Saturday College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: Collin Wilson’s Top 3 Games to Bet in Week 2 (Sept. 11)

Saturday College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: Collin Wilson’s Top 3 Games to Bet in Week 2 (Sept. 11) article feature image
Credit:

Tim Warner/Getty Images. Pictured: D’Shawn Jamison #5 of the Texas Longhorns takes the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

  • Week 2 of the college football season is upon us.
  • Collin Wilson breaks down three games from the slate, including Ohio State vs. Oregon, Iowa vs. Iowa State, and Texas vs. Arkansas.
  • Check out all three of his breakdowns below, complete with picks and predictions.

After a Week 1 full of incredible college football action, Week 2 has even more in store.

While Saturday’s slate, as a whole, doesn’t represent what Week 1 did, we still have plenty of entertaining options on tap as fans and investors.

The heavyweight matchups start early in the day, as Ohio State and its explosive playmakers go to battle against an Oregon team with a key injury to watch in the Horseshoe.

Shifting to the afternoon, one of the most heated, yet underrated, rivalries in college football takes center stage as Iowa travels to Ames for a top-10 matchup against Iowa State for the Cy-Hawk Trophy.

To close it out, Arkansas takes on Texas in another historic rivalry, with this one starting out back in the old Southwest Conference.

It’s a day full of action, so let’s dig in to see where investors can take advantage.


My College Football Betting Card for Week 2

Here’s a rundown of my favorite betting spots on Saturday’s slate of games.

Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific game on my Saturday Week 2 college football betting card.

Game
Time (ET)
Pick
Noon
OSU TT over 37
4:30 p.m.
1H under 22 | ISU -4
7 p.m.
Under 57

Specific bet recommendations come via the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing.

Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Photos via Getty Images.



No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Oregon

vs

Ohio State

Ohio State Team Total Over 37
Noon ET
FOX

Editor’s Note: It was reported Saturday morning that Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux was standing in street clothes ahead of gametime while most of his teammates warmed up.

There may be a shortage of high-profile games the second weekend of September, but the Pac-12’s highest-ranked team from the AP Top 25 travels to the Horseshoe in the biggest.

This game will have implications for the College Football Playoff, as a loss at home will send Ohio State behind Clemson in the pecking order of one-loss teams.

As for Oregon, West Coast teams have not been relevant to the CFP committee in years, and a loss here serves as a statement for the conference.


Oregon Ducks

The biggest star on Oregon’s team, and perhaps in the entire conference, may be on the shelf for the trip to Columbus.

Kayvon Thibodeaux left the Fresno State game with a sprained ankle but is still listed as a starter on the Monday depth chart.

Buckeyes coach Ryan Day addressed the media on Tuesday and said the offensive line will prepare as if Thibodeaux will be playing.

The betting market tends to overreact to players outside the quarterback position in college football, but Thibodeaux presents a unique challenge to Ohio State.

The Buckeyes swapped offensive linemen most of training camp and landed on Nicholas Petit-Frere and Dawand Jones. Of the six quarterback hurries created by Fresno State, Petit-Frere and Jones were responsible for half of those.

Thibodeaux’s full health in this game is paramount to the Ducks handicap.


Ducks Offense

Quarterback Anthony Brown kicked off the season against a quality Group of Five defense in Fresno State. The stat box included 15 completions and 16 rushing attempts, but Oregon struggled to get inside the top 75 in run blocking, passing and receiving, per PFF.

Fresno managed eight tackles for loss and limited Ducks passing downs to just 4.5 yards per play. The one explosive play on the ground came on a fourth-down designed run by Brown.

4th-down conversion 🤝 Touchdown

📺 https://t.co/4Xv05eRwm0#GoDucks | @anthonybrown_2 pic.twitter.com/s6MwhrBxLm

— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) September 4, 2021

Out of 14 possessions, the offense did manage two explosive drives, which is defined as averaging 10-plus yards per play. Standard Downs Success Rate was a shining point for the offense, maintaining near 60% when keeping within the scheduled down and distance.

The key to scoring on the Buckeyes is for Oregon to stay in standard downs, as Fresno generated 16 pressures and sacked Brown four different times. Joe Moorhead may have held most of the playbook back, but he did call Brown’s performance against Fresno “a solid game with room for improvement.”

