Betting Stuff: The wager to make in The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry
For better or worse, last week was pretty much drama-free here at Betting Stuff. Tulane and ECU blew past their total, the Dawgs suffocated the Hogs at Sanford Stadium and SMU secured a front door cover with a perfect 14-0 4th quarter against USF. As for the losses, Ole Miss’ 4th-down adventures doomed the Lane Train before it even got out of the station, Bowling Green mucked up its MAC matchup from the start and Western Kentucky found the backdoor padlocked in East Lansing. Here’s a quick rundown on the math and where we stand for the season.
Last eeek: 3-3, -.3 Units
Season record: 23-12 (65%), +14.8 Units
Moving on to Week 6, here’s what I like most …
UTEP-2 at Southern Miss
Here’s a nice SEC tie-in: UTEP hasn’t had this kind of buzz since the Mike Price days. And what was once a pipe dream of playing in a bowl game is quickly becoming a reality, which means the Miners could claim a postseason win for the first time since LBJ was in office.
But it can’t do it without winning games like this one.
And while I’m unabashedly into this West Texas revival, this is more than a good story for C-USA. The Miners aren’t running a gimmick offense or blitzing like crazy with an all-or-nothing approach. They’re simply rock-solid through and through, winning with stout defense and a well-balanced offensive attack.
Bradley Dale Peveto, a longtime assistant with a slew of former mailing addresses in SEC country, has taken this opportunity with the Miners and made the most of it. UTEP’s defensive coordinator has this unit top-50 in scoring defense, 21st in total defense, 20th in yards per carry allowed, and has put opposing pass attacks in a chokehold (48% completions, 3rd).
Offensively, UTEP has the big-strike capability of Gavin Hardison to Jacob Cowley (24.4 yards per reception, 4 TDs) and a healthy bellcow at running back (Deion Hankins). The Miners rode Hankins down the stretch against Old Dominion during last week’s win but may need to rely on their passing attack to pull away from USM this week. The Golden Eagles have startling defensive splits. They boast a top-25 rushing defense and a horrific passing defense (Opp. Completion percentage, 129th).
When USM has the ball, its anemic offense is going to face major problems and the likelihood of needing to start a third-string quarterback. Jack Lange threw 3 interceptions in relief last week, and the former walk-on is likely to take the first snap on Saturday in what would be his first career start.
Time to fade Brett Favre’s alma mater.
Over 70.5 UTSA-Western Kentucky
Whenever I see a total above 70, I like to check in on the pace ratings.
The Hilltoppers check in at a respectable 40th in plays per game and proved last week against Michigan State that they can up the tempo when playing from behind. They’re also likely to put the ball in orbit 50+ times, which should aid this over all night. But UTSA is really the keystone piece to this over play.
The Roadrunners are No. 3 in plays per game, and when you combine their blazing pace with WKU’s average, we’re looking at 158 plays. That’s a lot of scoring opportunities. For perspective, the predicted slugfest in Iowa City between the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions will likely check in around a full 20 or so plays below that figure.
But extra snaps are only as good as the offenses running them, and WKU and UTSA both have their go-to styles and are facing defenses that can’t contain said styles. The Hilltoppers and their quarterback, Bailey Zappe, are the nation’s best passing game by a country mile. He’s approaching 430 yards per game through the air and will be facing a Roadrunners pass defense that won’t have anywhere to hide (70th Pass D).
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) October 3, 2021
When UTSA has the ball, human battering ram Sincere McCormick will be the first, second and third option. Only one player (Jaylen Warren, OK State) has more carries in the last 3 games than McCormick (94), and WKU will be greeting him with the 120th-best run defense (216.5 yards per game).
Major strengths pitted up against major weaknesses. A recipe for an over if there ever was one.
Under 47 Georgia-Auburn
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry will be full of 3-and-outs and short on fireworks. I believe that this total is inflated by 3 to 4 points, and the narrative around Bo Nix “figuring it out” is outright hilarious. Granted, he just played one of the best games of his career, extending plays and breaking the LSU defense down with his legs. But he did that against a statistically mediocre Bayou Bengal starting 11, a unit that was playing without future NFL top-10 pick Derek Stingley Jr.
