TJ’S THREE: WEEK 7
Last week: 2-1 Straight Up; 1-2 ATS (Against the Spread)
Season: 11-7 Straight Up; 9-9 ATS
Kentucky @ Georgia (Athens, GA) Georgia -21.5 per FanDuel
Kentucky is 6-0 for the first time since 1950, when they were coached by legendary coach Bear Bryant. The 2021 Wildcats are led by junior QB Will Levis who has 1,134 yards passing, 11 TD’s and 6 Int’s, to go along with 163 rushing yards and 3 TD’s. Junior RB Chris Rodriguez, Jr. leads the rushing attack with 759 yards & 5 TD’s while fellow junior, Kavosiey Smoke has 263 yards and 1 TD. Levis’ top target is junior Wan’Dale Robinson who has 37 catches for 527 yards & 4 TD’s. Senior Josh Ali is 2nd with 17 grabs for 248 yards & 1 TD but is expected to miss the Georgia game with an injured leg. (Get used to the players out with injuries for Kentucky) The Wildcats have been good on defense, giving up 307.7 yards per game and 17.5 points per game. While the D has 13 sacks, they haven’t created many turnovers with only 3 Int’s & 1 fumble recovery. Senior LB Deandre Square is the leader with 46 tackles. Unfortunately for the Wildcats they lost 2 major contributors to the defense in last week’s win against LSU. Sophomore DL Octavious Oxendine is out for the season due to his lower leg injury. Senior NT Marquan McCall is also expected to be out for the Georgia game. The 6’3, 379-pound lineman will be a huge loss for the Kentucky defensive front. As a side note it is good to see a program like Kentucky succeeding on the gridiron. They are widely known as a basketball school whose football program is a bottom feeder in the SEC. The administration gave Coach Mark Stoops 2 things that coaches at many other Power 5 programs dream of having: time and commitment. There were down times in Lexington, but the short-term pain was well worth the long-term gain, if the Wildcats can continue to win.
Georgia is 6-0 and is now the #1 team in the country. Junior QB JT Daniels has missed 3 games due to an injured back so Senior signal caller Stetson Bennett has stepped in and thrown for 746 yards with 8 TD’s and 2 Int’s. He’s also added 126 yards rushing. The Bulldogs top rusher is junior Zamir White who has 354 yards & 6 TD’s. Senior James Cook, sophomore Kendall Milton & junior Kenny McIntosh have combined for 115 carries, 682 yards and 4 TD’s. Monster freshman TE Brock Bowers leads the Dawgs receivers with 20 catches for 315 yards & 4 TD’s. Fellow frosh Ladd McConkey is 2nd with 16 catches, 280 yards & 2 TD’s. But, as has been the case all season, the top story in Athens is the Bulldog defense. Just ridiculous! They’ve given up 201.2 yards per game (WOW), 5.5 points per game (are you kidding me???) and, oh yeah, they’ve sacked the opposing team’s QB 22 flipping times!!! (downright nasty) The top 7 tacklers have at least 15 tackles. This stat is incredible being that Georgia’s opponents have only had 339 plays on offense this year. By comparison, Georgia has run 253 rushing plays alone! Opposing offenses have gotten a total of 58 first downs, Georgia has 57….on pass plays alone! They’ve also rushed for 65 first downs. Junior LB Nakobe Dean has 3.5 of those 22 sacks. This defense is something to see. I’m not a fan of defensive football games but do yourself a favor, watch this defense!
Prediction: Even if Kentucky was at full strength I’d have a hard time picking them, but they will be without 2 key players on the defensive line. Georgia’s bread and butter is to run the football and when you lose a 379-pound block eater in the middle you’re going to have a tough time stopping the run. Oh yeah, Georgia can also throw the ball now. This ain’t y’all pappy’s Bulldogs! And, as I’ve said before, that defense is insanely good. I seriously don’t think Kentucky will find the endzone in this game. Georgia: 40 Kentucky: 6. Take Georgia giving those points!
Pitt @ Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA ENTER SANDMAN!) Pitt -4.5 per FanDuel
Pitt is 4-1 heading into this week’s ACC Coastal Division matchup in Blacksburg. Senior QB Kenny Pickett has been very impressive throwing for 1,731 yards, 19 TD’s and only 1 Int. Pickett leads the country in QBR @ 90.2. He has an amazing 72.0 completion percentage and has added 142 rushing yards and 2 TD’s. While he’s not going to win the Heisman Trophy playing at Pitt, he should at the very least be in the discussion. And if he keeps up this pace he should, in my opinion, be invited to New York for the ceremony. Under Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple Pitt has become a passing offense. And while the rushing numbers don’t blow you away, they are good. The bulk of the carries have been split by sophomore Israel Abanikanda, junior Vincent Davis & freshman Rodney Hammond, Jr. The trio has combined for 595 yards & 9 TD’s. Pickett’s primary target has been sophomore WR Jordan Addison who has hauled in 29 passes for 524 yards and is tied for first in the nation with 9 TD’s. Senior Taysir Mack has 16 receptions for 304 yards and 2 TD’s and fellow senior TE Lucas Krull has 15 catches for 193 yards and 5 TD’s. 16 different Panthers have recorded a catch this season. The defense has been ok, giving up 339.8 yards per game and 22.6 points per game while accumulating 18 sacks, 4 Int’s & have recovered 4 fumbles. Junior DL Habakkuk Baldonado leads Pitt with 3.5 sacks.
