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Pick 6: Best bets for Week 13 of college football

Fans watch as an air refueled flies over Memorial Stadium prior to kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Fans watch as an air refueled flies over Memorial Stadium prior to kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Best bet: Tennessee (+4) at Missouri

The Tigers shouldn’t be more than a field goal favorite over anyone. Missouri has scored a total of 27 points over the last four games with no more than seven in any of the last three. Missouri has last four in a row and failed to cover the spread in five consecutive contests. The Volunteers might win this thing outright.

Long shot: Arizona State (+14) vs. Oregon

Arizona State freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels has been playing better as of late. He’s thrown nine touchdowns over the last four weeks, recording at least 267 passing yards in three of his previous four outings. Oregon’s defense, meanwhile, hasn’t played as well over the last four weeks outside of a 34-6 win over Arizona.

Favorite bet: USC (-13.5) vs. UCLA

USC is coming off back-to-back road wins over Cal and Arizona State to win four of its last five games. The Trojans are averaging 31.5 points and 445.7 yards per game this season. The defense continues to get more healthy as well. The Bruins won’t be able to slow down the Trojans’ offense this week, so anything less than two touchdowns is worth taking.

Over of the week: TCU at Oklahoma (65)

I was sweating the under after I recommended taking it in the Baylor-OU game. It might have hit, but I’m switching to the over in this week’s game featuring the Sooners. Oklahoma has put up at least 42 points in every home game this season. The Sooners’ defense has also allowed at least 31 points in three consecutive contests.

Under of the week: Texas at Baylor (58.5)

The under between these two teams has hit in six straight meetings. Last year’s game featured a combined 40 points. Baylor’s defense just held Oklahoma to 10 points in the first half during last week’s loss. I expect the Bears to bounce back with an even stronger showing on the defensive end.

NFL action: Cincinnati Bengals (+6.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Bengals are not a good football team, but the Steelers are closer to their level than a playoff-caliber team. Mason Rudolph has struggled under center, and now he’s without JuJu Smith-Schuster. I think Pittsburgh will have a tough time scoring enough to win this game by a touchdown. Give me the points.

KU sports staff picks against the spread

All of these lines are presented by FanDuel’s Sportsbook. Sign up today on FanDuel using this special promotion.

Kansas at Iowa State (-24.5)

Matt Tait: Kansas

Benton Smith: Kansas

Braden Shaw: Iowa State

Shane Jackson: Iowa State

Texas at Baylor (-5.5)

Matt Tait: Baylor

Benton Smith: Baylor

Braden Shaw: Baylor

Shane Jackson: Baylor

Penn State at Ohio State (-18)

Matt Tait: Penn State

Benton Smith: Penn State

Braden Shaw: Penn State

Shane Jackson: Penn State

Boise State (-7.5) at Utah State

Matt Tait: Utah State

Benton Smith: Utah State

Braden Shaw: Boise State

Shane Jackson: Boise State

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots (-6.5)

Matt Tait: Cowboys

Benton Smith: Patriots

Braden Shaw: Patriots

Shane Jackson: Cowboys

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3)

Matt Tait: 49ers

Benton Smith: 49ers

Braden Shaw: Packers

Shane Jackson: 49ers

Season standings

Shane Jackson: 39-32-1 (4-1-1 in Week 12)

Benton Smith: 38-33-1 (5-0-1 in Week 12)

Matt Tait: 35-36-1 (4-1-1 in Week 12)

Braden Shaw: 31-40-1 (5-0-1 in Week 12)

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KU’s defense shows signs of improvement on 3rd down in OSU loss

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dillon Stoner (17) carries against Kansas in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dillon Stoner (17) carries against Kansas in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) by Associated Press

Just a few weeks ago, KU’s defense had an alarming issue. The Jayhawks couldn’t get a stop on third down.

Entering the final bye week of the season, Kansas ranked 129th out of 130 FBS teams in third-down defense. Opponents were converting 53% of the time against KU, which only led UTEP at the time.

At least for one game, though, the Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6 Big 12) showed signs of improvement in a 31-13 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Cowboys only converted on four of their 12 chances on third down last weekend.

It is something that KU head coach Les Miles was pleased to see, and hopes it is a sign of things to come down the stretch against Iowa State and Baylor to close out the season.

"I know statistically we are not necessarily where we need to be on defense,” Miles said. “We stopped them eight of 12 times, got turnovers in key situations. And so defensively, things like that, if that continues, that's just what we would like to have happen.”

