I will not stand for this Week 3 slander.
Sure, there are no marquee games this weekend due to the fact that there won’t be a matchup between ranked teams. But this is college football. After a long offseason of no football, I will take as much of it as I can get.
Plus, when you have action on so many different games every week, then football will never be boring. At least that is what I tell myself on a weekly basis when I’m invested in a number of games at both the collegiate and professional level due to these picks.
In the third edition of this blog, the KU sports staff will give six more picks against the spread.
Sports editor Matt Tait will try to bounce back from an 0-6 showing last week, as he and Braden Shaw are tied at 4-8 through two weeks. Kansas football beat writer Benton Smith, who will be at Boston College for KU’s first road game, is in second place after another solid week. You can see the full standings at the bottom of this blog.
Before that, I will give you six additional tips as I do every week. Most of all, though, let’s make the most of another weekend of football. Good or bad, you will be missing this come next April.
Best bet: Northern Illinois (+14) at Nebraska
Last week, the best bet hit on an underdog that was surprisingly being given 14 points when California won outright in a 20-19 victory at Washington. Once again, I’m surprised that a 14-point spread hasn’t moved and I’m all in on Northern Illinois to cover this weekend.
Nebraska beat South Alabama by 14 points in the first week before suffering a 34-31 overtime loss at Colorado. Northern Illinois (1-1) just held Utah running back Zack Moss to 80 rushing yards, so this defense should be able to handle a Nebraska team averaging just 3.1 yards per carry.
Long shot: Arkansas State (+33) at Georgia
The last time I leaned on the look-ahead game narrative as my long shot, LSU thrashed Georgia Southern in Week 1. But I’m diving back in, as Georgia will surely be cautious this weekend with a matchup against Notre Dame looming. Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson flying to UNLV was also easily the best story in college football last weekend. Following that 43-17 win, I’m confident that the Red Wolves will do enough to cover against the Bulldogs.
Over of the week: Oklahoma State scoring more than 39 points
Now that the season is two weeks in, things are starting to become more clear and prop bets are more appealing. Oklahoma State, which has scored at least 52 points in each of the first two games, has an over/under of 39 total points on FanDuel for this week’s matchup at Tulsa.
The Cowboys, who are favored by 14 points in Week 3, have the ninth-best scoring offense in the country. The last time OSU was held under 44 points in a nonconference game was in a 30-27 loss to Central Michigan on Sept. 10, 2016.
Under of the week: Total score (58) for Florida State at Virginia
Virginia (2-2) is favored by 7.5 points, despite having just three wins against Florida State in the history of this series. The Seminoles (1-1) are giving up almost 200 rushing yards per game, which sets things up nicely for Cavaliers’ quarterback Bryce Perkins, who produced 46 missed tackles in 2018 to rank second among Power Five quarterbacks.
UVA has an average time of possession of 35:28 through two weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the hosts try to control the clock in this one to make the total score much lower than 58 points.
DFS play of the week: Sony Michel, New England RB
There is a chance fantasy fans are backing off Michel after after he was held to just 14 yards on 15 carries in New England’s thrashing of Pittsburgh. But this is the Patriot way, and Michel is primed to bounce back in a game that his team should win by any score it wants to against Miami. Baltimore ran the ball 46 times for 265 yards in the blowout win over the Dolphins, so Michel should have huge workload this week and more scoring opportunities.
Big 12 player to watch: Alan Bowman, Texas Tech QB
Bowman has picked up where he left off from his 2018 freshman campaign, throwing for 713 yards on a 71-for-99 effort through two games. Over his nine career starts, Bowman has eclipsed the 300-yard mark five times with all four exceptions being contests where he left the game early either due to injury or a large lead.
Arizona, which is considered two-point underdogs at home in this game, is giving up 8.7 yards per play during its 1-1 start to the season. Bowman could have a big night to give the Red Raiders a victory in their first road game under Matt Wells.
KU sports staff picks against the spread
(Lines via FanDuel's Sportsbook as of Tuesday afternoon)
Kansas at Boston College (-21)
Matt Tait: Boston College
Benton Smith: Boston College
Braden Shaw: Boston College
Shane Jackson: Boston College
Kansas State at Mississippi State (-7.5)
Matt Tait: Mississippi State
Benton Smith: Kansas State
Braden Shaw: Mississippi State
Shane Jackson: Mississippi State
Stanford at Central Florida (-7.5)
Matt Tait: Stanford
Benton Smith: Stanford
Braden Shaw: Stanford
Shane Jackson: UCF
Iowa (-2.5) at Iowa State
Matt Tait: Iowa State
Benton Smith: Iowa State
Braden Shaw: Iowa State
Shane Jackson: Iowa
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3)
Matt Tait: Vikings
Benton Smith: Packers
Braden Shaw: Packers
Shane Jackson: Vikings
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)
Matt Tait: Steelers
Benton Smith: Steelers
Braden Shaw: Seahawks
Shane Jackson: Seahawks
Shane Jackson: 8-4 (3-3 in Week 2)
Benton Smith: 6-6 (3-3 in Week 2)
Matt Tait: 4-8 (0-6 in Week 2)
Braden Shaw: 4-8 (2-4 in Week 2)
There are a lot of things working against the Kansas football team this week.
