This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
We are rounding another turn of the college football season with the Big Ten and Mountain West set to rejoin the college football ranks this Saturday. Two games on the main slate come from the Big Ten, with Ohio State-Nebraska coming in second on the expected scoring total (68.0) for the week and the Buckeyes topping the expected scoring charts at 45.75 as the biggest favorites (-23.5) on the slate. Auburn and Alabama are next on the highest expected scoring list, with both projected to score around 40 (40.5 to be exact) in their contests. The highest overall total is expected to involve the Tigers and Ole Miss at 71.5, which is the only contest that crosses the 70-point mark.
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Week 8 Plays
Justin Fields, Ohio State ($10,800) vs. Nebraska
As mentioned above, Fields and the Buckeyes lead the way for expected scoring this week, and the signal-caller should be near the head of the class in having his hand involved in it after tallying a combined 50 touchdowns (40 passing, 10 rushing) last season. The Cornhuskers struggled primarily against the run last season, but Fields proved last year he doesn't need a huge passing output to tally some big scores thanks to his abilities on the ground. In fact, he managed just 212 passing yards (on 21 attempts) last year versus Nebraska but still finished the day with 33.68 points thanks to three passing scores, 72 rushing yards and a score on the ground. Of the quarterbacks near the top of the board Saturday, Fields seems the best option to return the necessary value.
Bo Nix, Auburn ($8,600) at Ole Miss
Since solid matchups don't connect with many of the quarterbacks at the top of the board this week, it may be a good time to look down the list for the superflex spot. Nix has arguably the best matchup on the slate and checks in 12th among the quarterbacks Saturday. Auburn's typically stout defense hasn't lived up to its usual standards in the early going, allowing 28.3 points per game over the last three contests. While the Rebels struggled to score against Arkansas last week, that hasn't been the case otherwise, having averaged 41.7 points against Florida, Kentucky and Alabama. The Tigers may need to put up some big numbers to keep pace Saturday and Nix should be positioned to help with that against a passing defense allowing 9.8 yards per attempt and 314.5 passing yards per contest.
Collin Hill, South Carolina ($7,500) at LSU
Hill's tenure under center has gotten off to a somewhat rocky start, connecting on just four touchdown passes through the first four games. The main problem with his fantasy production is a lack of touchdowns, but there's reason to believe the Gamecocks' offense will put up some points Saturday. South Carolina's offense has tallied no fewer than 24 points in a contest through the first four weeks and is coming off of back-to-back 30-point efforts. On top of that, the Tigers' pass defense has proven to be a shell of the 2019 iteration, coughing up 9.5 yards per pass attempt and north of 380 yards and three touchdowns per game through three contests. Hill threw for eight touchdowns over three games last season at Colorado State, showing that he has some upside as a passer. The Tigers may force South Carolina to chuck the rock around as well, given that the run defense has allowed just 118 yards per game and less than a score per contest thus far.
Javonte Williams, North Carolina ($10,200) vs. N.C. State
While N.C. State's rush defense has fared reasonably well in the early portions of 2020, game script figures to play a major factor in this contest. The Wolfpack lost the steady presence of Devin Leary under center to a broken fibula last week, forcing the team to turn to Bailey Hockman, who has had mixed results thus far. The Tar Heels sit as 14.5-point favorites for the contest versus Wolfpack defense that has surrendered nine rushing scores through five games. Williams is the much-preferred option around the goal-line, notching seven rushing scores to Michael Carter's two through four games, which should position him to find pay dirt again Saturday for a North Carolina squad with an expected score (37.25) that ranks fourth on the slate.
Trey Sermon, Ohio State ($8,200) vs. Nebraska
Sermon transferred to Buckeyeland this offseason after losing a firm grasp on his starting job toward the end of his time with the Sooners. He joins another lethal offense in Columbus – one that figures to get the running game more involved as well. While he won't have total control over the backfield at Ohio State either, the matchup and expected game flow portends to plenty of rushing attempts against a Nebraska defense that allowed 4.82 yards per carry and 25 rushing touchdowns over 12 games last season. He's expected to split the workload Saturday with Master Teague but sports salary 700 less than Teague, which was the tiebreaker with no clear delineation.
Seth McGowan, Oklahoma ($7,100) at TCU
McGowan sat out last week versus Texas due to a concussion but is expected to be back in uniform for Saturday's tilt versus TCU. While T.J. Pledger took advantage of the opportunity, racking up 22 carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns while adding two catches for 24 yards, McGowan's prior efforts should keep him steadily involved in the offense. In fact, McGowan actually out-touched Pledger by two in the game prior and has outproduced him in fairly even splits thus far. With a Horned Frogs defensive front that has allotted opposing rushers a whopping 5.96 yards per carry through its first three games on deck, and McGowan slotting in with a salary 1,300 lower than his counterpart, there's a lot of room for value here.