The four successful conversions by OSU ended up being the lowest mark allowed by KU since Coastal Carolina went 1-for-9 on third down in Week 2. Since then, opposing teams have converted at least six times against Kansas until Oklahoma State failed to do so.

Kansas now ranks 125th in the country in third-down defense. The Jayhawks have given up a 50.68% conversion rate, allowing 74 first downs on 146 such chances. Akron, San Jose State, Massachusetts, Connecticut and UTEP are the only teams that rank lower than KU in that category entering this weekend.

It remains to be seen if it was a one-time fluke or if KU’s defense has figured something out coming off that bye week. But let’s take a look at the five third-down stops by the Jayhawks in the first half to see what they did right last weekend:

Situation: 3rd-and-7 from OSU’s 8-yard line in 1Q

On the second drive of the game, Kansas got a much-needed three-and-out.

After a pair of short runs by the Cowboys, redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders attempted a pass in a tight window along the sideline. His pass was too high against man-to-man coverage by KU’s defense, but it demonstrated the benefit in forcing the opposition into an obvious passing situation.

The Jayhawks ended up getting the ball on the Cowboys’ 25-yard line on the ensuing possession, but were unable to get any points out of the favorable field position.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-11 from KU’s 25-yard line in 2Q

Another obvious passing situation resulted in a failed conversion by the Cowboys. But this stop was a credit to KU’s containment.

Entering the final bye week of the season, Kansas ranked 129th out of 130 FBS teams in third-down defense. Opponents were converting 53% of the time against KU, which only led UTEP at the time.

Sanders was unable to bounce his run to the outside, as Kyle Mayberry made the play for a 3-yard loss. Four different KU players were in the area to make the stop as well.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-1 from OSU’s 32-yard line in 2Q

Needing just 1 yard, Oklahoma State turned to the nation’s leading rusher.

Oklahoma State handed the ball off to OSU running back Chuba Hubbard in a two-back set out of shotgun. It was a misdirection, as the two backs crossed in front of Sanders. Hubbard was ultimately stuffed just shy of the first-down marker by Gavin Potter and Jay Dineen.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-3 from OSU’s 40-yard line in 2Q

After converting on fourth down, OSU faced another third-and-short on that same possession.

Sanders had four receivers out to the left for a screen pass. Dineen immediately ran toward the intended receiver, so Sanders elected to run up the middle. Potter and Azur Kamara were there to make the play at the line of scrimmage.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-4 from KU’s 26-yard line in 2Q

The Cowboys had no chance on their final try on third down in the first half.

Kamara came hard off the edge at the same time Sanders handed it off to LD Brown, who was then tripped up by his own blocker. Many KU players filled their respective gap, which prevented any sort of cutback.

Potter was ultimately credited with the tackle, though OSU took a 24-0 advantage on a 44-yard field goal on the very next play.

via GIPHY

KU opponent third downs this season

• Indiana State: 5-for-14 — 24-17 KU W

• Coastal Carolina: 1-for-9 — 12-7 KU L

• at Boston College: 10-for-19 — 48-24 KU W

• West Virginia: 9-for-18 — 29-24 KU L

• at TCU: 14-for-19 — 51-14 KU L

• Oklahoma: 6-for-9 — 45-20 KU L

• at Texas: 9-for-14 — 50-48 KU L

• Texas Tech: 6-for-15 — 37-34 KU W

• Kansas State: 11-for-17 — 38-10 KU L

• Oklahoma State: 4-for-12 — 31-13 KU L

Reply 3 comments from Bee Bee Dane Pratt Dirk Medema

FanDuel’s odds for No. 4 Kansas vs. East Tennessee State

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) gets in for a bucket against Monmouth during the second half on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) gets in for a bucket against Monmouth during the second half on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

No. 4 Kansas will take on East Tennessee State tonight in what should be a tournament-type test in Allen Fieldhouse.

ETSU (3-0) certainly has a chance to get to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017. The Buccaneers were picked to win the Southern Conference, one spot ahead of recent KU foe UNC Greensboro. ETSU is also ranked third nationally in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

That being said, Kansas (2-1) is still considered a 15-point favorite as of Tuesday afternoon on FanDuel’s Sportsbook. Now that most of the odds are officially available, let’s take a look at all the betting numbers of interest for tonight’s matchup.

Tipoff for this campus-round contest for the 2019 Maui Invitational is slated for 7 p.m.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith, @SJacksonLJW & @ByBradenShaw

All of these lines are presented by FanDuel’s Sportsbook. Sign up today on FanDuel using this special promotion.

