Younger, Walker, Pickett Chase Heisman Glory
NCAA Week 12 – In latest seasons, the Heisman Trophy race has largely been outlined by domination. From 2016 by way of 2019, all 4 gamers to win the award (Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Joe Burrow) had been quarterbacks—three of them on playoff groups—and all earned over 75% of the vote, with Burrow’s 93.8% mark making him the clearest winner in historical past. 2020 introduced a deviation from the norm, with huge receiver DeVonta Smith taking solely 66.8% of the attainable factors in his landmark win, however he nonetheless constructed out a snug margin of practically 700 factors over runner-up Trevor Lawrence. There hasn’t been a serious disagreement since 2015, when Derrick Henry edged out Christian McCaffrey by just below 300 factors.
The requirements of the fashionable Heisman vote—that the winner will usually be a draft-eligible quarterback (or probably working again) from a top-four workforce, and that the actual selection will likely be apparent by the point ballots get mailed in—do not appear fairly as clear this season, although. With solely two or three video games left for the highest contenders, the sphere is extremely tight, with most oddsmakers giving 4 completely different gamers a sensible shot. Alabama quarterback Bryce Younger hasn’t thrown an interception for the reason that Crimson Tide’s loss to Texas A&M, and he not too long ago bolstered his numbers by finishing 21 of 23 passes for 5 touchdowns in opposition to New Mexico State. A run of comparatively inefficient video games, nonetheless, have dropped his numbers sufficient that a couple of others are inside putting distance.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud accomplished over 70.0% of his passes with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions throughout a win over Purdue final week, marking the third time he has finished that within the convention slate. In the meantime, Ole Miss passer Matt Corral has just one actually disappointing efficiency this season, averaging 6.1 yards per try in opposition to Tennessee—however he greater than made up for it by speeding for 195 yards on the day. Rounding out the principle quartet is Michigan State working again Kenneth Walker III, who has rushed for over 140 yards within the majority of his video games this season and ran for all 5 of the Spartans’ touchdowns in a important win over rival Michigan.
Everyone else is a longshot, however there are some exceptional performances within the group trailing behind, too. Pitt’s Kenny Pickett wants simply 5 extra passing touchdowns to match Dan Marino (1981) and Rod Rutherford (2003) for the varsity file of 37 in a single season, and he is eight away from Marino’s profession mark of 79. Freshman TreVeyon Henderson has burst onto the scene at Ohio State, already breaking the thousand-yard barrier and speeding for 277 yards in opposition to Tulsa within the third sport of his profession. Desmond Ridder has led Cincinnati to a 10-0 file and a possible School Soccer Playoff spot, Honest McCormick has scampered for 1,150 yards amid UTSA’s excellent season, and Kayvon Thibodeaux and Devin Lloyd are reshaping defenses round their brilliance at Oregon and Utah, respectively. The chase for school soccer’s most prestigious particular person award is huge open, and this week, we’ll check out a few of the high contenders because the season nears its finish.
All occasions are listed as Jap.
Michigan State at Ohio State (-19)—Saturday, 12 p.m. (ABC)
|General||Michigan State||Ohio State|
|When Michigan State has the ball||Offense||Protection|
|When Ohio State has the ball||Protection||Offense|
TreVeyon Henderson and the remainder of Ohio State’s speeding corps (together with Miyan Williams and Grasp Teague) are all effectively and good, however this offense—arguably one of the best in FBS, a minimum of judging by EPA per drive—runs by way of C.J. Stroud. The Buckeyes’ freshman quarterback, who had by no means thrown a move in faculty soccer earlier than this season, leads his convention in yards per try, passing touchdowns, and effectivity score. Below his management, Ohio State is averaging 0.59 EPA per move, rating fourth-highest within the nation. All three groups above the Buckeyes move much less usually, making it simpler to be environment friendly by way of the air, and none play within the Energy 5. The one passing offense in Ohio State’s ballpark that has performed a comparable schedule is Georgia (0.58 EPA per move), the place Stetson Bennett IV nonetheless has some lingering considerations about his capability to carry out in shut video games and make massive performs.
