College Football Week 4 Pace Report & Picks: 2 Bets for Memphis vs. Missouri, Southern Miss vs. Arkansas State
Ed Zurga/Getty Images. Pictured: Missouri’s Brady Cook.
This is one of the best slates of the college football season. We have seven top-25 matchups on Saturday, and there's a lot of betting value out there in the totals market.
For the first time, now that we have a decent sample size of data, here are the pace numbers through Week 3.
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.
Let's kick things off with three over/unders to bet in Week 4.
Memphis vs. Missouri
Missouri walked it off with a game-winning 61-yard field goal last weekend against Kansas State to move to 3-0 on the season.
The story of its offense has been Brady Cook, who has received mixed reviews from the Tigers' fan base. Cook played well in the win over Kansas State, going 23-of-36 for 356 yards with three big-time throws and no turnover-worthy plays.
It's worth keeping an eye on Cook's injury status throughout the week, as the Tigers' signal-caller played through a knee sprain against Kansas State. At the time of writing, he's expected to play.
Throwing the ball has been the best path to success for the Tigers. Even though Cody Schrader is averaging 5.5 yards per attempt on the ground, half of his rushing yards came in the opener against South Dakota. Missouri actually ranks outside the top 100 in Offensive Line Yards and EPA/Rush.
So, a lot of the offense has been on Cook's shoulder. Luckily for him, he has one of the most talented wide receivers in college football in Luther Burden III, who's now the main target in his sophomore season.
Burden has already caught 22 of his 28 targets for over 300 yards and three touchdowns to go along with an 89.9 PFF receiving grade.
Memphis' defense, especially its secondary, has put up eye-popping numbers. However, those have come against some of the worst passing offenses in college football.
The Tigers opened the season with Bethune Cookman, then faced Arkansas State — which threw for only 166 yards after its starting quarterback got knocked out due to injury — and then played Navy and the triple option. Although, the Midshipmen actually attempted 20 passes and averaged 6.7 yards per attempt.
Now, they have to face a real quarterback and an elite wide receiver. I'm going to guess that a secondary that ranked 101st in Passing Success Rate Allowed in 2022 is going to have some difficulties on Saturday, especially on the road.
On the other side, Seth Henigan is back for this third season as Memphis' starting quarterback, and he continues to improve each year. In 2021, his PFF passing grade came in at 70.1. In 2022 it was 80.6. This season, it sits at 83.8 through three games.
Henigan is one of the best passers in college football when he has time to throw. With a clean pocket last year, he put up a PFF passing grade 90.0, averaged 8.2 yards per attempt and had an adjusted completion percentage of 77.7%.
He's been under pressure on just 26.2% of his dropbacks this season, and the Missouri front seven has been average at best in terms of getting to the quarterback. The Tigers rank 61st in terms of a pass-rushing grade and rank 70th in Havoc through Week 3.
There are some scattered thunderstorms in the forecast. However, there's only a 38% chance of rain and winds under 10 mph at the time of writing.
The pace of these two teams has been around the FBS average, but given the way both quarterbacks have been playing, I like the value on over 52 points and would play it up to 55.5.
Southern Miss vs. Arkansas State
The total in this matchup is a tad too high, in my opinion, due to the complete ineptitude of both offenses.
Southern Miss went out and scored three points at home in a conference game against Tulane last Saturday. It averaged only 3.3 yards per play and put up just 35 total rushing yards for the game.
Southern Miss has one of the best running backs in the Group of Five in Frank Gore Jr., but he didn't find a way to get going against Florida State and Tulane, rushing for just 47 yards on 24 carries.
Teams are stacking the box against Southern Miss, so that means there's been a lot of pressure on quarterback Billy Wiles, who has been completely inefficient. In the games against Florida State and Tulane, Wiles averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt and had a PFF passing grade below 65. That's not very encouraging, even if he's going up against a very poor defense.
Arkansas State has been one of the worst offenses in college football through three weeks. The Red Wolves got blanked in the opener against Oklahoma and put up just three points against Memphis, as starting quarterback JT Shrout left the game due to injury.
Shrout missed their last game against Stony Brook but has been upgraded to probable against Southern Miss.
To be honest, I'm not so sure that's a good thing. Shrout started his career at Tennessee, transferred to Colorado and now resides on the roster in Jonesboro. He's put up some rough numbers everywhere he's been.
Image via PFF.
The other problem is the offensive line. Butch Jones brought in a bunch of Power 5 transfers, but the Red Wolves only have 29 career starts across their offensive line.
Arkansas State hasn't run the ball effectively. In its two games against Oklahoma and Memphis, it averaged just 2.1 yards per carry, and it currently ranks 104th in Rushing Success Rate.
Southern Miss' defensive numbers are a bit skewed because it gave up 66 points and over 550 yards of offense to Florida State.
The big thing in this matchup is that Southern Miss has one of the Sun Belt's better defensive lines — a unit that returns three starters from last season. It could cause a lot of Havoc against an inexperienced Arkansas State offensive line and disrupt any type of offensive rhythm the Red Wolves may generate.
I only have 38.7 points projected for this game, so I like the value on under 49 points and would play it down to 45.5