It’s been a profitable early season here at the Primer as this column has posted an incredible 13-2 record through three weeks, including a perfect 5-0 last week. The books are sharpening up their performance algorithms, so let’s take a look at my favorite edge plays for this week’s slate of CFB games. I’m going to try and keep the write ups to two paragraphs so I can get the article out quicker since these lines move rapidly upon release, and they didn't come out this week until 8:30 PM EST.
Kellen Mond - Texas A&M - 270.5 O/U
Texas A&M marched into Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama last week and were in the game for the first quarter and a half thanks to Ainias Smith’s fancy sideline footwork on a swing pass he broke down the left sideline. However that fleeting moment quickly expired as Alabama went on to hang a 52-spot while the Aggies stalled out. Still, when throwing against air Kellen Mond unleashed 44 passes for 318 yards and a 3-1 ratio. The stat-line is a perfect example of what can happen when a sub-par QB is given 20 minutes of straight-up prevent defense.
In 2019 Mond beat the 270.5 passing mark only once in his last 9 games of the year. He didn’t play Florida, so we don’t have an apples-to-apples comp from last year, however he also failed to clear the 270 bar against suspect defenses such as South Carolina, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas. Throw in his 189 in the opening week against Vandy and that makes in 10 out of his last 12 weeks that he bested that mark. Hop on this over-reaction to last week’s aberration and smash Fanduel’s Sportsbook on this soft line.
Stetson Bennett - Georgia - 257.5 O/U
When opening week starting QB De’Wan Mathis stumbled all over himself in his first taste of collegiate action, former walk-on Stetson Bennett answered the call to complete 20-of-29 passes for 211 yards and a 1-0 ratio to lead the Bulldogs to a 37-10 victory over Arkansas. Bennett continued his Lin-Sanity-esque run against Auburn as he defeated the Tigers in his first start, completing 17-of-28 passes for 211 yards and a 2-0 ratio. Bennett limited sacks, completed ⅔ of his passes and has been sacked only twice thus far. In short, a solid, workman-like performance from a feel-good place-holder who is one bad-half from getting pulled in favor of J.T. Daniels.
The question is when does that bad-half come? It could very well be this week that Stets-anity comes back to re-ality. Tennesse returns eight starters from their defense that allowed 21.7 PPG and 194 yards passing per game last year. They held Mizzou to 211 passing yards last week and with a Georgia defense allowing only 248 yards of total offense per game, HC Kirby Smart is still inclined to grind down opponents with long drives. Bottom line is that Stetson Bennett is on borrowed-time and HC Jeremy Pruitt’s Volunteers are a good enough outfit to turn Cinderella’s stagecoach into a pumpkin.
Terrace Marshall - LSU - 80.5 O/U
Missouri hasn’t covered themselves in glory during new HC Eli Drinkwitz’ first two games, allowing 38 and 35 points respectively in blowout losses to Alabama and Tennessee. The Crimson Tide had two starting wideouts eclipsed this week’s 80,5 yard mark, as Jaylen Waddle exploded for 134 and Devonta Smith reached the 89 yard plateau. Marshall went for 8 receptions, 122 yards and two touchdowns in LSU’s opening week victory, and followed up that showing with two catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-7 rout of Vanderbilt.
Miles Brennan has an O/U of 309.5 this week, which is proportionately a lot higher than the 80.5 Marshall has to hit. As LSU’s clear-cut WR1, if this game is remotely close he will almost certainly top 80 yards receiving. I’m pretty Under heavy this week, so i’m taking Marshall’s Over since the only way I don’t see him delivering is if Missouri gets absolutely throttled by LSU, and even then Marshall still has a great shot of covering this reasonable Over.
Kyle Pitts - Florida - 87.5 O/U
In Week 1 of Florida’s season Kyle Pitts eviscerated the Texas A&M secondary for 8 catches on 10 targets for 170 yards and four touchdowns. That performance came against a Mississippi defense that currently ranks dead last in defensive yards per play and dutifully rolled out the red-zone carpet for Kentucky last week who dropped 41 points and 559 yards of total offense on the hapless Rebels.
Last week Florida comfortably defeated South Carolina 38-24 where Pitts had another standout performance, but more in line with his 2019 stat line as he grabbed four-of-eight targets for 57 yards and two touchdowns against the Gamecocks. Besides a 108 yard explosion in a 42-28 loss to LSU, Pitts’ second-best performance was a 78 yard effort in a 24-17 loss to Georgia.
Unless Florida is playing a generational bad defense or a team capable to outscoring them from the opening bell, Pitts is an exceedingly risky play at 87.5. Draft Kings posted him at the same number last week and he missed the mark by 31 yards even though he had a really good game. That’s life as a collegiate tight end though, 100-yard games don’t just grow on trees...neither do 88-yard ones. Taking the Under 87.5 back-to-back weeks until the books smarten up and drop it.
Isaiah Spiller - 65.5 - O/U
Anyone who watched the first two games of the season knows that Ainias Smith is the Alpha Dog in the A&M running back room. Last week against Alabama, Smith rushed five times for 29 yards while also catching six passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns against the vaunted Alabama defense. For his part, Spiller rushed 11 times for 25 yards while being a complete non-factor in the passing game. The bottom line is that Spiller has been relegated to backup status, as he only received 19 touches in the first two games.
I mentioned it last week, but the point bears repeating - in 2019 Spiller popped off against inferior opponents and wilted against the elevated SEC competition. That was back when Ainias Smith was playing slot receiver and Spiller had the starting job all to himself. 9 carries per game is not going to be a significant enough rushing output to produce the 66 yards required to win this prop as the Aggies face-off against SEC East favorite Florida this week.