Friday's Tip Sheet
October 3, 2018
By Brian Edwards
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**Georgia Tech at Louisville**
-- Bobby Petrino and Paul Johnson have had better days. Both bring their teams into Friday’s ACC showdown in dire need of a victory. Their respective schools have a combined 2-6 record against FBS competition going into this contest at Cardinal Stadium. As of early Wednesday, most betting shops had the Yellow Jackets installed as 4.5-point road favorites with a total of 57.5. The Cardinals were +160 on the money line (risk $100 to win $160).
-- Georgia Tech (2-3 straight up, 1-4 against the spread) is 0-2 both SU and ATS in a pair of road assignments. Johnson’s club lost 49-38 at USF in Week 2 and dropped a 24-19 decision at Pittsburgh in Week 3. The Yellow Jackets returned home to take on Clemson, but they got smashed by the Tigers, 49-21, as 16-point underdogs. Georgia Tech stopped the bleeding and avoided a four-game losing streak by beating up on Bowling Green 63-17 as a 28-point home ‘chalk’ last week.
-- Senior QB TaQuon Marshall completed 5-of-6 passes for 160 yards against the Falcons. He also rushed for 42 yards and two touchdowns on 13 attempts. Redshirt freshman Tobias Oliver rushed for a team-high 115 yards and two TDs on seven carries, while Jordan Mason ran seven times for 61 yards and a pair of scores.
-- Georgia Tech is ranked second in the nation in rushing yards, averaging 339.2 yards per game. Johnson’s flexbone offense has thrived through much of his 11-year tenure in Atlanta, but its production waned from 2015-17. This unit averaged 34.3, 33.6, 35.1 and 37.9 points per game from 2011-14, but those numbers were reduced to 29.3, 28.2 and 28.1 the past three seasons. The Yellow Jackets are scoring at a 36.4 PPG clip so far this year. Nevertheless, with a 2-3 record and an offense that can grow tiring for a fan base since it’s extremely lacking in homerun potential throwing the ball, Johnson is undoubtedly on the hot seat.
-- Marshall has connected on 30-of-63 passes (47.6%) for 543 yards with a 2/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has run for a team-best 382 yards and seven TDs with a 4.3 yards-per-carry average. Mason has run for 365 yards and three TDs while averaging 8.1 YPC, and Oliver has run for 318 yards and five TDs with a 6.9 YPC average. Senior A-back Clinton Lynch has seven receptions for 209 yards and two TDs, in addition to 57 rushing yards and one TD on 10 totes.
-- Georgia Tech is ranked No. 83 in the country in scoring defense (27.8 PPG), No. 53 in total defense, No. 51 at defending the pass and No. 57 in run defense. The Yellow Jackets have struggled to get pressure on the QB, sacking opposing QB only six times through five games. Senior DB Malik Rivera has shine on this unit, producing a team-high 25 tackles with two interceptions for 84 return yards.
-- Louisville (2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS) has won two of its three home games, but it has limped to a 1-2 spread record and basically just gave away a victory last week due to perhaps the most inept play-call of Petrino’s career. With U of L leading FSU 24-21 with just over two minutes to play, it took over possession on FSU’s 21 with the Seminoles having two timeouts remaining. In this situation, the worst-case scenario is to run it three times in a row and settle for a short field-goal attempt. Willie Taggart would have to use both timeouts and the clock would drip down to around 1:15 left by the time FSU took over without a timeout and most likely down by six points. Instead, Petrino called a pass play that was intercepted by A.J. Westbrook. Five plays later, FSU hit a long TD pass and got a defensive stop to capture a 28-24 victory. The Cardinals still took the cash as 5.5-point home underdogs, but they allowed a 14-point halftime advantage and a double-digit lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter slip away.
