Friday Night College Football
Syracuse @ Louisville -19.5 O/U 56.5
Purdue -2 @ Minnesota O/U 61
Massachusetts @ Florida Atlantic -33 O/U 51
New Mexico @ Air Force -7.5 O/U 55.5
Syracuse (18.5 Implied Team Total)
QB Rex Culpepper (584 passing yards, 6 TDs, and 7 INT in 3+ games this season) has been practicing but he’s questionable for this week’s matchup with Louisville. Regardless, JaCobian Morgan will start at QB this week. The freshman his 1st start of the season and completed 19 out of 30 pass attempts for 188 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT in a 16-13 loss to Boston College. The pro-style QB is a former 3-star prospect. Syracuse is likely to take a run-heavy approach against a vulnerable Louisville run defense (more on that below). The Cardinals have allowed 11 TD passes in 8 games. They’re allowing 195.6 passing yards per game including 7.6 yards per pass attempt (4th out of 8 teams on Friday night). The Syracuse offense is favoring the pass (51/49 pass-run split) and averages 60 plays per game.
Sean Tucker is the Orange’s starting RB. The freshman has received 10+ carries in 5 straight games. He’s run for over 110 yards in 2 of those games. In total, Tucker has 414 yards rushing and 3 TDs on 82 carries (5/71/0 receiving). Cooper Lutz will also see time in the backfield. He’ll likely receive a handful of carries (118 rushing yards, 56 receiving yards, 0 TD this season). Louisville has been annihilated by opposing runners this season. The Cardinals’ are allowing 196.5 rushing yards per game including 4.88 yards per carry. They’ve been slammed for 17 rushing TDs in 8 games.
Notable target counts through 8 games: Taj Harris (68 – 7 games), Anthony Queeley (46), Nykeim Johnson (29), Sean Tucker (10 – 6 games).
Harris is easily Syracuse’s top pass catcher. The junior has 3+ receptions in all 7 games that he’s played in. Additionally, he’s cleared 60 receiving yards in 6 out of 7 games. Queeley has drawn 5+ targets in 7 out of 8 games. He’s cleared 49 receiving yards in 3 out of the last 4 games (27/282/1 this season). Johnson has 2 TD receptions over the last 3 games from the slot. However he’s been held to 2 receptions or less in 5 straight (17/256/3 this season). Louisville has allowed team highs to perimeter WRs such UVA’s Lavel Davis Jr. (4/74/1) and VT’s Tre Turner 4/71/0 over the last 2 games. That only solidifies Harris, a perimeter WR, as the top option amongst the ‘Cuse on Friday night.
In 2020 (8 games), Syracuse is 68th in passing yards allowed with 240.8 yards/game. They are 108th in rushing yards allowed with 223.5 yards/game. The defense has given up 18 TDs on the ground (2.25 TD/game) and 11 TDs through the air (1.38 TD/game) this season.
Louisville (38 Implied Team Total)
Malik Cunningham asserted himself as a runner with star RB Javian Hawkins unavailable in last week’s loss to Virginia. Cunningham piled up 197 rushing yards and 2 TDs on 20 carries while also throwing for 161 yards on 21 pass attempts. The dual threat signal caller has accounted for 20 out of the Cardinals’ 29 offensive TDs this season. Syracuse has been decent against the pass while they’ve struggled against the run (more on that below). The Orange are allowing 240.8 passing yards per game including 7.11 yards per pass attempt. They’ve allowed 11 pass TDs through 8 games. The Louisville offense favors the run (56.3/43.7 run-pass split) and averages 65 plays per game.
The big news is that Javian Hawkins has opted out of the 2020 season. Hassan Hall is Hawkins direct backup. He missed last week’s game but should be available this week. He’ll likely start with Maurice Barkley mixing in at RB. Hall has been banged up this season so we’ll need to make sure he’s in pre-lock. So far in 2020, Hall has run for 144 yards on 26 carries. He recorded 501 rushing yards and 5 TDs as a reserve in 2019. Burkley started last week with Hawkins and Hall out. He was held to 44 rushing yards on 12 carries. This is a phenomenal spot for the Cardinals’ ball carriers. Syracuse has been stomped by opposing ball carriers. The Orange are allowing 223.5 rushing yards per game including 4.77 yards per carry. Additionally, they’ve ceded 18 rushing TDs in only 8 games.
