TJ’S PICK 3 OF 2022 WEEK 9
Week 3: 2-1 overall 1-2 ATS Season Record: 15-9 Overall 9-15 ATS
Rankings are from sportsvivaldraft.com Top 25 and point spreads are from FanDuel
Ohio State @ Penn State (State College, PA) Ohio State -14.5 O/U 61.5
Ohio State is 7-0 and ranked #2 in this week’s poll. Junior quarterback CJ Stroud has 2,023 yards while completing 70% of his passes for a nation-leading 28 touchdowns and four interceptions. Junior running back Miyan Williams leads the Buckeyes in rushing with 516 yards and nine touchdowns while super sophomore running back TreVeyon Henderson has 474 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Emeka Egbuka leads the receivers with 41 catches for 735 yards and seven touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. is second with 38 catches for 598 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Ohio State defense has been much better under new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. The Bucks are giving up only 14.9 points per game and 239.9 yards per game while getting 19 sacks, seven interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Senior linebacker Tommy Eichenberg is the leader with 57 tackles to go along with 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one pick six. Senior linebacker Steele Chambers is second with 35 tackles, one sack, one pass deflection and one interception.
Penn State is 6-1 and ranked #15 this week. Senior quarterback Sean Clifford has struggled this season, completing only 61.5% of his passes for 1,445 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. Clifford has also chipped in 141 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Freshman running back Nicholas Singleton leads the Nittany Lions with 561 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Another freshman running back, Kaytron Allen is second with 396 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore wideout Parker Washington leads with 30 grabs for 388 yards and one touchdown. Senior wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley has 28 catches for 340 yards and four touchdowns. The Nittany Lions defense has been stingy, as usual, giving up only 18.9 points per game and 373.1 yards per game while getting 15 sacks, seven interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. Senior safety Ji’Ayir Brown has 41 tackles, 31 solo, one sack, three pass deflections, three interceptions and one forced fumble. Sophomore linebacker Curtis Jacobs has 36 tackles, one sack, one pass deflection, one pick six and two fumble recoveries.
The Big Noon Kickoff game for Fox is two big name programs but I think this one is leaning towards a blowout. Penn State has been struggling on offense, particularly in the passing game. Ohio State’s defense is very good against the run. Penn State’s defense is good against the pass and can match up well with the Buckeye receivers. But Ohio State just has too many weapons on offense.
Ohio State: 47 Penn State: 20 Lay the points with Ohio State and take the over.
Pitt @ North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC) North Carolina -3.5 O/U 64.5
Pitt is 4-3 and unranked in this week’s poll. Senior quarterback Kedon Slovis has had trouble adjusting to life on the east coast. He’s completing only 60.5% of his passes for 1,325 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. Slovis’ has also missed some time due to injuries. The Panther rushing attack is led by Junior running back Israel Abanikanda, who is fourth nationally with 959 rushing yards and is tied for first in the country with 13 touchdowns. Senior wideout Jared Wayne leads a pedestrian Pitt receiving game with 25 catches for 411 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore wideout Konata Mumpfield has 26 grabs for 267 yards and one touchdown. The Pitt defense has been a bit leaky in 2022, giving up 25.9 points per game and 333.6 yards per game and have gotten 21 sacks, six interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Senior linebacker SirVocea Dennis has 47 tackles, five sacks and two pass deflections. Junior defensive back Brandon Hill has 44 tackles and one pass deflection. Senior defensive back Erick Hallett, II has 22 tackles, six pass deflections, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
North Carolina is 6-1 and ranked #20 in the poll this week. Freshman quarterback Drake Maye has been outstanding this season! He’s completed 70.1% of his passes for 2,283 yards (8th nationally) 24 touchdowns (2nd nationally) and three interceptions. Maye also leads the Tar Heels in rushing with 378 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman running back Omarion Hampton is second on the team with 345 yards and leads with six touchdowns. Junior wideout Josh Downs has 37 catches for 425 yards and five touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Antoine Green has 13 catches for 384 yards and four touchdowns, but he also leads the nation with an INCREDIBLE 29.5 yards per catch! For as good as the UNC offense has been, the defense has been equally horrible. They’re giving up 32.4 points per game, 476.3 yards per game while getting 12 sacks, five interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Junior linebacker Cedric Gray has two pass deflections, two interceptions, one forced fumble and is eighth nationally with 73 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Power Echols has 66 tackles, 51 solo (2nd in the country) and two sacks.
At times this season Pitt has been good on offense but for the most part they’ve struggled. Some injuries at the quarterback position haven’t helped but neither has changed the entire offensive philosophy. If ever there was a team to get the offense right against, the North Carolina defense is it! The Tar Heels are #126 overall in total defense out of 131 teams. If UNC’s defense can just play at an average rate this North Carolina team would be a legitimate challenge for the ACC title. The UNC offense is amazing and at some point this season that defense is going to let them down…but not this weekend. Maybe that North Carolina defense will get right against a pedestrian Pitt offense.
North Carolina: 37 Pitt 30 Lay the points with UNC and take the over.
Illinois @ Nebraska (Lincoln, NE) Illinois -7.5 O/U 50.5
Illinois is 6-1 and ranked #16 in this week’s poll. Senior quarterback, and Syracuse transfer, Tommy DeVito has completed 70.4% of his passes for 1,415 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also chipped in 51 rushing yards and is tied for the team lead with four rushing touchdowns. Junior running back Chase Brown leads the nation with 1,059 yards and also has four touchdowns. Brown also has 107 receiving yards and is tied for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns. Sophomore wideout Pat Bryant has 25 catches for 371 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Williams has 47 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns. The Illini defense has been incredible! They’ve given up a nation’s best 8.9 points per game, 221.1 yards per game and have gotten 23 sacks, 12 interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Two sophomore defensive linemen, Jer’Zhan Newton and Keither Randolph, Jr., each have four sacks as does freshman linebacker Gabe Jacas. Junior defensive back Devon Witherspoon is tied for second in the country with 11 pass deflections. Senior defensive back Kendall Smith is tied for sixth in the country with four interceptions.
Nebraska is 3-4 and unranked this week. Junior quarterback Casey Thompson is completing 64.1% of his passes for 1,851 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Thompson has also been sacked 19 times. Junior running back Anthony Grant leads the Cornhuskers with 682 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Trey Palmer has 47 catches for 781 yards and five touchdowns. Junior wideout Marcus Washington has 21 catches for 296 yards but hasn’t gotten into the endzone this season. The Huskers defense has been terrible, #124 in overall defense while giving up 31.3 points per game, 471.7 yards per game and have gotten 10 sacks, seven interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Junior linebacker Luke Reimer has 49 tackles, one sack, five pass deflections and one interception. Junior defensive end Garrett Nelson leads the Huskers with 4.5 sacks.
I admit, I’m not a fan of a defensive style of football, I love offense. Typically, defensive battles bore me to tears. But this Illinois defense is playing lights out! They’ve only given up 62 points all season. Nebraska has struggled mightily this season, resulting in the firing of head coach Scott Frost. But the Cornhuskers have shown improvement under interim coach Mickey Joseph. The Illini offense is tailor made for the Big Ten West and head coach Bret Bielema is running this team to perfection in that division. But if there’s one thing Nebraska has shown over the past year is that they keep losses close. And with this game being played in Lincoln I think the Huskers will lose another close one.
Illinois: 17 Nebraska 14 take the points with Nebraska and take the under.