You can argue, although, that the identical questions apply to Stroud. Ohio State’s passing explosiveness (1.65 EPA per profitable play, forty ninth) is worse than Georgia’s (1.71, thirtieth), and Stroud has struggled within the few shut video games he has performed in since September. The Buckeyes passer was merely strong in opposition to Penn State (22-for-34, 305 yards, 1 TD) and performed out and in of bother in opposition to Nebraska (36-for-54, 405 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT). These video games, together with the Oregon loss (35-for-54, 484 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT), had been three of Stroud’s 4 worst all 12 months, a minimum of judging by passer score.
The Buckeyes are staring down the barrel of a pivotal two-week stretch through which they face Michigan State and Michigan, the 2 groups chasing them at 6-1 within the Huge Ten. Win each, and Ohio State ought to roll into the convention championship sport in opposition to an outmatched opponent from the West, maybe an 8-4 Wisconsin or 9-3 Iowa. Lose both sport, although, and the division and the playoff will likely be out of the Buckeyes’ palms. Quarterback play is significant in any run like that, and it is particularly vital for Stroud due to the competitors he should face. Michigan State faces the best fee of passes in FBS—61.9% of opponents’ performs are by way of the air—and so they maintain their very own, rating 53rd in EPA per play and thirty third in havoc fee in opposition to the move. Michigan is arguably even higher, rating among the many high 10 in EPA per play and success fee when opponents try to throw.
The Spartans’ swarming protection is of the bend-don’t-break selection: they permit a 64.7% completion fee (98th) and 44.2% passing success fee (92nd), however these completions common solely 10.9 yards every (twenty third), and people profitable performs common simply 1.44 EPA (twenty fifth). Stroud presents an fascinating comparability: he has the Buckeyes among the many high 15 in each completion share and yards per completion, however the superior stats counsel his type is constructed round staying on schedule, as his 55.3% passing success fee ranks second total. If Stroud can try this in opposition to Michigan State, he should not have issue placing up factors.
The Spartans would possibly be capable of sustain, although. Working again Kenneth Walker III is perhaps one of the best participant in faculty soccer, and it is exhausting to consider a greater possibility for a workforce seeking to spring a serious upset. “Dynamic,” “explosive,” and “game-changing” are plaudits that outline his type: his 40 rushes for double-digit yardage lead faculty soccer, and he is certainly one of solely two gamers this season to hurry for 5 touchdowns in a sport. (No one had finished that for any Huge Ten workforce since Melvin Gordon ran for 253 yards and 5 touchdowns on Bowling Inexperienced in 2014, and no person had finished it in a Huge Ten convention sport since Brian Calhoun in 2005.) Ohio State’s protection performs effectively in opposition to the run, rating twelfth in whole EPA, twenty seventh in success fee, and twenty third in explosiveness, however these stats are knowledgeable by their low fee of speeding performs confronted: 42.0%, third-lowest in FBS.
The Buckeyes’ escape from Minnesota and their loss to Oregon noticed them enable 4.1 and seven.1 yards per carry, respectively, for 3 speeding touchdowns in every sport—however they’ve solely allowed three extra touchdowns on the bottom since. Nebraska’s 113 speeding yards and three.3 yards per carry are essentially the most aggressive displaying any speeding corps has managed in opposition to Ohio State of their final eight video games. So whereas there is a blueprint to strain Stroud, break off massive runs, and beat the Buckeyes, it will not be a simple one to comply with because the Spartans look to take care of their postseason hopes.
Look ahead to:
- Can Payton Thorne (9.0 yards per try, 21 TD, 8 INT) put up yards in opposition to Ohio State’s middling move protection (57th in EPA per play)?
- Will Michigan State be capable of maintain off Ohio State’s elite offensive line (sixth in line yards per carry, second in stuff fee, eighth in sack prevention fee)?
- Will Jaxon Smith-Njigba proceed to steer the Buckeyes receiving corps after the primary video games of his profession with 9 or extra catches in opposition to Nebraska and Purdue?
