1. #1
    Hman
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    Best Bets For Week 3 College Football Games 🏈

    Best bets for Week 3 college football games


    ESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)


    Every Thursday during the season, Bill Connelly, Preston Johnson, Doug Kezirian and Phil Steele will provide their top plays across the college football landscape.


    Here are their best bets for the second full week of the college football season:


    Season ATS records:
    Connelly: 6-0 (3-0 last week)
    Kezirian: 7-4 (3-3 last week)
    Johnson: 3-6 (0-3 last week)
    Steele: 3-9 (2-5 last week)

    Note: Picks from Caesars Sportsbook lines as of Wednesday night.
    Friday's games:


    North Carolina Tar Heels at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-3, 66.5)

    Johnson: While the resurgence in Chapel Hill under Mack Brown certainly makes for a great story, I feel like the verdict is still out. UNC gave up nearly 500 yards of offense and 6.4 yards per play to Miami in Week 2. The Hurricanes were unable to capitalize on chances and missed multiple field goals and extra points in the loss. The Tar Heels now have to turn around on a short week and face an up-tempo Wake Forest offense that has scored 79 total points through two games against Utah State and Rice.


    The Demon Deacons currently rank fourth in the country in plays run per game (85.0) after finishing No. 1 in that category last season (85.0). Wake's defense certainly hasn't been anything to write home about either, allowing 5.9 yards per play to the Aggies and Owls, so I'm betting over in a game that I project closer to 70 points scored.


    Pick: Over 66.5

    Saturday's games


    NC State Wolfpack (-6.5) at West Virginia Mountaineers

    Connelly: Yes, West Virginia is a step up from two directional Carolinas, but NC State has looked really strong this year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Wolfpack allowed just six combined points to ECU and Western Carolina, and are 15th in success rate allowed, fifth against the run.


    West Virginia is just 127th in success rate and 130th in rushing, and freshman receiver Sam James was the only player who could do anything even slightly efficient against Missouri last week. Unless some big-play options emerge, WVU is going to struggle to score. SP+ projects a 34-24 NC State win, and while 24-14 feels more likely to me, we're still talking about more than a TD margin.


    ATS pick: NC State -6.5
    SP+ projection: NCST 34, WVU 24


    Steele: After being held to 294 yards offense by James Madison in the opener, the Mountaineers had just 171 yards last week in a 31-point road loss at Missouri. West Virginia has rushed for only 32 yards per game and 1.1 yards per carry. NC State has a talented defense that is allowing just 188 total yards per game including 25 YPG rushing and 1.0 YPC. Despite being inexperienced on offense, the Wolfpack have put up 523 yards per game and are 9-4 ATS as an away favorite the past six years.


    ATS pick: NC State -6.5
    Score: North Carolina State 24, West Virginia 10



    Stanford Cardinal at UCF Knights (-7.5)

    Connelly: Granted, it always makes me queasy marking a game with massive QB uncertainty as a best bet of any kind, but the line was off on UCF-FAU by 24 points in UCF's favor last week, and SP+ suggests it's off by another 10 or so this week.


    Stanford gets K.J. Costello back, but I'm worried more about the defense -- a week after getting sucked into the undertow and giving up 45 points to USC, we're expecting the Cardinal to fare well against the fastest and maybe most big-play oriented offense in the country? And with star left tackle Walker Little done for the year?


    This game could be a fascinating contrast in styles: UCF ranks first in my adjusted tempo measure, while Stanford ranks last. But I'm guessing UCF has pulled ahead by eight or more points by the end.


    ATS pick: UCF -7.5
    SP+ projection: UCF 37, Stanford 20



    San Diego State Aztecs (-15.5) at New Mexico State Aggies

    Connelly: Granted, the SP+ projection for this game -- SDSU 37, NMSU 13 -- suggests San Diego State is capable of scoring more than 30 points in a game, which feels presumptuous to me. So if you must, look at it more like 27-3. Either way, you'll probably need to give the Aggies a lot more than 15-16 points to make this one interesting.


