2018 Sun Belt Championship Game Odds, Analysis, College Football Betting Pick

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Zac Thomas #12 of the Appalachian State Mountaineers drops back to pass against the Penn State Nittany Lions on September 1, 2018 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Since becoming conference rivals five years ago Appalachian State is 5-0 straight up and 3-2 against the spread in the series with Louisiana-Lafayette, winning those games by an average score of 35-11. The Mountaineers are favored by a big number over the Ragin' Cajuns for the inaugural Sun Belt Conference championship game Saturday afternoon on Appalachian State's home field in Boone.


College football point spread: The Mountaineers opened as 19-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 47.0-18.8 Mountaineers (College football picks on every game)

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Why the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns can cover the spread

The Cajuns finished their regular season with three straight victories, including a 31-28 decision over Louisiana-Monroe last week. Louisiana drove its first three possessions of the game 75, 90 and 65 yards to touchdowns, led 24-21 at the half, then scored the first seven points of the second half and held on from there, surviving a missed Warhawks field goal attempt at the buzzer.

With the victory, the Cajuns clinched the SBC West title. On the afternoon, Louisiana out-gained ULM 453-344, out-rushed the Warhawks 240-143, held a 33/27 edge in time of possession and won the turnover battle 2-1.

So the Ragin' Cajuns have now out-gained and out-rushed five of their last eight opponents, going 6-2 ATS over that span.


Why the Appalachian State Mountaineers can cover the spread

Appalachian State finished its regular season with four straight wins, capped off by a 21-10 triumph over Troy last week. The Mountaineers missed a field goal on their first possession of the game, then scored touchdowns on their next three to lead 21-3 at the half. Appalachian State allowed the Trojans to pull within 11 points in the third quarter but hung on from there to clinch the SBC East title.

Unfortunately for their financial backers, the Mountaineers came up empty on a drive that reached the Troy 27-yard line in the fourth quarter, then ended the game on the Trojans' 25 and just missed covering as 12-point favorites.

On the afternoon, Appalachian State out-gained the Trojans 314-223, out-rushed Troy 201-53, ground out a 36/24 time of possession advantage and won the turnover battle 4-1.

The Mountaineers have now out-gained 10 of their 11 opponents this season, including Penn State, and out-rushed nine of 11 foes. Appalachian State is also 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS at home this season, and 4-2 ATS when favored by less than 20 points.


Smart betting pick

Appalachian State defeated Louisiana back in October, 27-17, but couldn't quite cover a 25-point spread. The Mountaineers led that game 27-10 but gave up a meaningless Cajuns touchdown with one minute to go. As for Saturday's game, a 27-10 final would give Appalachian State the cash.

Ultimately, the Mountaineers are 165 yards per game better on defense than Louisiana, and that should make the difference. Smart money here gives the points with Appalachian State.


College football betting trends

The total has gone under in four of Louisiana-Lafayette's last five games vs Appalachian State.

Appalachian State is 11-2-2 ATS in its last 15 games.

Louisiana-Lafayette is 1-7 SU in its last eight games after consecutive wins.


All college football odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.