Breakouts at SMU, Kansas outline a topsy-turvy CFB season


In three video games this season, Bryce Younger is averaging 7.6 yards per cross. Amongst 118 certified quarterbacks in FBS, that is 55th — behind the likes of Bo Nix, TJ Finley and John Rhys Plumlee. In Younger’s protection, he has tossed 9 landing passes to only two interceptions, and he has added 144 yards on 15 carries regardless of a poor offensive line, however it’s nonetheless a jarringly poor efficiency from the defending Heisman Trophy winner.

Younger is not alone in beginning slowly this season after a robust 2021. Will Anderson Jr., who completed fifth in final yr’s Heisman race and was thought of by many to be the very best participant within the nation, has solely two sacks in three video games and was flagged thrice in a nail-biting win over Texas. C.J. Stroud, who’s averaging 11.1 yards per cross and has thrown 11 landing passes with no interceptions, has at the very least lived as much as the hype, however many of the anticipated stars have struggled early on.

Bijan Robinson, anticipated by many to be the nation’s greatest rusher, has been strong with 311 yards on the bottom and 132 by the air, however he has been outshined by the likes of Chase Brown at Illinois and Raheim Sanders at Arkansas. Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson has been quiet, taking solely 29 carries by three video games for 197 yards. And an damage to the Buckeyes’ star receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, has held him to a mere 36 yards on 4 catches.

Not each nice participant has underwhelmed, and a few have already established themselves as front-runners within the Heisman race, however lots of the most spectacular performances this season have come from utterly surprising sources. Amongst quarterbacks with at the very least 50 passes, Stroud’s 13.7 adjusted yards per cross are first — however second, with 12.6, is Todd Centeio, a two-time switch who floundered at Temple and Colorado State however has thrived at James Madison. In the meantime, there are two Energy 5 quarterbacks with greater than eight yards per cross and 200 speeding yards — Garrett Shrader and Jalon Daniels, the leaders of 3-0 soccer groups at Kansas and Syracuse.

Amongst talent gamers, probably the most dual-threat exceptional season up to now belongs to not Henderson or Vaughn, however to Evan Hull of Northwestern, who has posted greater than 300 speeding and 300 receiving yards up to now, placing him nicely forward of tempo to inaugurate faculty soccer’s 800-800 membership. On the opposite facet of the ball, it is not Will Anderson Jr. making a run on the first 20-sack season in 20 years, however somewhat Arkansas’ Drew Sanders (who had one sack for his profession earlier than 2022) and Jacoby Windmon, a switch from UNLV to Michigan State who switched from linebacker to pass-rusher simply a few weeks in the past. And the nationwide chief in receiving yards is not Smith-Njigba or reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison; it is Rashee Rice, who has racked up an astounding 491 yards for SMU.

Certain, a few of these gamers will regress again towards their expectations because the season goes on and so they face their strongest opponents. However for now, the whole lot we thought we knew (other than C.J. Stroud being good) is in upheaval. Basketball colleges are off to good begins, whereas soccer colleges have stumbled, and journeymen have overtaken five-star certainties within the hunt for the Heisman. A lot of the season nonetheless lies earlier than us, and we’ll all get to look at and see which of those tales will nonetheless be dazzling us by December.

Clemson (-7) at Wake Forest—Saturday 12 p.m. ET (ABC)

General Clemson Wake Forest
2022 F+ 7 37
When Clemson has the ball Offense Protection
2022 F+ 32 54
2022 EPA/cross 72 18
2022 EPA/rush 23 49
When Wake Forest has the ball Protection Offense
2022 F+ 6 20
2022 EPA/cross 52 42
2022 EPA/rush 7 121

As you most likely know, Clemson bought off to a actually sluggish begin in 2021. The Tigers misplaced their opener to Georgia whereas scoring a measly three factors, had been surprised by NC State in double extra time and suffered their first multi-score regular-season loss in seven years towards Pitt, dropping to 4-3. In between, they had been taken to the wire by Georgia Tech, Boston School and Syracuse in one-score video games. These outcomes snapped streaks of 58 top-five, 97 top-10 and 107 top-25 appearances, marking the staff’s first season with out an look at No. 1 since 2014. Since that low level, although, Clemson is 9-Zero and has returned to the highest 5 this season. Whether or not the Tigers deserve such a excessive rating is a matter of debate — they took fairly some time to place away Georgia Tech and Louisiana Tech, each of whom trailed by just one rating at halftime — however they’ve appeared extra like their typical selves because the first half of final season.

