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There's something beautiful about these short, Friday night college football slates.
There's plenty of intrigue to Utah at USC, a game that could end up deciding the Pac-12 South. Air Force will bring its morale-draining triple option to the blue turf in Boise, while we still wait for FIU's offensive breakout as the Panthers go to Louisiana Tech.
Oh, and we can bet on it all. That certainly helps. Below we've compiled some of our favorite betting insights for all three games, plus our picks where applicable. Let's get to it.
FIU at Louisiana Tech
● Odds: La Tech -7.5
● Over/Under: 51
● Time: 8 p.m. ET, Friday
● TV: CBSSN
● Location: Ruston, Louisiana.
Shaky at best may be the only way to describe both FIU and Louisiana Tech so far this season. FIU lost to Western Kentucky and then lost star quarterback James Morgan to an ankle injury.
Louisiana Tech was held to just two punts in a promising non-cover against Texas before surviving 20-14 against Grambling State. A win on the road against Bowling Green is a step in the right direction, but BGSU is one of the worst teams in the country.
The spread may continue to drop if quarterback James Morgan is announced as the starter for Florida International. The Panthers backup, Kaylan Wiggins, is a dual threat who should keep the ground game going. He had 187 yards rushing last week against New Hampshire.
Even with its talented receiver crew, Louisiana Tech put just 20 points up against Grambling State. Skip Holtz has relied on a number of running backs in the stable this far in the season, a trend that points toward the under this game.
Keep a look out for news on Morgan's availability for the Panthers, but expect this game to be a grind on the ground. — Collin Wilson
Pick: Florida International +7.5, Under 51.5
Utah at USC
● Odds: Utah -3.5
● Over/Under: 52.5
● Time: 9 p.m. ET, Friday
● TV: Fox Sports 1
● Location: Los Angeles
We covered this game in-depth here, but there are two key angles Stuckey and Collin are focusing on.
First, is Utah's inability to defend the Air Raid despite having a strong defense. The Utes are 0-5 against the spread in their past five against Air Raid teams. USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis should be much more comfortable at home and limit mistakes, unlike last week at BYU when his turnovers cost the Trojans.
Second, Utah's offense will find success, too. USC has been susceptible to big passing plays, particularly from quarterbacks that can move outside the pocket. Tyler Huntley is just the kind of quarterback who can take advantage of that, using his athleticism to throw on the run.
Stuckey and Collin's Picks: Over 52.5, USC +4 or better
Air Force at Boise State
● Odds: Boise State -7
● Over/Under: 55
● Time: 9 p.m. ET, Friday
● TV: ESPN2
● Location: Boise, Idaho
Historically, service academies have been profitable as underdogs. All three run the triple-option, which limits possessions and keeps the clock moving advantage underdogs.
Since 2005, Army, Navy and Air Force are 139-117-6 (54%) ATS. Under Troy Calhoun, Air Force is 38-31-1 ATS as a dog. — John Ewing
On the surface this situation sets up well for Boise, as Air Force is coming off a road upset win in overtime at Colorado before heading to Boise on a short week. Meanwhile, Boise will stay home after beating up an FCS cupcake.
But I wouldn't worry about Air Force fatigue. We're talking about one of the fittest teams in the nation. The Falcons practice and play their home games in the second-highest elevation of any team in the FBS.
I'm not worried about the situational spot and think Air Force will win this game in the trenches. Coming into the season, both teams were projected to have strong offensive lines.
For Air Force, that has played out and the Falcons have had one of the best units in all of college football in this young season. They've only played two games but haven't allowed a sack and rank No. 2 in Line Yards (behind Georgia), per Football Outsiders, and also rank in the top five nationally in tackles for loss allowed. Pretty impressive for an option-attack offense that has run the ball on average 58.5 times per game — second in the nation only behind Navy.
Meanwhile, despite getting off to a perfect 3-0 start, Boise's offensive line has really struggled. Coming into the season, Boise was one of only three teams in the country returning all five starters along the offensive line. However, injuries have spoiled those plans.
The Broncos lost both tackles in John Ojukwu and Ezra Cleveland (who will likely play in the NFL) to injury, which has caused two freshmen to enter the fold and others to play out of position.
Predictably, the OL has struggled. In fact, quarterback Hank Bachmeier had been hit more than any other QB in the nation headed into last week. And even against FCS Portland State, they allowed pressure throughout.
Bottom line: Air Force is the real deal and a serious contender in the Mountain West. With a less than 100 percent healthy Boise State offensive line, I expect AF to win in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
This is an Air Force team that ranks in the top 25 against the run and also boasts its best secondary (usually a glaring weakness) in quite some time, while Boise could be without starting safety DeAndre Pierce, who would be sorely missed in defending the option.
It wouldn't shock me to see it pull off the outright upset but I'll gladly take anything over a touchdown. Trust the Air Force offensive line leading the way for the option attack that is averaging 6.1 yards per carry (13th) against a Boise run defense that has looked fairly average so far.
And don't sleep on the throwing ability of QB Darrell Hammond III, who has connected on a few deep balls in the limited shots he has taken this year. — Stuckey
Pick: Air Force +7 or better
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