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The second set of Saturday bowls features four contests with widely varying over-under totals. By far, the Memphis-Wake Forest showdown, which kicks off the day, tops the board in terms of expected points. In fact, Memphis (38.25) and Wake Forest (34.75) are the top two on the slate in terms of implied score. The Buffalo-Troy matchup tips the scales at the other end of the spectrum, sitting at just 49.5 on the day.
A full picture of some key statistical categories can be seen in the table below:
Note: All stats are opposing defense. I switched out plays per game for S&P+, which is a metric designed to look at passing and rushing defense independent of matchup.
YPA=Yards Per Attempt
Without further adieu, the following are some of the players I may target in the main slate this week.
Jamie Newman, Wake Forest (vs. Memphis), $8,400
One of the more obvious plays on the slate, Newman, somehow, clocks in at just $8,400, which places him fifth out of eight starting quarterbacks. He totaled 28.08 points in the regular-season finale against Duke and receives one of the better matchups on the slate against a Memphis defense surrendering 250.8 passing yards and 1.8 passing touchdowns per game on 7.4 yards per attempt. It would help to have top receiver Greg Dortch – who is questionable – for the contest, so it may be worth keeping an eye on his availability.
Kelvin Hopkins Jr., Army (vs. Houston), $9,300
Taking on a Houston defense that surrenders nearly 500 yards per game overall, Hopkins should be in a prime position to take advantage of it. Army's triple-option offense makes it unlikely Hopkins will rack up a ton of passing yards given his maximum of 10 passing attempts since Sept. 8, but he's still accumulated three games with more than 120 yards passing and should be heavily involved in the rushing attack against a Cougars defense surrendering 197.5 rushing yards and 2.8 rushing touchdowns per contest.
Tournament Play: Brady White, Memphis (vs. Wake Forest), $7,800
On the other side of the Memphis-Wake Forest shootout is White, who has noticeably slumped of late. Brady managed fewer than 10 points against both UCF and Houston, but he usually sits in the mid-teens and has the upside of between 20 and 30 points if the Tigers get behind early and need to play catch-up. Wake Forest has allowed 274 yards and 2.1 touchdowns per game through the air, so White has a matchup that's conducive to another big output.
Secondary play: J'Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech ($6,900)
Patrick Taylor Jr., Memphis (vs. Wake Forest), $10,200
With Darrell Henderson skipping the bowl game to focus on the NFL Draft, the bulk of the carries should land squarely on Taylor's shoulders. Although he hasn't gained the star status of Henderson, Taylor is certainly no slouch. The junior tailback has averaged 5.7 yards per carry this season and owns nine touchdowns in his last seven games, making him a prime candidate for a massive showing against a Wake Forest defense allowing 4.9 yards per carry and 191.3 rushing yards per game this season.
Tony Pollard, Memphis (vs. Wake Forest), $8,500
This is one of the rare occasions in which two running backs from the same team may be an advisable move, given that the Demon Deacons have proven to be paper mache against the run this season. Pollard should slide into the top backup role behind Taylor with Henderson skipping the festivities, and the junior has averaged 7.3 yards per carry with limited work this season. Pollard also serves as a multifacet option, having hauled in 39 passes for 458 yards and three scores. Given the up-tempo nature of the game, Taylor will likely require some rest and Pollard seems the primary candidate to provide it.
Secondary mid-range option: Darnell Woolfolk, Army (vs. Houston), $8,100
Tournament play: Israel Tucker, Louisiana Tech (vs. Hawaii), $5,600
Tucker's rushing attempts in the middle of the season saw a considerable drop, with him recording a total of 17 over a six-game span. His rush percentage increased dramatically in the last two weeks of the season, upping to 39 percent and 43 percent, respectively, as he earned more totes than Jaqwis Dancy. Although that only resulted in a total of 19 carries in Louisiana Tech's pass-oriented offense, Tucker shouldn't need a ton of work to make good on his $5,600 price tag versus a Hawaii defense allowing 5.0 yards per carry and 207.5 rushing yards per game.
Adrian Hardy, Louisiana Tech (vs. Hawaii), $9,400
Louisiana Tech makes no bones about what it wants to do on offense, routinely throwing the ball 30-plus times per game. Hardy draws the majority of those on a per game basis, averaging just under 10 overall this season and 13 during the last three weeks. Squaring off against a lackluster Hawaii pass defense, Hardy should see plenty of work and should have a decent shot at reaching the end zone as well, with the Rainbow Warriors surrendering 2.1 passing touchdowns per game.
Secondary top-tier play: Anthony Johnson, Buffalo ($9,800)
Cedric Byrd, Hawaii (vs. Louisiana Tech), $8,000
On the opposite side of the same game, Byrd slots in as the Rainbow Warriors' third-most expensive wide receiver behind John Ursua ($9,900) and JoJo Ward ($9,100). The production gap isn't big enough in my eyes to warrant the price difference, especially from Ward to Byrd. The matchup may not be the most favorable, but Hawaii and Louisiana Tech both love to sling the ball around, so there may be a lot of clock stoppages and, as a result, a lot of plays run in the game. Coming off a 20-point game, Byrd is worth the price tag.
Tournament Play: Scotty Washington, Wake Forest (vs. Memphis) $6,000
Washington has seen very little in terms of production this season after totaling 711 receiving yards in 2017, but the big-bodied junior should serve as a red-zone threat for the Demon Deacons in the highest expected scoring game of the day. He also could see a role expansion if top wideout Greg Dortch is unable to play, so that's something to keep an eye on. Fortunately, it's the first game of the day, so Dortch's status should be known ahead of the lineup lock.