Fresno State fields a defensive front seven that ranks in the middle of the Mountain West, but center Alex Forsyth is the only Oregon offensive lineman to place top-200 in blocking grades through one week.

Both Steven Jones and George Moore logged the most snaps at tackle but must post better run and pass block grades to score on Ohio State.


Ducks Defense

While the health of Thibodeaux will be unknown leading up to kickoff, there were other standout performances against Fresno State.

Defensive tackle Brandon Dorlus created five pressures as the Ducks ranked 11th in pass-rushing, along with 10th in run defense, according to Pro Football Focus.

Fresno was held to just one explosive drive and 11 stuffed runs on just 26 rushing attempts. Like the offense, Oregon was much more successful in standard downs.

🚨Big Play🚨

Oregon LB Noah Sewell, strips the ball away from Ronnie Rivers, Oregon recovers! #FresnoState #Oregon

https://t.co/lLpvi8ngac

— Sideline CFB (@SidelineCFB) September 4, 2021

Fresno State cruised in passing downs and Finishing Drives but ultimately was outdone by five fumbles, three recovered by the Ducks.

When the Bulldogs were in passing downs, they accumulated a 48% Success Rate, well beyond the national average of 31%.

Fresno ended with just 3.5 points per trip past the 40-yard line, but it capitalized in all five trips to the red zone with two touchdowns and three field goals.

That is not good news for the new Tim DeRuyter defense, a 3-3-5 scheme designed to give up yards but hold up when opponents get into scoring position.


Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes trailed Minnesota, 14-10, heading into halftime in Week 1. The two touchdown drives were dominated by Mohamed Ibrahim rushing attempts, allowing the Gophers to control the clock.

More importantly, a Minnesota defense that ranked last in almost every category a year ago had positive regressions.

CJ Stroud was picked off, and Ohio State managed just a field goal on a 14-play drive that took seven minutes off the clock.

An Ibrahim injury in the second half allowed the Ohio State defenders to focus on the Gophers passing attack, while Stroud rebounded with four touchdowns through the air.

Day has made numerous mentions of the offensive line swapping positions and defensive changes coming for the Oregon game after a limited sample set of 48 offensive plays against Minnesota.


Buckeyes Offense

The offensive line was a concern at the tackle position going into the Minnesota game, as Stroud looked for short routes and targets in the flats during the first half.

Despite the challenges of a new quarterback and players at the tackle position, Ohio State finished with a 61% Success Rate in standard downs, averaging 11.1 yards per play.

Half of the 10 possessions for the Buckeyes were explosive drives, with just two of their 26 rushing attempts being stuffed at the line of scrimmage.

This was just too easy for @OhioStateFB's Miyan Williams 😤 pic.twitter.com/zhlHFs15O9

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 3, 2021

Leading the charge on offense was running back Miyan Williams, who posted video-game numbers with 11.6 yards after contact and two explosive runs while creating four missed tackles.

Only a third of Ohio State plays were in passing downs, posting a 41% Success Rate and 8.9 yards per play, both well above the national average.

Once the running game had the Gophers on their heels, Stroud took calculated risks downfield.

🎯 @CJ7STROUD with a BEAUTY to @OhioStateFB @OhioStateFB goes back in front! pic.twitter.com/mZZDS9ig5H

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 3, 2021

Although Ohio State has the best group of receivers in the nation, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave combined for just nine receptions and just shy of 200 yards.

Stroud posted a final line of four touchdowns and an interception. The most important statistic for the freshman was the fact he recorded zero turnover-worthy plays in 24 dropbacks.


Buckeyes Defense

Plenty of early-week action on the point spread had the Buckeyes steam past two touchdowns.

Day’s presser on Tuesday included a “no comment” approach to the injury status of three starters in the secondary.

Cornerbacks Cameron Brown and Seven Banks, along with safety Josh Proctor, are all questionable for this game, giving Oregon a clear point of attack.

Brown and Banks did not play against Minnesota, but the Proctor injury could range from a separated shoulder to a broken collarbone.

Once Ibrahim was injured for Minnesota, quarterback Tanner Morgan took to the Ohio State secondary. The Gophers ended the game with a 52% Success Rate in passing plays, completing three throws over 20 yards.

The Buckeyes failed to stop passing downs, allowing the Gophers to convert 8-of-14 third-down attempts, finishing with a Success Rate almost double the national average.

