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Explosive Offenses and Totals
by Al McMordie - 11/01/2009
With all the lousy offenses in the NFL in 2009, thank goodness college football offers a healthy dose for those who prefer the forward pass and lots of points. If you like old fashioned grind-it-out football, there are still plenty of teams that go old school, run the football and play tough defense.
But from a handicapping perspective, some of the more explosive offensive teams have been a boon to totals bettors of late. For instance, Mike Sherman didn't have much luck with his pro-style offense at Texas A&M when he first arrived, but as we pass Halloween, the Aggies are becoming a monster offensive team.
Junior QB Jerrod Johnson (20 TDs, 3 picks), freshman WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, freshman RB Christine Michael and sophomore RB Cyrus Gray are quietly tearing up Big 12 defenses. This offense is smoking, averaging 36 points, 180 yards rushing and 308 passing.
They are on a 2-0 SU/ATS run, ripping Texas Tech 52-30 and Iowa State, 35-10. Johnson is the Big 12's total offense leader. Against No. 21 Texas Tech, they had 559 yards, including 321 rushing as RB Gray scored 4 TDs and ran for 131 yards on 25 carries. The defense hasn't always been sharp, and notice they are on a 5-1 run over the total.
In the ACC, David Cutcliffe begins his second season at Duke (5-3 SU, 4-2 ATS), a terrific offensive mind. As soon as he left Tennessee as offensive coordinator after the 2007 season, the Volunteers had major offensive problems. Now Duke is tearing it up through the air.
The Blue Devils don't run the football much, but who cares when you have senior QB Thaddeus Lewis (15 TDs, 4 INTs) throwing almost every down, on an offense averaging 30 points and 330 yards passing. Virginia Tech beat Duke 34-26, but Lewis was 22 for 40 for 359 yards. Duke is brimming with confidence after a 49-28 win at N.C. State, rolling up 502 yards. Lewis was 40-of-50 for 459 yards! He picked apart the Wolfpack's defense, converting 13 of 19 third downs.
They come off a 28-17 win at Virginia on Saturday as Lewis hit Donovan Varner on a 42-yard touchdown pass with 3:45 remaining. Lewis was 24 for 40 for 343 yards. "We're finding our niche and finding our stride," Cutcliffe said about the offense. Duke is 3-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 4-2 over the total.
Florida State has a flashy offense that the betting public loves, but an atrocious defense because of injuries. The offense rolled up 555 yards in Saturday's wild 45-42 win over NC State, but they failed to cover again as the defense allowed 538 yards. Florida State is 6-1 over the total.
Out West, that loss to open the season to Boise seems like a lifetime ago for Oregon (7-1 SU/6-2 ATS), sitting alone at 5-0 atop the Pac 10 after Saturday's thumping of USC. Oregon runs a wide-open attack under first-year Coach Chip Kelly, averaging 35 points. Junior QB Jeremiah Masoli is back from a knee injury and leading this sizzling attack, on a 4-2 run over the total. They had over 600 yards against Pete Carroll's Trojans Saturday, with two running backs topping 160 yards! When was the last time you read anything like that?
We think of the Big 10 as lacking in offensive imagination, but Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst (a former Pac 10 OC) are running a wide open attack with junior QB Scott Tolzien and sophomore workhorse RB John Clay. The Badgers hung 37 on Purdue Saturday and they are on a 9-5-1 run over the total going back to last season.
Kansas State is on a 3-1 run over the total under Coach Bill Snyder. The biggest reason is he has turned to senior QB Grant Gregory, a transfer from South Florida given a sixth year of eligibility. He threw for 174 yards in Saturday's 42-30 loss at Oklahoma. Kansas State (3-2 Big 12) is atop the Big 12 North after impressive wins over Texas A&M and Colorado.
Troy (6-2 SU/5-3 ATS) started off with two bad performances, but this offense is finally clicking behind senior QB Levi Brown (14 TDs, 4 INTs). They've scored 27, 30, 31, 33, 50 and 42 points the last six games (all wins) and are on a 2-0 run over the total. They are the perfect over team, with no running game but an unstoppable air attack. They rolled up 697 yards in a 50-26 pasting of North Texas and Brown had 378 yards in Saturday's 42-21 rout of Monroe. You may not pay much attention to small conferences like the Sun Belt, but handicappers look for every edge possible.