Notable target counts through 8 games: Tutu Atwell (60 – 7 games), Dez Fitzpatrick (49), Marshon Ford (24), Javian Hawkins (18 – 7 games), Braden Smith (17), Justin Marshall (14), Maurice Barkley (5 – 6 games), and Hassan Hall (4 – 4 games).
Atwell missed last week’s game with an injury and is listed as questionable this week. He leads the Cardinals with 40 receptions, 528 receiving yards, and 5 TDs this season. Fitzpatrick would ascend to the #1 option in the passing game if Tutu is out. Fitz has 10 receptions on 17 targets over the last 2 games. He’s cleared 69 receiving yards in 2 straight games (27/512/2 this season). Braden Smith is Atwell’s direct replacement in the slot. He drew a season high 5 targets with Atwell out (4/25/0 last week). TE Ford is a TD or bust play on a weekly basis. He has 5 TDs on 21 receptions. The junior has cleared 35 receiving yards in 3 straight games. Syracuse has held opposing pass catchers to 91 or less receiving yards in 5 straight games.
In 2020 (8 games), Louisville is 27th in passing yards allowed with 195.6 yards/game. They are 93rd in rushing yards allowed with 196.5 yards/game. The defense has given up 17 TDs on the ground (2.13 TD/game) and 11 TDs through the air (1.38 TD/game) this season.
Purdue (31.5 Implied Team Total)
Aiden O’Connell has thrown for 263+ passing yards and 2+ TDs in each of the Boilermakers’ 1st 3 games. He’s thrown 51, 35, and 50 passes in Purdue’s 3 games. However, he’s questionable this week with an injury. If he can’t go, Jack Plummer would start at QB. The sophomore started 6 games a season ago. He threw for over 300 yards in 2 of those games. He threw 11 TD passes and 8 INT in total. Plummer recorded 56 rushing yards on 62 attempts in 2019. Minnesota’s pass defense looks solid on paper but that’s because they’ve been so brutal against the run that most teams have just ran the ball down their throat. The Golden Gophers are allowing 8.8 yards per pass attempt (3rd worst on the slate) and they’ve been beaten for 6 pass TDs in 4 games. The Purdue offense is favoring the pass (64.5/35.5 pass-run split) and averages 70.3 plays per game.
Zander Horvath takes his swing at Minnesota’s reeling run defense. The junior received 21+ carries and eclipsed 100 rushing in the Boilermakers 1st 2 games. He was limited to 21 rushing yards on 10 carries in last week’s loss to Northwestern. Horvath is also active in the pass game having recorded 15 receptions for 150 yards over the last 2 games. He’s a great play this week. King Doerue made his return to the lineup in last week’s loss. It’ll be interesting to see how much playing time he receives on a short work (1 carry for 0 yards last week). Doerue was the Boilermakers leading rusher in 2019 (130/451/5 running, 20/148/2 receiving).
Notable target counts through 3 games: David Bell (47), Milton Wright (24), Zander Horvath (18), Payne Durham (12), Ahmad Anderson Jr. (8), Jared Sparks (6), and Jackson Anthrop (4 – 1 game).
Rondale Moore has yet to play this season and it’s unclear when/if the superstar suits up this season. In the meantime, David Bell has exploded this season. Bell has 9+ receptions in all 3 games. He’s averaging 107 receiving yards per game. He’s drawn 10+ targets in all 3 games. He’s my WR1 on this slate. Milton Wright is averaging 8 targets per game. He cleared 85 receiving yards in the 1st 2 games of the season. In total, he has 16 receptions, 209 receiving yards, and 1 TD through 3 games. Jackson Anthrop made his season debut against Northwestern and caught 2 out of 4 targets for 11 yards. Purdue utilized the senior in both the running and passing games in 2019 (37/340/1 receiving and 12/48/0 rushing) though I will note his role decreased as the season wore on. Ahmad Anderson Jr. posted 31/343/3 in 2019 on 54 targets. He’s off to a slow start this season as he’s been held under 10 receiving yards in all 3 games. Durham, the TE, checks in with 9 receptions and 97 receiving yards through 3 games.