    New Mexico State was a feel-good story back in 2017, but it returns home after getting outscored 120-17 by Wazzu and Alabama, and even if SDSU's remodeled offense is struggling, I don't see how we're expecting NMSU to actually score enough points to stay close.


    ATS pick: SDSU -15.5
    SP+ projection: SDSU 37, NMSU 13



    Air Force Falcons at Colorado Buffaloes (-4)

    Steele: Air Force is an impressive 10-3-1 ATS as an away 'dog the last five years and 17-5-1 ATS versus nonconference foes in that same stretch. Colorado trailed Nebraska 17-0 at the half last week and was outgained 266 yards to 84, but overcame two separate fourth-quarter 10-point deficits to pull out the OT win. The Buffaloes also have their Pac-12 opener on deck while Air Force has one of its most experienced teams under Troy Calhoun and is fresh off a bye. Colorado is 2-0 but was outgained in both games. I will take the Falcons to pull the road upset.


    ATS pick: Air Force +4
    Score: Air Force 34, Colorado 30


    Johnson: My projection for this game is Air Force +2.3 anyway, but there likely isn't a better spot to fade a school this week than a Buffaloes team that erased a 17-point deficit against the Nebraska Cornhuskers to force overtime and eventually get the victory. Now this Colorado team has to turn around and face the Air Force option attack that had the benefit of a bye in Week 2. The Buffs were outgained in both of their contests to start the season despite winning both, but I anticipate that's going to change this week against the Falcons.


    ATS pick: Air Force +4


    Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Louisville Cardinals (-10)

    Steele: Last week, Western Kentucky benefited from FIU losing starting QB James Morgan in the second quarter and pulled a road upset in its Conference USA opener. Two weeks ago, the Hilltoppers lost to an FCS team (Central Arkansas) at home 35-28. There is a new sheriff in town at Louisville, and Scott Satterfield has brought a new attitude to a team that quit down the stretch last year. Satterfield is 15-3-1 ATS his previous 19 games and has some weapons to work with here at Louisville. The Cardinals put up 383 yards in the opener against Notre Dame, and Cardinal fans should travel well to this game in Nashville.


    ATS pick: Louisville -10
    Score: Louisville 34, Western Kentucky 16



    Arkansas State Red Wolves at No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (-33)

    Steele: Arkansas State got an unexpected boost last week when coach Blake Anderson decided to fly to Vegas and coach the team. The Red Wolves responded with a 43-17 road upset of UNLV. Kirby Smart is 7-11 ATS as a home favorite and 2-5 ATS versus Group of 5 teams; the Red Wolves also put up 391 yards at Alabama last season, so they can move the ball against good competition. Georgia will also want to keep their starters healthy for next week's marquee matchup against Notre Dame.


    ATS pick: Arkansas State +33
    Score: Georgia 41, Arkansas State 16



    Texas State Bobcats at SMU Mustangs (-17)

    Steele: SMU added numerous Power 5 transfers this year, including Texas transfer QB Shane Buechele, who is throwing to three NFL-caliber receivers. SMU has faced two teams that were in a bowl game last year (Arkansas State and North Texas) and put up an average of 506 yards and 43 points per game, including an 18-point win against North Texas last week.


    Texas State played better than the score indicated last week as they had a 444-293 yard edge versus Wyoming, but lost the turnover battle 3-1. My computer has SMU winning this one 39-15, and I will ride SMU until this early-season line value runs out.


    ATS pick: SMU -17
    Score: SMU 39, Texas State 15



    East Carolina Pirates at Navy Midshipmen (-7)

    Johnson: I think Navy is a bit undervalued as a whole entering 2019 off of a 3-10 campaign (their worst under Ken Niumatalolo and only the second time they've finished under .500 since 2002). The Midshipmen are in an interesting early-season spot where they open AAC play coming off of a bye with another bye week on deck. My raw projection in this matchup is Navy -8.6, but it's worth a bet at -7 or better.


    ATS pick: Navy -7


    Army Black Knights (-17) at UTSA Roadrunners

    Johnson: Similar to Colorado, the spot is fairly clear-cut in this matchup. Army had multiple chances in Week 2 to upset the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House before ultimately falling short in overtime. I'm not generally eager to rush to bet on UTSA football, but my projection comes in at +14.4 and it's no secret it's difficult for teams like Army running the option to cover big numbers with a limited amount of possessions in the game. Give me the Roadrunners.