Kansas is coming off its first loss of the season after suffering a 12-7 home defeat to Coastal Carolina. The Jayhawks will now look to move on, and do so quickly, when they head out for their first road game under head coach Les Miles. KU will travel to Boston College at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The visitors haven’t been given much of a shot to win this game. According to SP+, created by Bill Connelly of ESPN, Boston College has an 89% chance of winning this game. The Eagles are projected to win by 21.1 points. As of Thursday afternoon, KU was considered 21.5-point underdogs.
Boston College looks to start the season 3-0 for the second consecutive year following a 35-28 win over Virginia Tech and a 45-13 win over Richmond. This will be the first-ever meeting between these two teams.
The game will be broadcasted on ACC Network, which can be found via streaming services like YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, PlayStation Vue and Sling.
BREAKING DOWN BOSTON COLLEGE:
Quarterback — Through two games, Anthony Brown has 438 yards and five scores on a 23 of 40 effort through the air. Brown is not afraid to go deep, as he is tied for the national lead with three passes covering 50+ yards in 2019. The Eagles are averaging 18.6 yards per completion thus far, which ranks seventh in the nation. In terms of passing efficiency, Boston College is 20th in the country as a team with a clip of 176.86.
Running backs — In 21 games since AJ Dillon was named the starter at running back on Oct. 14, 2017 at Louisville, Boston College is 14-7 overall. Since then, Dillon is second nationally with 133.2 rushing yards per game. Dillon is sixth nationally and leads the ACC with 2,864 career rushing yards. As a team, the Eagles are 20th in rushing offense (251.5 yards per game) through two weeks.
Receivers — Brown’s five touchdown passes in 2019 have been to five different players, including a pair touchdown passes to two wide receivers in Zay Flowers and Kobay White. On the first drive of the season, Flowers flashed his potential to all of college football. He started things off with a 16-yard run and ended the possession off with a 33-yard touchdown reception. BC has totaled 730 yards of total offense in the first half through two games.
Offensive line — Kansas, which is averaging three sacks per game, will have a tougher time getting to the quarterback this week. As a team, BC allowed zero sacks and zero QB hits in the win against Richmond. The starting offensive line combined to allow just two total pressures, meaning Anthony Brown was under pressure on just 18.8% of his dropbacks.
Defensive line — The Eagles have a new-look defense, particularly within their front seven. Three redshirt freshmen (DT Kyiev Bennermon, DE Joey Luchetti, LB Joe Sparacio), a redshirt sophomore (CB Tate Haynes), two redshirt juniors (DE Brandon Barlow, FS Mike Palmer) and a fifth-year graduate student (SS Mehdi El Attrach) are all new starters on that side of the ball.
Linebackers — Sparacio, the only new starter in the linebacker unit, recorded six tackles and his first career interception in the season opener. He picked off a pass in the end zone to end a scoring threat near the end of the first half. Boston College mostly operates out of a four-man defensive front, so the starting linebacker unit includes redshirt juniors John Lamot (MLB) and Max Richardson (WLB).
Secondary — Boston College’s three-interception performance against former Jayhawk Ryan Willis in the season opener should come as no surprise. Since the start of the 2017 season, Boston College is second nationally with 41 interceptions. The Eagles, who currently rank second in the country in interceptions (5) this season, run a lot of Cover 2 as a defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS — Kicker Aaron Boumerhi, who transferred from Temple, hit a 30-yard field goal and all six PATs against Richmond last week. At Temple, he went 31-for-43 in career field goal attempts. Sophomore punter Danny Longman punted twice for 67 yards in Week 2.
FUN FACT — Boston College has several players with famous bloodlines on the 2019 roster: Javian Dayne (son of Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne), AJ Dillon (grandson of CFB Hall of Fame WR Thom Gatewood), Tate Haynes (son of NFL Hall of Fame DB Mike Haynes), Tito Pasqualoni (son of Lions DC Paul Pasqualoni), John Tessitore (son of ESPN announcer Joe Tessitore), Tyler Vrabel (son of Titans head coach Mike Vrabel).