In 2020 (3 games), Purdue is 86th in passing yards allowed with 257.3 yards/game. They are 54th in rushing yards allowed with 150.7 yards/game. The defense has given up 3 TDs on the ground (1 TD/game) and 5 TDs through the air (1.67 TD/game) this season.
Minnesota (29.5 Implied Team Total)
Tanner Morgan has been held under 200 passing yards in 3 out of 4 games this season. He’s thrown exactly 1 TD in all 4 games. He’s in a pretty solid spot this week against a Purdue pass defense that is allowing nearly 260 yards passing per game (7.15 yards per pass attempt). They’ve surrendered 5 TD passes in 3 games. His upside is questionable at this point; even as Minnesota fell behind to Iowa Morgan only attempted 33 passes. The Minnesota run defense is favoring the run (62.7/37.3 run-pass split) and averages 71 plays per game.
Mo Ibrahim has 30+ carries in each of the last 3 games. He’s run for 140+ yards in all 4 games. There’s not much else to say other than he’s easily RB1 on Friday night. Purdue has been solid against the run. They’re allowing 150.7 rushing yards per game including 3.77 yards per carry. They’ve yielded 3 rushing TDs in 3 games.
Notable target counts through 4 games: Rashod Bateman (48), Chris Autman-Bell (18), Mo Ibrahim (8), and Daniel Jackson (7).
Bateman has been the receipt of 48 targets amongst the 106 passes QB Morgan has attempted this season. The junior has 3 games with 8+ receptions and 101+ receiving yards. Through 4 games, he has 32 receptions, 413 receiving yards, and 2 TDs. Autman-Bell is worth a look as he’s a threat to score any time he touches the ball. However, he’s risky in Minnesota’s run based offense. CAB has 4 receptions and 29 receiving yards over the last 2 games.
In 2020 (4 games), Minnesota is 35th in passing yards allowed with 209 yards/game. They are 113th in rushing yards allowed with 238.3 yards/game. The defense has given up 13 TDs on the ground (3.25 TD/game) and 6 TDs through the air (1.5 TD/game) this season.
Massachusetts (9 Implied Team Total)
Will Koch made his 1st career start against Marshall in the Minutemen’s latest game. The freshman completed 12 out of 18 pass attempts for 99 yards and 1 TD. He also recorded 5 rushing yards on 9 attempts. The young signal caller does provide some dual threat appeal as he’s recorded 46 total rushing yards in 1+ games this season. Unfortunately, UMass has scored a total of 10 points through 2 games (MARSH/GEOSOUTHERN). Koch is in a brutal spot this week as FAU has been dominant against the pass. The Owls have only yielded 4 pass TDs in 5 games and they’re holding opposing signal callers to a slate best 6.16 yards per pass attempt. The UMass offense favors the run (56.5/43.5 run-pass split) and averages 54 plays per game.
Ellis Merriweather is UMass’s primary ball carrier. The junior has 10+ carries in both games but has failed to eclipse 31 rushing yards. In total, he’s run for 52 yards on 26 carries (1/4/0 receiving). His outlook is brutal this week. FAU is limiting opposing runners to 3.39 yards per carry; they’ve only allowed 2 rushing TDs in 5 games.
Notable target counts through 2 games: Samuel Emilus (14), Jermaine Johnson Jr. (11), Taylor Edwards (4), and Melvin Hill (4).
Emilus is the only pass catcher with at least 50 receiving yards. He leads the team with 10 receptions, 57 receiving yards, and 1 TD. Johnson drew a team high 9 targets in QB Koch’s 1st start (2/13/0 in that game). Edwards, the TE, has 3 receptions for 42 yards. FAU was pounded by FIU’s TE Rivaldo Fairweather for 7/116/1 last week. FAU is allowing 10.8 points per game this season. There’s not a whole lot of upside on the UMass side.
In 2020 (2 games), UMass is 13th in passing yards allowed with 177.5 yards/game. They are 123rd in rushing yards allowed with 288 yards/game. The defense has given up 6 TDs on the ground (3 TD/game) and 6 TDs through the air (3 TD/game) this season.
