College Football Wednesday
Wake Forest @ Wisconsin -10 O/U 51 Game played in Charlotte, NC
Florida @ Oklahoma -4.5 O/U 67.5 Game played in Arlington, TX
Wake Forest (20.5 Implied Team Total)
Sam Hartman accounted for 12 out of the Demon Deacons’ 32 offensive TDs this season. The sophomore posted game averages of 238.3 passing yards and 1.5 total TDs. He’s likely to be the least popular of the QBs on this short 2-game slate. He also faces a stout Wisconsin defense. The Badgers limited opposing passers to 169.8 passing yards including 6.14 yards per pass attempt. Wisconsin yielded 9 TD passes in 6 games. The Wake Forest offense favored the run (57.2/42.8 run-pass split) and averaged 75.4 plays per game.
Christian Beal-Smith will start at RB with Justice Ellison mixing in. CBS received 11+ carries in all 8 games this season. He cleared 50 rushing yards in each of the last 6 games including topping 120 rushing yards in 3 of those games. CBS had 4 rushing TDs in the regular season. Ellison is likely to receive 6-10 carries in the bowl game. Wisconsin has played fantastic run defense all season long. They limited opposing ball carriers to 93.7 rushing yards per game including 3.39 yards per carry. They only ceded 1 rushing TD in 6 games. I will note that they allowed Iowa’s Tyler Goodson and Mo Ibrahim to eclipse 100 yards in their final 2 regular season games.
Notable target counts through 8 games: Jacquarii Roberson (71), Taylor Morin (46), Donovan Green (43 – 7 games), AT Perry (32 – 6 games), Nolan Groulx (20), and Brandon Chapman (9).
Taylor Morin, Donovan Greene, and Jaquarri Roberson are the likely starting WRs. Brandon Chapman is the starting tight end. Roberson is QB Hartman’s clear go-to-target. The senior slot WR topped 125 receiving yards in 4 out of the last 5 games. His last 3 games: 9/138/1 (LVILLE), 12/167/2 (UNC), and 7/130/1 (SYR). Greene missed the season finale but should be back for the bowl game. He exploded for 8/170/2 in his last regular season game against UNC. He flashed late in his freshman season but had a relatively down year until the UNC game this season (23/460/2). Morin drew 26 targets over the final 3 regular season games. He was held to 52 or less receiving yards in each of the last 7 games. Perry, Groulx, and Chapman are all secondary plays. Perry is listed behind Green on the bowl depth chart (16/218/1 this season). Groulx is the reserve to Morin (8/58/0 this season) while Chapman is rarely thrown to from the tight end spot (3/25/0 this season). Hartman posted 100+ passer rating when targeting all 3 starting WRs (under 82.6 when throwing to the reserves and Chapman). Wisconsin was smoke for 6/140/2 in their second to last game by Ihmir Smith Marsette. While Iowa runs a totally different offense compared to Wake Forest, IMS is similar to Roberson in speed/size.
Wisconsin (30.5 Implied Team Total)
Graham Mertz had a monster start to his Wisconsin career (375 passing yards and 7 TDs in his 1st two games) but fizzled as the season progressed. Over the last 4 games, the freshman averaged 183.3 passing yards. He recorded 1 TD pass while tossing 5 INT in those 5 games. The former highly regarded prospect is in a solid bounce back spot against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons were throttled for 265.9 passing yards per game including 7.65 yards per pass attempt. They were burned for 16 TD passes in 8 games. The Wisconsin offense favored the run (57.8/42.2 run-pass split) and averaged 71.8 plays per game.
