Ole Miss Rebels vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Saturday, October 3, 2020 at 4 p.m. ET at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky
Bettors are pouring money and apparently even their hearts and souls into the "over" for this game. While I do not have a say about the total posted by College Football Oddsmakers, I feel that bettors are misled in one respect. They are overestimating Ole Miss’ offensive abilities.
One has to remember that, last week, Florida did not get the benefit of seeing what Ole Miss’ new-look offense was going to look like. This disadvantage proved to be crucial. One way in which it manifested itself — besides in the high Rebel point total — was in Florida’s incessant inability to line up correctly.
It’s obviously hard for a defense to match up with an offense when it can’t even figure out its pre-snap alignments. Plus, Florida’s edge rushers kept attacking too far upfield, allowing Ole Miss’ scrambling quarterback to step up and accrue over 80 yards on the ground.
Generally, Ole Miss was able to catch Florida by surprise with its fast pace. When Kentucky watches film, it is going to notice these things — it will know how to contain Corral, to align pre-snap, to handle Ole Miss’ tempo.
Having already played a game, the Wildcats won’t produce the same missed tackles and busted coverages that further plagued Florida. So it’s easy, but terribly misleading, to think that Ole Miss will score a lot against Kentucky because it scored 35 last week against the Gators’ defense.
Ole Miss Pass Attack vs. Kentucky Defense
After accruing 395 passing yards and three touchdowns last week, Corral is going to come down to Earth against Kentucky’s secondary.
Last year, the Wildcats ranked second nationally in pass defense as measured by pass yards allowed. This year’s Wildcat secondary only misses one guy from last year’s unit and adds new talent.
One receiver gave Kentucky problems last week in its loss (with a very misleading score) to Auburn. And that was Seth Williams.
Ole Miss has one pass-catcher, in Elijah Moore, who it relies upon to be dangerous. Moore has a different skill set than Williams. So the two are not comparable. Five inches taller and almost 30 pounds bigger than Moore, Williams is able to use his size and strength. Moore won’t have these physical advantages.
He’s not going to outrun guys like Kelvin Joseph, either, who have distinguished themselves for their speed on the field as evidenced also by 40-yard dash times.
Terry Wilson vs. Ole Miss Pass Defense
After ranking by far the worst in the SEC last year in the category, Ole Miss’ pass defense continues to be porous. This weakness can’t be surprising because the Rebel secondary consists largely in the same personnel.
With Terry Wilson, Kentucky has its starter back and healthy. He accrued 239 yards on 24 of 37 passing against Auburn. His test on Saturday will be drastically easier.
After catching nine passes for 98 yards, Josh Ali exhibited positive chemistry with Wilson.
Last season, Corral and Wilson were nearly identical in terms of passer rating. After Week 1, people seem to think that Corral is better for reasons that I showed to be unsubstantiated.
The point is that Kentucky has a top-level pass defense while Ole Miss has an atrocious one. Facing much less resistance, Wilson will help UK outscore Ole Miss by at least a touchdown.
Best Bet: Wildcats -6.5 (-105) with BetOnline
NC State Wolfpack vs. Pittsburgh Panthers
Saturday, October 3, 2020 at noon ET at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh
Dating to last season, NC State is 1-7 ATS. In all seven non-covers, Devin Leary started at quarterback. The one exception came two weeks ago when the Wolfpack played Wake Forest.
Presumably aware of his team’s incompetence at quarterback, Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren pulled a fast one. He announced literally in the last minutes before kickoff that Bailey Hockman would start in place of Leary.
Clearly, Wake Forest was unprepared for Hockman and suffered in that lone Wolfpack cover. Conversely, NC State’s next opponent, Virginia Tech, was prepared for Hockman, who suffered so mightily that Doeren pulled him out. At this point in the game, NC State was down 37-10.
Leary did — probably to the surprise of his opponent — come in and play well. Although, his numbers don’t mean anything since he produced them after the Hokies had already sealed their victory.
Leery of Leary
Don’t be fooled by those meaningless numbers. Leary is a woefully inaccurate and inept quarterback. Last year, we saw a data sample from him of 210 pass attempts. He converted a ridiculously low 48.1 percent of them for eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Many of those touchdowns — two, against Boston College, for example — likewise came when NC State was being blown out.
It’s true that Leary hasn’t been announced as the starter. But the fact that Hockman hasn’t beaten him for the starting job tells me all I need to know. Besides, we’re talking about a top-level Pittsburgh pass defense that held its first two opposing ACC team-leading quarterbacks (Louisville’s and Syracuse’s) to fewer than 130 passing yards and lower than 50 percent completion percentage.
Pittsburgh Offense vs. NC State Defense
In each of its two games thus far, NC State allowed over 40 points — to Wake Forest and to Virginia Tech. Wake Forest, similar to Pittsburgh, had lost the best it had at the wide receiver position.
But, perhaps, one could cite Wake’s fast tempo as problem-inducing. Plus, I guess, the team has offensive balance with a decent quarterback (although he was replaced as the team’s starter last year).
Virginia Tech, though, featured a former Oregon Duck backup at starting quarterback who has never been a reliable passer in his career — his career passing percentage is 57.1.
Still, the Hokies ran for over 300 yards.
After both games, the Wolfpack rank outside the top 100 both in opposing passer rating — largely because Wake’s former backup quarterback was solid despite lacking quality pass-catchers — and in opposing rush yards per game — largely because Virginia Tech’s ground game was unstoppable.
Panther quarterback Kenny Pickett has taken so many strides as a passer, now, to the point where he reliably competes over 60 percent of his pass attempts. Jordan Addison, who leads the team with 21 receptions, already shows nice chemistry with Pickett.
The Panthers feature a bevy of options at running back behind an offensive line with some significant individual accolades and meaningful experience at all five starting positions.
Center Jimmy Morrissey, for example, is a reliable candidate for the award given to the nation’s top center.
Only one team will be able to move the ball downfield. NC State will present an inept quarterback contending with a top-level pass defense. Offensively, Pitt will have its way with NC State both on the ground and in the air. With your College Football Betting Picks, expect a blowout.
Best Bet: Panthers -14 (-105) with Heritage