Florida Atlantic (42 Implied Team Total)
Javion Posey threw for 80 yards and 2 TDs while also running for 182 yards and 1 TD against FIU last week. It was the dual threat ‘s 1st start of the season. I’m assuming we’ll see limited pass attempts (Posey attempted 16 passes) and whole lot of Posey running the ball against an inferior UMass football team. UMass is allowing 7.24 yards per pass attempt. They’ve surrendered 3 pass TDs in 2 games. UMass has been outscored 92-10 this season in 2 games. The FAU offense is favoring the run (67.4/32.6 run-pass split) and averages 64.4 plays per game.
James Charles, Malcolm Davidson, and BJ Emmons form a 3-man RBBC backfield. Last week’s game was the first time all 3 guys have been healthy and available to play together. Davidson led the way with 88 rushing yards and 1 TD on 9 carries. He’s cleared 60 rushing yards in 3 straight games. Charles ran for 58 yards and 1 TD on 7 carries. He’s cleared 50 rushing yards in 2 straight games. Emmons received 11 carries but was held to 22 rushing yards. Davidson led FAU in rushing in 2019 with 711 rushing yards and 9 TDs on 102 carries. Add in QB Posey running the ball and this is basically a 4-man backfield. The matchup with UMass is as good as it gets. The Minutemen have been steamrolled for 288 rushing yards per game; they’re allowing an eye-popping 7.11 yards per carry. They’ve coughed up 6 rushing TDs in only 2 games (5 different backs).
Notable target counts through 5 games: TJ Chase (23), LaJohntay Wester (14), Willie Wright (12), Jordan Merrell (12), Malcolm Davidson (4), BJ Emmons (2 – 3 games), and James Charles (1).
Chase leads FAU in receptions (13) and receiving yards (195). He’s tied for the team lead with Wester, Aaron Young (7 targets in 4 games), Brandon Robinson (5 targets in 4 games), and Logan Peterson (3 targets in 5 games) with 1 TD reception. Wester has 11 receptions and 58 receiving yards through 5 games. Wright has 7 receptions for 38 yards this season. Merrell checks in with 10/117/0 through 5 games. In Posey’s 1st start, Chase and Emmons were targeted 1 time, Brandon Robinson received 2 targets, Wester and Wright drew 3 targets, and Merrill was targeted 4 times.
In 2020 (5 games), FAU is 36th in passing yards allowed with 209.2 yards/game. They are 25th in rushing yards allowed with 114 yards/game. The defense has given up 2 TDs on the ground (.4 TD/game) and 4 TDs through the air (.8 TD/game) this season.
New Mexico (24 Implied Team Total)
Trae Hall will likely make his 2nd straight start at Air Force this week. Starter Tevaka Tuoti missed last week’s game with a concussion and, as of early this week, had not passed concussion protocol. If he’s cleared before Friday night, Hall and Tuoti will likely split snaps according to New Mexico’s head coach. In last week’s game, Hall completed 17 out 32 pass attempts for 195 yards and 1 INT. He also ran for 27 yards on 16 carries. Hall is a dual threat QB just like Tuoti. The matchup with Air Force is good on paper. Air Force is allowing 219 passing yards per game including 9.81 yards per pass attempt. They’ve surrendered 6 TD passes in 3 games. The Lobos offense is favoring the run (53.7/46.3 run-pass split) and averages 75.7 plays per game.
Bobby Cole starts at RB and he’s received 14+ carries and cleared 90 rushing yards in each of the last 2 games. He has 1 TD through 3 games (3/22/0 receiving this season). Nathaniel Jones will also rotate in the backfield. He has 107 rushing yards and 1 TD on 18 carries. The freshman has played in 2 games this season. Air Force has been solid against the run this season. They’re limiting opposing ball carriers to 112.3 rushing yards including 3.55 yards per carry. They’ve ceded 3 rushing TDs in 3 games.
Notable target counts through 3 games: Emmanuel Logan-Greene (29), Jordan Kress (20), Andrew Erickson (13), Marcus Williams (8), Bryson Carroll (8), Kyle Jarvis (5), and Cedric Patterson II (4).