FanDuel’s odds for KU vs. East Tennessee State

Spread: Kansas -15

Total score: 144

1st half spread: Kansas -8.5

1st half total: 67.5

1st half away team total points: 29.5

1st half home team total points: 38

2nd half spread: Kansas -6.5

2nd half total: 76.5

2nd half away team total points: 35

2nd half home team total points: 41.5

Away team total points: 64.5

Home team total points: 79.5

Best bet

In the preview blog, I picked East Tennessee State to cover the 15-point spread. So I’m going to give another tip for this game. Based on my score prediction, I’m comfortable taking the under on total points scored by Kansas at 79.5.

ETSU only gave up 80 or more points in five of its 34 games last year, and has yet to do so during its 3-0 start to the 2019-20 campaign. Per KenPom, the Buccaneers also rank 267th in adjusted tempo. They have an average possession length of 17.7 seconds on offense and 18.1 seconds on defense.

So it wouldn’t be surprising if the Buccaneers decide to play a little slower to limit possessions. After all, they don’t want to get in a track meet with the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse if they hope to keep this game within reach in the end.

My pick: Under home team total points (79.5)

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Getting to know: East Tennessee State basketball

East Tennessee State head coach Steve Forbes reacts to a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

East Tennessee State head coach Steve Forbes reacts to a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp) by Associated Press

On paper, this should be KU’s toughest test at home at this point in the season.

Kansas led by just four points in an eventual 12-point win over UNC Greensboro about 11 days ago. Entering that game, the Jayhawks were favored by 14.5 points according to most sportsbooks. KU rolled over Monmouth last Friday in its only other home contest during a 2-1 start to the 2019-20 season.

But tonight’s foe, East Tennessee State, should be a true test for No. 4 Kansas. ETSU was picked to win the Southern Conference, one spot ahead of UNC Greensboro. The Buccaneers (3-0) are ranked third nationally in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

According to KenPom, ETSU is listed at No. 69 overall in all of college basketball. While KenPom gives the Jayhawks an 86% of winning this game with a projected score of 77-65, this should be a good challenge before the team heads to the 2019 Maui Invitational.

The Kansas-East Tennessee State contest is actually a campus-round game for the 2019 Maui Invitational. Kansas is 14-6 all-time in the Maui Invitational, including 2-0 in campus-round contests.

These two teams are meeting for the fourth time in men’s basketball and first since Jan. 4, 1996. KU is 3-0 all-time in this series.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith, @SJacksonLJW & @ByBradenShaw

BREAKING DOWN ETSU

TOP PLAYER

No. 3 — G Bo Hodges | 6-5, 210, jr.

Through three games, Hodges has led ETSU in scoring with an average of 15.3 points per game.

Hodges has scored in double figures in all three games, including a 17-point performance against Winthrop in his last outing. Hodges is also averaging 6.7 rebounds per game following his nine-rebound showing against Winthrop.

It has been a nice jump from his sophomore season, when he averaged 10.3 points per game. For the season, Hodges is 20-of-35 from the floor, including a 2-for-6 clip from beyond the arc.

None by ETSU Mens Basketball

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 10 — G Patrick Good | 6-0, 175, r-jr.

Good earned his first start of the year during the team’s win over Winthrop.

The start came after his 24-point performance against UT Martin, in which he hit seven 3-pointers in a single game. Good is averaging 13.0 points per outing this season, shooting 10-for-18 from downtown.

According to KenPom, Good has an effective field goal percentage of 93.3. That mark ranks No. 1 in all of college basketball. Good also averaged in double figures in each of the last two seasons for the Buccaneers.

None by ETSU Mens Basketball

No. 11 — F Jeromy Rodriguez | 6-7, 230, r-sr.

Rodriguez will make an impact on the glass for ETSU.

This season, the redshirt senior is averaging 7.7 rebounds per game to go along with 8.7 points per outing. Rodriguez has a total of 19 points over the last two contests. Last year, Rodriguez ranked eighth among NCAA Division I players in rebounds per game with an average of 10.9.

Rodriguez also set a new single-season program record for offensive rebounds with 113 last season. His current offensive rebound rate of 17.9 ranks 36th in the country.

None by ETSU Mens Basketball

No. 25 — C Lucas N’Guessan | 7-0, 230, sr.

ETSU will have some size to compete with Kansas in the paint.