Late final yr, the Tigers confronted a take a look at to see if that they had actually taken a step ahead after rattling off three respectable wins, and so they handed with flying colours, rolling previous a top-15 Wake Forest with playoff aspirations by a 48-27 rating. Wake Forest simply so occurs to be their first robust out of 2022, too, and this time the Tigers are happening the street to a 3-Zero Demon Deacons staff that just lately returned its star quarterback from damage. Each Clemson and Wake Forest have performed three video games and gained all three, however we all know little or no about both staff from this season — past the truth that they’ve struggled considerably concerningly with lesser competitors. (Within the Deacons’ case, they needed to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit to flee with a win over Liberty final week.)

Hartman has been respectable in his two video games — he threw two interceptions towards the Flames, however he additionally accounted for 325 yards and three touchdowns — however Wake Forest’s offense hasn’t impressed confidence on account of a dismal run recreation. The Deacons made do with Christian Beal, Justice Ellison and Christian Turner every speeding for greater than 500 yards, however no person stood out as a real lead again, and with Beal gone, the Demon Deacons have averaged simply 128 yards per recreation on the bottom. It may have value them dearly towards Liberty, once they put up a mere 23 speeding yards, however Hartman’s arm and a blinding day by receiver Ke’Shawn Williams (129 yards on 5 catches) had been sufficient to eke out a win.

A efficiency like that towards Clemson’s shutdown protection — which ranks 35th or higher in EPA, success charge and explosive-play charge towards the cross, regardless of going through passes on 62.4% of performs — is not more likely to go nicely. Hartman is a strong passer, however the Deacons cannot lean fully on him towards a robust Tigers secondary. In that 48-27 loss to Clemson final yr, Wake Forest racked up 370 passing yards on 44 makes an attempt, however its speeding corps had its worst recreation of the season: 36 yards on 31 carries. The end result was the Deacons’ second-worst offensive output of the yr and a decisive defeat.

Then once more, whereas scoring 27 factors was on the low finish for this offense final yr, what actually stands out about that recreation is Clemson’s gorgeous 48 factors, its second-highest level whole of the season, proper between wins over SC State and UConn. Wake Forest’s protection was hardly good final season, giving up 40 or extra factors in 5 video games, however it’s nonetheless shocking that the Tigers offense put up extra factors on the Deacons than high-powered assaults at Pitt and NC State. They did it by limiting DJ Uiagalelei’s workload — he threw 19 passes, tied for his profession low in a begin — and leaning on a speeding assault led by Kobe Tempo and Will Shipley (303 yards, 7.Zero yards per carry mixed).

Shipley has been nearly as good as ever this season, main the ACC with 7.Eight yards per carry and 6 speeding touchdowns. Nonetheless, Tempo has solely 48 yards on 15 carries. Clemson’s different star rusher, Phil Mafah, has additionally been pretty mortal, with 78 yards on 20 carries. Can they anticipate one other phenomenal efficiency on the bottom towards Wake Forest? Maybe, however the Deacons’ run protection appears to have taken a serious step ahead since final season, and so they might take a look at Clemson’s passing assault way more than they had been capable of in 2021. Each offenses on this recreation have been pretty one-dimensional, however to drag off a win and attain 4-0, each groups might want to fireplace on all cylinders.

Look ahead to:

  • Is Uiagalelei (7.5 yards per cross, 5 touchdowns, one interception) safe at quarterback, or will Cade Klubnik (7-for-15, 66 yards) be referred to as on in case of emergency?
  • Can a dynamic Clemson secondary (5 interceptions, 13th in havoc charge) create takeaways and provides their offense the benefit?
  • Will AT Perry, already focused eight instances on passes greater than 20 yards downfield—fourth within the ACC—be a deep weapon for the Deacons?