Ohio State did generate some Havoc with four tackles for loss and two sacks, well off the Buckeye defenses of the past.

One Havoc play resulted in an immediate score for coordinator Kerry Coombs.

🚨 SCOOP AND SCORE 🚨@HaskellGarrett_ with the big man TD for @OhioStateFB pic.twitter.com/paBwcwP7qp

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 3, 2021


Oregon vs. Ohio State Betting Pick

There are a number of storylines coming into this game, all revolving around the potential for points to be scored.

Day mentioned that scoring 45 points on just 48 plays left his sample size smaller than he would like when it comes to making decisions on the two-deep depth chart.

The explosiveness is certainly there, as TreVeyon Henderson had two carries but scored an explosive 70-yard touchdown in his only target from Stroud.

"Welcome to college football, @TreVeyonH4!" 🗣️@joelklatt recognizes the next @OhioStateFB star: pic.twitter.com/hK1XJ9y3T1

— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) September 3, 2021

Day was content that the defense did not allow many explosive plays to Minnesota, but nine missed tackles were a concern.

Now, with three potential starters out of the secondary, there is reason to believe Oregon may gain additional yards after contact with the Buckeyes ranking 47th in tackling, per PFF.

The question is whether or not Brown will do enough offensively to put points on the board, as Oregon travels east for a kickoff at 9 a.m. PT. The Ducks quarterback averaged just 8.3 yards for an average depth of target, but the offensive line must play better after allowing Fresno to pressure the Boston College transfer.

There are multiple areas of concern for Oregon, from the Fresno fumbles to the Ducks having an average starting field position at the 39.5-yard line. Another concern may be the coaching mismatch.

Fresno State won the “Middle 8,” 10-7. That statistic calculates points for and points against with four minutes remaining in the first half and the first four minutes after the second-half kickoff.

The “Middle 8” is not a statistic used in every handicap, but with Day, it’s one of the most important. Since 2019, Ohio State is the best “Middle 8” team in the country.

The ultimate CFB betting cheat code

Best bets for every game

Collin Wilson’s biggest weekly edges

Profitable data-driven system picks

The Oregon defense excels at generating a pass rush but has downward-trending grades against the rush specifically in standard downs. The Ducks will be tasked with stopping Williams rushing off the edge and Henderson releasing out of the backfield as a target for Stroud.

If the Fresno State offense had no issues moving the ball with Thibodeaux in the game, the Buckeyes will generate plenty of explosive plays.

While the Action Network projections line this game at Ohio State -14.5 with a total of 62, the question remains whether or not the Oregon offense can do its part.

The Buckeyes secondary may be without the bulk of their starters, while Coombs must see improvement after a disappointing opener in the tackling department.

Nothing about Travis Dye or CJ Verdell’s first game suggests the explosive running is there, as just a single rush went over 15 yards without many additional yards after initial contact.

Oregon’s chances of getting the total over and covering the spread rely solely on Brown’s ability to create missed tackles in open space.

Considering all the variables from the offensive lines, issues with tackling and the injury report, the only constant in this game is Ohio State’s explosiveness on offense.

Williams and Henderson represent two options who can take any attempt to the end zone. Certainly not forgotten are Olave and Wilson, two surefire NFL players next season.

If the Ohio State defense does not resolve tackling issues or return any of its secondary issues, the result could be additional offensive drives for Stroud.

Pick: Ohio State Team Total Over 37



No. 10 Iowa vs. No. 9 Iowa State

Iowa

vs

Iowa State

First Half Under 22Iowa State -4
4:30 p.m. ET
ABC

Although my entire heritage is from Iowa, I was the first person in my family tree born in the South.

The Iowa roots run deep in my personal life, with family that graduated from Iowa and Iowa State, along with new in-laws who are professors at Northern Iowa.

If you are new to the rivalry that plays for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, the fans start to party on Friday and will continue through Sunday morning in Ames. This is one of the more underrated and heated in-state battles outside of Alabama and Auburn.

College GameDay will make a return trip to Ames with plenty of storylines to be told.

Kirk Ferentz will look to capitalize off a 34-6 thrashing of Indiana in the opener. While the Hawkeyes look like clear contenders in the Big Ten West, Iowa State had another rough September start in the Matt Campbell era. The Cyclones scored just a single field goal in the second half to pick up a one-possession victory over Northern Iowa.

