When your best bets start 0-2, you’re ready to try just about anything. Sacrificing a live chicken. Sacrificing a bucket of KFC fried chicken. Praying to the gambling gods. Putting your left leg in your pants before your right leg. Okay, so that’s a little bit of hyperbole, but it has been a disappointing start to this new series at Hunter Sports Picks. Fortunately, there’s a game on the card this week that absolutely nobody wants to touch and that’s why it’s a Burke’s Best Bet for Week 3.
Eastern Michigan vs. Charlotte College Football Preview
Date/Time: Saturday September 16, 6:00 p.m. ET
TV: Nobody wants to watch this game
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Eastern Michigan -3
We’re taking a trip to Charlotte this week for Burke’s Best Bet, where the Charlotte 49ers host the Eastern Michigan Eagles. In this pillow fight of a game, the Eagles are road favorites! How rare of a situation is that? Well, Eastern Michigan hasn’t been favored on the road in over a decade. Yet, here we are. EMU is favored the now bowl-eligible 49ers. Charlotte is bowl-eligible in the sense that they have passed their transitional period from FCS to FBS, so they can participate in postseason play if they win six games. They won’t, but stranger things have happened in sports. So far this season, Eastern Michigan has scored 61 in a game and has given up 61 in a game while going 1-1 SU and ATS. Charlotte fell victim to Lamar Jackson and Louisville in a blowout loss, but won and covered against Elon last week.
Eastern Michigan Eagles:
This is the first time since 2011 that Eastern Michigan has been favored in multiple games in a season, just in case you were wondering how things have gone for this program recently. They haven’t had a winning season since 1995. Through two games, it seems like the Eagles do have a running game under third-year head coach Chris Creighton. Ian Eriksen has run for 5.3 yards per carry and Shaq Vann has run for 7.9 yards per carry. As a team, the Eagles ran for 281 yards and five touchdowns on Mississippi Valley State in the opener. They ran a lot of plays against Missouri and racked up over 400 yards, including 141 yards on the ground. Todd Porter threw for 287 yards on just 23 completions in that Missouri game. After averaging 15.2 points and 290 yards in 2014, Creighton’s offense averaged 25.4 points and 380 yards per game last season.
Eastern Michigan’s defense performance is hard to gauge. They shut down Mississippi Valley State, holding the Delta Devils to just 169 yards of offense. They more than made up for that performance by giving up 647 yards to Missouri, including 477 through the air. The defense lost its top tackler from last season, but did return eight starters. Of course, the Eagles returned eight starters from a unit that gave up 42.1 points and 519 yards per game last season, so it’s fair to wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Eastern Michigan’s defense gave up 61 points and 647 yards in just 21:16 of game clock last week against Missouri. The Eagles totally controlled the time of possession stats, but that was the only thing that they controlled.
Fourth-year head coach Brad Lambert got a big transfer when Kevin Olsen came over from junior college. Olsen, originally a University of Miami recruit, should provide some stability for an offense that managed just 17.5 points and 337 yards last season. It was Charlotte’s first foray into FBS football and it didn’t go well, as the ‘Niners went 2-10. They were also worse than expected with a 3-6-2 ATS record. Through two games, Olsen hasn’t thrown a pick and has completed 65 percent of his passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns. True freshman running back Ben LeMay has 93 yards in his 10 carries, but Robert Washington and Kalif Phillips have gotten the bulk of the work. Washington is also a true freshman, and a fairly touted one at that. After posting a -13 turnover margin last season, Charlotte is actually +5 through two games this season.
The defense was simply run over by Louisville. The Cardinals offense was shot out of a cannon and it was 28-0 before Charlotte could even get in the flow of the game. Twenty-more first-half points later and it became a laugher. The upside for Lambert is that a lot of underclassmen have gotten into games and that’s big for a program that is looking to build and has a decent recruiting area to tap into for talent. Elon did have 419 yards last week, but the Phoenix had a 99-yard drive to open the scoring and picked up 219 yards on their final five drives in a blowout.
Burke’s Week 3 Best Bet: Charlotte 49ers +3
Charlotte went 0-for at home against FBS teams last season, though they had a road win over Georgia State. Eastern Michigan hasn’t been laying points on the road since November 2005 and has one…ONE…win away from home against a non-conference opponent since 1990. That is a record of 1-59. That lone win came last year at Wyoming, but this is a big game for a new FBS program. This is a very winnable game against a fellow Group of 5 Conference team. With a better quarterback in Kevin Olsen and some more talent with a better recruiting class and some transfers, the 49ers shouldn’t even need the three points, but we’ll take them to be safe.