FEI Outright Decide: Clemson by 8.2.

Duke at Kansas (-7)—Saturday 12 p.m. ET (FS1)

General Duke Kansas
2022 F+ 89 82
When Duke has the ball Offense Protection
2022 F+ 95 126
2022 EPA/cross 24 105
2022 EPA/rush 39 99
When Kansas has the ball Protection Offense
2022 F+ 81 27
2022 EPA/cross 70 19
2022 EPA/rush 5 25

Final week’s preview highlighted among the darlings of faculty soccer by the primary few video games, a bunch of which Kansas — 3-Zero Kansas, with a win over a reigning 12-win Houston! — is the obvious member. There have been loads of different surprises, corresponding to Syracuse, Tulane and Indiana (all undefeated), however one which’s flown beneath the radar is Duke. The Blue Devils are additionally 3-0, however admittedly they’ve performed Temple, Northwestern and North Carolina A&T. Nonetheless, they’ve already matched final season’s win whole and will simply surpass it this week. So how have they executed it?

Duke ended final season by permitting 47 or extra factors in six straight video games, which made Texas A&M’s standout defensive coordinator a pure rent. Mike Elko is not calling performs on protection — that position belongs to Robb Smith, who bought Rutgers from 123rd in factors allowed per recreation to 56th in two seasons — however he deserves a share of the credit score for the Blue Devils’ staggering turnaround this season. The schedule is not inspiring, admittedly, however Duke has held its opponents to only 14.Three factors per recreation, and its run protection has been among the many greatest within the nation at each stage. The Blue Devils are third in yards allowed per carry on the line, ninth within the second stage and sixth within the open discipline (the place they’ve given up simply 4 yards all season). And the Blue Devils have additionally introduced loads of strain, creating havoc at a top-five charge with each the cross rush and the secondary. There is a motive they’re tied for 13th nationally in takeaways per recreation, and even that determine is a bit decrease than it must be based mostly on anticipated turnovers.

Duke’s defensive success has been led by the anticipated standouts up entrance: DeWayne Carter and RJ Oben mixed for 57 tackles and 13 tackles for loss final season, and so they lead the staff with 86 and 78 pass-rushing snaps, respectively. Extra surprisingly, Aeneas Peebles has emerged as a drive at defensive deal with, with six pressures on 61 pass-rushing snaps. In opposition to the run, the linebackers have been key in locking down potential breakaway carries — led by Shaka Heyward and Dorian Mausi, they’ve made 26 tackles in run protection and missed only one. The cross protection hasn’t been as robust general, however it’s third nationally in havoc charge, with Heyward (4 cross breakups) and nook Joshua Pickett (three cross breakups) on the forefront.

All of that is tempered by the weak point of Duke’s opponents: an FCS staff, a Temple staff that went 3-9 final yr and a Northwestern staff that misplaced to Southern Illinois the week after enjoying the Blue Devils. This staff did begin 3-1 final season, in any case, beating the identical group however with Temple exchanged for Kansas. It is comprehensible that questions on how actual Duke is stay prevalent, particularly by comparability to an opponent that has overwhelmed West Virginia and Houston. Nevertheless it’s not not possible to see them taking it to the robust Jayhawks offense, for which large runs (19.3% gaining 10 or extra yards) have been a essential ingredient of the assault.

The Blue Devils will nonetheless have to attain pretty usually to maintain up, however they maintain a transparent benefit once they have the ball. One in every of simply 9 FBS groups with a better charge of explosive runs than Kansas, Duke has two working backs with greater than 170 yards every and a mixed 6.5 yards per carry, in addition to dual-threat quarterback Riley Leonard (11.Zero yards per cross, 6.7 yards per carry). Jaylen Coleman already has greater than thrice as many yards in 2022 than within the first three seasons of his faculty profession, and Jordan Waters wants solely 23 extra yards to mark his greatest season on the bottom but. The offensive line has been massively profitable on a committee strategy, anchored by Graham Barton — one among eight tackles within the Energy 5 who hasn’t allowed a strain whereas taking at the very least 150 snaps.