    ATS pick: UTSA +17


    TCU Horned Frogs (-2.5, 51.5) at Purdue Boilermakers

    Johnson: Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar suffered a concussion late in the game Saturday against Vanderbilt. He's officially questionable to play this week against TCU, but considering the market has moved from Boilermakers as high as -3 to the Horned Frogs now laying -2.5, I think the writing is on the wall. Concussion protocol in general is much stricter anyway in 2019. Sindelar is probably underappreciated nationally, and the drop-off to redshirt freshman Jack Plummer is extremely concerning considering the Purdue rushing attack has been non-existent through two games (17 rushes for only 31 yards against Vandy and 96 yards on 29 carries in Nevada, one of the reasons they choked away a big lead late in that game). If the Boilermakers were unable to run successfully against Nevada and Vanderbilt with Sindelar under center, what are we to expect against a Gary Patterson defense with two weeks to prepare?


    My projection without Sindelar playing for Purdue is 48.8, and I was being cautious with my drop in projections for Plummer. We still don't know who TCU's future QB will be this season after fifth-year senior Alex Delton and true freshman Max Duggan split snaps in their season-opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Patterson has said he will stick to the two-quarterback approach in the Purdue matchup as well. I've never been a fan nor seen it be consistently effective in the past. Give me the under.


    Pick: Under 51.5


    UMass Minutemen at Charlotte 49ers (-19)

    Kezirian: I think the Minutemen are in the driver's seat to be named college football's worst team. They just got blown out at home as 6-point favorites to FCS school Southern Illinois. Walt Bell switched quarterbacks during that loss, and all signs point to this rebuilding process taking a very long time. Charlotte also has a new coach, but the 49ers have generated justified buzz. They have scored 90 points in their first two games, which is important when you need to cover three touchdowns. This has all the makings of a blowout.


    ATS pick: Charlotte -19


    UNLV Rebels at Northwestern Wildcats (-18.5)

    Kezirian: We all saw the bad beat in Northwestern's opener against Stanford but what got overlooked is the fact that they never should have even been covering in the first place. The Wildcats lost their starting QB and only mustered seven points with an unprepared backup. After a bye week, Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson will likely be ready for this opportunity. However, this team is limited at most positions. I think UNLV's speed should be a big factor, particularly with the mobility of Armani Rodgers, assuming Tony Sanchez sticks with him. Pat Fitzgerald is a cover machine as an underdog, but I have to fade the Wildcats when they're favored by this many points.


    ATS pick: UNLV Rebels +18.5


    Georgia Southern Eagles at Minnesota Golden Gophers (-15.5)

    Kezirian: This is solely a play on the situational spot. Minnesota had an impressive overtime win at Fresno State, rallying in the fourth quarter to even force the extra frame. The on-field celebration was warranted but it also sets up a giant flat spot against a unheralded school. The Eagles visit Minneapolis with a triple-option offense that's incredibly annoying and occasionally difficult to defend. Yes, the Eagles were blown out in Baton Rouge but Minnesota doesn't have the same athletes as LSU. This could be a really tricky game for the Gophers.


    ATS pick: Georgia Southern +15.5


    Oklahoma State Cowboys (-14) at Tulsa Golden Hurricane

    Kezirian: There's not much to say here. We've all observed this potent offense light up scoreboards, and I don't see how Tulsa holds them under 40. I am somewhat reluctant to lay two touchdowns with that defense so I will stick to the team total. Additionally, I'm not quite sure Mike Gundy trusts his own defense, so he's likely to keep scoring if the Pokes have a sizable lead.


    Pick: Oklahoma State team total over 39.5 (FanDuel)


    Kansas State Wildcats at Mississippi State Bulldogs (-8)

    Johnson: It's evident that Chris Klieman and his coaching staff are making an immediate impact on this Wildcats football program. Klieman dominated the FCS ranks at North Dakota State, and through two games KSU has outscored opponents 101 to 14 (albeit against Nicholls State and Bowling Green). It appears Bill Snyder's conservative offense may have been holding quarterback Skyler Thompson back, but Thompson looks remarkable under Klieman.