VEGAS SAYS… After opening as 18.5-point underdogs, the line has moved up against Kansas. The Jayhawks were considered 21-point underdogs as of Thursday afternoon with an over/under of 51 total points.
At first, I was tempted to take the points. But because KU’s offense has produced just three touchdowns through two games, I can’t count on the visitors keeping this within three touchdowns in its first road game of the year. Give me Boston College to cover in a game that could get ugly.
Prediction: Boston College 42, Kansas 10
This year’s record ATS: 1-1
Overall record ATS: 8-5
Like Kansas, I had a rough week last weekend.
My 1-4 clip in the Week 2 over/under prop bets ruined any momentum I had early in the season. Fortunately for me, sports editor Matt Tait didn't gain too much ground with his 2-3 record during KU's 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina.
Based on results in the Twitter polls, though, the fans followed things up with another 3-2 record. You, the fans, have taken the lead through two weeks in the 2019 season standings in our over/under challenge.
Twitter: 6-4 (3-2 last week)
Shane: 5-5 (1-4 last week)
Matt: 4-6 (2-3 last week)
You can vote in this week's over/under prop bets by participating in the polls on Twitter.
Kansas travels to Boston College at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The first eight quarters of the Les Miles era haven’t been impressive from an offensive standpoint.
KU’s passing attack, in particular, has been a problem during the team’s 1-1 start to the year. The Jayhawks are averaging just 174 yards per game through the air, which is higher than only 24 teams in all of FBS after two weeks.
But Stanley and company have had their moments, most notably the game-winning drive against Indiana State. A total of 56.6% of Stanley’s passing yardage on the season came from the final two quarters of the season opener. Both of his passing scores took place in the second half against the Sycamores as well.
Other than that, opposing defenses have loaded the box and stymied KU’s offense. As a result, junior receiver Andrew Parchment has an easy solution for how to prevent teams from focusing too much on the run game.
“Just by taking shots downfield, I feel like that can soften (things) up for the run game,” Parchment said. “I just feel like if we take more shots down the field, then that can make the box a lot easier.”
After charting all 48 of Stanley’s pass attempts through two weeks, it is hard to argue with that assertion. The Jayhawks force teams to respect the pass when they take deep shots, and they have had some success doing so.
For the purpose of this blog, I have labeled deep throws as any ball that travels 20+ yards in the air. It is simply how far the ball travels in terms of charting the pass, but the final statistics will include yards after catch. For example, those touch passes to Parchment go down as a throw behind the line of scrimmage even though it will include his total yards for statistical purposes.
In this blog, I have decided to break all Stanley's throws into four categories in terms of distance traveled. Those four categories are 20+ yards, 10-19 yards, 0-9 yards and behind the line of scrimmage. I have also charted what direction (left, middle or right) of the field Stanley is throwing to on each throw.
Here is a look at his total numbers through two games:
Based on his overall numbers, it was interesting to find that Stanley has had more success going to his left. Just over 46% of his yardage has come from throws to the left side of the field, as he is 15 of 20 for 162 yards and one passing touchdown.
In terms of type of throws, Stanley is averaging 11.11 yards per play on deep throws. Obviously that makes sense given how much yardage one such completion is worth, but Stanley has been effective on the nine occasions he’s been asked to throw deep. Stanley has completed four such passes for 100 yards.
Yet the Jayhawks haven’t asked him to do that much. In fact, six of his nine deep ball attempts came in the second half against Indiana State. So, despite Stanley’s struggles as a passer, there might be some truth to the fact KU should go deep more.
“I feel if we take more shots downfield, I feel like we will have a better chance of winning the football game,” Parchment said. “We just have to have a good mixture of both (run and pass).”
I’d also argue that three of Stanley’s best completions came on deep pass attempts in the second half against ISU. He threw a 32-yard strike to Parchment in the third quarter of that game on first down. Stanley also linked up with senior receiver Daylon Charlot twice on the game-winning drive, including a 22-yard touchdown pass.
Charlot could also be a reason why the Jayhawks didn’t have more deep ball attempts in the second week. After receiving eight targets in the first game, Charlot was not thrown to once against Coastal Carolina. According to Pro Football Focus, provided by Jayhawk Slant, Charlot played just 20 snaps in Week 2.
Parchment, Charlot, Stephon Robinson and tight end James Sosinski have netted 40 of the team’s 48 targets through two games. Here is how they have done on the different passes thus far:
Against Coastal Carolina, Kansas attempted three passes of 20+ yards. The Jayhawks did so on the first play of the game, but Parchment ran the wrong route and it resulted in an incomplete. Seven plays later, KU scored on a 41-yard touchdown run by Khalil Herbert.
