Mon. Nov 23rd, 2020

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Seventh Day Adventure: Week 12

22 min read
Seventh Day Adventure: Week 12

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The Week 11 slate was a bit weaker for college football. The SEC had multiple postponements, and prime time came down to Michigan vs. Wisconsin and then SMU vs. Tulsa. The Wisconsin Badgers ended up having quarterback Graham Mertz available, which more or less made the game a wrap. Mertz didn’t torch the Wolverines, but he made a few throws and helped manage the Badgers as they ran for 341 yards with a variety of standard runs mixed with sweeps and reverses that seemed to completely befuddle the Michigan defense. It’s not looking good for the Jim Harbaugh era in Michigan; this team appears lost and defeated before games even begin.

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SMU vs. Tulsa was much more competitive and interesting. The Golden Hurricane overcame the Mustangs 28-24 after getting down initially 21-0. Quarterback Zach Smith was able to get going against SMU’s zone coverages and threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns while SMU’s quarterback Shane Buechele was held to 200 yards at 5.6 yards per attempt.

Elsewhere in college football, Penn State moved to 0-4 after losing on the road against Nebraska; USC eked out another close win against an Arizona school; Indiana remained unbeaten by smashing Michigan State; Notre Dame won; and then Miami beat Virginia Tech by a single point. That win by the Hurricanes puts Miami in an interesting position in which they’re third in the ACC and need either Notre Dame or Clemson to lose in order to make the conference championship game. Should there be a bowl season, they’ll be in great standing for a good bowl.

This coming week we’ll get a few Group of Five battles, an unexpected battle of unbeatens in Indiana at Ohio State, and then a pair of Big 12 rivalry games between Kansas State and Iowa State and then Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that should go a long way toward determining that league’s champion.

All times are listed as Eastern.

Indiana at Ohio State (-20.5) — Saturday 12 p.m. (FOX)

Overall Indiana (4-0) Ohio State (3-0)
F/+ 22 2
FEI 21 2
When Indiana has the ball Offense Defense
FEI 35 11
SP+ 31 7
IsoPPP+ 5 56
Rushing success rate 74 39
Passing success rate 54 91
When Ohio State has the ball Defense Offense
FEI 20 2
SP+ 28 2
IsoPPP+ 110 57
Rushing success rate 34 19
Passing success rate 22 1

Indiana has been playing solid offense, very good defense, and then somehow coming out ahead in games in which both sides manage to produce multiple big plays. The secret of their success is mostly two-fold: wide receiver Ty Fryfogle and then a defense that has picked off 10 passes this season.

Fryfogle is a big target at 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, who has caught 24 balls for 424 yards and four scores this season. The Hoosiers have been very effective using receiver Whop Philyor in the slot (24 catches for 287 yards) or tight end Peyton Hendershot to run a vertical route up the seam and attract the attention of the safety, thus leaving Fryfogle one-on-one outside against a cornerback. Philyor is pretty dangerous running deep in his own right, Hendershot has three touchdown catches, and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has shown the arm to hit throws down the field.

The secondary has been doing it with shifting disguises that have left Big 10 quarterbacks to throw some passes they shouldn’t. Michigan State’s Rocky Lombardi threw a pair of picks last week before giving way to Payton Throne, who threw another. Keeping up both of those trends will be very difficult against Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have been pulverizing Big 10 teams this season in the exact fashion that was always necessary in order to have a chance at winning a championship in 2020. They’re throwing the ball with tremendous efficiency to wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Olave has 18 catches for 288 yards and four scores while Wilson has 24 catches for 344 yards and a pair of scores. Justin Fields overall has thrown for 908 yards at 10.9 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Their run game hasn’t been particularly intimidating, but they can stay ahead of the chains and have a strong success rate which allows them to create space and one-on-one matchups for the play-action passing game. On third down they are terrifying as they blend the threat of a five-wide passing game with Fields scrambling between the hashmarks if linebackers follow slots too far away and the pass rush can’t contain Fields. They are fourth nationally in third down conversion rate with a 58.1% mark on the year.

