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Gridiron Players Club (10/7/23)

(4 Picks)


12:00PM EST: Texas/OU Under 60.5 (5 Units).

The Red River Rivalry has been known for offensive shootouts but that's going to change. Oklahoma's allowing 10.8 points per game (4th best) to FBS opponents and Texas is sitting at 12.8 (8th). Oklahoma's had some fortunate scheduling and they aren't THAT good but Texas has been battle tested.

Brent Venables has started to turn the Oklahoma defense around in year 2. The longtime Defensive Coordinator for Clemson is one of the best defensive minds in College Football. Clemson was a Top 3 scoring defense in 4 of his final 5 seasons at Clemson. They ranked 2nd in his final year as DC and fell to 20th last year without him. He was there since 2012 and has been sorely missed.

They have had one of the easier schedules but they've done what good defenses are supposed to do to bad teams. The talent is there for Venables. Despite Riley leaving, OU had the 8th ranked recruiting class and 4th ranked transfer portal class last year. This year they had the 5th best recruiting class and 8th ranked portal class. It's just about getting the guys up to speed in his scheme.

Oklahoma's also had the luxury of keeping things pretty Vanilla. Their schedule hasn't demanded them to pull out all the stops and you can bet your ass that Venables has more than a few tricks up his sleeve that he hasn't shown on tape just yet. His guys will be prepared for Texas and the talents there for them to execute. It's also personal for Oklahoma, they lost 49-0 to Texas at Home last year. OU starting QB Dillon Gabriel didn't play in that game but the Sooners are going to be fired up.

On the opposite side we touched on this Texas defense last week. They've dominated the line of scrimmage against every team they've faced. Oklahoma hasn't ran the ball too well this year and that's going to be a problem against Texas. They're averaging just 4 yards per carry (75th) and that's against a weak schedule.

Texas has a very good defensive line and are holding FBS teams to just 3.1 yards per carry. That's despite playing Alabama in Alabama and a good Kansas offense. OU is going to have to at least try to run the football, otherwise that Texas front will pin their ears back and it will be a real long day for Dillon Gabriel. Offensively Texas also likes to run the football. Should keep that lock rolling on when they have the ball.

You need a lot of touchdowns to push a total over 60+ points. There should be more resistance in the Red Zones than in years past with these two. As long as they can limit the big play scores, this should fly well under.

12:00PM EST: Ohio State -17 (3 Units).

Maryland may be 5-0, but they don't belong on the same field as Ohio State. They've beaten an FCS Team, a 1-4 Charlotte team that joined the FBS in 2015, an 0-5 Virginia Team, a 2-3 MSU team in the midst of that scandal, and a 2-3 Indiana team. That's about as unimpressive a track record as there is in College Football at the Moment.

Going into Buckeye stadium is a different animal. The Last time Maryland went on the road into a packed competitors house was in Penn State last year and they lost 30-0. Taulia Tagovailoa threw for just 74 yards that day. Ohio State also beat Maryland in Maryland 43-30 last year. This Buckeyes defense is much better than it was a season ago and while this offense hasn't been up to the OSU standard, think that's about to change.

Ohio State has been known for some of the most prolific offenses in College Football for years now but came out the gate a little sluggish this year. Anytime you have to replace a top QB you can expect some sort of struggle. They looked their old self when they blew out Western Kentucky 63-10. That's what OSU usually does to lesser FBS programs. They battled Notre Dame in Notre Dame a couple weeks ago and came away with a win on the final play by a score of 17-14. That's a very good Irish defense though.

The Bye Week helps a lot. They return home to face a Maryland defense that's nothing special and the coaching staff's had two weeks to prepare for it. They play Purdue the week after this so it's not like there's some big game to look forward to. The Buckeyes have had time to evaluate what is and isn't working on the offensive side of the ball and make the necessary changes. There's going to be wrinkles that Maryland can't prepare for.

The Buckeyes still have arguably the most talented skill players in the Country too. They surely have the #1 WR in Marvin Harrison Jr. Buckeyes starting QB Kyle McCord is in year 3 with the OSU program. He's more then comfortable with what they're asking him to do. Just needed some experience. He just led a 65 yard game winning drive in a packed Irish house with just a 1:26 remaining on the clock. Any doubts the kid had are certainly gone there's a ton of momentum to ride on.

The Buckeyes defense has been phenomenal. They held Notre Dame to just 14 points in their own house and that's the most they've allowed this season. The biggest difference comes at the point of attack from years past. For years OSU has been pushed around in big games and unable to compete with the big dogs. Notre Dame has one of the best offensive lines and rushing attacks in College Football. The Buckeyes held them to 4.6 yards per carry while also limiting Sam Hartman and the Irish passing attack to just 175 yards.

All around great team defense by Ohio State and Maryland doesn't have anywhere close to the talent that Notre Dame has. This is also Ohio State's first in conference Home Game. They've played Western Kentucky and Youngstwon State at home this year. This is also their first Home game since September 16th. Ohio Stadium is going to be rocking.

3:30PM EST: Texas A&M +2.5 (5 Units).

Football games are won and lost in the trenches and Alabama doesn't have what it takes up front on offense. Despite an elusive Jalen Milroe starting 4 of 5 games at QB, Alabama's allowed 20 sacks through 5 games. Milroe was sacked 5 times against Texas, 4 times against Ole Miss, and 4 times against Mississippi State despite attempting a combined 60 passes in those games. A&M's defense has 20 sacks on the season but they've put it together recently with back to back 7 sack games against Auburn and Arkansas.