-- U of L sophomore QB Jawon Pass completed 24-of-45 passes for 306 yards with two TD and two interceptions vs. FSU. He also had a 14-yard TD run to open the scoring. Senior WR Jaylen Smith, a first-team All-ACC selection last season, had five receptions for 100 yards. Dez Fitzpatrick had four catches for 45 yards and one TD, while Micky Crum had eight grabs for 47 yards and one TD. RB Trey Smith rushed for a team-best 70 yards on 14 carries.
-- Louisville had a 24-16 advantage in first downs over the ‘Noles and a 421-370 edge in total yards. FSU was plus two in turnover margin, however.
-- With Lamar Jackson as its starting QB the past two seasons, U of L averaged 42.5 and 38.1 PPG in 2016 and ’17, respectively. Through five games this year, the Cardinals are ranked No. 122 in the nation in scoring with a pedestrian 18.4 PPG average. They’re No. 120 in total offense, No. 112 in rushing yards and No. 102 in passing yards.
-- Louisville opened the season by losing to top-ranked Alabama by a 51-14 count down in Orlando. The Cardinals responded with back-to-back home victories (but non-covers) vs. Indiana State (31-7) and vs. Western Kentucky (20-17). They lost 27-3 at Virginia before last week’s meltdown.
-- Pass has completed merely 51.7 percent of his passes for 760 with an abysmal 4/7 TD-INT ratio. RS freshman QB Malik Cunningham has been given playing time under center as well. In fact, he’s rushed for a team-high 209 yards and one TD with a 4.9 YPC average. Cunningham has connected on 64.7 percent of his throws for 198 yards with a 1/1 TD-INT ratio. Jaylen Smith has 13 receptions for 224 yards and one TD, while Fitzpatrick has caught 14 balls for 168 yards and one TD. Trey Smith has run for 105 yards with a 4.4 YPC average.
-- Louisville has compiled a 3-2 spread record as a home underdog during Petrino’s second run at the school that started in 2014.
-- According to an SB Nation report on Tuesday, U of L would owe Petrino more than $14 million if it fires him during the 2018 season or right after it. Remember, it was recently-fired AD Tom Jurich who brought Petrino back to the school (after he bolted for the Atlanta Falcons less than a year after signing a 10-year contract) and extended his contract to 2023 after Jackson won the Heisman and the Cards went 9-4 in 2016. Amid the FBI investigation that led to basketball coach Rick Pitino being fired, Jurich was also fired but is owed more than $7 million from the school. Pitino has sued U of L to collect $37 million. Therefore, with the amount of money it would take to attract a quality new coach, the Cardinals appear to be stuck with Petrino. Like I said when Jurich decided to give Petrino a second chance, the school new it was getting into a bed with fleas.
-- Georgia Tech owns a 10-12-2 spread record in 24 games as a road favorite during Johnson’s 11 seasons on the job.
-- The ‘under’ is 3-2 overall for U of L, 2-1 in its home contests. The Cardinals’ games have averaged combined scores of 44.4 PPG.
-- The ‘over’ is 3-2 overall for Georgia Tech, 1-1 in its two road outings. The Yellow Jackets have seen their games average combined scores of 64.2 PPG.
-- Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**Utah State at BYU**
-- As of Wednesday, most spots had BYU (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) listed as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 55. The Aggies were +120 on the money line (risk $100 to win $120).
-- Utah State (3-1 SU, 4-0 ATS) has had two weeks to prepare for the Cougars, who are playing their sixth game in a six-week stretch. Since losing 38-31 at Michigan State as a 23.5-point road underdog in its season opener, Matt Wells’s squad has ripped off three consecutive wins both SU and ATS vs. New Mexico State (60-13), vs. Tennessee Tech (73-12) and vs. Air Force (42-32).
