Jadon Haselwood, Oklahoma | 3.5 Receptions
The trick to parsing out the Oklahoma wide receiver room has been to analyze the snap counts. Here is the current roll call for their two non-blowouts against Tulane and Nebraska:
Jadon Haselwood - 53 vs. Tulane | 57 vs. Nebraska
Marvin Mims - 43 vs. Tulane | 34 vs. Nebraska
Mario Williams - 31 vs. Tulane | 21 vs. Nebraska
Michael Woods - 35 vs. Tulane | 42 vs. Nebraska
Haselwood is working as the starting X-WR and has carved out a role as Oklahoma’s most utilized wideout. Through three games he has amassed 19 targets, catching 14 of them for 127 yards and two touchdowns. For the purpose of this wager, it’s important to analyze where he is being targeted, since it’s much easier to catch short passes than deep ones. Of his 19 looks, 13 of them have come within 10-yards of the line of scrimmage, catching 10 of them. Of the remaining six targets, he secured 3-of-5 looks from the 10-19 yard intermediate range with just one reception coming downfield.
West Virginia has been very effective in stopping the run this year, but their pass defense has been suspect. WVU allowed 26 completions, 332 passing yards and three touchdowns to Taulia Tagovailoa in their 30-24 Week 1 loss to the Terps. Last week against Virginia Tech, they shut down the Hokies’ ground attack to the tune of 42 carries for 106 yards and a 2.5 YPC, but gave up 223 passing yards to Braxton Burmeister, which was by far his highest output of the year.
With Oklahoma likely to air it out against the Mountaineers, i’m betting that their WR snap-leader posts his fourth straight game of the year with at least four receptions which makes this play an OVER 3.5 receptions.
Graham Mertz, Wisconsin | 214.5 Passing Yards
It’s not exactly a secret that Wisconsin wants to run the ball and, in turn, stop the run on defense. The numbers more than bear this gamplan out, as the Badgers have churned out 266 yards per game on the ground, while allowing an average of just 33 yards rushing through their first two contests. Against Penn State they rushed 58 times to 37 passes while averaging a paltry 5.0 yards per pass attempt. The play calling gap widened last week against Eastern Michigan when the Badgers rushed 55 times while uncorking just 20 passes. The message is clear - if Wisconsin is winning, they aren’t going to throw much. Even when they do pass, Mertz has only cleared 214 passing yards twice in the last nine games - throwing for 248 yards against Illinois in the first game of 2020, and 230 yards against Northwestern in the third game last year. In total, Mertz has failed to reach the 215 passing yard plateau in his last six games.
Their opponent, Notre Dame, allowed Florida State to roll up 264 rushing yards on 5.5 YPC and three touchdowns. They also let Toledo RB Bryan Koback gash them for 114 yards in their close 32-29 win over the Rockets in Week 2. The Irish are allowing 232 passing yards on average this season, but that is skewed a bit by the pass-heavy Boilermakers last week who threw for 293 yards while rushing for just 57 yards on 25 carries.
I’m betting heavily that Mertz makes it seven consecutive games with a passing yardage total UNDER 214.5.
Avery Davis, Notre Dame | 65.5 Receiving Yards
Davis was named Notre Dame’s starting slot receiver heading into Week 1 against Florida State, but didn’t catch a single pass in the overtime contest despite logging 57 reps. The following week against Toledo, he caught three-of-four targets thrown his way for 29 yards while receiving 62 snaps. Dating back to last season, Williams had surpassed the 65 yard threshold just twice in his last 14 games heading into last week’s tilt against Purdue.
In true Purdue fashion, they made Avery Williams look like a star by allowing him to catch 5-of-5 targets for 120 yards and a 62-yard touchdown reception that he busted up the seam through the hapless Boilermakers secondary. I strongly feel like this is an overreaction line based on last week’s outlier performance. I love the UNDER 65.5 receiving yards play against a strong Wisconsin defense that currently ranks 23rd in yards per play allowed (4.37) and eighth in points per drive allowed (.76).
Nikko Remigio, Cal | 41.5 Receiving Yards
Remigio is a short-yardage checkdown machine who primarily serves as a safety-valve for QB Chase Garbers when he needs an outlet. Either that or he is catching a designed bubble-screen which essentially serves as an extended handoff. Occasionally he will catch a slant or find a soft spot in zone coverage downfield, but his money is made within the first 10-yards of the scrimmage line as 10 of his 11 receptions this year have been within that range. Couple his shallow target depth and lackluster 3.1 yards after catch average, and you can plainly see the possession role that Remigio plays in the Cal offense.
Through three games this year, Remigio have posted yardage totals of 22, 16 and 18 yards. Last season he had one game against Oregon where he caught six passes for 81 yards, but he gained a grand total of 9 receiving yards over his other three games. So the bottom line is Remigio surpassed the 41 yard mark exactly one time in his last seven games and his possession-oriented slot receiver role suppresses his potential for long gains. I’m a big fan of the UNDER 41.5 receiving yards on Remigio.
Will Rogers, Mississippi State | 312.5 Passing Yards
Max Johnson, LSU | 277.5 Passing Yards
You need to look no further than last year’s 44-34 inferno between Mississippi State and LSU to learn all you need to know about these quarterback overs. The deposed KJ Costello threw for 623 yards (not a misprint) while injured LSU QB Myles Brennan tossed up 345 passing yards of his own in a certifiable passing bonanza. Though the lead actors have changed, in both cases it has been for the better, as Max Johnson outplayed Brennan in the spring before the former starter went down with an injury, and Will Rogers sent Costello packing shortly after his big game against LSU last season.
Turn the page to 2021, and not much has changed with these two teams in terms of their offensive approach. LSU’s run game is still an unmitigated disaster and HC Mike Leach never ran the ball anyway. For perspective - LSU is averaging 303 yards passing-to-86 yards rushing thus far. While the Bulldogs are averaging 361 passing yards and a borderline absurd 45 rushing yards. The only reason why LSU’s passing total is that low is because of Johnson’s 156-yard performance against McNeese State when he departed very early in the lopsided affair. He threw for 330 yards against UCLA and 372 yards against Central Michigan otherwise. Throw in the fact that LSU superstar CB Darryl Stingley Jr. is “very doubtful” to play this game, and you’ve got the recipe for a good old fashioned shootout.
I’m backing both quarterbacks’ OVERs in this burgeoning offensive explosion.