This week, I’m looking to back two quarterbacks who could hear their names called early in the 2022 NFL Draft, as well as a ranked Group of Five team looking to rebound after its first loss of the season.
My model and the projections listed below are independent of PFF Greenline, but you should always use that first to find cover probabilities, implied value and team comparisons for all your betting needs.
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Liberty Flames (+9.5) @ Ole Miss Rebels
Projection: Liberty +8.3
Ole Miss is very banged up on offense after a brutal stretch of games and could be shorthanded here. Quarterback Matt Corral is recovering from an ankle injury and is questionable, top receiver Jonathan Mingo is out for the year and now the team’s top two receivers behind Mingo — Braylon Sanders and Dontario Drummond — are on the injury report.
At his press conference, coach Lane Kiffin said, “If we were playing today, we're in a worse position than we've been yet. None of the three receivers are available.” This Rebel offense could look very different than normal Saturday if these injury situations don’t get significantly better. We got a glimpse of what Ole Miss’ banged-up offense looked like last week against Auburn, where it generated an awful -0.128 expected points added (EPA) per throw markand managed just 20 points.
Ole Miss is going to need to put up a lot of points to cover this number because Liberty will likely find the end zone plenty of times. Quarterback Malik Willis is having an incredible season, as his 92.9 overall grade trails only Oklahoma’s Caleb Williams at the position. While he’s been effective through the air, his rushing ability has been a nightmare for opposing defenses. His 94.4 rushing grade ranks first among all positions — not just quarterbacks — and his 8.5 yards per carry, 5.52 yards after contact per attempt and 55 missed tackles forced all lead the quarterback position.
His rushing ability may be overshadowing a very efficient season in the passing game, as he’s currently leading the nation in big-time throw rate by a wide margin and ranks seventh in yards per attempt. He’s put this team on his back and has the Liberty offense sitting at 10th overall in EPA per play.
Ole Miss could be in for a very long day on defense, considering its ranking of 121st in success rate allowed. It’s been equally terrible against the run and the pass, so the Flames shouldn’t have much trouble getting either going.
Ole Miss Defensive Ranks
|EPA/Throw||EPA/Carry||Passing Success Rate||Rushing Success Rate|
A shorthanded Ole Miss offense could have a hard time bailing out a poor defense against one of the most electric players in the country in Malik Willis.
Nevada Wolf Pack (-10) vs. San Jose State Spartans
Projection: Nevada -12.1