N’Guessan is familiar with the Jayhawks, as he transferred to ETSU last year after playing two seasons for Oklahoma State. With the Cowboys, he started 17 games and made a total of 54 appearances. N’Guessan led the team in shooting percentage as a freshman with a clip of 67.4 percent.

This season, N’Guessan is averaging 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the Buccaneers. He played in 23 games, which included 10 starts, during his first season with ETSU last year.

None by ETSU Mens Basketball

MEET THE COACH

ETSU is coached by Steve Forbes who is 133-39 in his fifth season as an NCAA Division I head coach, all at ETSU. East Tennessee State is 3-0 for the first time since the 1998-99 season when the Buccaneers opened the year 4-0.

VEGAS SAYS

As of Tuesday morning, KU was favored by 15 points via Odds Shark. The drubbing of Monmouth might have influenced this number a bit, considering the fact that KU was favored by 14.5 points against UNC Greensboro and failed to cover.

ETSU is supposed to be better than that, and it is a program that played well against some quality teams under Forbes. The Bucs defeated Georgia Tech in 2015 and Mississippi State in 2016. They also lost by just 2 points at then-No. 3 Xavier in 2017. This game should be closer than the line indicates, but I think Kansas ultimately hangs on.

Prediction: Kansas 75, ETSU 66

This year’s record ATS: 2-1

Reply 1 comment from Dirk Medema

KU football is big underdog for road tilt with Iowa State

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks head coach Les Miles, left, talks with punter Kyle Thompson (80) prior to the start of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019.

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks head coach Les Miles, left, talks with punter Kyle Thompson (80) prior to the start of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019. by Chris Evans

After back-to-back losses, things don’t get any easier for the Kansas football team.

KU will travel to Iowa State this weekend for another 11 a.m. kickoff. ESPN’s FPI gives the Jayhawks just a 4.6% chance of winning, which is their lowest chance of victory over the final three games of the 2019 season.

The early betting line suggests that this game should be even more difficult for Kansas, which is coming off a 31-13 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Iowa State is favored by 24.5 points, according to FanDuel’s Sportsbook as of Monday afternoon. The line actually opened at 23 points, so the number has jumped up a bit in 24 hours.

It marks just the sixth time since 2000 that the Cyclones are favored by 20-plus points. It is also the biggest betting number in favor of ISU since the team was laying 23 points against Kansas on Oct. 14, 2017 in what turned out to be a 45-0 win.

Iowa State has been favored in nine of its 11 games this season. The Cyclones (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) are coming off a 23-21 win over then-No. 19 Texas. The Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6) have scored a combined 23 points in consecutive defeats to Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

Saturday marks the 99th meeting between Iowa State and Kansas, a series that began in 1898. KU has a 50-42-6 advantage in the all-time series, but ISU has won the last four matchups. Kansas also hasn’t won a Big 12 road game since 2008.

Kansas is 4-6 against the spread this season, while Iowa State is 6-4. As of Monday, Odds Shark projects the Cyclones to cover the spread and the total score (59 points) to go over.

All Big 12 spreads for Week 13

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Kansas at Iowa State (-24.5)

Oklahoma State (-7) at West Virginia

Texas at Baylor (-5.5)

Kansas State at Texas Tech (-2)

TCU at Oklahoma (-18)

Reply 1 comment from Doug Roberts

Getting to know: Oklahoma State football

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (30) celebrates with fans following an NCAA college football game against TCU in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Oklahoma State won 34-27. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (30) celebrates with fans following an NCAA college football game against TCU in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Oklahoma State won 34-27. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) by Associated Press

It has been two weeks since Kansas had a dud performance against Kansas State in front of a sellout crowd at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

The bye week came at an opportune time for the Jayhawks, who fell flat in a 38-10 loss. It gave them an extra week to self-scout and get healthy before the final stretch of the 2019 season, which features two road games and one home contest.

But the problem is that Oklahoma State is coming off a bye week as well, and has more momentum entering Les Miles’ return to Stillwater.

OSU has an explosive offense behind the nation’s leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard. Other than the Sunflower Showdown, KU’s offense has been very effective since Brent Dearmon took over play calling duties. So there should be plenty of points in this game.

Whether or not Kansas can cover the 17.5-point spread remains to be seen, however. Let’s take a closer look at the Cowboys to find out if that is possible.

BREAKING DOWN OKLAHOMA STATE:

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders has made a number of plays through the air and on the ground during his first year as the starting quarterback. He’s already the all-time OSU freshman leader in season passing yards. Sanders also ranked third among Power 5 quarterbacks with 588 rushing yards.

