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The Florida Atlantic Owls have bowl plans, but they'd like to play for a conference championship. First, they'll need to get past the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in a Conference USA matchup Thursday night on CBS Sports Network. The Owls (5-2) lost 20-3 to Georgia Southern last week, but they are 4-1 in the conference and can play for the C-USA title with a win and a Marshall loss. FAU is built around a defense that is statistically among the best in the nation, and Southern Miss (2-7) is a program that is trying to rebuild. 

Kickoff from Hattiesburg, Miss., is set for 6:30 p.m. ET. William Hill Sportsbook lists the Owls as 9.5-point favorites in the latest FAU vs. Southern Miss odds and the over-under for total points scored is 43.5. Before making any Southern Miss vs. FAU picks, check out the college football predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past four-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of over $3,500 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. It is also a sizzling 50-31 on all top-rated picks through 14 weeks of the 2020 college football season, returning $700. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Florida Atlantic vs. Southern Mississippi. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are the college football odds and trends for Southern Mississippi vs. Florida Atlantic:

  • FAU vs. Southern Miss: Owls -9.5
  • FAU vs. Southern Miss over-under: 43.5
  • FAU vs. Southern Miss money line: Owls -350, Golden Eagles +280
  • FAU: DE Leighton McCarthy has five sacks over the past five games after posting three in the opener.
  • USM: RB Frank Gore Jr. has rushed for at least 66 yards in six straight games, topping 100 twice.
Latest Odds: Southern Miss Golden Eagles +8.5

Why FAU can cover

FAU is 8-3 against the spread in its last 11 C-USA games, and the defense allows just 12.4 points per game (third in FBS). It allows fewer than 300 yards per contest and has given up just seven touchdowns in the seven games. End Leighton McCarthy has eight sacks for a unit that has 23 this season. Linebackers Chase Lasater (58 tackles) and Caliph Brice (47) are the stoppers, while Jaylen Joyner has six sacks and cornerback Teja Young has two interceptions.

The Owls are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games, and quarterbacks Nick Tronti and Javion Posey provide different skills. The Golden Eagles have allowed 23 TD passes, so Tronti (597 yards, four TDs) could find success. Posey (390 passing, 393 rushing) also should help move the ball against a defense that allows 440 yards per game. Injuries have hit the running game, but James Charles can carry the load, and he has 268 rushing yards, averaging 4.5 per carry.   

Why Southern Miss can cover

Southern Miss is 4-2 against the spread as a home underdog since 2016, and the offense should be able to move the ball on the ground. FAU's defense is stout, but it allows 129 rushing yards per game, and running back Frank Gore Jr. is making his presence known. The freshman averages 5.3 yards per carry and has rushed for 519 over the past six games. Sophomore quarterback Tate Whatley has thrown for 460 yards and three TDs over the past two.

The Golden Eagles are 5-1 ATS in their last six after allowing fewer than 170 yards passing in their previous game, and the Owls have struggled to find a viable QB. Posey turned the ball over three times last week, and Tronti has been sacked 10 times. Southern Miss defensive end Dominic Quewon, who has three sacks and three forced fumbles, could have a big night. Sophomore linebacker Hayes Maples has a team-high 86 tackles. 

How to make FAU vs. Southern Miss picks

SportsLine's model is leaning over on the total, with the model suggesting both quarterbacks will top 220 passing yards. It also says one side of the spread hits well over 50 percent of the time. You can only get the pick at SportsLine

So who wins Southern Miss vs. FAU? And which side of the spread hits well over 50 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the FAU vs. Southern Miss spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up over $3,500 on its top-rated college football spread picks, and find out.