And that is the reason to keep taking shots moving forward. It won’t always end up in a big play, but it will keep the defense honest. That should give KU’s talented running back unit more room to work with as well.
It might not solve all of the team’s offensive woes. But it could help Kansas sustain a few more drives without making any major personnel changes.
“Everybody has to just get on the same page and try to duplicate what we did in the opener and opening drive against Coastal Carolina,” Parchment said. “I feel like if we get back to that, we will be a pretty hard team to stop.”
The Jayhawks have a lot of things going against them this week.
Kansas is coming off its first loss of the season, and a deflating one at that. After scoring on the opening possession, KU’s offense was unable to find any rhythm in a 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina. It marked the Chanticleers’ first victory over a Power Five program.
Head coach Les Miles, and even some players, admitted that they should have won that game. It left a sour taste in their mouth. And it certainly was not what fans expected, considering the fact that Kansas opened a 10-point favorite in its Week 2 matchup.
Now, the Jayhawks will have a short turnaround for their first road game of the season. Kansas will travel to Boston College at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The odds are stacked against the Jayhawks, and the early betting line indicates that.
After tweeting out that Kansas opened as 18.5-point underdogs, my mentions were filled with people saying that number is too low. Turns out that Vegas agreed. The line has moved up, and was as high as 21.5 points as of Monday afternoon via FanDuel’s Sportsbook.
Boston College is 2-0 with wins over Virginia Tech (35-28) and Richmond (45-13) to start the year. The Eagles rank 20th nationally in passing efficiency (176.86) and 20th in rushing offense (251.5 yards per game) through two weeks.
According to SP+, which is created by Bill Connelly of ESPN, KU has just a 19% chance of winning its first road game under Miles. My early thought on this game, though, is to take the points in this one. Honestly, I could change my opinion by the end of the week. I think Boston College does win this game easily, but I’d probably at least pick KU to cover if the line stays at 21+ points.
With that, let’s take a look around the rest of the Big 12 slate for any value on early betting lines via FanDuel’s Sportsbook as of Monday afternoon:
Kansas State (+7) at Mississippi State (Line via Sportsbooks in Vegas)
Much like KU’s line, this spread has moved a bit in 24 hours. But this line has shifted in favor of Kansas State, and I’m now more willing to pull the trigger. Kansas State might have 1,094 yards of total offense through the first two games of the Chris Klieman era, but this is going to be a tough test.
In 2018, the Bulldogs allowed just 4.1 yards per play and had the top-ranked defense via SP+. Even though they will likely take a step back this year, it will be interesting to see how Kansas State responds when the offense faces adversity for the first time. I’m good with giving up the seven points, I think this line should be closer to 10.5.
West Virginia (+7) vs. NC State
NC State hasn’t faced a Big 12 opponent in 16 years, when Philip Rivers played his final career game against Kansas in the Mazda Tangerine Bowl. A win would give the Wolfpack their first road win at a non-conference Power-5 school since 2002. Dave Doeren has NC State off to a 2-0 start, while West Virginia is 1-1 in its first year under Neal Brown. It might feel gross, but I'd lean taking the points in this one.
Oklahoma State (-14) at Tulsa
The Cowboys’ offense has been clicking to begin 2019, scoring at least 52 points in each of their first two wins. Tulsa is 1-1 after a pair of road games, including a 34-16 victory over San Jose State last weekend. OSU running back Chuba Hubbard leads the Big 12 in rushing thus far, as he has 265 yards and four touchdowns on 34 attempts. This line seems about right, but I’d take Oklahoma State to cover if you made me pick.
Iowa State (+1.5) vs. Iowa
All eyes will be on this one, as ESPN College GameDay makes its first appearance at Iowa State. Iowa, which is ranked No. 19 in the AP Poll, won this meeting last year by a 13-3 margin. The Cyclones have had time to prepare for this one after a bye last week. Iowa State squeaked by Northern Iowa with a 29-26 victory in triple overtime in Week 1. This should be a fun one.
TCU (+2) at Purdue (Line via some Sportsbooks in Vegas)
The Horned Frogs are 1-0 after a 39-7 win over Arkansa Pine Bluff in Week 1. The Boilermakers (1-1) bounced back this past weekend with a 42-24 home victory over Vanderbilt. Even though this is TCU’s first road test, Gary Patterson should have this squad prepared. TCU’s 39 road wins since 2009 are third in the nation. The Horned Frogs are 39-14 in that stretch. Give me TCU.