There was a lot of hype around the Aggies last year and especially on the defensive side of the ball but they didn't live up to it. DJ Durkin was in his first year as defensive coordinator. So was the #1 recruiting class of all time. If you didn't know, A&M's 2022 recruiting class graded out as the best class ever. Now he's in his 2nd year and so is that recruiting class. Just for perspective, 8 of the top 10 recruiting classes prior to A&M's had either played in the BCS National Championship or College Football Playoff. Granted it's only year 2 for this class and there's still next year but a potential sign of things to come.

A&M held Auburn to just 200 yards of total offense a couple weeks ago and 3.5 yards per carry. That's an Auburn offense that just ran for 219 yards on Georgia last weekend. Much of Auburn's rushing success comes from dual threat QB Payton Thorne, similar to Alabama's Jalen Milroe. Didn't matter for the Aggies.

A&M also held Arkansas to just 174 total yards and 42 yards rushing. Arkansas got back Raheim "Rocket" Sanders for that game, one of the most explosive backs in the country. He had 11 carries for 34 yards. ARK QB K.J. Jefferson is also one of the better dual threat QBs in the nation. Didn't matter.

Even in A&M's loss to Miami the Hurricanes only ran for 77 yards. Much has changed for the Aggies since losing at the U, specifically at QB. Conner Weigman was their starter but he broke his foot so now Max Johnson is the guy. He was with A&M last year and the starter at LSU in 2021. He has plenty of experience and familiarity in Jimbo's system. Johnson has 653 career pass attempts to Weigman's 251.

He does a good job playing within the system and not trying to do too much. He does have a habit of lowering his shoulder to try and gain extra yards which might be needed in a game like this but they're trying to hone that in for his own protection. The weapons he's throwing to just might be the difference maker.

Years of having top Wide Receivers have finally ended at Alabama. They really don't have THAT guy. RB Jahmyr Gibbs led Alabama in receptions last year and it's pretty much the same WR unit. WR J. Burton leads the team with 189 yards and WR I. Bond leads the team with 12 receptions. A Far Cry from Alabama's dominance prior to last year.

A&M however has one of the best WR rooms in the nation. Sophmore Evan Stewart has 24 catches for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns and has game breaking speed. He's a potential first round pick in the 2025 draft. Then there's Ainias smith who missed the majority of last season but is back and healthy. He's another shifty playmaker that makes things happen with the ball in his hands. Going into the year A&M had the 9th ranked receiving room according to PFF.

Alabama's secondary is young but 5 games in they've gotten some needed experience. Texas hit some big plays taking advantage of Alabama miscues but those mistakes will be few and far between. Both Alabama and A&M are going to need their guys to make plays when they have the ball in space and the Aggies are just more talented in that regard. Even at the RB position A&M has more homerun speed.

Milroe's not an elite passing Quarterback. He can make the simple reads but he's not dissecting a defense in real time. When Texas took away the run game he completed just 51.9% of his passes and threw 2 interceptions in the process. He's averaging just 209.5 passing yards per game this season. Now he has to go on the road into a real hostile environment. It's really the first true road test of his young career. He made his first 1 road in Mississippi State last week, big whoop.

Everyone's acting like the first 4 weeks of the season didn't happen because the offense finally had a good day against a Mississippi State team that's allowing 35.5. points per game. 7 of Alabama's 40 points came from a pick 6 and another 7 from a MSST interception that set Bama up on the 30 yard line going on. Jalen Milroe completed 10 of 12 passes for 164 yards. He didn't throw a TD or an INT but still managed to get sacked 4 times.

Going into Kyle Field is an entirely different animal. Alabama forever has a target on their back, especially going into a fellow SEC House. That stadium is going to be a madhouse and the 2:30 local time start ensures the stands will be packed early. How does Milroe handle that for the first time in his career. The Offensive Line struggles in pass protection when they can hear each other, how's that work for them when they can't communicate at the the line.

A&M just needs to play through their defense and avoid the mistakes on offense. It's going to be a tough day for the Alabama offense against that stacked, arguably best front 7 in College Football.

7:00PM EST: Georgia -14 (3 Units) Buy it down if you're at 14.5. It's cheap and that's a terrible hook to lay.

Everyone's all over Kentucky because they beat Florida at Home, Wooo. Florida hasn't been relevant in how many years? They're tough to beat at the Swamp but away from home they're a middle of the pack SEC team at best. Georgia battled and got ran all over by Auburn but HC Hugh Freeze did a phenomenal job scheming against the Georgia Defense. They still only let up 20 points too.

125 of Auburn's 219 rushing yards came from the QB position. Kentucky's QB Devin Leary has -19 rushing yards in his career. He's not a running QB and Georgia won't have to worry about that threat. Nobody else could run on Georgia and Kentucky's power football plays right into Georgia's defense. You have to go back a long time the last time Georgia lost at the Line of Scrimmage to a power football team, especially playing at home.

This Kentucky defense hasn't been anything special either. They held Florida to 14 at home but they let up 28 to Vanderbilt in Vanderbilt. They let Eastern Kentucky score 17 and Ball State 14 too. Both of which were at home. Vandy was also their only road game so far this season. Going into Georgia is an entirely different beast and one of the hardest places to play in College Football.

Georgia's also 0-4-1 against the Spread. That's not going to hold up and the public is all over Kentucky in this one. They're wrong more often than not in spots like this. This in an overreaction to last weeks games. Florida's the only team Kentucky has played that has a winning record.

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