    Mississippi State's defense ranks 91st in passing success rate through two weeks after facing ULL and Southern Miss. The Bulldogs also rank outside the top 75 against the run. I've already bet the over in this matchup earlier in the week (the number has moved too far at this point), but the more I dig into the matchup the more I believe the Wildcats are the right side getting over a touchdown. Take the points.


    ATS pick: Kansas State +8


    Iowa Hawkeyes -2.5 at Iowa State Cyclones

    Johnson: It's fascinating how the perception of a team can change after a single game (let alone a season opener). I'm not sure there is a single bettor that would have anticipated the Cyclones would be underdogs in Ames coming off of a bye week at 1-0. A home triple-overtime win over an FCS school in Week 1 is what has understandably caused the shift in the market.


    However, I don't think the final score was very indicative of the game that was played. Iowa State outgained Northern Iowa by over 200 yards and held the Panthers to just 34 rushing yards on 31 carries. The Cyclones did lose a fumble and turn the ball over on downs which helped UNI keep it close, but Brock Purdy and this Iowa State defense under Matt Campbell have a ton of upside. My projections make the Cyclones a 1.8-point favorite, so getting +2.5 in a game with a low point total (where points will come at a premium) is certainly enough of a discrepancy to back.


    ATS pick: Iowa State +2.5


    Clemson Tigers (-28) at Syracuse Orange

    Kezirian: Let's pump the brakes on Syracuse having Clemson's number. The only reason the previous two meetings have been close, including an outright 'Cuse win, is because the Tigers lost their starting quarterback to injury each game. In fact, that makes this a horrible sport for the Orange.


    Clemson has looked somewhat disinterested in its first two games, and my gut tells me this particular game has the Tigers' attention. I expect a strong start for the defending champs and for Trevor Lawrence to find his rhythm against a defense that Maryland just shredded.


    Pick: Clemson 1H -17 (FanDuel)


    Pittsburgh Panthers at Penn State Nittany Lions (-17)

    Kezirian: I have a sneaky feeling we see a strong start by Penn State, after a horrendous performance last weekend. As 32-point favorites, the Nittany Lions trailed at halftime to Buffalo. They finally woke up and actually pushed against the closing number.


    Meanwhile, Pitt's offense has seemed fairly pedestrian. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has vocalized a desire to get his unit going, but had issues last week at home against Ohio. Going against Penn State isn't the remedy; Nittany Lions should roll from the start.


    Pick: Penn State 1H -9.5 (FanDuel)


    Alabama Crimson Tide (-25) at South Carolina Gamecocks

    Kezirian: I don't understand this line. South Carolina has a freshman quarterback, which Nick Saban usually dominates. The Tide struggled to start their season opener but that's largely because their top two running backs were suspended. I fully expect Bama to dominate this first half and maybe even pitch a shutout. The Gamecocks have a decent secondary but Alabama's offense is on another level.


    ATS pick: Alabama 1H -15.5 (FanDuel)


    Oklahoma Sooners (-23.5) at UCLA Bruins


    Kezirian: I am officially off the Bruins bandwagon. While Chip Kelly may eventually get this offense on track, I don't think that happens on Saturday. Dorian Thompson-Robinson continuously looks disjointed and lost. Last week's home loss to San Diego State was painful. Attendance was so poor that the school is giving away tickets to those that attended the home opener loss. It's just a bad situation.


    On the other side, Lincoln Riley is obviously doing impressive things with Jalen Hurts. I am somewhat afraid of the backdoor cover, much like we saw in the opener against Houston, so I'll back the Sooners here in the first half.


    ATS pick: Oklahoma 1H -12.5 (FanDuel)

  2. #2
    RudyRuetigger
    Leave of absence until March Madness
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    I guess they didnt have a roadrunner logo???

  3. #3
    magsmeplease
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    Thanks for these!

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    RichmondSF
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