College Football Pace Report: 3 Over/Unders to Bet in Week 1, Including NC State vs. East Carolina
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: NC State’s Devin Leary.
A new week of the college football season gets underway with Week 1 kicking off on Thursday.
With head coach and coordinator changes, the transfer portal and new quarterbacks in new systems, we can’t really rely on each team’s pace numbers from last season. Instead, we have to take it on a case-by-case basis. So, until Week 4, plays per minute and plays per game numbers will not be provided.
If you’re new to this piece, we’ll take an in-depth look at the totals market using yards per play, Success Rate, Finishing Drives, plays per minute and more.
Using those metrics, along with a look at the weather and key injuries, the goal is to hopefully help bettors beat the market before Friday and Saturday morning.
Now, let’s dive into Week 1.
Colorado State vs. Michigan
|Colorado State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Colorado State begins a new era under Jay Norvell on Saturday when it takes on Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan team.
It’s a complete change on offense for the Rams. They will move from a ground-and-pound style under Steve Addazio, who ran the ball 56% of the time, to new offensive coordinator Matt Mumme, who threw the ball 64% of the time at Nevada last season.
Norvell and Mumme also brought redshirt freshman Clay Millen over from Nevada to be their starting quarterback. Millen backed up Carson Strong last season, so he knows the system.
Mumme loves to play fast with Nevada ranking 23rd in plays per minute last season. Millen will also have the benefit of two Nevada wide receivers coming over with him in Melquan Stovall Jr. and Tory Horton.
Michigan has a ton of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. It obviously lost Aiden Hutchinson, but it also lost its top two linebackers and three starters in the secondary. So, the Wolverines could go through some growing pains, especially against a pass-heavy attack like Colorado State.
Jim Harbaugh hasn’t made a decision on who will be the season-long starting quarterback between Cade McNamara or JJ McCarthy, but we do know that McNamara will start the opener versus Colorado State.
BREAKING: Michigan has announced a decision on their QBs, via @UMichFootbal.
Cade McNamara will start Game 1, J.J. McCarthy will start Game 2, and then QB1 will be crowned before Game 3. pic.twitter.com/KgSiMd7Tmf
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 27, 2022
McNamara was a very average quarterback last season. His PFF passing grade came in at 75.4, he averaged just 7.8 yards per attempt and had 17 big-time throws compared to eight turnover-worthy plays.
He’s the safe option for Harbaugh when he wants to employ a methodical rushing attack because Michigan ranked 90th in plays per minute last year.
The thing for Michigan is the only weapon it loses is Hassan Haskins at running back, along with offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.
Otherwise, everyone is back for an offense that averaged 6.3 yards per play (17th in FBS) and was 11th in EPA/Play. Oh, and they get back one of its best receivers in Ronnie Bell, who tore his ACL in the opener against Western Michigan last year.
ALL ABOARD THE RONNIE BELL HYPE TRAIN 🚂
🎥: @BigTenNetwork pic.twitter.com/d7hsCsDwOu
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 4, 2022
Colorado State loses its entire defensive line and both starting cornerbacks from last season, so it’s hard to imagine it’ll finish in the top 30 in EPA/Play allowed — especially when the best offense it faced last season was Norvell’s Nevada team that hung 52 points on them.
Michigan has to replace a ton on defense but returns all of its weapons back on offense. Meanwhile, Colorado State will implement a new Air Raid system under Mumme. For those reasons, I think the market is a tad low on this total.
I have 72.1 points projected for this game, so I like the value on over 61.5 points and would play it to 66 points.
Pick: Over 61.5 (Play to 66)
NC State vs. East Carolina Odds
|NC State Odds|
-105o / -115u
|East Carolina Odds|
-105o / -115u
NC State opens the 2022 season with an incredible amount of hype heading to Greenville, North Carolina, to take on one of its rivals in East Carolina.
The Wolfpack have become college football’s darling as the team that could “crash the party.”
It’s easy to see why with Devin Leary back at quarterback and the defense returning 10 starters from last season. With that said, NC State has some questions to answer on the offensive side of the ball.
Those questions do not surround Leary, who had an 85.1 PFF passing grade (16th in FBS), a 35:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a whopping 31 big-time throws, which were good for the seventh most in college football.