FEI Outright Decide: Ohio State by 15.6
Arkansas at Alabama (-21)—Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
|When Arkansas has the ball||Offense||Protection|
|When Alabama has the ball||Protection||Offense|
A 3-game shedding streak simply after their top-10 peak, together with the ensuing elimination from a chaotic SEC West, has led Arkansas’ unimaginable season to fade from the limelight considerably, however the Razorbacks deserve extra recognition for the unimaginable rise they’ve made underneath second-year coach Sam Pittman. Simply two seasons in the past, this workforce was mired on the finish of the Chad Morris period, closing out its second straight 0-8 season in convention play. Since then, they’ve jumped to 3-7 final 12 months and 7-3 this 12 months, and whereas their division hopes have been quashed, they might management their future to succeed in Atlanta had only a single play (the game-ending two-point try in opposition to Ole Miss) gone in another way.
In fact, controlling one’s future is a little bit of a cheat when the trail requires a win over the No. 2 workforce within the nation. Nonetheless, the truth that the Razorbacks got here even theoretically near a convention championship this season is an unqualified success. Arkansas is on the verge of surpassing eight wins and ending ranked, two issues they haven’t finished since 2011, some six coaches in the past. Beating Alabama is a tall activity, and the Razorbacks’ outcome this week should not outline their season. That being stated, a win or perhaps a near-upset could be a wonderful cap to their greatest 12 months in a decade. So what can Arkansas do to problem the Crimson Tide?
Maybe most critically, they’re going to have to win the turnover battle. Alabama’s +0.7 turnover margin per FBS sport is tied for 18th nationally, and so they have solely misplaced the ball twice in a single sport: their gorgeous loss to Texas A&M. Steadiness is vital to matching the Tide, too: just one workforce has mixed a passing assault for over 200 yards with a speeding assault for over 2.5 per carry, that workforce as soon as once more being the Aggies. Alabama has had video games the place opponents have run on them for loads of yardage (246 yards and 4 touchdowns allowed to Florida, 109 yards to LSU) and so they have had video games the place they struggled to defend the move (282 yards and over 10.0 yards per try to Tennessee, 300 yards to Mississippi State). However just one workforce has put collectively a severe menace on each fronts, and Alabama has usually gotten stronger in these video games as they modify to check opponents’ limits.
On the entire, the Razorbacks stack up effectively to those necessities: they common a +0.7 turnover margin (twenty third), their passing assault has put up over 200 yards and a number of touchdowns in half of their video games, and solely Georgia has restricted their speeding assault to underneath 140 yards or 3.5 yards per carry. With a dependable passer, a multifaceted run sport, and a sturdy offensive line, they’re some of the full offenses Alabama has confronted this season. The identical cannot be stated for the Razorbacks’ protection, although, strong as it might be. The Razorbacks rank twenty ninth in defensive EPA, thirty second in opponent success fee, and thirty third in opponent explosiveness.
That is all effectively and good, nevertheless it has been some time for the reason that group has put collectively a full sport. The secondary terrorized Georgia successfully, permitting simply 72 yards on 11 makes an attempt, however Arkansas could not deal with the Bulldogs’ assault within the trenches, permitting 273 speeding yards and 4.9 yards per carry. Then Ole Miss lit the Razorbacks up by way of the air (287 yards, 13.7 yards per try) and on the bottom (324 yards, 6.6 yards per carry). Auburn received a profession efficiency out of Bo Nix (292 yards, 11.2 yards per try), and the Razorbacks wanted a last-minute landing drive to defeat Mississippi State’s Will Rogers (417 yards, 8.7 yards per try, 4 TD, 1 INT). It wasn’t till final week, when Arkansas held LSU to 200 passing yards (5.4 yards per try) and 108 speeding yards (2.6 yards per carry) in a 16-13 extra time win, that the protection shut down an FBS opponent for the primary time for the reason that Texas A&M sport again in September.