Beating Ohio State is a matter of first taking away the quick strike potential of the vertical passing game and then secondly having a solution for their third-down, empty passing game. Indiana under Tom Allen often likes to blitz spread teams opportunistically to take away key concepts, such as blitzing the nickel off the edge to deny inside zone RPOs, and then get them behind the chains. The struggle here will be in Ohio State’s capacity for punishing a blitz over the top or else bailing themselves out on third down anyways. It’ll be necessary for the Hoosiers to confuse Fields, perhaps showing him one look in which Wilson has a favorable matchup before both blitzing to trigger a quick reaction AND shading a safety over the top against him. Additionally, the pass rush has to contain Fields which means finding the delicate balance between keeping him in front of them without becoming passive and giving him all day.

The other solution would be to try and outscore the Buckeyes, but that will obviously be a challenge. Shaun Wade will match Fryfogle and look to make his day difficult while the Buckeyes make sure that their outside linebackers and safeties are aware of Hendershot and Philyor. The best bet may be to try and find Philyor down the field on wheel routes and post-corners against a safety or nickel corner, or even a linebacker if they can manufacture that matchup. It’s going to take an outstanding coaching job by the Hoosiers to handle the sheer NFL-level talent of this Ohio State team.

Watch for:

  • Can Indiana confuse and intercept Justin Fields with their blitzes and coverage disguises?
  • Indiana’s big, star outside receiver Ty Fryfogle against future NFL cornerback Shaun Wade.
  • Can Indiana match Fields’ sheer physical talent when he’s throwing past coverage or scrambling from spread passing sets?

FEI Outright Pick: Ohio State by 22.1

Appalachian State at Coastal Carolina (-5.5) — 12 p.m. (ESPN2)

Overall Appalachian State (6-1) Coastal Carolina (7-0)
F/+ 32 37
FEI 41 37
When Appalachian State has the ball Offense Defense
FEI 60 48
SP+ 36 60
IsoPPP+ 63 14
Rushing success rate 30 64
Passing success rate 38 18
When Coastal Carolina has the ball Defense Offense
FEI 19 34
SP+ 29 30
IsoPPP+ 49 55
Rushing success rate 43 52
Passing success rate 2 14

Coastal Carolina basically stole Appalachian State’s formula. They recruited a lot of shorter athletes to man their offensive line and don’t currently have a starter taller than left tackle Antwine Loper, who’s 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, or heavier than right guard Trey Carter, who’s 6-foot-1, 300 pounds. They work well in concert together and execute outside zone schemes in which they use their quickness to stretch out fronts, get under pads, and drive people off the ball while confusing the defensive backfield with options and motions. It’s essentially a modern take on the triple option offense from the shotgun and is making head coach Jamey Chadwell a top contender for some of the job openings that will come up in the next few months or that have already come open (South Carolina).

Appalachian State keeps trucking along though, and despite their 17-7 loss to Marshall have maintained their trajectory from the last two seasons. Quarterback Zac Thomas has had some minor issues throwing to the wrong team — five picks in seven games on just 167 pass attempts — but their run game is still running strong with Daetrich Harrington and Camerun Peoples carrying the main load with 176 carries for 961 yards at 5.5 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns.

The challenge for the Mountaineers is the lack of a particularly potent passing game, despite Thomas’ experience level as a senior and multi-year starter. Besides the relatively high interception rate, he’s only averaging 7.7 yards per attempt with 12 touchdown passes, which isn’t all that murderous when you consider the efficacy of the Appalachian State run game and theoretical play-action advantages. As it happens, Coastal Carolina has some sticky fingers in their secondary and has picked off eight passes this season. They also have a swarming defense that effectively blends some Cover-2 schemes with heavy blitzing and consequently have four different defenders with at least four sacks.

