We've got a pretty appealing props slate this week, as injuries and re-opened position battles offer excellent potential value depending on who suits up this week. I also like the Washington State lines to provide game-flow related edges compared to their light passing volume against Oregon State last week. Let's dig in.
Sean Clifford - Penn St - 265.5 Yards
Clifford won’t be confused with everyone's favorite big red dog, but he has served up three "big bad losses" to open Penn State’s season. Understandably the mood has been rather somber in the ironically named Happy Valley as a result of their victory-free start. While some of the blame can be attributed to injuries to Journey Brown and Noah Cain, Sean Clifford showed a penchant for committing some horrid turnovers in critical spots.
Last week against Maryland, the Nittany Lions' signal caller took seven sacks while throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble that was returned 34 yards for a touchdown. His lack of ball security put PSU in a 35-7 hole through three quarters, forcing Clifford to uncork 57 passes in a futile attempt at a comeback which resulted in two irrelevant garbage-time touchdowns for a 35-19 final score.
HC James Franklin has made it known that bulldozing redshirt sophomore Will Levis will be worked into the quarterback rotation this week against Nebraska. When Clifford was injured last year, Levis rushed 17 times for 108 yards in a victory over Rutgers in their regular season finale. With uncertainty regarding how the snaps will be divided, and the likelihood of Clifford being on a short leash should things start to go south, playing the Under 265.5 is good business.
Deon McIntosh - Washington State - 100.5 Yards
This isn’t former HC Mike Leach’s Wazzou offense anymore. So the pirate’s natural proclivities towards pounding his running backs with outlet passes that serve as extended handoffs has gone the way of the dial-up modem in Pullman. Enter HC Nick Rolovich who has a distinctly different opinion on how to utilize his running backs in the passing game. Simply put - he doesn’t use tham. At all.
Last year Hawaii’s starting running back, Miles Reed, caught only six passes for 53 yards in a baker's-dozen games. However in a pass-heavy offense that posted 635 passing attempts to 421 rushing attempts, the lack of a consistent ground-based attack made it difficult for Reed to post huge rushing numbers. As a result, Reed only recorded one, 100-yard performance in 13 games last year, with the entire offense averaging only 134 yards per game.
Last week, Deon McIntosh rolled up 147 yards in 18 carries against a porous Oregon State defense that had major containment issues in the run game. Game flow also dictated a lot of McIntosh’s workload, as Wazzou led 28-7 in the early third-quarter as they exploited Oregon State’s woeful run defense to the tune of 7.6 YPC on 30 carries.
Washington State is highly unlikely to be in a position where they are up 21 points against Pac-12 favorite Oregon who allowed a stingy 109 yards on the ground last season. It’s going to be exceedingly difficult for McIntosh to ring up another 100-yard game if they’re down two scores and playing catch up.
Under 100.5 is the only play here, as history tells us back-to-back 100-yard showings from a run-n-shoot running back is like getting consecutive 300-yard passing performances out of a service academy quarterback.
Leddie Brown - West Virginia - 95.5 Yards
While I truly admire Leddie Brown’s rushing acumen, and would ordinarily consider his Over a fade simply based on his talent level and HC Neal Brown’s game scripts alone, the explosive junior suffered an injury in the first-quarter against Texas last week that limited him all week in practice.
One of the central tenets of player props is pressing advantages when they present themselves. You need to operate like a lion on the Serengeti when he spots a limping gazelle at the local town watering hole. You will never go hungry chasing lame water buffaloes who fall behind the pack. When HC Brown was asked about “super un-Leddie’s” playing status against TCU this Saturday, he said “Hopeful. Hopeful that he’s going to play.”
Anytime you’ve got a college coach doing an unwitting impersonation of Jimmy Two-Times from Goodfellas, you know he's reeling. Best case scenario is he plays against a TCU defense that is allowing a solid 142 YPG rushing, and Leddie limps his way to single-digit carries while sharing the backfield load with Alex Sinkfield. To put it more succinctly, “bet the Under, bet the Under.”
Renard Bell - Washington State - 47.5 Yards
Unlike their aforementioned irreverent loon former-HC Mike Leach, Nick Rolovich doesn’t change out his wide receiving alignments like he’s a hockey coach orchestrating line-shifts. As we’ve seen in his previous tenure with the Rainbow Warriors, Rolo picks his four guys and assaults them with targets. See: Jared Smart, JoJo Ward, Cedric Byrd and Jason-Matthew Sharsh, who all received at least 100 targets in 2019.
So when I see a pitifully low receiving number for a starting run-n-shoot wideout, I get a little tingle down my leg. Usually that’s a result of my sciatica acting up again after over-exerting myself on the basketball court, but not this time.
Renard Bell was on the field for every one of Wazzou’s 64 snaps against Oregon State, catching six-of-ten targets for 60 yards, good for a 30% target share. With the Cougars likely to be chasing against a superior opponent, it’s a mortal lock they will throw more than the 33 passes Jayden deLaura unleashed while salting away the clock against the lackluster Beavers. I’m ringing the “Bell” on this Over 47.5 play.
Kemore Gamble - Florida - 55.5 Yards
We all saw the vicious shot all-world tight end Kyle Pitts took last week that knocked him out of the game against Georgia last week. In his absence, Gamble caught three passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. Fellow backup tight end and four-star recruit Keon Zipperer also caught a pass for 39 yards, as Kyle Trask smoked the Dawgs vaunted defense for a stupefying 474 passing yards in the 44-28 smoke-show.
Heading into this week’s game against a surprisingly respectable Arkansas team, Kyle Pitts is in concussion protocol and considered questionable. If he is able to play, then Gamble has next to no chance of clearing the 55 yard mark. However even if Pitts is out, he will split time with another very capable receiving tight end in Zipperer. With these variables in play, coupled with a number that is pretty tough to reach for most full-time tight ends, pounding the Under here is a more than reasonable “Gamble.”