Week 1 marks three consecutive against-the-spread losses for Iowa State in September, dating back to Louisiana and Baylor last season.

Although the Cyclones have covered twice, Campbell has never beaten Ferentz in four previous tries.


Iowa Hawkeyes

The Hawkeyes have a seven-game winning streak dating back to last season and will enter the Iowa State game with plenty of confidence.

Ferentz was not comfortable with the receiver unit earlier this year, but a win over the Hoosiers has the head coach showing full confidence in quarterback Spencer Petras’ targets.

The head coach noted that the 3-3-5 scheme of the Cyclones defense will be new for Petras, but there’s plenty of film on current players to study.

This will be the quarterback’s first trip to a hostile environment, and it will also be the Hawkeye defense’s first look at running back Breece Hall after he recorded just a single rushing attempt in 2019.


Hawkeyes Offense

Although the final scoreboard would indicate otherwise, Iowa finished near national averages in Success Rate in standard and passing downs.

Of 12 offensive possessions, two were explosive drives while five included two-plus first downs, each at a national average rate.

There were highlights, including Petras’ five passes over 15 yards and Tyler Goodson’s explosive runs, including a 56-yard touchdown on Iowa’s first drive.

Tyler Goodson welcoming Indiana to Week 1🤝

pic.twitter.com/nIwrf1RJRM

— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 4, 2021

Petras had a stellar training camp, drawing plenty of praise from his head coach for processing defenses, check-downs and his ability to make the right decision in a crowded pocket.

Indiana generated 12 pressures resulting in just a single sack, highlighting Petras’ progression as a quarterback.

The stat box is missing touchdowns as Iowa fields new targets, but Petras ended with no turnover-worthy plays and a similar adjusted completion percentage in blitz attempts versus a clean pocket.

🙌 @HawkeyeFootball tacks on another! @spencerpetras gets it done with his feet 💪 pic.twitter.com/MdaUIaQbjl

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 4, 2021

Possibly by design, Petras attempted just two passes beyond 20 yards.

The most passing success came in between the hash marks, with tight end Sam LaPorta seeing eight targets, just one shy of the nine attempted to all wide receivers.

One of those targets is Charlie Jones, who received no targets in limited action during 2020. Jones had the largest average depth of target at 14.3 against Indiana and may be a critical piece for Petras against the 3-3-5 when LaPorta is covered.


Hawkeyes Defense

Have a day, Riley Moss. The fourth-year cornerback had two interceptions run back for touchdowns.

The Iowa defense limited Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to just 156 yards and no touchdowns. The Hawkeyes defense tacked on a sack and six quarterback hurries, along with stuffing almost half of the Hoosiers’ rushing attempts.

Riley Moss 14
Indiana 6@R_moss5 | #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/kYVlgMeKfE

— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) September 5, 2021

The Indiana offense was nonexistent in passing downs, generating just 2.6 yards per attempt and a low 20% Success Rate. The Hoosiers had no explosive drives and two-plus first downs on just two possessions.

Despite the great highlights from the back seven of the defense, the preseason concerns around the size of the trench still exists for Iowa.

Tackles Yahya Black and Lukas Van Ness posted two of the three worst rush defense grades of the weekend. Edge Zach VanValkenburg logged one tackle and two missed tackles. Through a minimum of 10 dropback attempts by Indiana, edge Deontae Craig and tackle Logan Lee posted the lowest pass rush grades on the team.

The point of attack for Iowa State will most certainly be around Iowa’s defensive line.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Iowa State Cyclones

The Cyclones held injured players and possibly half the playbook back against Northern Iowa in the tight opening win.

During his weekly presser, Campbell announced full health for tight end Charlie Kolar and linebacker O’Rien Vance. The one injury that will roll into this rivalry is receiver Sean Shaw, who racked up 21 receptions last season.

Campbell addressed the tightness of this series, with the past three games decided by 14 points or less. The head coach had no other explanation for the four losses other than execution being the deciding factor in each of the games.

As for Northern Iowa, the head coach noted that ball security and finishing drives are a continued area of concentration. Hall was not at full health going into the game against the Panthers but will be fully healthy for the game against the Hawkeyes.