Running backs — For a Kansas defense that struggles to stop the run, this will be a tough matchup. Redshirt sophomore Chuba Hubbard is the FBS leader in rushing yards, yards per game, yards per carry and all purpose yards. In fact, his 178.6 rushing yards per game is 33.1 more than second-place A.J. Dillon of Boston College.

Receivers — Redshirt junior Dillon Stoner stepped in as OSU's top receiver after Biletnikoff finalist Tylan Wallace was lost for the season to injury before the TCU game. Stoner finished the TCU win with a career-best two touchdowns and a season-best 93 receiving yards. Braydon Johnson, Landon Wolf and Jordan McCray are involved in the passing game as well.

Offensive line — Redshirt junior Teven Jenkins, who is from Topeka, Kansas, is slated to start at right tackle. He has made 24 total starts, including every game last season at either right tackle or left tackle. Left guard Marcus Keyes has started 45 games for OSU, which is 11 more than anyone else on the entire roster. Left tackle Dylan Galloway has 10 career starts for the Cowboys.

DEFENSE

Defensive line — True freshman Trace Ford has become a playmaker on this defense at the end spot. He has 18 tackles, two sacks and six quarterback hurries. Ford is the only true freshman to start a game for Oklahoma State so far this season. Defensive tackles Israel Antwine and Cameron Murray are also new starters for the Cowboys this year.

Linebackers — Junior Malcolm Rodriguez leads the team and ranks third in the Big 12 with 8.2 tackles per game. His 168 career tackles paces the squad, and he notched a game-winning pick-six in the fourth quarter at Iowa State. Amen Ogbongbemiga ranks among the top-eight in the Big 12 in tackles, TFL and sacks this season.

Secondary — Senior cornerback A.J. Green is one of 14 national semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award presented to the nation's top defensive back. Cornerback Rodarius Williams is a three-year starter, and is tied with Green for most starts on the Cowboy defense with 35. Safety Tre Sterling has 38 tackles in his past six games.

SPECIAL TEAMS — Kicker Matt Ammendola is third among active FBS players with 331 career points. He has made two 53-yard field goals during his career. Punter Tom Hutton, a 29-year-old true freshman, was recruited through ProKick Australia.

FUN FACT — Les Miles returns to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State for the first time in his career. As the leader of the Cowboys, Miles led Oklahoma State to a 28-21 record, where they reached three-consecutive bowl games after starting 4-7 in his first year.

VEGAS SAYS… The Jayhawks are getting 17.5 points as of Friday afternoon in their Week 12 matchup with the Cowboys. Kansas has typically fared well when it is counted out this much, and I expect that trend to continue this week. KU’s defense won’t be able to stop Oklahoma State’s ground game, but I expect the offense to bounce back.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 42, Kansas 31

This year’s record ATS: 5-4

Overall record ATS: 12-8

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Getting to know: Monmouth basketball

Monmouth forward Nikkei Rutty, right, battles Kansas State forward Levi Stockard III (34) for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Monmouth forward Nikkei Rutty, right, battles Kansas State forward Levi Stockard III (34) for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) by Associated Press

There should be no reason that the Jayhawks overlook their latest opponent.

Just a few days ago, Monmouth led the defending Big 12 co-champions, Kansas State, by nine points at halftime in Manhattan. The Wildcats then clamped down defensively against the Hawks in the second half to secure a 73-54 win at Bramlage Coliseum.

It is a result that certainly caught KU’s attention, as it prepares for its first game in a week. Kansas (1-1) plays host to Monmouth (1-2) at 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. This will be the first-ever meeting between these two teams.

KU has won 22-straight home games, 21 of which have come at Allen Fieldhouse. The streak currently ranks as the third-longest active among NCAA DI schools. KU’s last home loss came to Oklahoma State on Feb. 3, 2018.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN MONMOUTH

TOP PLAYER

No. 3 — G Deion Hammond | 6-4, 200, jr.

Monmouth's Deion Hammond, right, takes a shot as Seton Hall's Angel Delgado (31) defends during an NCAA college basketball game in Newark, N.J., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. Seton Hall defeated Monmouth 75-65. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

Monmouth's Deion Hammond, right, takes a shot as Seton Hall's Angel Delgado (31) defends during an NCAA college basketball game in Newark, N.J., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. Seton Hall defeated Monmouth 75-65. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz) by Associated Press

Through three games, Hammond is second on the team in scoring with an average of 12 points per game.