Jalen Berger has reportedly been practiced and pointing towards playing in the bowl game after missing the final 2 regular season games. He’d likely start if he’s able to suit up. In the 3 games that he played in this season, he carried the ball 15 times and ran for 87+ yards in all 3 games. He’s likely to be joined in the backfield by Nakia Watson and Garrett Groshek. Watson would be the likely starter if Berger is out. He ran for 191 yards and 3 TDs in 5 games this season. The sophomore missed the regular season finale, so his status is also worth monitoring. If both Berger and Watson are out, then Groshek would start. Groshek typically operates as a change of pace back and he’s the Badgers’ best pass catcher out of the backfield. He ran for 154 yards and 1 TD on 24 carries in the season finale with both Watson and Berger sidelined. Groshek piled up 19 receptions and 105 receiving yards in 5 games this season (54/259/1 rushing this season). Wake Forest owns the worst run defense on the slate and it’s not close. The Demon Deacons allowed 191 rushing yards per game including 4.76 yards per carry. They were slammed for 15 rushing TDs in 8 games.
Notable target counts through 6 games: Jake Ferguson (39), Jack Dunn (31 – 5 games), Chimere Deke (24), and Garrett Groshek (23 – 5 games).
Opening day starters Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis are unlikely to play in the bowl game. Both games have missed half the season. Dunn and Deke are slated to be the starting WRs with Ferguson manning the tight end spot. Dunn has 12 receptions, 131 receiving yards, and 1 TD on 18 targets over the final 2 regular season games (22/195/1 this season). Dike, the freshman, drew 22 targets over the final 4 games. He’s a player that should emerge as a deep threat for Wisconsin over the next few seasons (10/154/1 this season). Ferguson had 3+ receptions in all 6 games. He led the team with 29/284/4 this season. Tight ends were fairly successful against Wake Forest this season (LVILLE’s Ford 3/35/1, VT’s Mitchell 3/51/1, NCST’s Angeline 2/45/1 and CLEM’s Galloway 5/60/0).
Florida (31.5 Implied Team Total)
Kyle Trask will start at QB and will be working with nearly all new pass catchers as the Gators take on Oklahoma to close out the 2020 season. The senior QB threw for 400+ yards in each of the last 3 games. He also averaged 3 TD passes in those games. Trask averaged a mind boggling 375 passing yards per game. He averaged nearly 4 TD passes per game. He’ll be the most popular player on this slate. Oklahoma allowed 243 passing yards per game including 6.69 yards per pass attempt. Combine Oklahoma’s strong run defense (more on that below) and Florida’s lack of a running game and Trask’s right arm figures to get a nice workout. They were beaten for 11 TD passes in 10 games. The Florida offense favored the pass (56.6/43.4 pass-run split) and averaged 68.7 plays per game.
Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis rotate in the Gators backfield. Pearce received 8 or less carries in each of the last 4 games. He ran for 443 yards and 4 TDs this season while catching 15 balls for 136 yards and 1 TD. Meanwhile, Davis received 9 or less carries in all 11 games. However, he racked up 29 receptions for 358 yards. It’ll be interesting to see how Davis is utilized with the Gators mass exodus at WR prior to the bowl game. Oklahoma limited opposing ball carriers to 90.6 rushing yards per game including 3.06 yards per carry. They did cough up 17 rushing TDs in 10 games. Nay’Quan Wright will also see time in the backfield. The freshman will see a few carries and, like the other 2 RBs, is a capable pass catcher (17/206/0 receiving).
Notable target counts through 11 games: Kadarius Toney (84), Kyle Pitts (65 – 8 games), Trevon Grimes (59), Jacob Copeland (40), Justin Shorter (35), Malik Davis (34), and Dameon Pierce (21).