-- Utah State led 35-14 against the Falcons late in the third quarter, only to see them cut the deficit to three with an 18-0 run in less than six minutes of play. Air Force got a 21-yard scoop-and-score fumble return from Christopher Musselman with 13:00 remaining to make it 35-32. But the Aggies answered with Gerold Bright’s 70-yard TD run with 6:52 left to cover the spread. Sophomore QB Jordan Love completed 26-of-38 passes for 356 yards and two TDs without an interception. Bright rushed for 101 yards and two TDs on 11 carries, while junior RB Darwin Thompson had 34 rushing yards and two scores on six attempts. Senior WR Ron’quavion Tarver hauled in nine catches for 128 yards, and Dax Raymond caught four balls for 68 receiving yards and one TD.
-- Utah State is averaging 51.5 PPG to rank fourth in the nation in scoring. The Aggies are No. 31 in the country in total offense and No. 29 in passing yards.
-- Love has completed 66.7 percent of his throws for 1,070 yards with a 5/3 TD-INT ratio. Tarver has 22 receptions for 228 yards and Raymond has 15 catches for 210 yards and one TD. Bright has rushed for 288 yards and four TDs with a 7.2 YPC average, while Thompson has run for 265 yards and six TDs with a 9.5 YPC average.
-- During Wells’s six-year tenure, Utah State has produced an 8-12 ATS mark when playing in the road underdog role.
-- BYU has wins at Arizona (28-23), at Wisconsin (24-21) and vs. McNeese State (30-3), but it lost 21-18 vs. California as a 2.5-point home favorite in Week 2. The Cougars dropped a 35-7 decision at Washington as 18.5-point road underdogs last week. They managed merely 194 yards of total offense, averaged only 1.2 YPC and didn’t score until Lopini Katoa found paydirt on a one-yard plunge with just 41 ticks remaining. Tanner Mangum completed 18-of-21 throws but for only 160 passing yards. Katoa had seven catches for 66 yards, in addition to 27 rushing yards and one score on eight carries.
-- Making matters worse in last week’s defeat at UW, tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau was lost to a season-ending knee injury. Laulu-Pututau had 14 catches for 120 yards and one TD.
-- Mangum was forced into the starting QB role in the season opener at Nebraska in 2015 when Taysom Hill sustained a season-ending leg injury. All he did in his freshman debut was successfully throw a Hail-Mary TD pass on the game's final play in Lincoln. He then created fourth-quarter heroics in a home win over Boise State. the next Saturday. Mangum posted a 23/10 TD-INT ratio and threw for 3,377 yards that campaign. Hill returned in ’16 and regained his starting role, limiting Mangum to mop-up duty. He became the starter again last year, but he completed just 57.2 percent of his throws for 1,540 yards with a 9/8 TD-INT ratio. Here in the first five games this season, Mangum has 772 passing yards and a 3/2 TD-INT ratio.
-- BYU is ranked No. 125 nationally in total offense, No. 116 in passing yards, No. 102 in rushing and No. 115 in scoring with its meager 21.4 PPG average.
-- BYU is 4-6 ATS in 10 games as a home favorite during Kalani Sitake’s three-year tenure.
-- The ‘under’ is a perfect 5-0 for BYU, 2-0 in its home games. The Cougars have seen their games produce an average combined score of 42.0 PPG. This is the second-highest total they've seen this year. The 51 combined points in their season-opening win at Arizona fell below the 58.5-point tally.
-- The ‘over’ is 4-0 for Utah State with its games averaging combined scores of 75.2 PPG.
-- ESPN2 will have the broadcast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Marshall (3-1 SU, 1-3 ATS) will play host to Middle Tennessee at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on the CBS Sports College Network. The Thundering Herd won 20-17 at Western Ky. last week thanks to a 32-yard TD pass from Isaiah Green to Tyre Brady with 1:44 remaining. Brady helped Green overcome three interceptions by making eight receptions for 162 yards and two TDs, including a 40-yard TD catch early in the first quarter. As of Tuesday, most spots had Doc Holliday’s team installed as a 6.5-point home ‘chalk’ with a total of 53. Rick Stockstill’s club improved to 2-2 both SU and ATS with last week’s 25-24 win over FAU as a 2.5-point home underdog. Stockstill chose to go for two after a potential tying TD late in the fourth quarter and the conversion was good when Brent Stockstill found Gatlin Casey with 38 ticks left. Since 2008, the Blue Raiders have limped to a 15-24-1 spread record as road underdogs.
