Top sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for this week’s college football action.
Two games, in particular, interest me as worth investing in: Kentucky vs. Florida and Boston College vs. Virginia Tech. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for both games.
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Florida Gators
Saturday, September 10, 2022 – 07:00 PM EDT at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Kentucky's Newfound Vulnerability
Kentucky's run defense was not exposed last week because the Wildcats faced Miami of Ohio out of the MAC. Obviously physically inferior to the average SEC team, Miami didn't stand a chance, and Kentucky won by 24.
Now is the chance to take advantage of the regression in Kentucky's run defense quality that the best sportsbooks have yet to properly bake into their odds.
The Wildcats' defense ranked 16th nationally last year against the run but now misses key players. Specifically, Kentucky misses its three-starting defensive linemen.
The particularly massive Marquan McCall and fellow interior lineman Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald were two of Kentucky's strongest reasons for its superb run defense ranking. But current Detroit Lion and former Wildcat defensive leader Joshua Paschal may have been the best.
A highly mobile edge defender who excels in pursuit and easily creates havoc behind the line of scrimmage, Paschal garnered a stronger reputation for his run defending than for his pass rushing.
Gators' Rush Attack
While Kentucky's run defense suffers depletion in its personnel, the Gators' newly run-centered offense is stacked. Florida is coming off a 283-yard rushing output on 7.3 YPC against Utah's defense.
Particularly when it came to crunch time, one may have observed the Gators' hesitation to pass too often with quarterback Anthony Richardson.
That hesitation is a positive thing for the Gators' outlook this week because it entails a strong degree of confidence in their run game. Richardson is always a threat to break off a big run.
The Star Running Back
The brother of Travis, Trevor Etienne looked very impressive from a physical standpoint. He is physical and strong but his explosiveness stands out the most.
Etienne accrued 64 rushing yards on five carries while Montrell Johnson, who has exceeded 20 mph and adds balance after contact to his explosiveness, amassed 75 rushing yards on 12 carries.
They were supported by Florida's ridiculously deep offensive line.
Kentucky's Ground Game Outlook
Given its personnel, Kentucky is inclined to run the ball. The Wildcats want to pride themselves on having a deep and talented running back group. But Chris Rodriguez, who amassed 1,379 rushing yards last season on 6.1 YPC, is out indefinitely due to his suspension.
How Important Is Rodriguez's Absence?
Rodriguez's absence leaves a vastly less talented and unproven group of running backs exposed. Last week, Miami of Ohio limited Kentucky to 50 rushing yards on 26 carries. Rodriguez's absence is significant given Florida's struggles with Utah's run defense.
In view of his individual quality, he looked like someone who could have helped Kentucky's offense keep its team somewhat competitive for some stretch of the game.
Still, even Rodriguez might have had problems behind what was the Wildcat offense's biggest question mark heading into this season, its offensive line, which includes two starters who, after last week, have a combined total of two career starts.
Florida's Talented Run Defense
Florida's run defense should improve this week because of its talent. It has a viable run-stopper in Ventrell Miller.
The defensive line has some massive and lengthy men, including surprisingly mobile 415-pounder Desmond Watson, and future NFL stud Gervon Dexter leads the group.
To summarize, Kentucky's offense won't be able to do what it wants while Florida's will.
Boston College Eagles vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
Sunday, September 4, 2022 - 08:00 PM EDT at Lane Stadium
It's easier to make more of Virginia Tech's loss than of Boston College's.
The Hokies lost to Old Dominion while Boston College lost to a Big Ten team. But Boston College's opponent was playing without three key guys (a quarterback, tight end, and running back).
Rutgers already had to replace key departed running back Isiah Pacheco.
Virginia Tech's Sloppiness
Whereas Boston College cannot blame its penalties, Virginia Tech absolutely can. Instead of suffering a lack of talent or ability, the Hokies committed sloppy errors that had all kinds of repercussions.
Some Hokies' penalties, such as the offensive pass interference call that prevented them from going up 14-3 at half, created obvious point swings in Old Dominion's favor.
The same is true for other Hokies' mistakes, the obvious one being the high snap that Old Dominion returned for a touchdown.
Virginia Tech's mistakes were also debilitating because they created third-and-long situations. But the Hokies are not a third-and-long team because third-and-long forces them to pass.
With Wisconsin's former offensive line coach now shaping their offensive identity, the Hokies want to be a smashmouth team.
I like the Hokies especially this week because, after last week's debacle, their head coach has been emphasizing the importance of playing sound, mistake-free football. They will be extra sure to avoid those third-and-long situations.
Hokies' Run Game Against Eagles' Defense
Third-and-short situations will put the Hokies' ground game in the best position possible. The Hokies are not short of talent in this area.
Among others, Keshawn King, who amassed 111 rushing yards on 5.8 YPC last week, is uniquely hard to bring down as a result of his shiftiness.
While other running backs look primed to help King, he will likely do the most to hurt an Eagles' run defense that could not stop Rutgers' depleted ground game, which Virginia Tech relied on for its victory.
Eagles' Offense Against Hokies' Defense
Undoubtedly, Boston College's largest offensive threat is wide receiver Zay Flowers. But know for your NCAAF picks that he will struggle in this game. Scouting reports emphasize the 172-pounder's difficulty with physicality.
Hokies' cornerback Armani Chatman is known for his physicality (at the line of scrimmage, especially) and is therefore well-equipped to disrupt and limit him.
Overall, the Hokies' secondary is very experienced and, with its collection of All-ACC accolades, will limit an Eagles' pass attack that won't be able to rely on support from a rush attack whose leading rusher averaged 1.8 YPC last week against Rutgers.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.