Oklahoma (-21.5) at UCLA
Senior quarterback Jalen Hurts has 814 total yards through his first two games with the Sooners. He even ranks second in the Big 12 in rushing with 223 yards on the ground. Oklahoma holds the nation’s longest current true road game win streak at 20. UCLA, meanwhile, is 0-2 to start the year in Chip Kelly’s second season. I’m tempted to give up the points and watch the Sooners roll.
Texas (-30.5) vs. Rice
I jumped on the initial line for the Texas/LSU game last week, which was 5.5 points. That game certainly lived up to expectations, and I’m not as inclined to keep fading the Longhorns. I’m not touching this current line, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Longhorns ran away with this one to get back in the win column. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger is 59 of 85 for 677 yards and eight scores through two weeks.
Texas Tech (-3) at Arizona
Texas Tech hasn’t exactly been tested yet. The Red Raiders have a 45-10 win over Montana State and a 38-3 victory over UTEP to begin the Matt Wells era. Arizona, on the other hand, has a 45-38 loss to Hawaii and a 65-41 win over Northern Arizona. The early defensive struggles by Arizona does make it it easy for me to pick Texas Tech to cover.
It was a game of chess early in the fourth quarter during Kansas’ 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina on Saturday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Kansas needed 4 yards on fourth down on Coastal Carolina’s 17-yard line. Just before the game’s biggest play, KU head coach Les Miles called a timeout to mull things over. Then Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell called a timeout. Miles then called one more timeout for good measure.
After back-to-back-to-back timeouts, the play finally happened. And the result was anticlimactic.
Redshirt senior Carter Stanley scrambled to his right, but the Chanticleers were all over him. Stanley lunged for the necessary yardage when he met defenders, though he was nowhere near close enough to net a first down.
“I was trying to make a play for this team,” Stanley said. “I scrambled, and I unfortunately came up short. It was too bad.”
While the Jayhawks would get one more opportunity in the final period, that specific play highlighted what ultimately plagued them in their defeat. It illustrated why Coastal Carolina earned its first-ever victory over a Power Five program, despite KU having its most important player back in Week 2.
Kansas was trying to get the ball to Pooka Williams Jr., who had a touch on 42.8% of the team’s plays in his first game back since serving a one-game suspension in the season opener. Williams accounted for 39.6% of KU’s 280 yards on offense.
Following a 1-yard loss by Williams, KU faced a fourth-and-4 at the 14:22 mark. That’s when Miles called the first timeout with the play clock winding down. The Jayhawks opted to not kick, as freshman kicker Jacob Borcila missed a 40-yard attempt to close the first half.
After the timeout, Kansas went to the I-formation with the lone receiver, Andrew Parchment, split out wide to the left. So that’s when Coastal Carolina decided to call a timeout.
KU then came back out in the same formation, while Coastal Carolina shifted its linebackers and safeties more toward the middle of the field. One defensive back remained on Parchment, who was the lone receiver. Miles then chose to burn his third and final timeout of the second half.
“We kept the same play call,” Stanley said. “We go out there and we have a bunch of guys to the side we were trying to run to and it wasn’t a good look.”
It took a third timeout for Kansas to switch up its look. Parchment was lined as the lone receiver on the right side. Stanley initially appeared to line up under center, but moved back to shotgun. When he moved back, Williams motioned to the right.
“They had an alignment that would not have benefitted us, so we immediately took a timeout,” Miles said. “(We) felt like we had a good call, a better call, so we went with it, and it didn’t turn out that way.”
Williams remained the target, as Stanley rolled right. Parchment ran an inside route, while Williams ran a flat route toward the sideline. It is a similar play to what many teams use in the red zone, when they utilize some sort of rub action between two different receivers.
But the play didn’t go as planned. Williams received a ton of contact off the line from redshirt freshman linebacker Cincir Evans, and his route never had a chance.
“It was a tricky situation for me,” Stanley said. “If I throw that in the time he’s being tackled, who knows if they call it. At the same time, I’m not trying to bank a fourth-and-3 play on the refs.”
Stanley’s only other option was to take off running, something he neglected to do on his previous two interceptions, when he was forced out of the pocket. Stanley couldn’t convert, and the play essentially sealed KU’s fate.
“There was a couple things we were trying to do and get to Pooka, and Pooka did everything he could,” Miles said. “They didn’t hook up at times, and obviously that changes the outcome.”
The multiple timeouts could have been because Kansas didn’t have a passing play it trusted with the game on the line. Stanley went 13-for-19 for 107 yards and two interceptions against a defense that allowed Eastern Michigan’s quarterback to complete over 90% of his passes in Week 1.
However, that doesn’t completely excuse the coaching staff. After all, Kansas went 0-for-3 on fourth down in its first loss under Miles.