Can the Blue Devils really pull off the upset? They’re extraordinarily unproven, and it is potential their protection cannot do greater than these earlier than it towards Jalon Daniels (8.1 yards per cross, 8.Eight yards per carry) and a mighty Jayhawks assault. However they do have the flexibility to match a lot of what Kansas does on offense, and so they convey a quietly proficient protection led by two wonderful coaches who could make a serious stand towards the run. In any case, this units up as some of the thrilling, intriguing video games this Saturday, an opportunity for 2 conventional bottom-feeders to succeed in 4-Zero and exhibit their rising superstars within the course of. Who would have seen that coming a couple of weeks in the past?

Look ahead to:

  • Can the Jayhawks’ defensive backfield step up and restrict Duke’s deep speeding corps past the road?
  • Between two offenses working a bottom-10 charge of performs per recreation, can both staff put collectively longer drives by leaning on their dependable passing assault?
  • Can Duke’s particular groups (seventh in opponent beginning discipline place) win the sphere place battle towards Kansas (ninth in beginning discipline place)?

FEI Outright Decide: Duke by 0.4.

TCU (-2) at SMU—Saturday 12 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

General TCU SMU
2022 F+ 43 42
When TCU has the ball Offense Protection
2022 F+ 28 59
2022 EPA/cross 29 85
2022 EPA/rush 20 82
When SMU has the ball Protection Offense
2022 F+ 68 33
2022 EPA/cross 27 68
2022 EPA/rush 36 103

This units up as a extremely robust recreation on paper — two strong opponents and hopeful convention contenders, each led by robust offenses — however among the intrigue right here comes not from the on-field matchup, however from the circumstances surrounding this recreation. It’s, after all, the Battle for the Iron Skillet, a traditionally shut rivalry collection that TCU leads 51-42-7 due to profitable 16 of 20 conferences this century. That alone would make it price watching, however including to the drama is the best way tensions have heightened over the previous few seasons.

SMU went on the street and snapped a seven-game shedding streak within the rivalry in 2019, a recreation that put them on the map en path to an 8-Zero begin and 10-win season. The groups did not meet in 2020 as a result of pandemic — skipping over a recreation that will have been in Dallas — however the Mustangs returned to Fort Value in 2021 and took one other one-score win in one other lengthy undefeated begin. This season, the rivalry is again at SMU for the primary time in 4 years, and Gerald J. Ford Stadium is sold-out because the Mustangs attempt to attain their longest profitable streak towards TCU because the 1980s. Oh, and if that weren’t sufficient, the sport additionally marks Sonny Dykes’ return to SMU in simply the third recreation of his tenure at their largest rival.

With all of the off-field drama establishing a crowd that is positive to be raucous, it is simple to neglect that that is additionally an intriguing recreation on the sphere. The Mustangs went to Maryland final week and performed the Terrapins right down to the wire, carrying a 27-20 lead into the fourth earlier than in the end falling 34-27. In the meantime, TCU is a dominant 2-Zero behind an offense that has put up 97 factors on Colorado and Tarleton State. That is undoubtedly a recreation each groups have had circled all offseason, and it may show a key inflection level for his or her trajectories going ahead.

TCU’s passing offense hummed alongside properly final yr whether or not Max Duggan (9.Zero yards per try, 16 touchdowns, six interceptions) or Chandler Morris (9.Four yards per try, three touchdowns, no interceptions) was on the helm. The 2 had been embroiled in a prolonged quarterback competitors over the offseason, which Morris in the end gained, however the first two video games of this season have thrown that final result into instant doubt. Morris began the opener towards Colorado and handed for 111 yards on 20 makes an attempt, however a late damage held him out towards Tarleton State, and it was just lately introduced that he’ll miss the SMU recreation as nicely. In Morris’ absence, Duggan has made as robust of a case as potential (albeit towards a middling FCS opponent) to reclaim his beginning position: He threw 29 passes towards the Texans for 390 yards and 5 touchdowns, main the Horned Frogs offense in a 59-17 blowout. Had been Morris wholesome this week, you’d need to determine there can be some query about how the quarterback room can be dealt with; as it’s, Duggan can have one other large alternative to show himself and provides Dykes a troublesome resolution.

