Three Strong Underdogs in College Football Week 4

SBR Staff

Friday, September 22, 2017 8:46 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 22, 2017 8:46 PM UTC

Joe Lisi joins host Drew Martin get together every week to break down college football matchups.  This time they are picking 3 underdogs to stand out from Saturday's game. Join Lisi as he goes into detail with each of those games.

Washington Huskies vs Colorado Buffaloes 

Line: Washington -10.5

Keys to the Game

This is a rematch of last year’s PAC-12 Championship game in which Washington won 41-10. Since 2012, the Huskies are 4-0 over the Buffaloes and have won those games by an average margin of victory of 33.2 points per game.

Last year, Washington had a balanced offense that rushed for 198 yards on the ground and passed for 258 yards per game. Entering this game, the Huskies are a one-dimensional offense that is rushing for 128 yards (70 yards less than 2016) and passing for 301 yards per game (43 yards more than 2016).

Washington is 3-0 and has beaten out of conference opponents Rutgers and Fresno State. Both of those teams were a combined 3-21 in 2016 or .125%.

Quarterback Jake Browning has completed 74% of his passes for 798 yards with 8 touchdowns and 1 interception.

Running backs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman have combined for 239 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns.

Wide receivers Hunter Bryant and Dante Pettis have combined for 17 receptions for 322 yards with 3 touchdowns. The offense clearly misses the play of former wide receiver-John Ross. Ross had the speed to take the top off of the defense and took double teams away from Pettis. Now with his absence, the offense does not have the same big-play capability as last year.

Colorado enters this game looking for revenge from last year’s disappointing title game loss.

The Buffaloes have a more explosive offense that has three big-play wide receivers in Shay Fields, Devin Ross, and Bryce Bobo. All three players combined have 54 receptions for 689 yards with 5 touchdowns.

Their ability to stretch the Huskies’ secondary will be critical in this game. Washington enters this game allowing 168 passing yards per game to opposing offenses and has not be challenged vertically in three games against Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State.

Colorado enters this game rushing for 148 yards per game with running back Phillip Lindsay leading the team with 378 rushing yards with 3 touchdowns.

The Buffaloes are averaging 299 passing yards per game with quarterback Steven Montez completing 68% of his passes for 858 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Colorado is converting 41% of their third-down attempts while Washington is converting on 38% of their third-down attempts.

Defensively, third downs will be critical for both teams. Colorado has held opposing offenses to 25% conversions on their third down attempts. Washington is holding opposing offenses to 28% on their third down attempts.

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Florida Gators vs Kentucky Wildcats 

Line: Florida -2.5

Keys to the Game

Florida has won 30 straight games over Kentucky-yes 30 straight games. The last Wildcats win came on November 15th, 1986 by a score of 10-3. Since 2012, the Gators have won those games by an average margin of victory of 20.8 points per game.

Entering this game, Florida will need to attack a Wildcats secondary that is giving up 289 passing yards to opposing offenses.

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks has completed 62% of his passes for 287 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. One of those touchdowns happened to be on the last play of the game against Tennessee (65-yard touchdown Hail Mary to end the game 26-20).

Kentucky has played very well this year in run support. Entering this game the Wildcats have held opposing offenses to 57 rushing yards per game and have held both Ito Smith (Southern Mississippi) and Rico Dowdle (South Carolina) in check with 55 and 54 rushing yards respectively.

The Gators offense is averaging 89 rushing yards per game and does not have a rushing touchdown in the last eight games (last 6 games in 2016 and 2 games in 2017).

If Kentucky can force the Gators into long third down situations, they can put pressure Franks to make plays in the passing game. Kentucky has been very solid in third-down defense, holding opposing offenses to 30% on third down attempts.

Florida expended a lot of energy in last week’s home win especially in the fourth quarter and now heads on the road with a hot team.

Florida is allowing 238 passing yards per game to opposing offenses and look for Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson to attack the secondary early on to open up the running game.

On the year, Johnson has completed 62% of his passes for 569 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Johnson is a mobile quarterback and has added 132 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns in 2017.

Running back Benny Snell leads the team with 272 rushing yards with 3 touchdowns. Snell is averaging 3.8 yards per carry in 2017.

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Alabama Crimson Tide vs Vanderbilt Commodores 

Line: Alabama -18.5

Keys to the Game

Alabama is 43-3 against Vanderbilt and last lost in 1993 to the Commodores. Both teams enter this game at 3-0 and will be able to notch a conference win this coming Saturday.

Alabama is a different offense with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll at the helm. Compared to former OC, Lane Kiffen, the Crimson Tide are not as explosive in the passing game.

In 2016, Alabama rushed for 245 yards per game and passed for 210 yards through the air last season. The Crimson Tide converted on 43% of their third-down attempts and utilized multiple offensive formations to create mismatches with their playmakers in “open space”.

In 2017, the offense is averaging 239 rushing yards per game and is only passing for 178 yards per game through the air this season. More importantly, are third down conversions. Alabama is converting on 36% of their third-down opportunities and cannot be put into long third down situations in this game against the Vanderbilt defense.

Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley leads the team with 15 receptions, while next leading wide receivers Cam Sims and Robert Foster both 4 and 3 catches each. That could put pressure on quarterback Jalen Hurts to make his reads and progressions in the passing game this weekend. If Vanderbilt double teams Ridley, Hurts will have to find other receivers in the passing game.

Vanderbilt enters this game holding opposing offenses to 14% on their third-down situations. The Commodores secondary is giving up 95 passing yards per game along with holding opposing offenses to 105 rushing yards per game.

Offensively, the Commodores have a more balanced attack than last year. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur is completing 71% of his passes for 703 yards with 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. Through three games, Vanderbilt has almost duplicated last season’s passing touchdown output (9 passing touchdowns).

Vanderbilt rushed for 164 yards per game in 2016 compared to 103 yards per game this year. The Commodores are more aggressive in the passing game.

Entering this game, the offense is averaging 242 passing yards vs.192 passing yards last season.

Alabama is allowing 80 rushing yards per game (63 yards per game last year) and is giving up 224 passing yards per game this season (197 yards per game in 2016).

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