One drive earlier, which took place midway through the third quarter, KU turned it over on downs on the Chants’ 41-yard line. The previous seven plays, five of which were runs, all gained yardage. On fourth-and-1, though, Kansas got too cute by trying a double reverse. Parchment was stuffed for no gain.
KU’s last drive also resulted in another turnover on downs. Needing 3 yards, Kansas handed the ball off to Williams. He ended up 2 yards shy of the first down.
“At that moment, I felt like I let everybody down,” Williams said. “I felt like I let the team down.”
Of course, not one single person is responsible for any of these three fourth-down failures. Multiple factors prevented Kansas from converting when it needed to against Coastal Carolina.
Still, for a program that has experienced its fair share of puzzling moments over the last decade, Saturday’s showing proved that this thing won’t be turned around overnight.
In a sense, it is like another opener for the Kansas football team.
Last week, Kansas completed a comeback drive in the fourth quarter to earn a 24-17 win over Indiana State. It ensured that Game 1 of the Les Miles era got off on the right foot, something that the previous tenure was unable to do.
But now sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. is back after serving his one-game suspension. Williams will be the best player on the football field at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, when KU plays host to Coastal Carolina at 6 p.m. Saturday night.
With Williams returning, Kansas fans can get more of an accurate view of what the 2019 team will look like under Miles.
Based on Miles’ track record of running the ball at LSU and Oklahoma State, it would seem that this could be a perfect marriage. Last season, Williams ran for 1,125 yards and seven scores on 161 carries. He also added 289 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 33 catches.
It will be interesting to see if KU leans on Williams this weekend in what should be another winnable game. Coastal Carolina is coming off a 30-23 loss to Eastern Michigan. According to SP+, created by Bill Connelly of ESPN, Kansas is projected to win by six points. The model gives the Jayahwks a 64% chance of winning in Week 2.
With a win, the Jayhawks would begin the year 2-0 for the first time since 2011 and the eighth time since 2000. The Chanticleers, meanwhile, have lost five games in a row dating back to last season.
BREAKING DOWN COASTAL CAROLINA:
Quarterback — Fred Payton won the starting quarterback competition to begin the 2019 season. Against Eastern Michigan, he completed 29 of 43 passes for 304 yards to go along with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Payton was also involved in some RPO action, carrying the ball six times for 22 yards last weekend.
Running backs — Week 1 was CJ Marable’s first chance in a featured role for the Chanticleers. He ran the ball for a team-high 18 times against Eastern Michigan, finishing with 49 yards. He also caught seven passes for 84 yards and a score. Last season, Marable ran for 719 yards and six scores on 118 attempts as a sophomore.
Receivers — Coastal Carolina lost its top wideout from last year, and a young group will be led by fifth-year senior Ky’Jon Tyler. The former walk-on was second on the team in receptions (26), yards (397), average yards per catch (15.3) and touchdowns (2) a year ago. Last week, eight different Chants caught at least one pass in the loss.
Offensive line — The is by far the most-experienced group for the Chants on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line has a combined 91 career starts and is led by returning starters Ethan Howard, Trey Carter and Steven Bedosky who all started in every game last season.
Defensive line — Much like the offense, Coastal Carolina’s oldest group is up front on the defensive side of the ball. The players on the defensive line have played a total of 108 collegiate games. Tarron Jackson (25), Jalin Walker (23) and C.J. Brewer (22) all have at least 20 games under their belt entering this weekend.
Linebackers — Silas Kelly, Teddy Gallagher, Myles Olufemi, and Cincir Evans will handle things in the middle of this Coastal Carolina defense. Evans, a redshirt freshman, is the only underclassmen listed as a starting linebacker. Chad Staggs is in charge of this group, but was also promoted to defensive coordinator in July. It marks the third consecutive season that the Chanticleers have a new DC.
Secondary — This is the youngest group on the defense, and it showed in the season opener. The secondary only has two returning starters in redshirt senior Mallory Claybourne and sophomore Derrick Bush. The rest of the unit has nine newcomers. Eastern Michigan completed 91% percent of its passes against this group last weekend.
SPECIAL TEAMS — One of the bright spots for Coastal Carolina in the season opener was sophomore kicker Massimo Biscardi, who was named Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week. He made three field goals, including a 53-yard field goal, and has now scored in 13 consecutive games. The 53-yard field goal matched a team record.
FUN FACT — Coastal’s 2019 roster features a total of 66 combined freshmen and redshirt freshmen, making up almost 53 percent of its entire roster.