In any case, it is most likely not passing that TCU has to fret about. Their offense has put up loads of magnificent numbers up to now — third in EPA per play, top-10 in speeding and passing explosiveness, first in havoc charge allowed — however their ineffective line speeding stands out like a sore thumb. The Horned Frogs’ run recreation has been strong general, as 5 completely different gamers (Morris amongst them) have totaled 40 or extra yards, however they’re averaging simply 2.6 yards per carry up entrance, 117th within the nation. SMU’s protection has confronted loads of runs (on 55.7% of performs) and handled them decently (55th in line yards per carry allowed), which may give them an edge to make TCU’s offense lean extra on Duggan.

The Mustangs have not put up offensive stats as spectacular because the Horned Frogs’, however that is considerably comprehensible with a high quality Energy 5 staff amongst their opponents. Nonetheless, it is evident that they’ve some potent weapons to play with: Tanner Mordecai has already handed for over a thousand yards, whereas Tre Siggers, TJ McDaniel and Velton Gardner have every run for over 120 in a speeding corps the place depth has been an surprising energy. Rashee Rice, although, is the largest offensive standout — with 491 receiving yards, he accounts for practically half of SMU’s passing assault and leads the nation by three weeks. TCU does have a shutdown nook to cowl him, although: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, who allowed simply 2.2 yards after catch per goal final season and has allowed a minuscule 1.Three yards after catch per goal this yr. It is top-of-the-line one-on-one matchups we’ll see all season, and the end result may determine a high-octane rivalry assembly deep within the coronary heart of Texas.

Look ahead to:

  • Can TCU stifle the Mustangs’ speeding assault on the second stage (the place they’re 16th in yards allowed per carry) and open discipline (the place they’re 23rd)?
  • How a lot strain can Elijah Chatman (2.5 sacks) and the SMU cross rush convey towards the Horned Frogs’ robust offensive line?
  • TCU has handily gained the sphere place battle this season, beginning 12.1 yards nearer to the tip zone than their opponents; will they accomplish that once more towards the Mustangs?

FEI Outright Decide: SMU by 0.2.

Florida at Tennessee (-10.5)—Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)

General Florida Tennessee
2022 F+ 35 9
When Florida has the ball Offense Protection
2022 F+ 37 34
2022 EPA/cross 127 50
2022 EPA/rush 12 9
When Tennessee has the ball Protection Offense
2022 F+ 35 6
2022 EPA/cross 32 18
2022 EPA/rush 104 33

On paper, this line makes a certain quantity of sense. Florida went 6-7 final yr and bought worse because the season went on, and within the Gators’ final two video games they’ve misplaced to Kentucky and eked out a win over a foul USF staff. In the meantime, Tennessee went 7-6 final yr (4 of the losses coming towards eventual New 12 months’s Six groups) and is 3-Zero this season, having outslugged Pitt and dominated two MAC opponents. Add within the appreciable home-field benefit of a sold-out Neyland Stadium and you find yourself with a consensus betting line that favors the Volunteers by about 10 factors.

However current historical past on this rivalry invitations comprehensible skepticism. The Gators have gained 16 of the final 17 conferences, and the drought since Tennessee final beat them by 11 factors or extra is older than their true freshmen. Sure, this shapes up as one of many higher groups the Volunteers have had, and sure, the Gators have appeared mightily unimpressive since their Week 1 upset over Utah, however it is smart that virtually no person is as assured in Tennessee as Vegas appears to be.

Nonetheless, the Volunteers ought to have the benefit on this recreation, in principle. Key to their profitable possibilities is a high-tempo offense that rests on the shoulders of quarterback Hendon Hooker. Tennessee runs 93.9% of their snaps with at the very least three receivers, nicely above the FBS common, and Hooker is a serious motive for that — each for that includes the cross and for with the ability to use the run evenly. He has been top-of-the-line passers within the nation since transferring out of Virginia Tech after 2020, averaging 9.7 yards per try with 36 touchdowns and three interceptions at Tennessee. It is smart that the Volunteers construct round his arm, however as a dual-threat quarterback who has rushed for over 600 yards in back-to-back seasons, he additionally offers them an extra menace on the bottom.

