Week 4 College Football Player Props Primer

DonoVan Smith, QB, Texas Tech vs. Texas - Under 273.5 Passing Yards

Having watched Smith pilot the Red Raiders' offense for the last calendar year, I am ready to definitively state that he is not the long term quarterback for Texas Tech. OC Zach Kittley no doubt is frustrated by his 9% turnover worthy play rate and 3-to-5 TD/INT ratio with a pedestrian 58.2 PFF offensive grade over his two starts. He threw a back-breaking interception last week against NC State and was replaced by four-star understudy Behren Morton for the final two series. Here's what Texas Tech HC Joey McGuire said about the QB situation when Shough comes back:

McGuire is basically guaranteeing we will see both Smith and Morton against Texas, who ranks 23rd in overall defense according to CFB Winning Edge's advanced analytics, which is certifiable death to the 273.5 Passing yardage mark. Contested QB situations are manna from heaven from a player props perspective. A slow start will mean a quick hook for Smith which means this is an Under 273.5 Passing Yards play.

Michael Wiley, RB, Arizona vs. @Cal - Under 52.5 Rushing Yards

Arizona ranks 95th on overall rushing performance and 98th in rushing yards, averaging 122 YPG on 3.8 yards per carry in the early going. Just as important is the fact Arizona ranks 100th nationally with 32 rushing attempts per game, as HC Jed Fisch employs an up-tempo, pass oriented offense that ranks 13th in pace of play. Wiley is the passing back for Arizona, securing 9-of-13 targets for 78 yards thus far while his backfield mates have combined for 9 targets on their own. On the rushing side, Wiley leads with 131 yards, thanks in part to him benefitting from some opportune timing on passing down rush attempts, but he ranks third in carries with just 21 over three games. He has received 28% of the backfield's rush attempts for an Arizona team that is built on throwing the ball, has yet to cross the 52.5 rushing yards mark yet this season and is a combined 2-for-14 over the last two seasons crossing this mark. He came close last week against FCS North Dakota State, but that's a whole different conversation from a Cal defense that does a good job of suppressing explosiveness, ranking 38th in EPA/Play and plays slow, ranking 76th in pace of play. All signs point to an Under play on Wiley's 52.5 Rushing Yards.

Kelvontay Dixon, WR, SMU @TCU - Under 33.5 Receiving Yards

This is a line that I love to attack and got at opening at u39.5 on FanDuel, but that went down to it's current mark of u28.5 quickly, so we're going with Draft Kings' 33.5 Rec Yards line. "Moochie" is a lightly used receiver who received 12, 16 and 19 snaps in each of the first three contests as a backup outside receiver. His best showing came in a complete blowout of Lamar in which Dixon caught 4-of-6 passes for 38 yards. In his other two contests Dixon caught 2-of-4 targets for 15 yards and a touchdown against North Texas and 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards and a touchdown last week against Maryland while running just 12 routes. With SMU playing against a solid Power Five defense in TCU, who ranks 10th in overall rushing performance so far and will try to slow the game down on the Mustangs like Maryland did last week, It's going to take a big play for Dixon to get to 33.5, and i've already seen the line in other outlets down to 26.5. Take the Under 33.5 Yards and play the percentages.

Dillon Johnson, RB, Mississippi State vs. Bowling Green - Over 26.5 Receiving Yards

Last week I recommended taking the Under on fellow MSU RB Jo'Quavious Marks and his shocking 34.5 receiving yards O/U. Here is what I wrote:

Mississippi State HC Mike Leach has settled on Dillon Johnson as his primary running back, with Johnson receiving 49 snaps to Marks' 31 last week in a competitive game against Arizona. Production-wise - Johnson caught all six of his targets for 34 yards, while Marks caught all four passes thrown his way for 17 yards. If anything, it should be Johnson priced at 34.5 receiving yards”

Here we are a week later, Marks caught one pass for zero yards while Johnson recorded his third straight game with six targets, catching all but one, for 102 yards while clearing the 26.5 yards receiving mark in each game this season. Now we have Mississippi State in a get-back spot after losing to LSU 31-15 last week and now playing a MAC opponent, Bowling Green, in Starkville. Johnson out-snapped Marks 40-to-27 last week and is the clearly preferred passing-down option for HC Mike Leach's legendary air raid passing offense. I'm betting Johnson gets at least five targets again which means he goes over 26.5 Receiving Yards for a fourth straight week.

Taye Barber, WR, TCU vs. SMU - Under 56.5 Receiving Yards

Over TCU's first two games, Barber has logged 20 and 27 reps exclusively in the slot, catching one pass for 9 yards in their opener against lowly Colorado. He followed up that mundane performance by catching 3-of-4 passes for 66 yards against nondescript FCS program Tarleton State in Week 2. As we've seen countless times, just because a player lights up a non-FBS team one week, doesn't mean that performance should be taken as that player's baseline. Especially considering SMU did a pretty good job slowing down Maryland's high-octane passing attack last week, holding Taulia Tagovailoa to just 210 passing yards as Maryland chose to grind down the Mustangs by rushing 38 times for 225 yards and 5.9 yards per carry. With TCU ranking 99th in FBS by averaging 6.0 yards per pass thanks to QB Max Duggan's well-documented problems with accuracy, they have turned to a punishing ground game to move the ball, averaging 227 rushing YPG (18th in FBS) and a gaudy 6.8 yards per carry which is the 4th highest mark in the country. If that weren't enough to interest you, Barber is listed in a three-way “or” competition for slot reps and is rotated through the formation with the other two players on the depth chart with him. I am all over the Under 56.5 Receiving Yards.