Alabama has among the best assaults within the nation, having not too long ago ended a 34-game stretch through which the Tide scored a minimum of 30 factors—the longest in class historical past by an element of three. Bryce Younger is among the most constant quarterbacks within the nation, with no single sport this season through which he did not throw extra touchdowns than interceptions, and Brian Robinson Jr. spearheads a reliable speeding corps that has averaged a minimum of 4.5 yards per carry in seven of the Tide’s 10 video games to date. As soon as once more, shutting Alabama down on a minimum of one entrance is a recipe for achievement—all three down-to-the-wire video games the Tide have performed in (Texas A&M, Florida, and LSU) have been amongst their 4 worst speeding performances of the season by whole yardage. However dealing with Alabama is tough for even one of the best of groups. Arkansas has a shot at a seismic upset, however they’re going to have to be practically excellent to stun the Tide.
Look ahead to:
- Can the Razorbacks discover speeding yardage in opposition to an all-around good Tide run protection (third in yards per carry on the line, sixth on the second stage, sixth within the open subject)?
- Will Arkansas’ tenacious passing down protection (fifth in EPA, first in success fee) cease the Tide from getting out of tight conditions as usually as they’ve?
- Can Bryce Younger keep out of bother in opposition to a robust secondary that has introduced residence 10 interceptions in 10 video games this season?
FEI Outright Decide: Alabama by 17.7
SMU at Cincinnati (-11)—Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
|When SMU has the ball||Offense||Protection|
|When Cincinnati has the ball||Protection||Offense|
Throughout all of school soccer, few gamers will likely be as vital to the playoff race as Desmond Ridder. After a robust begin highlighted by a methodical win over Notre Dame, Cincinnati has struggled to fill out its résumé convincingly. The American has a strong high three within the Bearcats, Houston, and SMU, however the remainder of the convention supplies little alternative to indicate something apart from type factors. Thankfully for Cincinnati, their run of good-not-great opponents is generally at an finish: from right here till the collection of the playoff subject, they’re going to face 8-2 SMU, 6-4 East Carolina, and (most certainly) 9-1 Houston within the convention championship sport. Sitting at fifth within the playoff rankings, the Bearcats ought to have a terrific shot in the event that they win out. Houston is lastly ranked, and whereas SMU in all probability is not close to the highest 25, it is exhausting to argue that any victory over them would harm Cincinnati’s case. The duty earlier than this workforce is now a a lot easier one, then: hold successful. The Bearcats want to complete the season as impressively as they began it, which suggests they want Ridder at his greatest.
Having not too long ago performed his tenth sport in a season for the fourth time in his profession, Ridder’s power is unsurprisingly in his expertise. The Bearcats veteran, nearly as good as he’s, does not often win video games singlehandedly, however he is hardly ever one to lose them. Throughout the 46 video games of his profession, Ridder has thrown a number of interceptions simply thrice, none this season. He excels at studying defenses and making pre-snap judgements, and he possesses some wonderful scrambling capability (279 yards, 3.5 yards per carry), all of which helps the speeding corps immensely. With Jerome Ford (884 yards, 6.2 yards per carry, 15 TD) lurking within the backfield, Cincinnati’s opponents have to select their poison: each the passing and speeding assaults have accounted for a number of touchdowns in seven video games this season, with a minimum of one group doing so in each sport. Unsurprisingly, the Bearcats’ offense is among the best in faculty soccer, with top-20 success charges each speeding and passing and the sixth-lowest fee of passing downs.
When all of it works, it is nearly unbeatable, however issues have not all the time clicked for the Bearcats. Their worst offensive efficiency of the season might have come in opposition to Indiana, a sport through which they gained simply 50% of offensive yards and wanted 5 turnovers to flee with the win. Ridder threw for simply 210 yards on 36 makes an attempt (5.8 yards per try) for one landing and one interception, and the run sport was restricted, with Ford totaling simply 66 yards on 20 carries (3.3 yards per try). It was a special story two weeks later, although, when the Bearcats pulled away from Notre Dame because of Ridder’s profession day (19-for-32, 297 yards, 9.3 yards per try, 2 TD). Throughout the following two video games, the speeding assault returned in full power, averaging 308 yards, 8.2 yards per carry, and 5 touchdowns in opposition to Temple and UCF. Cincinnati has stayed alive since then, although each phases of their offense have been inconsistent. A high-scoring win final week—through which Ridder handed for 304 yards on 39 makes an attempt and the rushers added 202 yards and 4 touchdowns—would possibly mark a resurgence, however placing up factors on USF and doing so in opposition to SMU are two very completely different duties.