Cyclones Offense

Brock Purdy did enough to get Iowa State into scoring position against Northern Iowa.

Three trips to the red zone finished with a touchdown and two field goals. Purdy logged one big-time throw and no turnover worth plays on a 20-of-26 day for nearly 200 yards.

After the game, Campbell mentioned his disappointment in the ground attack.

The Beast is back.

🚨🌪️🚨 pic.twitter.com/RRddDI70Kz

— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) September 4, 2021

Hall played 27 snaps and ended with 23 rushing attempts despite reports of not being at full health.

The Heisman Trophy candidate had just one run over 10 yards and averaged 1.87 yards after contact, a number almost half of his respective career mark.

To compound issues in the run game, guard Darrell Simmons Jr. posted a subpar run-blocking grade with 60 snaps logged.

Iowa State was stuffed on nine of its 33 rushing attempts, coming in almost a full yard short of the national average in standard downs yards per play.


Cyclones Defense

Campbell’s main area of focus for his 3-3-5 scheme is stopping the combination of center Tyler Linderbaum and Goodson.

Both J.R. Singleton and Isaiah Lee had a combined 44 defensive snaps lining up in the A gap.

The Hawkeyes fielded their best run-blocking grade from right guard Justin Britt, making this a continued point of attack for Goodson.

The biggest issue for Iowa State in this series has been the inability to get Iowa out of standard downs throughout every loss, with 47 snaps on schedule in 2019 to just 25 in passing downs.

Northern Iowa did not have much success on the ground, but the Panthers racked up 230 yards through the air.

Panthers quarterback Will McElvain was picked off twice in the second half, but the Cyclones couldn’t cash in for any points.

Northern Iowa generated an above-average Success Rate in passing downs and had more receptions over 20 yards than the Iowa State offense.

Other signs of concern for the Iowa State defense include allowing eight third-down conversions in 17 attempts with an average distance to go of 6.7 yards for Northern Iowa.

Although the Panthers never made it to the red zone, this was not the best effort from a team that ranked 22nd in coverage last season.


Iowa vs. Iowa State Betting Pick

When entering Week 2 of a college football season, there’s always a look for buy-low and sell-high opportunities after a one-game sample set.

Iowa was not nearly as good offensively as the final score indicates, generating national averages in standard downs Success Rate and a low 4.3 yards per play during passing downs. Iowa State is not as bad as the final score against Northern Iowa suggests, recording a 52% Success Rate on passing plays while averaging 7.3 yards per play.

There are reasons to believe this game starts slow, barring any further Moss pick-six plays from the Iowa defense.

The point of attack against Iowa is a fresh defensive line lighter in size than recent years. The return of Kolar not only helps in blocking and as a target for Brock Purdy, but he allowed Campbell to zip in and out of 12 and 13 formations as well.

Standard downs are certainly the question mark for the Cyclones after an uninspiring performance from Hall in the elusiveness and yards after contact numbers from Northern Iowa.

This will be Petras’ second look at a defense that lines up in a 3-3-5 with intentions to disguise coverage and blitz. Minnesota fielded the scheme last season and was by far the worst pass-graded game of the season for Petras.

The Gophers spend only a third of their defensive snaps in that scheme, rotating out depending on down and distance. Iowa State runs the 3-3-5 on 92% of snaps and will send blitzes on 20% of snaps against the 11 formation and double that rate against a two-tight end set.

The scoring should start slow as Petras looks for targets against a difficult scheme and the Cyclones focus on the Iowa defensive front seven. There may be a rise in this total heading up to kickoff with heavy public interest and College GameDay on set.

A first-half under on any 22s in the market are suggested.

As for the spread, Iowa is expected to get the lion’s share of wagers after last week’s final scores and Campbell’s against the Hawkeyes.

The Action Network projection puts this number at Iowa State -4 and a total of 53. An in-game over will be the look through the second quarter, but expect the 12 and 13 formations to expose an inexperienced defensive front.

Pick: First-Half Under 22 or Better | Iowa State -4 or Better



No. 15 Texas vs. Arkansas

Texas

vs

Arkansas

Under 57
7 p.m. ET
ESPN

The top Southwest Conference rivalry is set to renew ahead of schedule when Texas and Oklahoma become official members of the SEC.