Weak inside linebacker Silas Kelly is the tip of the spear and leads the team in tackles and also has four sacks. The defensive ends in their 3-4 defense, Tarron Jackson and C.J. Brewer, have six and five sacks apiece as well. Then “bandit” outside linebacker Jeffrey Gunter has chipped in four more. It’s a scheme that blends aggressive pass rush with the aforementioned Cover-2 schemes that can be beat with consistent quarterback play but make it hard to land explosive plays over the top and often kill drives with negative plays.

A major key to this game will be how well the Chanticleers handle the stretch run game by Appalachian State while trying to run blitz. Can they wreck those run schemes and force premature cutbacks and tackles for loss? Or will they get creased for big gains and even long scoring runs when those safeties have to come up and get the ballcarrier down with open-field tackles?

Many people will simply want to tune into this game to watch the Chanticleers offense with all of its option schemes working against a stout unit. Chadwell is a popular target to fill the South Carolina head coaching vacancy, so much of the Gamecocks fanbase may be tuning in just to get a sense of whether they like this system and can imagine it in the SEC East. It’s not devoid of passing; quarterback Grayson McCall has thrown for 1,393 yards at 10.3 yards per attempt with 16 touchdowns to just one interception, working over teams with RPOs and play-action off their run game.

Watch for:

  • Coastal Carolina’s fun and unique offense that’s heavy on option schemes and then run fakes.
  • Can the Chanticleers’ mix of run blitzes and deep safety coverages handle the still-potent Appalachian State zone run game?
  • Lots and lots of takes to fly regarding Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Caldwell and the fitness of him and his philosophy for a job like South Carolina that vacillate from down to down during this game.

FEI Outright Pick: Coastal Carolina by 4.1

Cincinnati (-6) at Central Florida — 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Overall Cincinnati (7-0) Central Florida (5-2)
F/+ 10 19
FEI 11 23
When Cincinnati has the ball Offense Defense
FEI 42 45
SP+ 25 51
IsoPPP+ 42 65
Rushing success rate 66 69
Passing success rate 8 71
When Central Florida has the ball Defense Offense
FEI 4 12
SP+ 6 7
IsoPPP+ 18 24
Rushing success rate 11 11
Passing success rate 7 23

Central Florida is ostensibly the major obstacle between Cincinnati and an AAC East division title. They still play at Temple, but the Owls are 1-5, and then at Tulsa, but that game won’t impact their ability to win the division and go to the title game so long as they don’t also lose this game to the Knights. A win here all but clinches it for the Bearcats and also potentially pads their resume for the playoffs if the committee has to compare resumes with multi-loss Power Five programs.

Cincinnati has been killing it with defense this year, yielding only 12.4 points per game despite playing in a proficient offensive league with strong opponents such as SMU, Houston, and Memphis already in the rearview mirror. They’ve done it with man coverage, overall athleticism, and then also some 46-style fronts involving shallow inside linebackers that can react quickly and aggressively to runs and create a nearly instant five-man line that generates one-on-one matchups for their defensive line up front. Typically this all just leads to a mess that is then cleaned up by weakside linebacker Jarell White, who has 65 tackles on the year.

The matchup between this defense and the UCF “veer ‘n’ shoot” offense has become a bit anti-climactic in the last two seasons, but there’s a chance things could change. The trouble UCF tends to have is that their system is designed to generate wide alleys to run in or else one-on-one opportunities outside to take shots with in the passing game. Cincinnati’s schemes are designed to maintain a presence in those alleys to stop the run while relying on man coverage to force difficult throws outside. Cornerbacks Koby Bryant and Ahmad Gardner each have three interceptions this season and are playing at an even higher level than previous season, making this a tough matchup for the Knights.

UCF is more experienced at quarterback than they’ve been though, with Dillon Gabriel now a sophomore with 2,774 passing yards at 9.8 yards per attempt, 23 touchdown passes, and just two interceptions. Receivers Marlon Williams (63 catches for 942 yards and eight touchdowns) and Oklahoma transfer Jaylon Robinson (41 catches for 822 yards and four touchdowns) have given them plenty of firepower for throwing over the top. This game will undoubtedly come down to whether or not they can out-skill the Bearcats’ athletes on the perimeter with Gabriel throwing deep to these two targets. UCF’s run game isn’t bad either, but the Bearcats are formidable up front and tend to outnumber the run. The cleanest way to break their defense is to be able to beat the cornerbacks outside.