The Mustangs’ protection is strongest within the run sport: they usually play seven or eight defenders inside 5 yards of the road of scrimmage, which is why they permit simply 2.19 yards per carry and a 32.2% speeding success fee (each fourth in FBS). The tradeoff is a secondary that tends to lag behind and modify comparatively slowly. Nearly as good because the defensive position is, it is solely common at breaking by way of for sacks (6.5% of dropbacks, 62nd) or havoc (10.7%, 86th), and levelheaded quarterbacks have been capable of punish SMU with an environment friendly vertical passing sport.
One of the best showings by opposing passers have largely been by essentially the most skilled amongst them, similar to Louisiana Tech’s Austin Kendall (24 profession video games; 351 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT in opposition to SMU) and Houston’s Clayton Tune (30 profession video games; 412 yards, 4 TD in opposition to SMU). For Ridder, heading into his forty seventh sport at Cincinnati, that is an encouraging sample. If the Bearcats are to proceed their unlikely march to the playoff, they’re going to want their seasoned quarterback on the helm of a victory this weekend.
Look ahead to:
- After main SMU’s restoration from back-to-back losses at Houston and Memphis with a 377-yard win over UCF, can Tanner Mordecai information the Mustangs to an upset win?
- Will Cincinnati’s move protection (third in EPA, eighth in success fee, 72nd in explosiveness) be capable of restrict Mordecai’s big-play potential?
- Can the Bearcats’ wonderful speeding assault (ninth in EPA, eighth in success fee) eke out yardage in opposition to SMU within the trenches?
FEI Outright Decide: Cincinnati by 10.0
Virginia at Pittsburgh (-14.5)—Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
|When Virginia has the ball||Offense||Protection|
|When Pittsburgh has the ball||Protection||Offense|
It is the 12 months of the dual-threat quarterback within the ACC. There are solely 5 quarterbacks in FBS to succeed in 2,500 passing yards, 200 speeding yards, and 30 whole touchdowns, and all of them play within the ACC. Draft darling Sam Howell has rebounded fantastically from an overreaction-inducing debut, averaging 9.0 yards per try for North Carolina with 22 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a few 727 speeding yards for 9 additional touchdowns. He not too long ago outdueled Sam Hartman handy Wake Forest their first loss, although the Demon Deacons’ convention file stays unblemished on the power of their passer’s 9.1 yards per try, 30 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and 329 speeding yards for 9 touchdowns. Louisville’s Malik Cunningham nudged his numbers simply above the required stat line on Thursday evening, passing for 303 yards and 5 touchdowns whereas speeding for 224 yards and two extra touchdowns.
The cream of the crop, although, are a pair of upperclassmen who’ve led two of school soccer’s most electrifying offenses to the highest of the ACC Coastal. From Pitt, there’s Kenny Pickett: Heisman contender, all-time ACC performs chief, and unquestioned breakout participant of the 12 months. Throughout his first 4 seasons, Pickett’s passing touchdowns by no means topped his interceptions by greater than 4; this 12 months, he has thrown 32 touchdowns to only 4 picks. His reverse quantity: Brennan Armstrong of Virginia, whose identify is as apt as Pickett’s is a misnomer. Solely Bailey Zappe and Will Rogers have extra passing yards than Armstrong, and each have thrown over 75 extra passes. Each the Panthers and the Cavaliers have an elite quarterback, which makes this matchup a tantalizing duel with the division at stake.