The old SWC was established in 1914 and was dissolved in 1996 after Texas A&M left for the SEC. Although it was the Aggies that served as the straw that broke the camel’s back, it was the departure of Arkansas in 1992 that ended a conference that was a powerhouse for many decades.

“Game of the Century” is a term used every few years in today’s college football landscape, but in 1969, President Richard Nixon was in attendance for one of the all-time great football games. Nixon would later go on to crown Texas as the National Champions after the game in Fayetteville, an unimaginable event in modern-day politics and football.

This is the 79th meeting between the two teams with Texas leading the series 56-22, as the Longhorns seek revenge after Arkansas won the 2014 Texas Bowl in a borderline erotic performance for the Razorbacks.


Texas Longhorns

Texas stands at 1-0 after the debut of head coach Steve Sarkisian. The former Alabama offensive coordinator cashed spread tickets for Longhorn investors in an opening win against Louisiana.

The comfortable 20-point victory was led by quarterback Hudson Card’s three total touchdowns and running back Bijan Robinson’s 103 yards on the ground.

The defense dominated during training camp and carried over to the Ragin’ Cajuns, containing an explosive offense that beat Iowa State just a year prior. Despite the victory, Sarkisian stated the Longhorns could be better with “very fixable” problems in the area of penalties.


Longhorns Offense

Long gone are the days of Sam Ehlinger running 11 formations in the Tom Herman era. Sarkisian ran an offense that utilized two tight ends at Alabama, as Texas ran 12 formations on 40% of plays against Louisiana.

The new head coach may have left his full playbook off film for Arkansas, as tight end Cade Brewer was targeted just twice in the game. The offense did favor a ground game that generated 21 first downs without a single explosive drive.

The Hudson Card era has officially begun for @TexasFootball 🤘@Hcard7 finds @Bijan5Robinson for the TD!

(Sponsored by @Allstate #AllstateGoodHands) pic.twitter.com/RMlWAKOLC0

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 4, 2021

The bread and butter of this offense was between the hash marks. Over half of Robinson’s rushing attempts came between the offensive guards, posting 49 yards on eight attempts. As for the passing game, Card posted a perfect eight for eight in passes between the hash marks no deeper than 20 yards.

Outside of those two metrics for Robinson and Card, the Longhorns relied on an unsustainable third-down rate. Texas went 10-of-15 on third downs with an average distance of 7.9 yards.

Although the Longhorns went a perfect five for five in red zone attempts to touchdowns, Texas consistently had issues getting behind schedule and generating few explosive plays.


Longhorns Defense

Coordinator Phil Kwiatkowski made his debut establishing a defense with multiple looks. The Longhorns weaved from a two- to a four-down lineman set, with the highest blitz percentage coming on second and long from the 2-4-5 scheme.

The results were a bit inefficient, as Louisiana generated a higher overall Offensive Success Rate than the Texas offense, with six of 10 drives containing two or more first downs.

This TD run by Kyren Lacy was just filthy 😳

cc: @RaginCajunsFB pic.twitter.com/rVScauXCFM

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 4, 2021

Despite the multiple schemes, Kwiatkowski’s defense finished bottom 15 in tackling, per PFF.

Passing downs were the kryptonite for the Longhorns defense, allowing Louisiana a Success Rate 19% above the national average. Quarterback Levi Lewis completed nine passes over 15 yards.

While Sarkisian won the Middle 8 by a score of 14-3, any team with elusiveness and a passing attack will give Texas plenty of issues as the players learn this new scheme. 


Arkansas Razorbacks

Sam Pittman stressed to his team all through August that a fast start on the scoreboard was desired.

The Razorbacks had troubles in starting drives throughout the 2020 season, as that trend continued in the season opener against Rice.

Despite returning explosive options such as quarterback KJ Jefferson, Treylon Burks and Trelon Smith, the Razorbacks trailed Rice, 10-7, at halftime.

A heroic 31-point second half got Razorback investors to the window through KJ Jefferson and safety Jalen Catalon.

#Razorbacks Safety, Jalen Catalon (1) had himself a day vs Rice, tallying 11 tackles (6 solo) 2 INTs and 1 TFL.

