College Football Under-the-Radar Offensive Dynamos
There are some college football offensive juggernauts from small conferences that have been putting up some impressive stats. Western Kentucky is fifth in the nation in total yards while averaging 40.4 points per game behind senior QB Bailey Zappe (21 TDs, 3 INTs). So why are they on a four-game losing streak? The defense is terrible (42.8 ppg allowed) failing to keep pace with an offense that runs an Air Raid style leading the country with 457.8 passing yards per contest. All five over their games have flown OVER the total, coming off a 52-46 loss to Texas-San Antonio as a favorite. It’s tough to back a team as chalk with this bad a defense, but totals players haven’t had to sweat much with every game a shootout. That was the third time this season undefeated (6-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) Texas-San Antonio has been a dog, also topping Illinois (37-30) and Memphis (31-28), both on the road. Fresno State (39 ppg) is seventh in the nation in total yards behind QB Jake Haener (18 TDs, 6 INTs). They lost 31-24 to Oregon as a +19 dog and upset UCLA, 40-37, as a double-digit dog. \
The Bulldogs are in bounce-back mode after a 27-24 loss to Hawaii as Haener was picked off at the goal line with 9 seconds left. It was his fourth interception of the game, including three times inside Hawaii’s 10-yard line. Marshall is just 3-3 on the season but averaging over 515 yards despite its quarterbacks throwing more picks (10) than TDs (9). Marshall has been a double-digit favorite three times and failed to cover all three, including two straight-up defeats to East Carolina (42-38) and Middle Tennessee State (34-28). And they’re double-digit chalk again this Saturday at North Texas. Undefeated SMU (4-2 ATS) is averaging over 510 total yards and 40.7 points behind QB Tanner Mordecai (26 TDs, 7 INTs), leading all FBS QBs in touchdowns. Mordecai is a former Oklahoma backup quarterback recruited by Lincoln Riley for his run-and-gun Sooner attack. Arkansas State is in the Top 10 in passing yards per game (356.7) with QBs James Blackman and Layne Hatcher combining for 17 TDs, 7 INTs. However, they’ve lost five in a row (1-4 ATS) because the defense is the worst in the country surrendering 51.8 points per game. They just lost to Coastal Carolina giving up 685 yards, including a 99-yard TD pass. Arkansas State is on a bye this weekend giving the coaches extra time to look at defensive breakdowns. And they have a LOT of film on that!
Bucs/Eagles (Thursday): Tampa Bay runs twice as much as its throws using the run to set up the pass for QB Tom Brady (15 TDs, 2 INTs). The defense is No. 1 against the run for the third straight season allowing 45.8 yards, though the pass defense is last surrendering 314.4 yards in the air per contest. The Bucs are 22-6 OVER the total against the NFC, 21-7 OVER versus losing teams. That run defense will be tested against mobile Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts (7 TDs, 3 INTs), who leads the Eagles in rushing (256 yards, 6.0 ypc). Philly is No. 3 defensively against the pass, but has allowed 41 and 42 points to the two best QBs they’ve faced in losses to Dallas and Kansas City. After failing to cover two out of three games, the Eagles are 42-23 ATS when playing at home.
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NFL Totals: How Low Can You Go? The New York Giants/Rams total has moved down. That’s because the Giants’ offense is a MASH unit with QB Daniel Jones (concussion), RB Saquon Barkley (ankle injury), and WR Kenny Golladay (knee) all ailing. Jones is not only the leading passer but their leading rusher. It’s not yet known if Jones will be cleared to play, so backup QB Mike Glennon (1 TD, 2 INTs) is running the practice offense. NFL home teams like the Giants with a losing record are 31-9 UNDER the total off a loss by 21+ points to a division rival. Meanwhile, the Rams are 24-9-1 versus the NFC, 21-7 UNDER as chalk…The Vikings/Panthers total has also moved down. The Vikings offense has tallied just 26 points the last two games, while Carolina has lost two straight after that 3-0 start. Two of those wins were against the Jets and Texans and QB Sam Darnold has 3 TDs, 5 interceptions the last two games. Carolina is 58-37 UNDER the total at home in the first half of the season…The Bengals/Lions total has dipped. Cincinnati’s offense and defense have both been very good riding a 4-0 run UNDER the total, 10-3 ATS after a loss. The Lions have gone three straight games UNDER with a poor offense, #24 in points (19.2 pg), #30 on third down (32.14%) behind new QB Jared Goff (7 TDs, 3 INTs). Detroit’s defense has been weak, as well, #24 in points allowed (27.6 pg), though ranked second on third down (30.61%). The Lions are 41-23 OVER the total after four or more straight defeats.
#11 Kentucky/#1 Georgia: Who had this circled on their calendar in August as a Top 15 showdown? Kentucky (21-11 run UNDER the total) was 5-6 last year, though they lost to Georgia just 14-3. Now they’re unbeaten but getting no respect as a huge underdog. That’s because the Wildcats squeezed by Missouri (35-28), South Carolina (16-10), and Chattanooga (28-23). They looked great last week, which worked out well as I backed them as a 2-point favorite in a 42-21 rout of stumbling LSU. Kentucky is 19-6-1 ATS against winning teams, 21-9 UNDER the total in SEC tilts. Georgia’s backup QB Stetson Bennett (8 TDs, 2 INTs) has started the past two games for injured J.T. Daniels (5 TDs, 2 INTs). Both are very good, while the Bulldog defense is a sensational, tops in the nation in yards allowed (201.2 pg) and scoring (5.5 ppg) giving up only three touchdowns. Georgia is 8-21 ATS at home when facing a team with a winning percentage of 75% or better.
#12 Oklahoma State/#25 Texas: There are three Big 12 teams in the Top 25 and two clash here. And they couldn’t be more different. Oklahoma State is winning with defense, #20 in the country allowing 19.2 points per contest. It’s a run-oriented offense with QB Spencer Sanders (5 TDs, 4 INTS) and RB Jaylen Warren (512 yards, 4.5 ypc). Oklahoma State is 15-5 ATS versus winning teams, 19-7 ATS as an underdog, 23-8 UNDER the total as a road dog. Texas has a terrific offense led by QB Casey Thompson (14 TDs, 3 INTs) and RB Bijan Robinson (789 yards, 6.3 ypc), but defense and depth are major concerns. They got run over by Arkansas (40-21 loss as a 6-point favorite) in Week 2 and come off a 55-48 defeat to Oklahoma giving up over 302 yards rushing AND passing! I had that game OVER, covering by 37 points. They’re down three starters in guard Denzel Okafor, DE Jacoby Jones, and second-leading WR Jordan Whitting. When these rivals clash the road team is 11-3 ATS and the UNDER is 7-0-1 at Texas.
NFL Cardinals at Browns (Sunday): A pair of dynamite QBs lead two of the Top 6 offenses in the NFL. Arizona QB Kyler Murray (10 TDs, 4 INTs) leads the only undefeated team. They are the only team to beat the Rams and it wasn’t even a close, a 37-20 whipping at Los Angeles as an underdog. The Cardinals are 10-3-2 ATS as a road dog, along with a 10-1 run UNDER the total away from home. They’re a dog again to a Cleveland squad that has great balance on offense (187.6 yards rushing per game) behind QB Baker Mayfield (4 TDs, 2 INTs) and RBs Nick Chubb (523 yards, 5.8 ypc) and Kareem Hunt (295 yards, 5.4 ypc). It’s the uneven defense that is the concern, giving up 33 to the Chiefs and last week’s 47-42 loss to the Chargers. Cleveland has six covered straight non-conference games, plus is 34-13 UNDER the total as a home favorite of 3 points or less.
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