Arkansas -10.5/63.5 vs Col ST
Capping this game is harder than its first look. Last year the Rams came out victorious
with a 34-27 home win. What truly happened was the Hogs was leading 27-9 midway
through the 3rd quarter then allowed the Rams to roll up 25 unanswered points. And
the Hogs did not seem to improve since then. Let's take a closer look at these 2 teams.
(A note here the lines for LY match up were Arkansas -14 and OU 70.)
This year the Rams offense has to replace its starting QB (61% 2261 yds 19 TD 9 INT),
its top RB (717 yds) and 2 star receivers. The OL has only 2 starting linemen return, all other
linemen never had any real game experience.
Fortunately, QB Colin Hill, who started last 4 games in 2018, is back. The receiving corp.
is always producing great players, and it should not be different this year. The biggest concern
going into this season is its mediocre rushing attack.
After 2 games, QB Collin Hill has been really good (71% 741 yds 7 TD 2 INT), and a stagnant
ground game has picked up some steam, netting 160 ypg at 4.78 ypc. That's a promising
sign comparing with 105 ypg at 3.23 ypc LY.
Defense is loaded with returners, 6 of last year top 7 tacklers on the DL return, and 7 of
last year top 10 Secondary also came back, though it's not a guarantee for improvement.
Overall the Rams offense has improved quite a bit, both on the ground or through the air, and
the defense is still struggling both against the pass or the run. Though the pass defense has
shown some signs of better coverage than last year.
The first year as the Hogs' boss did not go well for HC Chad Morris (2-10 record and 0-8 SEC)
and it does not look promising after 2 games this season. His hand-pick QB, a transfer from
SMU, Ben Hicks, did not pan out as expected. He was benched after completing only 46.7%
at a poor 5.4 yards per attempt. That opened the door for the A&M transfer, QB Nick Starkel.
In 1H at Ole Miss, QB Ben Hicks went 7 of 16 for 98 yards, and the Hogs punted 4 times and
gained only 132 total yards. Coaching staff decided to make a change and went with Starkel.
The decision paid off as QB Starkel (17-24 passes for 201 yards and 1 pass TD) led
2 TD drives and nearly had a third, with a 38-yard TD pass negated due to a penalty.
Will QB Starkel be the answer to the Hogs' mediocre offense? This game will tell a lot more,
and I somehow believe he will be what the Hogs needs at QB. He will have lot of targets, a dozen
ball catchers to be exact, and watch out for Fr. phenom, Trey Knox, he should have a field day.
Last year the Hogs racked up 299 rushing yards (5.64 ypc) and all top 3 rushers returned.
There is no reason to believe the Rams can slow down Hogs' rushing attack, particularly if
QB Starkel can spread the field better than last year.
This game will likely be a shoot out and the Hogs will get its revenge. As long as the Rams will
not shoot themselves (-5 TO's in 2 games) which is a BIG if, the Rams should cover the spread.
PICKS: Rams +10.5 (B) and Over 63.5
NC ST -6.5/45.5 at W. Virginia
The Mountaineers is in a total rebuilding mode TY after the departure of an 8-year
head coach Dana Holgorsen who bolted for a Group-5 job at Houston, along with many
key players, and probably an unstable locker room. They did, however, got a good hire
in Neal Brown, a good HC from Troy who built a bottom program into a power house in
Sun Belt conference.
After 2 games (1-1) the Mountaineers struggled mightily on offense, average 13.5 ppg (#123)
and a mere 233 Total yards per game (#128), and is expected for losing so much on offense.
They lost a great QB (67% 3864 yds 37 TD 8 INT), the RB unit is intact but questions arise.
In loss to Missouri, the first two RBs, Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway both of whom
were averaged about 6 ypc LY, combined for 13 rushes for a shocking MINUS five yards.
Talented QB Austin Kendall, a transfer from Oklahoma who pushed Kyler Murray to the limit
in competition, has not shown his star-status yet, though his poor numbers could easily be
attributed to the loss of all top 4 receivers from last year squad. The OL has experience but
not settled. They did a good job in pass protection but needs improvement on running game.
The defense seems to be solid. Its pass coverage and pressure up front are adequate. The
rush defense is also acceptable. Defensive improvement is expected very soon under this
new coaching staff.