As a sophomore last season, Hammond finished second on the team in scoring with an average of 11.8 points per contest. He paced Monmouth in made field goals with 135 and triples with 74, notching 22 double-digit outings last year.

Entering this season, Hammond was named a Preseason All-MAAC second team selection.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 0 — G Ray Salnave | 6-3, 205, r-jr.

Connecticut's Josh Carlton defends against Monmouth's Ray Salnave in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Connecticut won 84-81. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)

Connecticut's Josh Carlton defends against Monmouth's Ray Salnave in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Connecticut won 84-81. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn) by Associated Press

Salnave is the lone Hawk to score in double figures in all three games this season, including his sixth career 20-point performance at Kansas State.

Salnave led Monmouth in scoring at 11.9 points per game and topped the Hawks with 95 assists. Those numbers listed him 16th in the MAAC in scoring and 10th in assists. He was also 10th in the conference in steals.

In the loss to Kansas State, Salnave came off the bench for Monmouth to score 20 points. He went 7-for-10 from the floor. Salnave has come off the bench in all three games to start the 2019-20 season.

No. 4 — F Mustapha Traore | 6-8, 210, r-sr.

Monmouth's Mustapha Traore grabs a rebound in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Connecticut won in OT, 84-81. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)

Monmouth's Mustapha Traore grabs a rebound in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Connecticut won in OT, 84-81. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn) by Associated Press

Traore has started 38 consecutive games for Monmouth, including all 35 games as a junior last year.

In fact, Traore was the only Hawk to start all 35 contests last season. Traore finished second on MU in rebounding (5.3) and fourth in scoring (7.4). He also had the best field goal percentage on the team (50.7%) as a junior.

No. 13 — G Marcus McClary | 6-3, 195, jr.

Monmouth's Marcus McClary (13) attempts a shot as Seton Hall's Angel Delgado (31) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Newark, N.J., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

Monmouth's Marcus McClary (13) attempts a shot as Seton Hall's Angel Delgado (31) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Newark, N.J., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz) by Associated Press

Through three games, McClary is averaging just 4.3 points per game this season.

He showed the ability to produce on the offensive end during the MAAC Tournament last spring, when he averaged 8.5 points per game. McClary played in all 35 games as a sophomore, starting 29.

McClary shot 47.5% from the field and 53.3% from deep, while scoring 4.4 points per game.

MEET THE COACH

The Hawks are coached by King Rice, who is 132-135 in his ninth season at Monmouth and ninth season overall. Monmouth was picked to finish fourth in the MAAC by the league’s head coaches.

VEGAS SAYS

Kansas is favored by 26.5 points over Monmouth in most sportsbooks as of Friday morning. Monmouth is ranked No. 247 by KenPom, while KU is No. 10 overall. This game should not be close, despite what the Hawks just did a few days ago in Manhattan. That being said, I can’t lay that many points when KU is still trying to figure out its best lineup combination.

Prediction: Kansas 85, Monmouth 64

This year’s record ATS: 2-0

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Pick 6: Best bets for Week 12 of college football

Fans watch as an air refueled flies over Memorial Stadium prior to kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Fans watch as an air refueled flies over Memorial Stadium prior to kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Best bet: Texas (+7) at Iowa State

It is funny how much things change over the course of a season. Earlier in the year, I was constantly fading Texas. Now, I’m backing the Longhorns because I think the market went too far in the opposite direction. This defense is getting more healthy, and a touchdown is simply too much. Plus, betting Tom Herman as an underdog in his career has been quite the money maker.

Long shot: Ole Miss (+21.5) vs. LSU

Those who have followed this blog all year knew this was coming. Especially in college football, I’m a firm believer in letdown games. By now, you have seen what Joe Burrow and No. 1 LSU did to Alabama last week. The Rebels won’t be a pushover either, as they are leading the SEC in rushing. I think that is enough to cover the three-touchdown spread.

Easy favorite: Alabama (-17.5) at Mississippi State

Along those same lines, putting my money in a Nick Saban-led team coming off a loss seems like a strong play. The Bulldogs have also lost four of their previous five games, with their lone win coming against Arkansas. I’m not sure there was a number too high that would have forced me to stay away.

Over of the week: Kansas at Oklahoma State (67.5)

I’m diving back in on the over for KU games. I just believe Brent Dearmon will have a response off a bye after scoring only 10 points in a 38-10 loss to Kansas State just two weeks ago. Oklahoma State has a stellar offense, which is led by the nation’s leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard.