The Volunteers misplaced working again Jabari Small early towards Akron, however he is anticipated to return towards Florida. In his absence, Jaylen Wright put up 96 yards on 23 carries, extending his staff lead with 231 speeding yards and solidifying a robust second possibility at working again for Tennessee. The passing offense additionally runs deep, with Jalin Hyatt breaking out final week for 166 yards and two touchdowns, whereas Bru McCoy has been a strong piece because the Volunteers’ Z receiver. However the coronary heart of the receiving corps is Cedric Tillman, who carried the offense with 162 yards within the win over Pitt, and he is questionable for this recreation after an ankle damage final week.

Tennessee has the depth to deal with Tillman’s potential absence, however its passing assault is what the Gators will match up greatest with on protection, so it is not a on condition that Hooker can run roughshod over Florida and rack up factors with ease. Corners Jason Marshall Jr. and Tre’Vez Johnson have mixed to permit 126 yards on 17 targets, and linebacker Amari Burney has doubled as a drive in protection, with solely 106 yards allowed on 17 targets himself. Holding down this passing offense is all the time a tall process, and the Gators’ poor run protection (110th in EPA allowed per rush) will nonetheless be an issue, however they’ve the weapons to go after Tennessee’s prime receivers.

To match the Volunteers’ offensive output, Florida will function its speeding corps prominently. Solely 4 gamers have taken carries for the Gators, however all 4 have rushed greater than 20 instances for at the very least 100 yards. With Montrell Johnson (240 yards, 9.6 yards per carry) spearheading the assault, the Gators are 21st in EPA per rush and ninth in explosive run charge; additionally they rank among the many prime 25 in yards per carry on the line, the second stage and within the open discipline. However Florida has been held again by a dismal passing recreation, rating 117th in EPA per cross and dragging the general offense down considerably. Quarterback Anthony Richardson is averaging extra yards per carry (5.6) than per cross (5.5), and he has thrown two interceptions in back-to-back video games. Xzavier Henderson has been largely ineffective as Florida’s major receiver (94 yards on 15 receptions), and out of doors of Arizona State switch Ricky Pearsall’s 120 yards on seven catches, the Gators do not have a spark by the air. In opposition to a Tennessee protection that is most susceptible to the cross, they’re going to doubtless have to seek out one to emerge from Knoxville with an unlikely win.

Look ahead to:

  • Can the Volunteers’ robust run protection (10th in line yards per carry allowed, 20th in second stage yards per carry allowed) restrict the Gators up entrance?
  • How a lot will Tennessee lean on their speeding assault towards a Florida run protection that has been hammered for a 49.2% success charge on the bottom?
  • In a gathering between two groups that keep away from permitting havoc at a top-25 charge, will both discover an edge within the turnover battle?

FEI Outright Decide: Tennessee by 6.9.

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (-2) in Arlington—Saturday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

General Arkansas Texas A&M
2022 F+ 26 16
When Arkansas has the ball Offense Protection
2022 F+ 11 5
2022 EPA/cross 32 58
2022 EPA/rush 31 70
When Texas A&M has the ball Protection Offense
2022 F+ 48 68
2022 EPA/cross 78 113
2022 EPA/rush 90 42

Third-down conversion charge is a kind of pesky statistics that’s clearly significant, however onerous to interrupt down into smaller items. Clearly, it is strongly tied to general offensive success; it is no accident that Alabama’s dominant assault has ranked among the many prime three on this metric 4 years in a row. However there’s extra to it than that; it is simple to level to issues that will logically assist decide up extra third downs, corresponding to a dependable short-yardage run recreation or, for many who ascribe worth to it, an offense that does nicely within the clutch. Maybe much less clearly (till it is identified, anyway), one of many strongest predictors of third-down success is distance to go. Final yr, for instance, Military led the nation with the shortest common distance to a primary down on its third-down performs — 4.1 yards — and was 12th in third-down conversion charge regardless of not being within the prime 50 in whole offense. Is smart, when you consider it.