-- FAU fell to 0-5 ATS in last week’s loss in Murfeesboro. The Owls are joined as winless for our purposes by other schools such as Nebraska (0-4 ATS), UConn (0-4-1) and UTSA (0-4-1).
-- The ATS Perfection Club is led by Washington State with its 5-0 spread record. West Virginia, FIU, Utah State, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are 4-0 ATS, while Syracuse is 4-0-1 versus the number. App. State (and Utah State, as previously noted) has seen the ‘over’ go 4-0, while Georgia Southern has watched the ‘under’ hit at a 4-0 clip.
-- UNLV star QB Armani Rogers could be out up to six weeks with a broken toe, according to a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Mark Anderson (formerly of the Tallahassee Democrat WAYyyy back in the day). Rogers has completed just 41.5 percent of his passes for 369 yards with a 6/4 TD-INT ratio. However, the sophomore signal caller out of powerhouse Bishop Gorman HS, where Tony Sanchez coached before moving from the prep to the FBS level to take the UNLV gig, has rushed for a team-best 488 yards and six TDs with a 6.9 YPC average.
-- Something’s got to give with the total (55.5 pts.) in South Alabama’s road game at Georgia Southern. The ‘over’ is 5-0 for the USA Jaguars, who have seen combined scores of 56, 68, 72, 87 and 59. As noted earlier, the ‘under’ is perfect for the Eagles. USA is playing its third consecutive road game and is looking to avenge a 52-0 loss to the Eagles last year. In fact, Georgia Southern has beaten the Jags in all four meetings since moving up from FCS to the Sun Belt Conference.
-- Best wishes to Texas Tech true freshman QB Alan Bowman, who remains hospitalized with a partially collapsed lung sustained during last week’s 42-34 home loss to West Virginia. Likewise, we’re rooting hard for Tennessee State LB Christion Abercombie, who collapsed on the sidelines in last week’s narrow loss at Vanderbilt. Before collapsing, Abercrombie complained of a headache. He was rushed to nearby Vanderbilt Medical Center and underwent immediate emergency surgery on his brain. Abercrombie is reportedly showing small signs of progress but remains in Nashville in critical condition.
-- I’ve talked plenty on radio shows this week about James Franklin’s atrocious play call on fourth down at crunch time vs. Ohio State this past Saturday night, but I’ve yet to put anything about it in print here at VI. Until now, that is. My goodness, have you ever seen anything worse than that?! (This was worse than throwing on 1st and goal in the Seahawks-Patriots’ Super Bowl.) There are basically zero situations where you run the ball there on fourth and five unless you have Jim Brown, Earl Campbell and Barry Sanders lined up in the Power-I formation, right? But the circumstances were that PSU’s best player is QB Trace McSorley, who by the way, was more than capable of running or throwing for first-down yardage, especially if you call a play to get him out of the pocket. He’s your ‘horse,’ your senior leader and your Heisman Trophy candidate. And on the most important play of the season, you take the ball out of his hands? Hey, I’ve always liked Franklin and still do, but that was utterly insane! The dude literally lost his sanity at a time in which that’s not acceptable for any head coach at any level.
-- Boston College star RB A.J. Dillon is ‘questionable’ at N.C. State. and is expected to be a game-time decision. He had not practiced yet this week, as of Wednesday, due to the ankle injury suffered in last week’s 45-35 home win over Temple. Dillon is ranked tops in the ACC and third in the nation with 652 rushing yards. He’s in a 10th-place tie nationally in rushing TDs (six) and is averaging 6.2 YPC.
-- Stanford RB Bryce Love is ‘questionable’ with an ankle injury for a home game vs. Utah. The Cardinal is favored by five points over the Utes, who are 18-11 ATS in 29 games as road underdogs in the past decade.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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