Under of the week: Oklahoma at Baylor (67.5)

There isn’t a whole lot of logic behind this pick, to be honest. It stood out to me because it was the same total at KU’s Week 12 matchup with Oklahoma State. This is more of a gut feeling pick. If Baylor is going to win this game, it is going to come down to getting key stops and limiting possessions.

NFL action: Buffalo Bills (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins

My NFL bet was a dud last week, but I fully expect to get back in the win column. I don’t understand this line at all. The Bills were a 17-point favorite in the first meeting between these two teams, so the market might be overreacting to a pair of fluky wins by the Dolphins. Buffalo will take care of business this week on the road.

KU sports staff picks against the spread

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Kansas at Oklahoma State (-18)

Matt Tait: Kansas

Benton Smith: Kansas

Braden Shaw: Oklahoma State

Shane Jackson: Kansas

Oklahoma (-10) at Baylor

Matt Tait: Baylor

Benton Smith: Baylor

Braden Shaw: Baylor

Shane Jackson: Baylor

Navy at Notre Dame (-9.5)

Matt Tait: Notre Dame

Benton Smith: Notre Dame

Braden Shaw: Notre Dame

Shane Jackson: Navy

USC (-6.5) at California

Matt Tait: USC

Benton Smith: USC

Braden Shaw: USC

Shane Jackson: USC

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-4.5)

Matt Tait: Ravens

Benton Smith: Ravens

Braden Shaw: Ravens

Shane Jackson: Ravens

Kansas City Chiefs (-4) at Los Angeles Chargers

Matt Tait: Chargers

Benton Smith: Chiefs

Braden Shaw: Chiefs

Shane Jackson: Chiefs

Season standings

Shane Jackson: 35-31 (2-4 in Week 11)

Benton Smith: 33-33 (4-2 in Week 11)

Matt Tait: 31-35 (4-2 in Week 11)

Braden Shaw: 26-40 (4-2 in Week 11)

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KU’s defense must fix issues against mobile quarterbacks ahead of matchup with OSU

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson (10) squeezes between Kansas defensive end Darrius Moragne (97) and Kansas linebacker Azur Kamara (5) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson (10) squeezes between Kansas defensive end Darrius Moragne (97) and Kansas linebacker Azur Kamara (5) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

It was an interesting comment, and one that could ultimately explain a recent stretch by KU’s defense.

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson recorded 127 yards and three scores on the ground via 17 attempts during a 38-10 win over Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown two weeks ago. After the game, many Kansas players were asked what went wrong on the defensive side of the ball.

“We weren’t necessarily expecting him to run as much,” senior Bryce Torneden said of Thompson. “We thought we had guys in the right place, but that’s a great player and obviously he showed that.”

What is interesting about Torneden’s statement is the fact that Thompson had 34 total rushing attempts in the three previous games. Yet with an extra week to prepare, the Jayhawks hope to be more equipped to handle a mobile quarterback in their road tilt with Oklahoma State this weekend.

After all, OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders ranks eighth in the Big 12 in rushing with an average of 65.3 yards per game. He’s second among quarterbacks, trailing only Oklahoma signal caller Jalen Hurts.

“We already know running QBs want to get out of the pocket,” senior safety Mike Lee said. “If we keep them in the pocket, the game will go how we want it to go.”

But containing Sanders from making plays with his feet might be easier said than done, particularly with how much the Jayhawks have struggled to slow down mobile quarterbacks as of late. Over the last three games, KU has surrendered season-high rushing performances to three different quarterbacks.

Thompson posted his best performance of the year in terms of yards and attempts. He accounted for 37.1% of the Wildcats’ 342 rushing yards on 28.3% of the attempts. For comparison, KU has allowed 2,118 rushing yards on the year and 18% of that production has come from opposing signal callers.

“It was surprising for us, but it was just minor mistakes by us,” linebacker Kyron Johnson said. “It was basically me not tackling and not keeping him in the pocket. We just got all messed up.”

Texas Tech quarterback Jett Duffey notched a season-best 40 yards on six attempts, many of which came against a three-man rush on third down, during a 37-34 loss to Kansas on Oct. 26. Duffey has only had one other game this season where he recorded more than 24 rushing yards.

One week earlier, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger piled up 91 of his team’s 239 rushing yards on 14 attempts. The performance, which was 21 yards more than his previous season-best showing, helped the Longhorns secure a 50-48 home win over the Jayhawks.