On the other side of things, Cincinnati has been picking up offensively over the last few games, gaining strength as the season progresses. They’ve won each of the last four games by at least 28 points with quarterback Desmond Ridder. In those four games Ridder has had 38 carries for 398 yards at 10.5 yards per carry with nine touchdowns. As a result of that domination, running back Gerrid Doaks has found his groove as well with a pair of 100-yard rushing games during that span and three touchdowns.

For the last couple of years, UCF safety Richie Grant has been the team leader or second in tackles. This year the senior is first again followed by the Knights inside linebackers, Eriq Gilyard and Eric Mitchell. They’ll need a big day from these three against Cincinnati’s zone-option game. The Bearcats’ strength is to line up with one or two tight ends on the field and motion them around to change the strength and assignments for the defense before running zone-option with Doaks running downhill and Ridder threatening to gallop around the edge. Tracking all that will require disciplined play from Gilyard and Mitchell and then likely the Knights planting Grant over an off-ball tight end to track him and wait for Ridder any time he pulls the ball.

Watch for:

  • Can Central Florida receivers Marlon Williams and Jaylon Robinson get open against Cincinnati’s secondary in man coverage?
  • How well can Central Florida’s linebackers and safeties track Gerrid Doaks and Desmond Ridder in Cincy’s zone-option run game?
  • Can Cincinnati maintain their current pace week after week?

FEI Outright Pick: Cincinnati by 2.6

Wisconsin (-7.5) at Northwestern — 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

Overall Wisconsin (2-0) Northwestern (4-0)
F/+ 3 28
FEI 3 22
When Wisconsin has the ball Offense Defense
FEI 9 5
SP+ 9 5
IsoPPP+ 115 9
Rushing success rate 32 48
Passing success rate 25 11
When Northwestern has the ball Defense Offense
FEI 3 75
SP+ 2 99
IsoPPP+ 124 119
Rushing success rate 1 118
Passing success rate 1 27

Pending how much of the season the Big 10 is able to get through, Wisconsin is really putting together a potentially special year. They’ve been utterly dominant through three games, albeit against a diminished slate, and they could make a case for playoff inclusion or win the Big 10 Championship if they continue to improve.

What they lack is explosiveness, and interestingly they’ve been vulnerable to the big play as well, but aside from a few breakaway plays in a small sample size of two games they’ve completely dominated opponents. Against Michigan the Badgers brought in freshman running back Jalen Berger who ran the ball 15 times for 87 yards at 5.8 yards per carry and a score. He’s splitting duty with Nakia Watson and Garrett Groshek, none of whom offer much breakaway speed but all of whom are tough and good in the power game. Between the power run game and tight end Jake Ferguson (four touchdown catches), they have a lot of good options for closing in the red zone. The only trick is getting there often enough without explosive gains, which come most easily via play-action to wide receiver Danny Davis.

Northwestern is a tough team to march down the field against. They always have consistently sturdy defensive linemen and the linebacker trio of Paddy Fisher, Blake Gallagher, and Chris Bergin have played an awful lot of games together. Fisher is a fourth-year starter, Gallagher is in Year 3, and Bergin started last season. They’ve seen everything this league has to throw at a team and are simply a tough group to make consistent gains against. Last season they had Wisconsin pretty well shut down but the Badgers scored twice on defense and came away with a 24-15 victory.

The main question here is whether or not the Wildcats can avoid turnovers against the Badgers defense. Their plan of using excellent bend-don’t-break defense to make opposing offenses even less potent than their own faces a real challenge facing this Badgers defense. Northwestern quarterback Peyton Ramsey hasn’t terrified anyone, throwing for 6.5 yards per attempt with six touchdowns to four interceptions. They are always committed to running the football, but lead running back Isaiah Bowser has 61 carries for just 182 yards at 3.0 yards per carry and one touchdown.