Whereas it is tough to seek out a lot daylight between Pickett and Armstrong, the identical cannot be stated of their groups’ defenses. Pitt began out the season in tough form on that aspect of the ball, permitting 34 to Tennessee and 44 to Western Michigan. Seven video games down the highway, nonetheless, it seems 34 was barely higher than the common in opposition to the Volunteers, and the Broncos’ high-scoring upset over the Panthers appears to be like like an outlier. Pitt has allowed 30 or extra factors simply as soon as in ACC play, with their opponents averaging simply 22.5 factors per sport. They permit simply 0.34 EPA per drive (eleventh) and 0.07 per play (thirteenth). This exceptional turnaround has been led by the emergence of Pitt’s defensive position, which has allowed simply 2.27 line yards per carry (eighth) and a 42.9% energy success fee (fourth) whereas producing sacks on 10.4% of dropbacks (seventh). Virginia’s offensive line has fed the run effectively, serving to the Cavaliers rank within the high 25 in yards per carry on the line, second stage, and within the open subject, however their sack prevention is middling—67th in sack fee allowed, forty ninth in entrance seven havoc allowed—so Pitt may get to Armstrong.
Virginia is a special story. Of the ten groups the Cavaliers have confronted, solely three have failed to attain 28 or extra factors in opposition to this protection: FCS William & Mary, 4-6 Illinois, and 3-7 Duke. In FBS play, Virginia has allowed 59 or extra factors as usually because it has held opponents underneath that mark of 28. The superior stats do not inform a special story: the Cavaliers sit a hundred and twentieth in EPA allowed per play, 112th in opponent success fee, a hundred and twentieth in havoc fee, and one hundredth or worse in yards per carry in any respect ranges. It is robust to see them placing up a battle in opposition to Pickett, significantly with their dismal move protection (122nd in EPA allowed per move, 109th in passing success fee).
Below the belief that Pitt will rating often, this sport ought to come down as to whether Armstrong can hold tempo in opposition to a strong Panthers protection. That matchup must be appointment viewing, and if Virginia can muster a couple of stops in opposition to Pickett’s mighty passing assault, this showdown for the ACC Coastal has potential to turn into an all-time shootout. Both approach, whichever quarterback emerges from this sport with their convention championship hopes intact may soar into the ranks of the highest Heisman contenders.
Look ahead to:
- Can Virginia efficiently bend with out breaking and hold Pitt from delivering massive performs to place the sport out of attain?
- Will Pitt benefit from the sphere place battle in opposition to a Cavaliers workforce that has confronted the seventh-longest fields in FBS?
- Can the Panthers’ run sport (fifty fifth in EPA, forty eighth in success fee; 4 gamers with over 200 yards) assist put collectively lengthy drives in opposition to Virginia?
FEI Outright Decide: Pittsburgh by 7.4
UAB at UTSA (-4.5)—Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
|When UAB has the ball||Offense||Protection|
|When UTSA has the ball||Protection||Offense|
Earlier than this season, UTSA had by no means gained greater than eight video games in a season; now, they’re 10-0 with extra wins on the way in which. They’d by no means reached the highest 25 at any level; now they’re fifteenth with potential to rise even greater. They’d by no means gained their division, not to mention their convention, which is the following truth the Roadrunners hope to make out of date. Standing of their approach is one other program which briefly did not exist over the past decade: UAB, which is 5-1 and will sneak by to win Convention USA West if they will upend UTSA on the highway. Each the Roadrunners and the Blazers have overcome tough circumstances in unlikely trend to succeed in this level, however in all chance, just one will transfer ahead with a shot at convention title glory. (Issues may get wild within the last week if UAB wins, with the Blazers taking up a tricky UTEP on Friday, which may arrange UTSA to get well the division title in opposition to a bowl-chasing North Texas. In all chance, although, that is the division-decider.)