In total, 32.5% of the rushing yards produced against KU's defense over the last three games have come via quarterbacks. And scrambling quarterbacks have an impact on the passing game, too.

“We just learned to never give up on a play,” cornerback Kyle Mayberry said. “Even when you play the first route good, be prepared for the scramble drill.”

Not all quarterback runs are created equal, meaning there is not a specific pattern by KU’s defense over the last month. The Wildcats utilized designed quarterback runs via option plays, including three of Thompson’s four runs on the opening drive.

On 3rd-and-2, Thompson netted a long run on a speed option to the right. Thompson took off once Torneden moved toward the running back. Thompson then capped the drive off with a touchdown run after faking the handoff and getting to the edge.

via GIPHY

Against Texas Tech, a majority of quarterback runs occurred when Duffey couldn't find an open receiver. He showcased the ability to pick up a first down with his feet rather than force things, though KU could have done a better job keeping Duffey from getting outside.

via GIPHY

The Longhorns called Ehlinger’s number on the first two plays on designed runs to set the tone. While Kansas State’s success can mostly be attributed to blocking and play design, Ehlinger was simply too tough to bring down and got a bulk of his yardage by breaking tackles.

via GIPHY

Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, they might be facing their toughest test yet when it comes to mobile quarterbacks. Sanders, who is a redshirt freshman, has 588 yards on 126 rushing attempts through nine games. Sanders has had double-digit rushing attempts in all but two of his games during his first year as a starter.

None by LandGrant Gauntlet

Sanders has been as advertised for the Cowboys. Coming out of high school, ESPN ranked him as the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 national class. He will be a different type of runner compared to what the Jayhawks have faced the last three games.

“It is just another quarterback that we have to keep in the pocket and keep an eye on,” Johnson said.

At the very least, though, KU’s defense should be more prepared entering this week’s matchup against another mobile quarterback.

Reply 2 comments from Shane Jackson Dirk Medema

Coming off another bye, KU is a double-digit underdog against Oklahoma State

Kansas head coach Les Miles walks off the field after a timeout during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Les Miles walks off the field after a timeout during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Coming off a bye week, not many people are expecting Kansas football to compete this weekend.

If that sounds familiar, that is because it just happened in October. The Jayhawks promoted Brent Dearmon to offensive coordinator during the bye week before they were ultimately a 22-point underdog at Texas. Kansas ended up falling, 50-48, on a last-second field goal.

There are no changes on the coaching staff last week, but KU is still counted out ahead of its road tilt with Oklahoma State. According to FanDuel’s Sportsbook, the Jayhawks are an 18-point underdog as of Monday afternoon.

Kansas has actually performed well in these situations during Les Miles’ first year at the helm. According to Odds Shark, KU is 3-0 when it is given 15-or-more points as an underdog, which took place against Boston College, Oklahoma and Texas. The Jayhawks have covered just once in the remaining six games.

None of that means KU (3-6, 1-5 Big 12) will cover the spread this weekend, of course. Oklahoma State has won back-to-back games against TCU and Iowa State entering this week’s matchup. The Cowboys (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) are also coming off a bye week.

Oklahoma State is 7-2 against the spread this season, including a 5-2 clip as a favorite. OSU has been a double-digit favorite three times, all of which took place in nonconference play. The Cowboys covered the spread in all three outings as well.

On paper, it is not a favorable matchup for the Jayhawks. KU’s defense has struggled to stop the run all season, and this figures to be the team’s toughest test yet. OSU running back Chuba Hubbard leads the FBS in rushing yards with 1,604 and ranks second in rushing touchdowns with 18.

Kansas, meanwhile, has allowed an average of 235.33 rushing yards per game. Kent State, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State and Massachusetts are the only teams giving up more yards on the ground this season.

It will be interesting to see if the extra week gave the Jayhawks a solid game plan to slow down the Cowboys’ rushing attack. Given the injuries on the defensive side of the ball, though, that could be easier said than done. I’m not ready to commit to a pick this week, but I’d probably lay the points at this moment.

Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. Boone Pickens Stadium.

All lines are presented by FanDuel’s Sportsbook. Sign up today on FanDuel using this special promotion.

Rest of Big 12 spreads for Week 12

TCU (-3) at Texas Tech

Texas at Iowa State (-7)

West Virginia at Kansas State (-14.5)

Oklahoma (-10) at Baylor

Reply 2 comments from Robert  Brock Dirk Medema