Northwestern needs to find ways to move the ball but they also need to stay ahead of the chains and avoid third downs in which the Badgers can blitz them and potentially turn them over with interceptions or strip-sacks in the pocket. On the bright side for Northwestern though is the fact that Wisconsin hasn’t yet established a premier pass-rusher to give them particular trouble. Or perhaps that’s a negative if it means that the Wildcats won’t know until it’s too late who to watch out for.

Watch for:

  • Wisconsin’s terrific, balanced, but not particularly explosive offense going against one of the most experienced and sound linebacker corps in the nation.
  • Can Wisconsin attack the Northwestern offense with their own defense and help generate points like in 2019?
  • How will Northwestern hold up against Wisconsin’s play-action game?

FEI Outright Pick: Wisconsin by 11.3

Kansas State at Iowa State (-11) — 4:00 p.m. (FOX)

Overall Kansas State (4-3) Iowa State (5-2)
F/+ 46 23
FEI 38 28
When Kansas State has the ball Offense Defense
FEI 51 34
SP+ 81 24
IsoPPP+ 10 72
Rushing success rate 115 17
Passing success rate 103 58
When Iowa State has the ball Defense Offense
FEI 44 20
SP+ 40 24
IsoPPP+ 46 70
Rushing success rate 34 24
Passing success rate 67 34

They call this budding rivalry game “Farmageddon” because of the rural nature of each of these two teams and their fanbases in the midwest. Kansas State had a very promising start to this year, save for the opening game defeat to Arkansas State, but are at great risk of fading down the stretch. Senior quarterback Skylar Thompson was injured and left the Wildcats without the expertise to execute their passing game and overcome the youth and inexperience of the offensive front.

Head coach Chris Klieman stole a few games by feeding star freshman running back Deuce Vaughn for a few big outside runs and short passes that he could turn into big games, but eventually teams sorted out that stopping Vaughn was the key to stopping Kansas State. Then against Oklahoma State the Wildcats adjusted again by leveraging the threat of Vaughn on outside runs with inside runs by big freshman quarterback Will Howard. With some midline zone-option and quarterback trap schemes, Howard ran the ball 14 times for 125 yards at 8.9 yards per carry with a score against Oklahoma State. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, he also bobbled one of those runs and fumbled it into the air and into the hands of a Cowboys safety, who returned it the opposite direction for a score that put the Wildcats away.

Iowa State is a very difficult defense to attack due to their style. They like to play their patented “flyover defense” which is a 3-3-5 in which the three safeties all line up deep at the snap and the strongside linebacker splits wide toward the slot. They can crowd the box with smart run defenders, even by moving strongside linebacker Mike Rose in to play in the box by bumping down safety Greg Eisworth over a slot. It’s a flexible defense that can move numbers around to choke out the strength of your offense. It’s a unit that’s designed to be able to hold up against the run while playing Cover-2 over dangerous receivers, but Kansas State has really struggled to throw the ball outside with Howard stepping in for the injured Thompson, so it’s likely they’ll focus on packing it in to stop the run.

Last season the Cyclones actually lost their gaps inside against Kansas State while packing in the linebackers to stop the run and were gashed in a defeat. They return middle linebacker O’Rien Vance who will be eager to redeem that debacle but they’ll also be facing a different and less dangerous Wildcats rushing attack unless Kansas State can reinvent themselves further in time for this contest.

The Iowa State offense has really struggled this season due to the loss of 2019’s top receiver Deshaunte Jones and then the injury of his replacement Tarique Milton. They’ve attempted to make JUCO transfer Xavier Hutchinson their top answer in the passing game playing off the threat of the run game and tight end Charlie Kolar, and he has done pretty well with 35 catches for 407 yards and three scores. If Kansas State can cover him up without committing a lot of bracket coverage his way, perhaps playing man like Louisiana did in the season opener, it really diminishes the offense. There just aren’t many other weapons for the Cyclones.