All of that is to say that third-down conversion charge is sort of helpful for telling why a staff cannot put collectively lengthy drives, but additionally that it’s extremely troublesome to determine how a lot of it’s proof of an actual downside and the way a lot is simply small-sample-size noise. Within the case of Texas A&M, the story of their struggles this season has its roots in a large step again in third-down share on each offense (from 37% to 30%) and protection (33% to 41% allowed). Not surprisingly, the Aggies are useless final within the nation in performs run per recreation and 97th in performs confronted per recreation. Letting your opponent take 19 extra snaps each week is a simple technique to put your self in a gap, and it was a essential deficit when Texas A&M misplaced to App State, with simply 38 performs on offense and 80 on protection. However will that be a persistent downside, or is the Mountaineers loss simply an enormous outlier? The reply is much from apparent.

Arkansas is, in some ways, simply the alternative of the Aggies. The Razorbacks have soared in third-down conversion charge this season (38% to 53%), and their protection has stepped up in a serious approach as nicely (47% to 36%). We now have seen what the Razorbacks can do with the benefit that has created as they picked up 9 of 16 third downs towards South Carolina and used the ensuing 85 performs to outgain the Gamecocks regardless of shedding the yards-per-play battle 6.1 to five.3. Then again, now we have additionally seen what it seems to be like once they cannot decide up third downs, and it is not fairly: They went 5-of-13 towards Missouri State and needed to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit regardless of handily outgaining the Bears on a per-play foundation, 8.9 yards to five.5. Once more, it is clear that third downs are a key piece of Arkansas’ success this season — and, final week, their relative lack thereof — however what causes that success is somewhat onerous to say.

One of the crucial intuitive causes for offensive success on third downs is a robust stability between speeding and passing. It stands to motive that with the ability to decide up dependable brief yardage each on the bottom and thru the air would make it more durable for defenses to make third-down stands, and that tracks with what now we have seen from Arkansas and Texas A&M. The Razorbacks have run at a really excessive charge attributable to being within the lead usually — 62.7% of performs, ninth in FBS — however their success charge is nearly precisely the identical on each rushes and passes (48.6% when speeding, 48.1% when passing, rating 41st and 44th respectively).

Evaluate the Aggies: Their run recreation, whereas nothing particular up to now (105 yards per recreation on 3.9 yards per carry), has been an honest menace to opposing defenses, however the passing recreation hasn’t executed a lot to select up brief yardage. Haynes King (9.Zero yards per try on 51 passes) and Max Johnson (6.Eight yards per try on 24 passes) have mixed for a mere 33.3% success charge, 112th in FBS; they’ve mixed to finish simply 68.3% of passes lower than 10 yards downfield. Even with the robust secondary and in a position run protection they’re going to convey to face KJ Jefferson and Raheim Sanders’ dynamic offense, that has to vary in the event that they’re to make issues occur towards Arkansas in a essential SEC West matchup.

Look ahead to:

  • Will vaunted rusher Devon Achane proceed his week-over-week enchancment and lead a harmful run recreation towards the Razorbacks?
  • Can Texas A&M’s elite cross protection (14th in EPA per play, 10th in success charge) shut down the proficient Jefferson (9.9 yards per try, main the 23rd passing offense by EPA)?
  • Are the Aggies able to getting strain towards Arkansas with a cross rush that has posted solely 4 sacks and a 5.1% havoc charge (126th in FBS)?

FEI Outright Decide: Texas A&M by 3.5.

USC (-5.5) at Oregon State—Saturday 9:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Community)

General USC Oregon State
2022 F+ 22 48
When USC has the ball Offense Protection
2022 F+ 9 87
2022 EPA/cross 14 28
2022 EPA/rush 7 108
When Oregon State has the ball Protection Offense
2022 F+ 57 19
2022 EPA/cross 36 50
2022 EPA/rush 124 48

It is solely pure that, in a season when the whole lot past the highest three seems to be more likely to change — and when Oregon and Utah have already been saddled with a loss apiece — USC has emerged as a dark-horse candidate for the School Soccer Playoff. The Trojans are as thrilling as any staff within the nation, with an offense led by one of many few preseason Heisman candidates who has began robust. Caleb Williams has accomplished a exceptional 64 of 86 passes, racking up 874 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Maybe much more spectacular is star working again Travis Dye, who’s averaging 7.6 yards per carry (eighth amongst all rushers with 30 or extra makes an attempt), half of it after contact. Jordan Addison rounds out a unbelievable main trio, tied for second in FBS with 5 receiving touchdowns regardless of solely 20 targets. All informed, the offense is top-10 nationally in EPA per play and success charge, and it trails solely Alabama in explosiveness, with 10-yard positive aspects on 31.6% of performs.