Virginia Tech is 3-2 and tied with Pitt for 1st place in the ACC Coastal Division. Junior QB Braxton Burmeister has 930 yards passing with 5 TD’s and 2 Int’s. He’s also the Hokies leading rusher with 189 yards and 2 TD’s. When Burmeister isn’t running himself, he relies on a pair of juniors to tote the rock. The duo of Raheem Blackshear & Jalen Holston have combined for 337 yards & 5 TD’s. Burmeister’s top 2 targets to throw to are junior WR Tre Turner who has 22 catches for 330 yards & 1 TD and sophomore Tayvion Robinson who has 19 catches for 219 yards & 2 TD’s. Blackshear has added 144 receiving yards out of the backfield. The Tech defense is giving up a lot of yards, 343 per game, but they’ve tightened up when needed as evidenced by the 18.6 points per game they give up. They’ve gotten 15 sacks, 7 Int’s & have recovered 1 fumble. Junior DB Jermaine Waller is tied for first in the nation and has accounted for more than half of the Hokies picks with 4.
Prediction: Pitt’s offense is rolling! Pickett has seriously impressed me with how well he’s throwing the ball this season. While history shows Pitt will lose a game when they’ve got the momentum in their favor, I just don’t see it this week. Virginia Tech isn’t lighting the world on fire with their offense and the defense has been gashed this season. I see Pitt controlling this game from the start and pulling away late. Pitt: 43 Virginia Tech: 27. Take Pitt giving the points.
BYU at Baylor (Baylor, TX) Baylor -6.5
BYU is 5-1 after falling last week at home to Boise State. Sophomore QB Jaren Hall has missed 2 games due to injury but still has 863 yards passing with 8 TD’s and 3 Int’s. He also rushed for 163 yards. The work horse for the Cougars has been sophomore RB Tyler Allgeier who has 121 rushes for 624 yards & 8 TD’s. The receivers are led by a pair of juniors, Gunner Romney who has 23 catches for 371 yards & 3 TD’s and Neil Pau’u who has 26 catches for 331 yards & 4 TD’s. The BYU defense has given up a lot of yards this season, 368.2 per game, but they’ve been respectable in the points per game category, only giving up 20.5. They’ve sacked opposing QBs 13 times, grabbed 6 Int’s and have 4 fumble recoveries. Freshman Ben Bywater leads the Cougars defense with 49 tackles, 31 of which are solo tackles. The solo number is good for 19th in the country, not bad for a frosh. The top 5 tacklers for BYU are all linebackers ranging from 27 to Bywater’s 49.
Baylor is 5-1 going into this non-conference tilt with BYU. Junior QB Gery Bohanon has 1,332 yards passing, 11 TD’s and 0 Int’s to go along with 131 rushing yards & 6 TD’s. A pair of senior RB’s split the carries for the Bears as Abram Smith has 597 yards & 7 TD’s while Trestan Ebner has 401 yards but 0 TD’s. Ebner has chipped in 77 receiving yards and 1 receiving TD. The leading receiver is senior WR Tyquan Thornton who has 27 grabs for 463 yards & 5 TD’s. Fellow senior WR R.J. Sneed has 19 catches for 326 yards & 1 TD. Junior TE Ben Sims has 4 TD’s this season. The Baylor defense has been good for a Big 12 defense. They’ve given up 320.7 yards per game, 16.2 points per game (unheard of in the Big 12) and have accumulated 12 sacks, 8 Int’s & have recovered 2 fumbles. Senior safety Jalen Pitre has 2 Int’s and is 3rd on the Bears defense with 32 tackles. 25 of those tackles have been solo. With the way BYU throws the ball I’m thinking he’s going to be busy Saturday.
Prediction: Baylor has been sneaky good this season, flying under the radar. Their defense has been impressive and Bohanon has done it all for the offense. The BYU passing attack, coupled with a very good Tyler Allgeier will come into Baylor and cause problems for the Bears. However, I don’t think they’ll do enough to win this game. I see Baylor getting a last minute/second field goal to win it. Baylor: 30 BYU: 27. Take BYU getting the points.