Eric Gray, Tennessee ($6,600) vs. Alabama
Normally it's not a good idea to select a running back on a team that enters the weekend more than a two-touchdown underdog, but there's reason to believe Gray can return value this week. First off, regardless of who is under center Saturday, the Vols' coaching staff will likely aim to protect the football after Jarrett Guarantano tossed a pair of game-changing pick-sixes last week that sunk the Tennessee ship. It would also make sense that the Vols would like to limit possessions as much as possible going up against a Crimson Tide offense that has scored no fewer than 38 points in a game through the first four. Gray has also proven to be the team's most valuable asset on offense thus far, so the gameplan will likely involve plenty of totes for him and safe passes this week that could include plenty of dump downs. Even if the game flow does get out of hand to the point where the Vols need to abandon the run, Gray has proven he can involve himself as a pass-catcher as well, racking up 11 receptions between the last two contests. Alabama's defensive front has allowed nearly four yards per contest as well, which sits about average and not at the typical standard of the offense, so there may actually be some room for him to run Saturday. Given the minimal investment required for a player who has reached double digits in scoring in each of the first four games, it's worth the risk.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Shi Smith, South Carolina ($9,200) at LSU
Tying to Collin Hill, Shi Smith is the logical option to pair if you're looking for a South Carolina stack Saturday. In addition to the reasons mentioned in the Hill section above that indicate the LSU secondary is vulnerable, Smith is one of the most targeted wideouts on the slate, amassing the third-highest target share (38.9) and the third-highest targets per game (12.3). If the five-target game against an underwhelming Vanderbilt team is removed from the equation, Smith's per game target numbers soar to 14.7, which may be closer to what he's looking at Saturday versus an LSU offense that can still put up points. He's also accounted for three of the team's four passing touchdowns in the first four contests, which could suggest he's due for a multi-touchdown day if the passing offense can click Saturday.
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State ($8,900) vs. Iowa State
The Oklahoma State quarterback would also be an enticing option Saturday if there were a clear starter, but coach Mike Gundy suggested both Spencer Sanders and Shane Illingworth could see time at the helm. Regardless of who is at the helm, Wallace remains at the center of the Cowboys' passing attack, tying for the highest target share of any pass catcher on the slate at 40 percent. Wallace finally broke out last week versus Kansas to the tune of nine catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns and gets an equally palatable matchup this week versus a Cyclones defense giving up 8.0 yards per pass attempt and 266.3 passing yards per contest. Those number come despite the Cyclones not facing a wideout currently near the caliber of Wallace to date, so there's reason to anticipate a big day on tap for him.
Williams and Schwartz are really the only to viable options on the receiving end of the passing attack, with each accounting for 33.1 percent of the target share to combine for 66.2, leaving very few to go around elsewhere. Given the matchup on deck with the porous Ole Miss secondary, there's a chance stacking one or both along with quarterback Bo Nix will pay dividends. Williams has been slightly more efficient with his targets , notching 6.6 yards/target to Schwartz's 5.8 and adding an extra touchdown, but both have displayed their upsides with an effort north of 20 points in the first four games. Williams is likely the surer option of the two coming off of an eight-touchdown, 830-receiving yard season, which is likely what reflects his higher salary, but Schwartz also had a number of strong showing last year and will likely see a smaller draft percentage in GPP pools that could work favorably. Regardless of your preference, the pair both have the potential for big showings Saturday.
Arik Gilbert, LSU ($7,000) vs. South Carolina
The big question mark of the week for the Tigers is how true freshman signal-caller TJ Finley will fare in his first game under center for LSU. Fortunately, he receives a reasonable matchup versus a South Carolina defense that has allowed just over 30 points per contest to teams not named Vanderbilt in the early going. Outside of Terrace Marshall, Gilbert has been the team's most reliable pass-catching option through the first four contests, racking up 14 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns on a total of 20 targets. With a new signal-caller at the helm, it may also track that he is less willing to risk shots down the field and will look more for the safer throws like those to Gilbert. It's a slightly risky venture given the lack of practice reps the two have together, but it's typically going to be for players sitting in this range. Gilbert is at least a matchup nightmare athletically that should give his quarterback a safe option in the passing game Saturday.