Not only is Georgia light years better defensively than LSU, but this might also be one of the best SEC defenses ever assembled. The Dawgs are allowing a paltry 4.6 points per game. Putting aside so-called garbage drives, UGA opponents have possessed the ball 45 times this season. Of those 45 drives, only 4 have finished inside the Bulldogs’ 30-yard line.
This Shane Beamer quote about Georgia’s defense is even funnier now after watching the Dawgs dominate Arkansas pic.twitter.com/DoCRZhq4DE
— Mike Lucas (@KAGS_Lucas) October 2, 2021
Auburn will run directly into this buzzsaw and will be lucky to score more than 10 points. I feel confident that Georgia’s ball-control game plan will yield a final score in the 28-10/35-10 range.
UConn-3.5 at UMass
This matchup is so bad it’s good. Or as I like to say, the “Starship Troopers” line has been crossed. Both teams are winless, but only one has a shred of hope and that’s UConn. Once the Huskies started playing freshman quarterback Tyler Phommachanh, their offense began to show signs of life. With Phommachanh either starting or seeing significant snaps in their past 3 games, UConn has averaged 24 points per game. That was almost enough to upset Wyoming at home. But in classic sad Husky fashion, the freshman quarterback was knocked out for the year with a leg injury. But his play seemed to lift the entire offense to such a degree that former starter Steven Krajewski was able to put together a solid game against Vandy. If he plays this well against the Minutemen, they’ll win going away (264 yards, 2 TDs).
UMass, meanwhile, has been held to 7 points or fewer in 3 of its 5 games this season. Aside from their performance against Eastern Michigan, the Minutemen running game has been stuck in neutral. That’s a good thing for a UConn run defense currently allowing 212.5 yards per game on the ground (117th).
UConn has a pair of near-misses on its résumé (Vandy, Wyoming) while UMass has sniffed a victory. I see the pride of the Nutmeg State breaking through here.
Oklahoma-3.5 vs. Texas
It used to be that a team or program would get overhyped in the offseason, fail to live up to said hype and then have to relive that cycle the following offseason. But in the social media age a team can be “back,” a laughing stock and “back” again all within the course of a month. Texas was humiliated by Arkansas, a team that trailed Rice at halftime in its opener, and as a result everyone was out on Texas. Then the narrative shifted once people began to buy Arkansas as an SEC sleeper. Texas made a switch at quarterback and re-entered the Top 25. The hype train is again leaving the station for UT, which is strange given the fact that they’ve beaten no teams of note, while their defense remains average by SP+ standards (56th).
Oklahoma, on the other side of the Red River, has been mocked mercilessly for their underwhelming offense this season. Lincoln Riley’s magic appears to not have worked on Spencer Rattler and the Sooners are averaging just 38 points per game (15th). People are out on the Sooners, dropping the previous lookahead line back in August from OU-13.5 to OU-3.5 as of publication. That’s an overreaction by the public, plain and simple.
Oklahoma is better defensively and has a chance to be far more efficient on offense now that Rattler rebounded from a shaky start. Rattler’s QBR has exceeded 82.5 in 3 of his past 4 games. Can they win without him being a Heisman-caliber quarterback? Absolutely. Can Texas win without a monster game from Bijan Robinson? No.
Highest passer rating under pressure in Week 5
1. Spencer Rattler, OU – 158.3
2. Sam Howell, UNC – 129.5
3. Sam Hartman, Wake – 122.3
4. Cade McNamara, Mich – 122.1 pic.twitter.com/r33wqFvfqZ
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 3, 2021
Texas’ bellcow has done it all this season, checking in 2nd nationally in all-purpose yards per game. The Sooners put Leddie Brown in a straight jacket 2 weeks ago (54 total yards) and bottled up Deuce Vaughn on Saturday on the ground (51 yards). If they can limit a 150+ yard day from Robinson, Texas won’t make enough big plays to cover this number.