Maybe essentially the most spectacular factor in regards to the Roadrunners is their all-around high quality. Many an upstart Group of 5 workforce depends on an otherworldly passer or a stifling defensive unit to safe its spectacular file, however UTSA has been among the many most full groups within the nation. Frank Harris has remodeled from an unremarkable starter in 2020 (6.5 yards per try, 12 TD, 6 INT) to a gentle star in 2021 (8.1 yards per try, 20 TD, 5 INT). He has additionally supplied invaluable speeding yardage (400 yards, 5.7 yards per carry this season) to additional the efforts of acclaimed rusher Honest McCormick (1,150 yards, 5.0 yards per carry), who’s in good place to repeat as C-USA Offensive Participant of the Yr. The Roadrunners are nice on protection, too: they’ve solely allowed greater than 30 factors as soon as this season, and that was in opposition to the ridiculously good Western Kentucky offense, which has scored greater than 30 factors in each sport. The underside line: UTSA ranks within the high 30 in EPA per drive on each offense (thirtieth) and protection (twenty third). Solely six different groups (Alabama, Appalachian State, Arizona State, Georgia, Liberty, and Pitt) can declare that.
UAB is not fairly in that membership, however solely by a slim margin—their 0.74 EPA per drive allowed is thirty second total. The Blazers are simply as balanced as their division rival, with Dylan Hopkins (10.1 yards per try, 11 TD, 4 INT) and DeWayne McBride (942 yards, 6.5 yards per carry, 10 TD) main the offense and Antonio Moultrie (48 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, two sacks) captaining a wonderful defensive position (top-15 in line yards per carry, energy success fee, and stuff fee). UAB is just a little uneven—the passing assault is top-15 in EPA and explosiveness, however 66th in success fee; the move protection is 116th in explosiveness—however usually, they’re additionally among the best all-around groups within the Group of 5.
The important thing for UTSA will likely be to piece collectively a bonus based mostly on the weak factors in UAB’s armor. The Blazers’ largest concern offensively is with the ability to transfer the ball reliably: each their speeding and passing assaults generate EPA (twenty second and 14th, respectively) and explosiveness (twenty eighth and fifth) much better than uncooked success fee (52nd and 66th). Partially in consequence, UAB has been merely common on third downs, changing simply 39.3% of their makes an attempt (63rd). Mix that weak spot for falling delayed with a worrying havoc fee (17.2% total, 74th), and UTSA’s plan of assault is obvious: win the road of scrimmage, produce tackles for loss to get UAB behind the chains, and step up with their very own strong third-down protection when it counts.
The counter for the Blazers is to do what they do greatest: make massive performs. UAB ranks eighth within the nation in explosiveness, and UTSA has struggled to defend the deep ball, permitting 1.65 EPA per profitable move (84th). Whereas the run protection turns into downright smothering on lengthy rushes (solely 0.52 open subject yards allowed per carry, third in FBS), the identical cannot be stated of the Roadrunners’ beleaguered secondary. Thankfully, UTSA has loads of choices to focus on downfield: Gerrit Prince, Trea Shropshire, and RaJae’ Johnson-Sanders all have a minimum of 22.0 yards per catch on 15 or extra receptions. For the Blazers to deliver an unlikely undefeated season to an finish, they’re going to ship out certainly one of soccer’s most explosive passing video games in full power.
Look ahead to:
- Can UTSA’s gifted secondary benefit from the Blazers’ errors and safe breakups or interceptions?
- After a uncommon two-turnover day in opposition to Southern Miss, will UTSA maintain onto the ball and maximize their drives?
- Can McBride and Jermaine Brown Jr. (468 yards, 4.9 yards per carry, 4 TD) open up massive performs within the run sport for UAB?
FEI Outright Decide: UTSA by 8.0
Oregon at Utah (-3)—Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
|When Oregon has the ball||Offense||Protection|
|When Utah has the ball||Protection||Offense|
Each Oregon and Utah are higher on offense than they’re on protection, however each groups’ greatest participant is nonetheless on the defensive entrance. The consultant for the Geese is of course edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, the projected first total choose in subsequent 12 months’s NFL draft. After damage sidelined him early within the season, Thibodeaux has returned to singlehandedly make Oregon’s move rush among the many greatest in FBS. His stats—34 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks—do not leap off the web page, even accounting for his missed video games, however there are limits to how informative defensive stats might be, and Thibodeaux pushes them. Being so good that opposing offenses modify on the fly to maintain him away from the ball is exactly what makes Thibodeaux so unimaginable.