However, Iowa State can still make something happen with their main bell cow, running back Breece Hall. The league’s best running back has carried the ball 165 times for 1,034 yards at 6.3 yards per carry with 13 rushing touchdowns and has been the engine of their offense this season. The Cyclones often line up in 12 personnel sets and run a variety of outside zone schemes designed to crease defenses and give Hall lots of room to pick his way through creases between the tackles on cutbacks, often generating long runs. Both of these teams have needed to run the ball to win games this season; the main question will be which team is able to manufacture their rushing attack against solid defenses that will be keying the backs.

These teams are also currently at the top of the Big 12 standings; the winning team will be in great shape to make the Big 12 Championship Game if they can then follow it up by defeating Texas before the end of the season. Kansas State and Iowa State both beat Oklahoma and each lost to Oklahoma State; they will both play Texas one after the other in the coming weeks.

Watch for:

  • Iowa State’s flyover defense looking to keep up and stifle Kansas State’s power-option run game.
  • Will Iowa State running back Breece Hall be able to carry them through this game with the Wildcats zeroing in on him in a rivalry game?
  • Can the winner keep up the advantage and make it to the Big 12 Championship Game by knocking out Texas next?

FEI Outright Pick: Iowa State by 4.7

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (-7) — 7:30 p.m. (ABC)

Overall Oklahoma State (5-1) Oklahoma (5-2)
F/+ 17 11
FEI 17 9
When Oklahoma State has the ball Offense Defense
FEI 47 29
SP+ 45 43
IsoPPP+ 50 102
Rushing success rate 112 36
Passing success rate 35 21
When Oklahoma has the ball Defense Offense
FEI 10 10
SP+ 8 5
IsoPPP+ 53 26
Rushing success rate 23 35
Passing success rate 3 17

Our prime-time battle for Week 12 is a game that has been both consistently entertaining this decade and consistently lopsided in outcome. The Sooners went 8-2 against Mike Gundy’s Cowboys in the 2010s and have won the last five contests in a row, which is every year since current Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley joined the program in 2015 as offensive coordinator. Yet even in this five-game stretch the Cowboys gave them a 62-52 scare in 2017 and a 48-47 fright in 2018.

The game has major Big 12 championship implications. The Sooners are currently 4-2 with three conference games remaining and sitting behind Iowa State (who beat Oklahoma) and Oklahoma State. If they lose this game, they’ll lose control of their destiny and will have to root for the Cowboys to fumble a game away in their remaining slate of four contests, in all of which the Cowboys will be heavily favored. Oklahoma State can potentially afford to lose this game and still make the title game contest, but they’ll have to hope for Oklahoma losing on the road to West Virginia or Texas dropping one of their remaining contests against Iowa State or Kansas State. In all likelihood, it will come down to this game and then these teams will watch and see what happens with Texas in future weeks for the reveal on whether they may have a rematch or if the winner will take on the Longhorns.

Oklahoma is certainly a favorite to finish the year strong. Since surviving an overtime game against Texas the Sooners blew out TCU 33-14, Texas Tech 62-28, and Kansas 62-9. They added back suspended stars Ronnie Perkins (defensive end) and Rhamondre Stevenson (running back) and have looked closer to their 2019 form across the offensive line after settling in with their returning starters from last year’s title team. Redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler has looked dinged up in recent weeks but the Sooners have the capacity to ease his load and simply lean on their remaining opponents with the power run game.

Fullback Jeremiah Hall; an offensive line in which every starter is at least 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds save for right guard Tyrese Robinson (6-foot-3, 335 pounds); and now 6-foot-0, 250-pound power back Stevenson give the Sooners an awful lot of sheer size and brute strength with which to bully opponents in these cold-weather November and December games to finish the year. Similarly, the infusion of Ronnie Perkins across the defensive line allows the Sooners to bring some highly potent pass rush in these remaining games to potentially tip the scale on big third downs.

