5 College Football Rushing Mismatches Bettors Can Exploit in Week 10
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Kentucky running back Benny Snell and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.
- We continue to get more robust data to determine specific strengths and weaknesses of each college football team.
- We'll examine some of the biggest mismatches of Week 10 that bettors can take advantage of.
- This week features five ground attacks that will either expose the opposition or struggle mightily.
As we head into Week 10 of the college football season, we now have a solid enough data set to really understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of all 130 FBS teams. Whether you want to look in the trenches, at the skill positions or even on special teams, it’s critical for bettors to understand glaring unit mismatches each week.
Power ratings should be your starting point, but situational angles and matchup analyses should then help refine your final wagers.
Each week, I highlight five noteworthy unit mismatches for Saturday’s slate, which will hopefully help you make more informed betting decisions. I will point out a major discrepancy in a standard statistic and then provide supporting evidence that the underlying metrics back up.
After identifying a number of rushing specific mismatches on Saturday, I decided to focus on that angle for Week 10.
Let’s dive in.
Wisconsin vs. Rutgers
- Wisconsin -30.5 vs. Rutgers
- O/U: 50.5
- Noon ET, BTN
Wisconsin has had a disappointing season, but still features a very potent rushing attack. The Badgers average 6.1 yards per carry, which ranks sixth in the nation. They should run wild against a Rutgers defense that everybody carves up on the ground. The Scarlet Knights have allowed 5.5 yards per rush in 2018, which ranks 119th nationally.
The underlying metrics paint the same picture. Per S&P+, Wisconsin sits in the top three in overall rushing offense and opportunity rate (carries that go for at least 5 yards). Rutgers ranks 117th and 121st in those same two categories on defense, respectively.
After a really poor showing against Northwestern, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor should run angry against a Rutgers program he once de-committed from.
Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina
- Georgia Tech -6 at North Carolina
- O/U: 62
- 12:15 p.m. ET, ACCN
Whenever you handicap a Georgia Tech game, the first and most important factor you should consider is how well its opponent defends the run. The Yellow Jackets feature a prolific triple option rushing attack that averages 6.2 yards per carry, which ranks fifth in the country. Only Army and Georgia Southern (two other option teams) throw less than Tech’s 10.7 pass attempts per game.
That spells doom for a UNC defense that allows 4.7 yards per carry, which ranks 95th overall. Just last week, the Tar Heels gave up 208 yards on the ground against Virginia. The advanced stats tell an even gloomier story for a Tar Heel defense that ranks 114th in the country in defending rush explosiveness and 96th in defending rush efficiency.
Tech’s offense ranks No. 1 overall in rush efficiency and No. 1 in opportunity rate, which means its offensive line does as good of a job in the first five yards as any unit in the country. Expect a lot of success on first down and in short yardage situations against a Carolina defense that ranks 114th in opportunity rate.
Georgia Tech will also benefit from extra prep, as it last played last Thursday in a 49-28 rout at Virginia Tech. In that game, GT ran for 465 yards and didn’t attempt a single pass. The Yellow Jackets should also be fresher, as they had a bye before VT, while UNC comes home after back-to-back road losses.
Wyoming vs. San Jose State
- Wyoming -13.5 vs. San Jose State
- O/U: 39
- 2 p.m. ET, ATSN
San Jose State has a historically bad rushing offense. The Spartans average a horrific 2.0 yards per rush, which ranks DEAD LAST in the country. How bad is 2.0 yards per rush? Only one team over the past five years has averaged less than 2.0 yards per rush: 2014 Wake Forest. That Demon Deacon squad (the one that went to OT tied 0-0 against Virginia Tech) somehow managed to average an impossible 1.3 yards per rush.
The advanced stats tell the same story. Per S&P+, SJSU ranks 130th in overall rushing offense and sit in the bottom three nationally in most rushing metrics.
Wyoming does have a solid run defense at 3.6 yards per rush allowed (31st) — not that you need a great run defense to stop SJSU. So, just like most weeks, don’t expect anything on the ground with the Spartans.
The question then becomes how will they move the ball through the air against an elite Wyoming pass defense (13th overall, per S&P) in Laramie, where the forecast calls for 25 mph winds? I don’t have an answer for you.
NC State vs. Florida State
- NC State -9 vs. Florida State
- O/U: 53
- 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Florida State can not run the ball at all. The Seminoles average a meager 2.5 yards per rush, which ranks 129th in the nation — only the aforementioned Spartans of SJSU average fewer per carry.
Don’t expect FSU to get much on the ground against a stingy N.C. State run defense that only allows 3.3 yards per rush (17th nationally). Per S&P+, N.C. State has a top 10 overall rush defense, while the ‘Noles rushing attack ranks 123rd overall and in the bottom 10 in numerous rushing categories.
FSU’s success on offense will come down to how effectively it can move the ball through the air against a really porous N.C. State pass defense that allows 7.9 yards per attempt (97th). As a result, make sure you keep an eye on the status of QB Deondre Francois, who may not play on Saturday. Also, keep in mind that FSU’s leading receiver Nyqwan Murray is suspended for the first half.
Lastly, don’t expect a struggling NC State rushing attack to get much on the ground, either. FSU’s run defense, which only allows 2.7 yards per carry (fifth in FBS), should shut down a Wolfpack rushing attack that only averages 3.6 yards per carry (108th).
Kentucky vs. Georgia
- Kentucky +8.5 vs. Georgia
- O/U: 43.5
- 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
I mentioned in our recent Week 10 preview podcast episode that Kentucky’s offense actually matches up better with Georgia’s defense than it did against Missouri’s.
The Wildcats rely on the run to move the ball and usually do it well, averaging 5.1 yards per carry which ranks in the top-30 nationally. Good news for the ‘Cats: you can run on the Bulldogs defense, which allows a below-average 4.2 yards per rush (72nd).
Per S&P+, Georgia has the 77th best overall rush defense and ranks 89th in defending rushing efficiency. Kentucky’s top 10 overall rush offense, which ranks in the top 30 in efficiency and top 10 in explosiveness, should find holes all day against UGA.
There’s a reason why Georgia’s opponents have an average third down distance of 5.9 yards, which ranks DEAD LAST in the country. Expect an inspired effort from star running back Benny Snell in a game UK should get to face countless third and short situations.