The Wolfpack is dealing with massive offensive turnover as well. The offense lost its OC,
a 4,000-yard QB, a 1,000-yard RB, two 1,000-yard WRs, an all-conference Tackle, an
All-American Guard, and a Consensus All-American Center. That's a lot of productions lost.
New QB Matthew McKay is good so far (67% completion, 508 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT). The running
game has far exceeded its expectation, netting a 6 ypc, albeit against poor defenses. The
receiving corp., after losing its top 2 receivers, has many potential players returned plus the
outstanding transfer Tabari Hines, an Oregon transfer, who has led the Pack's receiving so far.
The OL is supposed to be shaky after the departures of 3 highly productive linemen, has
kept the pocket clean (allowed only 1 sack in 2 games) and opened up holes for a suspecting
group of running backs.
Defense is loaded this year. Five of last year’s primary seven DL are back, so do every LBs
minus the top tackler G. Pratt, and the Secondary lost only 1 Safety. The underachieved
defense (LY) has also produced outstanding results so far, holding 2 opponents to less than
60% completion, and a mere 1.02 ypc on the ground. Again, the first 2 opponents are no
where near the competition in this match up. But it's still a very good, positive sign.
The Mountaineers definitely has great potentials but not materialized on the field yet.
It probably will take the coaching staff a full season or so to fully realize its potential.
For this match up, unless QB Kendall can suddenly flip the switch ON, the Mountaineers
will probably lose big in this game.
PICK: NC ST -6.5
Wake Forest -3/67 vs UNC
A twist in this game is that both teams are in ACC but this game is not considered a conf.
game, but rather a home-and-home non-conference games. Does it bear any weight in
this match-up? I do not believe it does but FWIW I mention it here.
UNC did surprise the last 2 games.. logged in a 2-0 record SU and ATS, both games as
home dog. Credit to the coaching staff and a young freshman QB, Sam Howell. The Tar Heels
trailed in both games in 4Q, but able (with some luck) to pull off great upsets at home.
I have seen comments concerning about HC M. Brown… but the way I see it, he has
learned the lesson, and he pretty much delegates the game-day duties to his coordinators.
Next game won't be too easy (though it is not exactly a true road game as Wake only
80 miles away and the fans might be either 50-50 or more Heels' fans) being away from
their comfy campus… this would be a test for the young QB.
Worth mention here is the Heels hired 2 excellent coordinators; OC Phil Longo from Ole
Miss, and DC Jate Bateman who excelled at Army. Future is looking good for UNC.
The offense strength is at running game with RBs Michael Carter, Antonio Williams, and
Javonte Williams combined for 20 carries per game, 6.1 yards per carry last season.
Through the first 2 games, these 3 combined for 343 yds at 5.6 ypc.
The receiving corp., albeit a new QB, is as solid as any team in the country featuring 7
players with at least double-digit receptions last year. The OL lost 3 starters but have
7 linemen ended up starting at least one game, and five return. Pass protection is a problem
early on, giving up 7 sacks in 2 games compared to 10 sacks in all last year. Injury wise,
starting Center and a starting Cornerback are out indefinitely after Miami game.
On defense, the line lost 3 of their top 4 tacklers so stopping the run could be a problem area.
They could lean on the Back seven for more run supporting. Bit that could give up too much
space for a good air attack by the Demon Deacons.
The Demon Deacons offense is firing on all cylinders, racking up 79 points and 1092 total
yards in their last 2 wins. The young QB is very impressive, racking up 357 passing yards per
game with 6 TD and zero INT, while adding 65 rushing yards and 1 TD on the ground.
On defense, the pass defense is still very porous, but a surprise here is the rush defense
took a huge leap vs. Rice, allowing only 67 yards on 1.81 ypc, the team that gashed a good
Army defense for 181 yards at a whooping 6.03 ypc (Army defense limited Michigan to 2.4 ypc)
It could be just a one time wonder, not a reliable trend yet.
This game could come down to the battle of 2 young, good, promising QBs, who can
limit mistake and read the field better. I believe QB Jamie Newman will have more
confidence and play better at home. If Wake jumps out in front quick and UNC has to
play catch-up it would be an OVER. On the other hand if UNC able to control the game
tempo… an OVER is much harder. Wake should be able to score quickly through the air,
as UNC allowed Miami's QB completed 77% of his passes for 309 yds, and I believe Wake
has a better passing game than the Hurricanes. Leaning the Over.
PICKS: WAKE -3