Third downs will determine Temple vs ECU, and the college football bets you need to make in Week 6

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There are two matchups on the college football odds board Thursday night, with a Sun Belt battle and some AAC action. We give you our best bets and predictions for those matchups as well as some need-to-know notes for wagering on the weekend games. 

NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

Thursday’s Sun Belt Conference between Georgia Southern and host South Alabama probably isn’t going to generate a lot of offense. And even that might be putting it mildly.

These teams boast two of the worst offenses in the entire FBS, with Georgia Southern ranked 112th in points per game (21.3) and South Alabama 123rd (16.8). The Eagles and Jaguars both rank near the bottom of the collegiate pecking order in a multitude of offensive categories, while combining to convert just 32.5 percent of their third-down opportunities. They also have touchdowns on fewer than 45 percent of their combined red-zone visits.

Both teams could struggle to put points on the board in what is a very short week for both sides. The total for this one is sitting in the high-40s, and we like the Under play a lot here.

MORE LIKE “LEAST” CAROLINA

The East Carolina Pirates are above .500 for the season and have yet to lose at home but both of those marks are in jeopardy Friday night, as they host the heavily-favored Temple Owls.

The Pirates are fortunate to be in this position given that they’re averaging just 21.4 points per game, ahead of only 19 other FBS teams. And they’ve been particularly weak on third downs, having scored or extended drives just 34.2 percent of the time (108th in FBS). That so happens to be an area of strength for the Temple defense, which ranks sixth in the nation in opposition third-down success rate (25 percent).

Take out a one-sided win over Gardner-Webb, and ECU’s offense belongs in the ICU. Not being able to sustain drives against this Temple defense will leave East Carolina short of its already meager team point total, which sits at around 16.5.

DTR WITH THE DNP

The UCLA Bruins could be down their starting quarterback for this weekend’s game against Oregon State. Dorian Thompson-Robinson missed practice Wednesday with an undisclosed injury. He was seen on the sidelines stretching but did not take the field.

Thompson-Robinson was knocked out of last week’s loss to Arizona with a suspected leg injury and his status for this weekend is unclear. Austin Burton will get the start if Thompson-Robinson can’t play. DTR has thrown for 1,243 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions for the Bruins so far this season.

This is certainly an injury to monitor, with the struggling Bruins favored by six points against the visiting Beavers. A potential downgrade at QB for UCLA limits the Bruins’ scoring potential, which brings the Under in play (especially with this game carrying a total in the mid-60s).

PASS TO PLAY?

Jawon Pass is hoping to return to the Louisville Cardinals’ lineup for this weekend’s home encounter with Boston College.

The junior quarterback suffered a foot injury that has kept him out the Cardinals’ previous two games but with Louisville coming off a bye, Pass has had time to recover and was able to practice over the weekend.

That said, he’s still considered a game-time decision against the Eagles, with Malik Cunningham set to start if Pass is unable to go. Pass threw four touchdown passes in his previous outing, a 42-0 victory over Eastern Kentucky back on September 7.

If Pass is healthy enough to go, he’ll find himself in a favorable matchup against a Boston College pass defense that ranks just inside the Top 100 nationally in yards allowed per game (255.6), making the home team cover a more viable option.