He capitalized on some poor throws, showed off his athleticism on returns and his range vs the run. I love the fiery competitiveness he plays with. 1st round talent! pic.twitter.com/nLvig9Cl3M

— Jordan (@Texans_Thoughts) September 5, 2021


Razorbacks Offense

The Razorback ground game was the savior in the comeback against Rice, averaging 6.1 yards and a 57% Success Rate.

Jefferson and Smith generated near 200 yards on the ground but in very different methods. The Arkansas quarterback was flushed out of the pocket on passing plays for an even split in scrambling and designed rushing yards, as Jefferson averaged 8.25 yards after contact.

See ya 👋 pic.twitter.com/i0wSORvnUO

— Arkansas Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) September 4, 2021

Plenty has been made about the Arkansas quarterback adding weight, but maintaining the speed is a plus for the Hogs.

As for Smith, the upperclassman generated eight missed tackles on 22 rushing attempts, but only 2.55 yards after contact. Both of these efforts made up for a non-existent passing game.

Hybrid wide receiver Burks projected as one of the most explosive offensive players in the nation, but injury limited his practice time leading up to Rice.

Despite the concerns, Burks was on the field for 58-of-67 snaps with a rushing attempt and nine targets in the passing game. The sophomore tallied negative two yards on the ground, two drops and created just three missed tackles.


Razorbacks Defense

Barry Odom schemes a 3-3-5 and is willing to give up yards in exchange for no explosive plays. Rice was limited to just one explosive drive and zero rushing attempts that eclipsed 12 yards.

Where the Razorback defense shined was passing downs, limiting the Owls to a 10% Success Rate and 3.1 yards per play. Almost half of Rice’s rushing attempts were stuffed, as Wiley Green was picked off on three occasions.

There were multiple targeting violations with ejections of Arkansas’ two best tacklers from 2020. Grant Morgan was flagged in the first half and will return for Texas, but Bumper Pool also received a targeting call and will miss the first half against Texas.

Pittman stated the defense will adjust its tackling fundamentals this week, but there were plenty of positives from seven tackles for loss, shutting down the Owls rush attack and creating an average of 7.9 yards to go on third down.


Texas vs. Arkansas Betting Pick

From the early week press conferences, these teams have scouted each other well throughout training camp.

Pittman specifically mentioned Sarkisian’s tendency to run a 12 formation heavy to one side of the field and look for Robinson through the air on the opposite side, a play that resulted in Card’s first touchdown. Although Arkansas drops into a zone on pass coverage, there is no doubt that a spy will be assigned to Robinson.

Sark was known for attacking the middle of defenses at Alabama with zone run, a trend that continued with Card and Robinson in the Longhorns opener.

The unsustainable third-down conversion rate from nine yards out focused on wide receiver Jordan Whittingham over the middle. With Pool missing the first half and transfer tackle John Ridgeway making his first start, this should be the point of attack with the Razorbacks dead set on limiting explosive plays.

As for the Razorbacks offense, Pittman fully expects the Texas defense to load the box. Kwiatkowski ran several different defensive schemes that left the secondary in nickel or dime coverage but is expected to leave linebacker in the box.

The Longhorns must respect Jefferson leaving the pocket and creating explosive plays on the ground.

Jefferson took repetitions in practice this week making better decisions when outside of the pocket, the source of his interception against Rice.

The quarterback cannot be expected to do it all on his own against the Longhorns, as Burks continues to practice this week. Pittman was quoted that the first-team All-American was healthy against Rice but just rusty from missed practices.

Investors have hammered Texas in this game, with a Game of the Year line around -3.5 and an opener at -4.5. That number now sits as a touchdown favorite for the Longhorns.

Despite the Action Network projections below a touchdown, the buy point for the Razorbacks is at +7.5 as a poor performance against Rice and the disappearance of Burks fuels the betting market.

The better bet may be on the total of 57 with our projection at 52.5. Sark will continue to run a slow tempo with plays over the middle as the Razorback defense goes max protect in allowing explosive plays.

Texas did not generate a single explosive drive against Louisiana, and Arkansas will sell out to stop Robinson.

As for the Razorbacks, the slow starts continue in the Pittman era. The Hogs have turned to freshman AJ Green to see snaps in the backfield this week, a sign that Burks may not be ready to handle a full load.

The explosive playmakers are there for the Hogs, but Offensive Success Rate continues to elude the passing game.

Pick: Under 57 or better


The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

How would you rate this article?