Toney, Pitts, and Grimes have opted out of the bowl in order to prepare for the NFL Draft. Copeland is out with COVID-19. Shorter (likely starter in the X-receiver spot) should elevate to the front of the line with the 3 WRs out and TE Pitts departed. Shorter hauled in 23 balls for 246 yards and 3 TDs this season as a reserve. Xzavier Henderson (likely starting z-receiver) and Trent Whittemore (likely starting in the slot) also figure to round out the starting WRs with Ja’Markis Weston, Rick Wells, and Ja’Quavion Fraziars also see some playing time. Keon Zipperer and Kemore Gamble will attempt to replace Pitts at TE. Henderson posted 8/136/1 this season on 16 targets while Whittmore posted 8/81/1 on 10 targets. QB Trask posted a 90.9 passer rating when targeting Shorter, 100.0 when targeting Henderson, and a 133.8 when targeting Whittemore (per Pro Football Focus). Gamble will likely start at tight end. In 3 games without Pitts, Gamble posted 1/5/0 (LSU), 3/66/2 (VAN), and 0/0/0 (ARK) while Zipperer posted 1/7/0 (LSU), 0/0/0 (VAN), and 3/47/2 (ARK). In regard to Oklahoma, they allowed big games to ISU TE Kolar (6/92/1) and ISU X-receiver Hutchinson (10/114/0) in the Big 12 title game. Hutchinson also posted 3/83/1 in ISU’s first meeting with Oklahoma earlier this season. The only other 100+ receiving yard game coughed up by Oklahoma was compliments of KSU RB Deuce Vaughn (4/129/0). Shorter will likely be the most popular of the bunch. This is a good spot to take chances on in tournaments due to the unknown.
Oklahoma (36 Implied Team Total)
Spencer Rattler accounted for 30 out of the Sooners’ 51 offensive TDs this season. The former 5-star prospect posted game averages of 278.4 passing yards, 12 rushing yards, and 3 total TDs. He accounted for 2+ TDs in all 10 games this season. The freshman catches a Florida defense that was vulnerable to the pass this season. The Gators allowed 258.3 passing yards per game including 7.62 yards per pass attempt. They were flamed for 25 TD passes in 11 games. The Oklahoma offense favored the run (53.6/46.4 run-pass split) and averaged 72.6 plays per game.
Rhamondre Stevenson figures to be the chalk at the RB position. The bruising RB ran for 479 yards and 6 TDs in 5 games this season. Stevenson also piled up 18 receptions and 211 receiving yards. Florida was better at defending the run than the pass this season. The Gators allowed 146.5 rushing yards per game including 3.94 yards per carry. Florida allowed 5 individual rushers to top 100 rushing yards in 11 games. Marcus Major or Seth McGowan figure to operate as Stevenson’s backup.
Notable target counts through 10 games: Theo Wease (50), Marvin Mims (48), Charleston Rambo (43 – 9 games), Austin Stogner (37 – 7 games), and Rhamondre Stevenson (22 – 5 games).
Oklahoma usually has a deep WR rotation. Wease starts at the X-receiver spot while Rambo starts and rotates with Mims at the Z-receiver spot and Stoops start in the slot and rotates with Haselwood. Wease had 3 TD receptions over the final 3 games (36/494/3 this season). Mims is the Sooners deep threat. He lead the team with a stat line of 36/583/8. He has the biggest upside amongst the Sooners pass catcher. QB Rattler posted a stellar 137.4 passer rating when targeting Mims (by far the highest amongst the regular OU pass catchers). Rambo has done almost nothing since the season opener (4/80/2). Since the season opener, he has 19 receptions and 187 receiving yards (0 TD). On a 2-game slate, he’s in play and provides leverage off the chalkier Mims. TE Stogner has missed 3 straight games and is not expected to play in the bowl game. The same goes with Haselwood, he’s reportedly out as well. Stoops is secondary play and he posted 13/198/2 in 10 games. Lastly, Trejan Bridges may be worth a look and fly under the radar even on a 2-game slate. He was cleared prior to the Big 12 title game after missing the entire regular season and drew 1 target against Iowa State. Lincoln Riley compared him to Ceedee Lamb earlier in the season. It would make sense to give him some action in the bowl game (Bridges is a sophomore). In regard to Florida, they struggled mightily against their respective opponents’ top WR in each of their final 2 games (BAMA’s Smith 15/184/2 and LSU’s Boutte 5/108/1). That trend would benefit Mims this week. Florida will be without two starters in their defensive backfield (Shawn Davis and Marco Wilson).