PFN Top 100 College Football Players in 2022:
22) Devin Leary, QB, @PackFootball
After making ACC history in 2021, Leary somehow continues to be slept on by most. Not us at PFN as we ranked Leary as the No. 4 QB – nationally – entering 2022.pic.twitter.com/ZmWi1aaV5I
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) August 24, 2022
The problem that he’s losing his favorite target in Emeka Emezie, who led the team in catches and receiving yards last season. He also loses No. 6 overall NFL Draft pick Ikem Ekwonu and his top two running backs. So, things are not going to get easier for Leary.
East Carolina returns eight starters on defense, including its entire front seven. The Pirates ranked 44th in college football in EPA/Play and 37th in Success Rate Allowed but somehow allowed 5.9 yards per play because they couldn’t stop giving up explosive plays.
With their entire front seven returning, the Pirates should be able to shore up some of those issues that plagued them last year.
On offense, Holton Ahlers is back for his senior season as college football’s most chaotic quarterback.
There's a reason why we like Holton Ahlers over at @TDDR_DraftRoom
Ahlers is a lefty, rolls out right to avoid pressure then Mike Jackson'ed a quarter into a jukebox.
Also, dont sleep on RSJR Blake Proehl, he and Ahlers will both be discussed in the next #DevyCaseFIles #ECU pic.twitter.com/tcXV25C2TD
— Aaron E (JuiceBunyan) (@TheRealChrisNel) May 19, 2020
Ahlers has recorded 66 big-time throws with 59 turnover-worthy plays in his career at East Carolina. He’s a true dual-threat quarterback, averaging 6.0 yards per carry and scoring 19 touchdowns on the ground in his career.
The problem is, he’s fumbled the ball 24 times.
Ahlers’ PFF passing grade last season sat at 70.0, which is below average. In the only game East Carolina faced a Power Five opponent (South Carolina), Ahlers went 11-of-25 for 75 yards and two interceptions.
He also loses two of his top three targets from last season, so we could see even more chaos from Ahlers.
NC State ranked 17th in EPA/Play allowed and third in Success Rate Allowed while allowing 4.9 yards per play.
The Pack also return 10 starters on defense, and the only starter they lose is on their defensive line. So, the sky is the limit for a unit that finished sixth in both Passing and Rushing Success Rate Allowed last season.
NC State is likely going to try and slow the pace of this game down because the last thing it wants to do is get into a high-scoring affair with Ahlers. The Wolfpack ranked 89th in plays per minute a season ago while ECU was 62nd, so the pace of this game is not going to be fast.
I have 49.8 points projected, so I like the value on under 55.5 points — but I would only play it down to 55.
Pick: Under 55.5 (Play to 55)
Louisville vs. Syracuse Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Louisville is coming off a 6-7 season, but boy, is its offense going to be fun to watch in 2022.
Malik Cunningham, one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, is getting back his top running back, top receiver and 116 career starts on the offensive line.
Malik Cunningham led P5 QBs last season in:
🥇 Rushing Yards – 1,142
🥇 Rushing TDs – 20pic.twitter.com/EAXe20UmhO
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 12, 2022
Cunningham’s ability as a passer is underrated. In 2021, he put up a PFF passing grade of 82.7, averaged 8.6 yards per attempt and recorded a 70.7% adjusted completion percentage.
On the ground, his PFF run grade came in at 90.7 (fourth-best in FBS). He led all FBS quarterbacks with 20 rushing touchdowns as 755 of his 1,142 rushing yards came from designed runs, which was also the most in college football.
Defensively, Syracuse is losing its entire line from last season. That defensive line finished 89th in Stuff Rate as Syracuse ranked 105th in Finishing Drives as a team. Cunningham and Louisville also hung 41 points and gained 7.1 yards per play against the Orange last season.
Syracuse’s offense is once again going to be centered around its rushing attack because it features one of the best running backs in college football in Sean Tucker.
Sean Tucker among ACC RBs in 2021:
🍊 1,515 yards (1st)
🍊 1,014 yards after contact (1st)
🍊 66 forced missed tackles (1st)
🍊 44 runs of 10+ yards (1st)pic.twitter.com/szEPJePQjI
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 10, 2022
Syracuse returns four of its five offensive linemen who have combined for 120 starts. So, Tucker — who went over 100 yards nine times last year and averaged 6.1 yards per carry — will be problem for Louisville’s front seven to handle.
The Cardinals lose their top two tacklers and have only three veterans on their defensive line, so they’re a little thin in the front seven. This is also the same front seven that ranked 100th in Defensive Line Yards, 80th in Power Success Rate Allowed and 104th in Finishing Drives.
I have 70.3 points projected for this game, so I like the value of over 56.5 points and would play it up 64.5.
Pick: Over 56.5 (Play to 64.5)
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