Logan-Greene has drawn 10+ targets in each of the last 2 games. He’s averaging 5 receptions per game though his high-water mark is 56 receiving yards in any single game (has recorded at least 47 receiving yards in all 3 games). He’s interesting because he’s received at least 1 carry in all 3 games. The senior has run for 18 yards on 5 carries this season. Kress is the Lobos deep threat. He’s tallied 8/170/2 through 3 games. He had 28 receptions, 530 receiving yards, and 6 TDs last season (was the leading receiver). Air Force has allowed 2 receptions of 50+ yards through 3 games. Erickson checks in with 7 receptions, 148 receiving yards, and 1 TD in 3 games. Williams, the TE, was the Lobos 2nd leading receiver in 2019 (26/428/1). He’s drawn 2+ targets in all 3 games; the senior has 3 receptions for 43 yards through 3 games. Air Force has surrendered 2/17/2 to SJSU’s TE Derek Deese Jr. and 5/40/0 to Boise State’s TE John Bates.
In 2020 (3 games), New Mexico is 124th in passing yards allowed with 410.3 yards/game. They are 3rd in rushing yards allowed with 81 yards/game. The defense has given up 1 TD on the ground (.33 TD/game) and 12 TDs through the air (4 TD/game) this season.
Air Force (31.5 Implied Team Total)
Starting QB Haaziq Daniels was injured in the Falcons last game at Boise State. He returned to the sideline during the 2nd half with his helmet but didn’t play. I’m assuming he’s good to go since that game took place nearly 3 weeks ago. Daniels has completed 13 out of 26 pass attempts for 133 yards and 1 TD while also running for 134 yards and 1 TD on 26 carries (2+ games). This week’s matchup with New Mexico is interesting. The Lobos have been stout against the run but they currently own the nation’s worst pass defense. As we all know, Air Force runs the triple option but they pass more often than the likes of Army and Navy. New Mexico is allowing 410.3 passing yards per game including 9.33 yards per pass attempt. They’ve been ripped for 12 pass TDs in only 3 games. If Daniels can’t play on Friday night, expect Warren Bryan to start (Bryan threw for 38 yards and ran for 87 yards against Boise State). The Air Force offense favors the run (83.6/16.4 run-pass split) and averages 67 plays per game.
Timothy Jackson leads the Falcons in rushing with 178 yards on 34 attempts from the FB spot. He missed the last game at Boise State. Jackson has received 15+ carries in both games this season. The junior ran for 745 yards and 6 TDs on 122 carries last season. His status for Friday night is unknown. TB Kaden Remsburg led Air Force with 1,050 rushing yards and 8 TDs on 181 carries last season. He has 30 rushing yards on 10 carries this season and he missed the last game against Boise State as well. His status is also unknown for this week’s game. Matthew Murla leads the Falcons with 3 rushing TDs. He has 13 carries for 44 yards through 3 games. Elijah Robinson racked up 90 rushing yards on 10 carries against Boise State. He presumably benefitted from Remsburg and Jackson sitting out. He could be an option if both guys are ruled out once again. New Mexico is limiting opposing runners to 81 rushing yards per game including 3.08 yards per carry. They’ve only yielded 1 rushing TD through 3 games.
Target counts through 3 games: Brandon Lewis (13), Kyle Patterson (11), Daniel Morris (4), Jorden Gidrey (2), Rhett Harms (1 – 1 game), and Corbin Blanchard (1 – 1 game).
Lewis is an intriguing play because 1) New Mexico is terrible against the pass and 2) he’s actively involved in the running game. Lewis has 6 receptions for 36 yards as a receiver. As a runner, he’s 2nd on the team with 172 rushing yards on 19 carries (1 TD). The TE, Patterson, leads the team with 7/106/1. He’s caught 3 balls in each of the last 2 games while also clearing 35 receiving yards.
In 2020 (3 games), AF is 46th in passing yards allowed with 219 yards/game. They are 21st in rushing yards allowed with 112.3 yards/game. The defense has given up 3 TDs on the ground (1 TD/game) and 6 TDs through the air (2 TD/game) this season.