to overhaul this team with new schemes. Rutgers was smart, they hired from within. Flood was the assistant coach here and before that the offensive line coach. Both of these squads returned a healthy number of starters from last year making these teams pretty close to the same teams that took the field last year, which was a 20-17 OT win for Rutgers.
Injuries to the Rutgers offensive line are responsible for the big number on this game, and there lies your decision as a handicapper. You know that Rutgers has done a decent job in the past defending against South Florida QB BJ Daniels. You also know that if recent history tells us anything, it's that these two programs are pretty even when it comes to talent. The million dollar question here is, will the injuries to the Rutgers offensive line be the difference in this game and more importantly, the difference in the outcome against the spread.
We like Rutgers here, but we've also been around long enough to know that when something looks to good to be true, it usually is. There's no such thing as a "trap" in the betting world. The notion that oddsmakers are sitting around making lines to trick, or lure the unsuspecting public on to one side of a game is ridiculous. That last bookmaker we know of that tried that is still hiding out in Texas somewhere, owing millions to bettors, but that's another story.
But a line that looks too good to be true, does cause us to take a step back. It makes us think that perhaps we are miscalculating just how significant those offensive line injuries to Rutgers are. With that in mind, we're going to suggest that you proceed with caution here. Just for a peanut, but Rutgers +8.
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