The protection has been … much less distinctive, to place it mildly. USC has held opposing passers down for probably the most half, having picked off seven passes and allowed solely two touchdowns by the air; they’re among the many prime 5 in FBS in EPA allowed per cross. However they’ve additionally been topic to a excessive success charge (39.2%, 59th amongst defenses) and a obtrusive explosive-play charge (32.3%, 110th). In opposition to quarterbacks at Rice, Stanford and Fresno State (which misplaced Jake Haener, the one robust passer the Trojans have confronted), that is sure to lift questions on their means to make open-field tackles.

USC’s dismal statistics towards the run affirm all these suspicions, after which some. They’re fifth-worst nationally with 0.44 EPA allowed per rush, the results of a run protection that is poor on the line (104th in line yards per carry allowed) and will get worse within the second stage (123rd) and the open discipline (130th, final within the Energy 5). The Trojans have given up 4.Eight yards per carry to a few groups that averaged 3.6 final season. There is no approach round it: USC has been among the many worst within the nation in each charge statistic towards the run, and it has occurred towards three groups that had been common to horrible final season on the bottom.

In abstract, for those who had been to attract up the perfect staff to win a observe meet towards USC, it will be one with an explosive offense, wonderful deep passing and a robust run recreation in any respect ranges. Because it occurs, that is exactly the sort of staff they’re going to face this week in a go to to Oregon State. The Beavers are top-30 in explosiveness each on the bottom and thru the air, and quarterback Likelihood Nolan — whereas he is not used all that usually in a run-first offense — has dazzled, with 9.9 yards per cross, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Add Deshaun Fenwick, who has taken over from lead 2021 rusher BJ Baylor with out lacking a beat, and you have a staff that is virtually constructed to beat USC, at the very least on offense.

The Trojans offense hasn’t actually been stopped but, although, so even in a foul defensive matchup, they clearly have the flexibility to win a shootout. Oregon State has a strong cross protection led by Rejzohn Wright (41 yards and 5 catches allowed on 16 targets, two interceptions), so it is potential they’ll maintain Williams in verify, however the Trojans will decide up loads of yardage on the bottom. The Beavers are 107th in EPA allowed per carry, and whereas their open-field tackling is not as uniformly poor as USC’s, their linebackers have not locked down the run practically as a lot as that they had hoped. Each Dye and Austin Jones — one other switch throughout the convention, who has stormed to 196 yards on 24 carries this season — ought to discover simple positive aspects towards this protection, however will it match what Oregon State can do on offense? The reply ought to reveal simply how far the Trojans can go this season.

Look ahead to:

  • Will USC use the depth of its speeding assault to overwhelm the Beavers protection by lining up with each Dye and Austin in place to take carries?
  • How usually can Williams beat the robust Oregon State secondary for giant positive aspects to maintain the Trojans’ offense rolling?
  • Can the Beavers proceed to capitalize on scoring possibilities (the place they’ve 5.Four factors per alternative, 13th in FBS) to maintain the strain on USC?

FEI Outright Decide: USC by 8.9.

FEI Picks: Week 4

Favourite Unfold Underdog FEI Decide FEI
 Decide ATS
 Decide ATS
Clemson -7 at Wake Forest Clemson Clemson Clemson
at Kansas -7 Duke Duke Duke Duke
at Tennessee -10.5 Florida Tennessee Florida Florida
Texas A&M -2 Arkansas Texas A&M Texas A&M Arkansas
USC -5.5 at Oregon State USC USC Oregon State

FEI’s picks ATS final week: 1-5.

FEI’s picks ATS in 2022: 6-12.

Preston’s picks ATS final week: 3-3.

Preston’s picks ATS in 2022: 7-11.

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