However if you need a Heisman contender with glowing numbers, look no additional than Oregon’s opponent this week. On the coronary heart of Utah’s protection is flexible linebacker Devin Lloyd, who was already among the best front-seven gamers in faculty soccer earlier than he additionally turned among the best secondary gamers this season. In help up entrance, Lloyd has 85 tackles, 20 tackles for loss (essentially the most in FBS), and 6 sacks; within the backfield, he has discovered time so as to add six move breakups and three interceptions. With a minimum of three video games left in his season, that five-figure stat line is already the one certainly one of its form within the twenty first century. Even the easier mixture of 20 tackles for loss and three interceptions has solely been replicated as soon as within the final 20 years (by TCU’s Paul Dawson in 2014).
Offensively, each groups dominate the road of scrimmage. Oregon ranks sixth in line yards per carry and Utah seventh, and each groups are within the high 15 in EPA per rush. Their run video games aren’t fairly the identical, although: Oregon’s is outlined by a towering 56.0% success fee, second in FBS, whereas Utah’s power is in massive speeding performs, as they rank twelfth in speeding explosiveness. However, the important thing of each offenses is on the bottom, which suggests each groups will likely be taking up their opponent’s defensive celebrity often. Each strains stop havoc effectively (Oregon is seventh in opponent entrance seven havoc; Utah is thirty first), however Thibodeaux and Lloyd are all the time threats to show a sport on its head in a single play.
As for the offenses themselves, the Geese have a extra conventional speeding corps, with Travis Dye (908 yards, 6.0 yards per carry, 12 TD) because the characteristic again, Anthony Brown (551 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 8 TD) including some dual-threat yardage, and CJ Verdell (397 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, 5 TD) taking on on energy rushes, with Byron Cardwell (320 yards, 7.8 yards per carry, 3 TD) additionally accessible as a secondary big-play possibility. The Utes are a special story as Tavion Thomas, Micah Bernard, and TJ Pledger have all taken a minimum of 65 carries for a minimum of 5.9 yards per carry apiece. Utah pivoted first to Bernard (29 carries in opposition to BYU and San Diego State), then to Thomas (16 or extra carries in a five-game stretch from USC to Stanford), and most not too long ago to Pledger (25 carries for 119 yards in opposition to Arizona). Harm, inconsistency, and uncertainty have affected the group, however the Utes have managed it completely, and if Thomas is wholesome, they will put three completely different big-play speeding threats on the sphere.
The Utes have all however gained the Pac-12 South; their solely convention loss is out of the division, and so they have already overwhelmed all people inside putting distance. This sport means way more for Oregon, who’s going through a demanding stretch run through which they’re going to face Utah, then rising rival Oregon State, and presumably Utah once more within the convention championship sport. In the event that they win all three video games, they’re going to have a spot within the playoff, however can they pull off that end? Utah is one of the best, most experimental, and most explosive workforce the Geese have confronted since they outdueled Ohio State close to the beginning of the season, and Oregon may have their palms full making an attempt to maintain their CFP hopes alive. The one certainty is that each groups will placed on a present on either side of the ball.
Look ahead to:
- Will Anthony Brown proceed to keep away from interceptions, or will his opponents’ frequent secondary havoc meet up with him?
- Can the Utes maintain down the fort in opposition to the third-best third-down offense within the nation (changing 53.4% of makes an attempt)?
- Will Utah’s very good offensive line (twelfth in line yards per carry, seventh in alternative fee, seventh in sack prevention fee) lead their speeding assault to dependable yardage?
FEI Outright Decide: Utah by 2.0
FEI Picks: Week 12
|at Ohio State||-19||Michigan State||Ohio State||Michigan State||Michigan State|
FEI’s picks ATS in Week 11: 6-0
FEI’s picks ATS in 2021: 33-33
Preston’s picks ATS in Week 11: 3-3
Preston’s picks ATS in 2021: 33-33