VEGAS SAYS… This has been the exact opposite of last week, when the line continued to move in KU’s favor as it got closer to kickoff. After opening as a 10-point spread, Kansas is now favored by just seven points over Coastal Carolina as of Friday afternoon.
When the line was double digits, I initially thought about taking the Chanticleers. But then I actually watched their Week 1 loss to Eastern Michigan. With the return of Pooka, I have a hard time believing the Jayhawks will need late-game magic this week.
Prediction: Kansas 31, Coastal Carolina 17
This year’s record ATS: 1-0
Last year’s record ATS: 7-4
All things considered, the opening week of the football season went pretty well.
In the first edition of this blog, I missed horribly on my best bet. I even missed on my long shot. So you might be wondering why you even read this blog, and that is a fair question. But I bounced back in a big way.
There was no sweating out my fade the noise pick last week, when I recommended taking the under of the Ole Miss/Memphis game when most people were expecting a shootout. My Big 12 player to watch was Jalen Hurts, in which I admitted that I had a 12/1 future on him winning the Heisman trophy. He was pretty good in his debut with the Sooners.
Most importantly, though, I went 5-1 against the spread to take a commanding lead over the rest of the KU sports staff. At the beginning of each week, I pick out six games and have the sports staff give their picks against the spread. I then come up with six additional tips on top of that.
Over the course of the season, this blog will feature plenty of wins and losses. The goal is to have fun while doing so, and at least understanding the process of certain picks. With that, let’s dive into this week’s tips for the first full weekend of football:
Best bet: California (+14) at Washington
I’m surprised that this line hasn’t moved much. After opening at 13.5, it has actually moved up. California won this game by a 12-10 margin last fall, and I would guess that this year’s Pac 12 opener is closer than a two-touchdown game.
California is one of the best defenses in the nation after allowing 20.4 points per game last year. According to SP+, created by Bill Connelly of ESPN, the Golden Bears have the fifth-best defense in the country. I’m choosing to believe that defense will keep this game within single digits.
Long shot: Tulane (+17.5) at Auburn
As a person who had serious money on Auburn -3.5, I’m very thankful that true freshman quarterback Bo Nix somehow pulled that one out from his you-know-what. But let’s not get carried away, Nix went 13-for-31 through the air in the 27-21 win over Oregon.
This also has an opportunity to be a letdown game after an exciting Week 1 win. Tulane, which is coming off a 42-14 win over Florida International, has won six of its last seven games. The Green Wave, who are coached by Willie Fritz, even notched their first bowl win since 2002 last December.
Fade the noise: Bet the over in Baltimore/Miami
The only thing I know for a fact about the NFL is that it is unpredictable. Unless, of course, you just want to put a bet down on the Patriots making it to the AFC Championship game. The over/under for this riveting Week 1 matchup is currently at 38.5. It is by far the lowest point total of the opening week.
But this is all based on the perception that the Dolphins are bad and the Ravens will run the ball 100 times per game. Maybe that is the case, but I’m not convinced we know that for certain before a single snap of 2019.
Crazy things happen, especially in Week 1. Last season, Baltimore ran the ball 34 times in the season opener and rolled to a 47-3 win over Buffalo. We just don’t know what will happen in the NFL, and we pretend we do every single year.
College DFS play: Justin McMillan, Tulane QB
Looks like I’m doubling down on the Green Wave. McMillan completed 14 of 18 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win. On the ground, he racked up 51 yards on nine carries. The transfer from LSU will have to do even better than that if Tulane wants to keep this game close.
NFL DFS play: Matt Breida, San Francisco RB
As someone who has Breida in most season-long leagues, allow me a minute to talk my guy up. Breida, who was actually listed as the 49ers starting RB, piled up 106 rushing yards and 34 receiving yards on 17 total touches against Tampa Bay last year.
Last season, the Buccaneers ranked 31st in Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA in 2018. It is a prime matchup, and I don’t believe Tevin Coleman is going to be the team’s top running back this season. That could start in Week 1.
Big 12 player to watch: Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State RB
What a start to the 2019 season for Hubbard, who ran for 221 yards and three scores on 26 carries against Oregon State.
Hubbard now leads the nation in rushing yards and all-purpose yards after the opening week. He’s No. 2 in rushing touchdowns, however. Slacker. After that showing, Hubbard has at least 100 yards in four of his past five games. McNeese State will certainly have its hands full this weekend.