Oklahoma State has a couple of wrinkles up their sleeve as well but one of the main concerns is simply whether they’ll be healthy enough to compete in this game. They lost left tackle Jake Springfield in the Texas game a few weeks back and are working him back in after the bye week; it’s essential that he be able to play and perform well. If Springfield is back and able to move well enough to stay ahead of Oklahoma’s lightning-quick jack outside linebacker Nik Bonitto (5.5 sacks), the Cowboys can slide big Josh Sills back inside to left guard and solidify an interior line that has struggled against good athletes inside of the sort the Sooners will bring into this game. Oklahoma’s quick nose tackle Perrion Winfrey looms large in this game as a problem for the Cowboy’s walk-on center Ry Schneider. A favorable new factor for Oklahoma State is freshman receiver Brennan Presley, who scored against Kansas State in his only offensive touch of the season and is starting to work into their rotation with his game-changing speed.

To pull off an upset, the Cowboys will need to survive in the trenches against the Sooners’ powerful offensive line and ultra-athletic defensive front so that they can see the game determined in space where they might have the advantage. The best cornerback in this game will be Oklahoma State’s Rodarius Williams and the best wide receiver will be Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace. The Cowboys need Williams to play his normal lockdown coverage so they can have all hands on deck in the middle of the field to handle the Sooners run game and Lincoln Riley’s leak concepts that attempt to spring slot receiver Marvin Mims (25 catches for 418 yards and seven touchdowns) down the middle of the field past distracted safeties.

Then Wallace needs to dominate the game outside where the Sooners also tend to prefer to play man coverage but lack a Williams to ensure a positive outcome. Wallace has 35 catches this season for 583 yards and four touchdowns and the Cowboys have a variety of RPOs and formations designed to isolate him in space, one-on-one, or else force the defense to compromise the integrity of their run defense by drifting a safety wide. The Oklahoma State zone-option game with quarterback Spencer Sanders (100 rushing yards, one touchdown) and running backs Chuba Hubbard (581 rushing yards at 4.6 yards per carry, five touchdowns) and L.D. Brown (370 rushing yards at 6.2 yards per carry, one touchdown) can score pretty fast in their own right if a defense can’t corral their speedy athletes before they get loose.

Finally there’s the battle of the Spencers, Sanders vs. Rattler. Both of these teams would prefer the game be determined by factors other than their quarterbacks’ ability to make difficult decisions and progressions in the passing game. These two have outstanding arm talent and can hit throws down the field, but if either defense can force a Spencer to get through progressions and make tough decisions then turnovers could determine this one. They’ve both shown a capacity for making costly mistakes and the bright lights and pressure of this game will be enormous.

Watch for:

  • Is Oklahoma State’s offensive line healthy and ready to handle Oklahoma’s athleticism across the defensive line?
  • The battle in space between Oklahoma State’s tremendous skill athletes led by Tylan Wallace against the Sooners secondary.
  • Battle of the Spencers — will Spencer Rattler or Spencer Sanders make key mistakes under the prime-time lights that sink their team?

FEI Outright Pick: Oklahoma by 7.9


FEI PICKS: WEEK 12

Favorite Spread Underdog FEI Pick FEI Pick
Against the Spread
Ian’s Pick
Against the Spread
at Ohio State 20.5 Indiana Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State
at Coastal Carolina 5.5 Appalachian State Coastal Carolina Appalachian State Coastal Carolina
Cincinnati 6 at Central Florida Cincinnati Central Florida Cincinnati
Wisconsin 7.5 at Northwestern Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin
at Iowa State 11 Kansas State Iowa State Kansas State Iowa State
at Oklahoma 7 Oklahoma State Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma State

FEI picks against the spread in Week 11: 5-1

FEI picks against the spread this year: 34-23-1

Ian’s picks against the spread in Week 11: 4-2

Ian’s Picks against the spread this year: 33-24-1

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/7th-day-adventure/2020/seventh-day-adventure-week-12

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