KU sports staff picks against the spread
— Lines via FanDuel as of Tuesday afternoon
Kansas (-8) vs. Coastal Carolina
Matt Tait: Kansas
Benton Smith: Kansas
Braden Shaw: Kansas
Shane Jackson: Kansas
LSU (-5.5) at Texas
Matt Tait: Texas
Benton Smith: Texas
Braden Shaw: Texas
Shane Jackson: LSU
Texas A&M at Clemson (-17.5)
Matt Tait: Clemson
Benton Smith: Clemson
Braden Shaw: Clemson
Shane Jackson: Texas A&M
Army at Michigan (-22.5)
Matt Tait: Michigan
Benton Smith: Army
Braden Shaw: Michigan
Shane Jackson: Michigan
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Matt Tait: Jaguars
Benton Smith: Chiefs
Braden Shaw: Chiefs
Shane Jackson: Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-5.5)
Matt Tait: Steelers
Benton Smith: Patriots
Braden Shaw: Patriots
Shane Jackson: Patriots
Shane Jackson: 5-1
Matt Tait: 4-2
Benton Smith: 3-3
Braden Shaw: 2-4
Week 1 is in the books for the Kansas football team, which resulted in a 24-17 win for the first game of the Les Miles era.
Perhaps more importantly, though, we are now one week in on this year's over/under prop bet series. Every week, sports editor Matt Tait and I will record a podcast featuring five different over/under prop bets for the upcoming week.
In addition, fans are encouraged to participate by voting in the polls on my personal Twitter account every Thursday. You can listen to our thoughts on the latest prop bets by checking out this week's podcast.
Last week's prop bets involved KU's total rushing yards, turnovers forced, how many quarterbacks will play, total receptions by the team's leading receiver and the total score. After Week 1, I am 4-1 on these prop bets while our esteemed sports editor is just 2-3. Based on the poll results, Twitter went 3-2 in the opening week.
Keep up the lead on Matt Tait by participating in the polls on Twitter. I have included them in this blog as well.
It was one of the few things we knew for certain entering the 2019 season opener.
As mentioned multiples times, Kansas head coach Les Miles didn’t reveal too much in the offseason when asked about his scheme. About the only things we knew for certain prior to KU’s 24-17 win over Indiana State was that the quarterback was going to be under center more often than in previous years.
That proved to be true, as redshirt senior quarterback Carter Stanley was under center more Saturday than he had been since well before his high school career. Stanley mentioned in April that it was an adjustment for him this past offseason.
Stanley was under center for 32 total plays against the Sycamores, including the final four plays to run out the clock. The Jayhawks still used shotgun on 31 plays, which included all eight of their plays on the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
It was probably an adjustment for fans, too. After all, Kansas operated mostly out of shotgun in its Air Raid system under David Beaty.
While it is still far too early to determine if Miles’ philosophy will lead to more success, it is worth looking at how things compared between under center and shotgun in the season opener.
For the purpose of this blog, I did not include the final four plays when KU was running out the clock. The play-by-play summary also didn’t give Stanley a pass attempt on his screen pass that resulted in a fumble, which I have counted as a pass from shotgun. As a result, the final numbers might be slightly off. But you will still be able to see where Kansas had most of its success against Indiana State.
In terms of yards per play, the Jayhawks had the most success when passing out from under center. Kansas took a few different shots on first down on play-action passes, though four of those plays ended up being incomplete.
By far the biggest gain came from when Stanley launched a ball from the I formation to junior receiver Andrew Parchment. The connection picked up 32 yards on a drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Stanley to tight end James Sosinski.
The Jayhawks did not throw the ball from under center in the first or fourth quarter, however. Kansas did attempt 12 of its 22 passes from shotgun in the second half, which is where both offensive touchdowns came from. KU picked up 145 yards via shotgun passes in the final two quarters alone.
On the game-winning drive, KU threw six passes from the shotgun formation. Stanley hit senior receiver Daylon Charlot for a 22-yard touchdown for the final score. Of note, Stanley is looking Charlot's way the entire time.
The run game, on the other hand, was far more effective from under center against Indiana State.
In the second quarter, Kansas ran the ball eight times from under-center formations to pile up 50 yards. During this stretch, the offense even used some hurry-up offense on one particular drive. On multiple occasions, the Jayhawks attempted a quick toss from under center. It was reminiscent of Miles' strategy when he had Leonard Fournette at LSU.
In the game, KU recorded three different runs of 20+ yards from under-center formations. One of those runs took place on the first play of the game, when Khalil Herbert picked up 33 yards on a run that he bounced to the outside.
For comparison, the team’s longest run out of the shotgun formation was just five yards. Three of the nine runs from shotgun resulted in a negative play.
Again, it was just one game. With Pooka Williams’ return, Kansas could easily have more success running out of the shotgun against Coastal Carolina with his ability to make things happen in space.
But, after an offseason of so much secrecy, fans at least got a glimpse of what Miles is bringing to Lawrence this past weekend.