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College football best bets

The majority of the Power Five conferences start league play this week, and we have pinpointed a number of those games in our college football best bets for Week 3 based on the best NCAAF odds.

All of our four college football best bets involve Power Five schools.

We're looking at a quarterback on a top 10 team that's projected to struggle along with a Big Ten home underdog we expect to win outright.

Additionally, we're backing a Big 12 favorite to have a low-scoring output on the road against a MAC team.

Finally, we've got an SEC running back finding the endzone against the team’s biggest rival.

For even more college football coverage, we're hitting you with some of the week's most enticing college football player props, the most lucrative college football upset picks, and our favorite college football parlay predictions

And for those looking for all of our favorite college football picks in one place, we've got you covered with our college football Week 3 predictions

Here are our college football best bets for Week 3 (odds via our best college football betting sites; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

College football best bets: Week 3

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Week 3 college football schedule and odds

(odds via Caesars)

College football predictions for Week 3

Drew Allar (Penn State) Under 247.5 passing yards vs. Illinois (-114 vs. FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Drew Allar leads a Penn State offense with the nation’s longest active streak scoring 30-plus points (nine). However, Allar has benefitted from his run as Nittany Lions starting quarterback opening with two home games and he's about to find life on the road much more difficult.

Penn State has struggled in its first conference road games in recent years, with its previous two wins against Purdue and Wisconsin coming by 10 combined points, following a loss at Indiana in its Big Ten road opener in 2020. Look for head coach James Franklin to rely on a running game led by Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, who became the first true freshman duo in Big Ten history to rush for 700-plus yards each in a season.

This is a four-star play, as Illinois’ defense was projected eighth in Defensive SP+ at the start of the season, and one of the best defensive lines in the conference should pressure Allar like he has not seen in games against West Virginia and Delaware.

DraftKings, bet365, and Caesars are all aligned with Allar’s O/U of 239.5 passing yards, so making this wager at FanDuel gives us more flexibility, which is worth the slight extra juice.

Iowa State Under 23.5 points (-125 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Iowa State faced an elite Iowa defense last week and only managed 290 total yards. While that is excusable, there is no excuse for its 250 total yards in Week 1 against Northern Iowa, even if last year’s starting quarterback, Hunter Dekkers, has not seen game action because of his involvement in gambling.

Look for a Cyclones team that only averaged 20.2 points per game last season to struggle against an Ohio defense that ranks in the top 25 in quality drives allowed and havoc. This play is especially appealing because DraftKings has Iowa State’s O/U for touchdowns set at 2.5, with the Under juiced to -125.

With bet365 and FanDuel offering Iowa State’s team total at 21.5 and 22.5, respectively, we will gladly lay the extra juice at DraftKings for the loftier total.

Trevor Etienne (Florida) anytime touchdown scorer vs. Tennessee (+137 via bet365) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

We view Florida as a live home underdog against Tennessee, as the Volunteers have an active nine-game losing streak at the Swamp. While we could have gone with either Trevor Etienne or Montrell Johnson for this wager (Florida’s top two running backs), we chose Etienne, given that he was more involved in the running game (seven carries to Johnson’s three) when the Gators played a ranked Utah team in the opening game.

Florida’s offensive line gets a big boost with the return of center Kingsley Eguakun, who missed the first two games after suffering an injury in fall camp. Eguakun has started 26 games and seen action in 14 others and should open up holes against a Tennessee defense that spends more time on the field than a typical ranked team’s defense, given the breakneck pace at which its offense plays. 

The +137 odds at bet365 is a much better value than the +100 and +115 at FanDuel and DraftKings. Caesars offers enticing +143 odds for Etienne to score a rushing touchdown, but we prefer the slightly shorter odds at bet365 since we would still cash if Etienne scores a receiving touchdown.

Purdue ML vs. Syracuse (+120 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Syracuse has a +106 point differential, the best of any team that has only played two games, and trails only USC’s 126 and Notre Dame’s 113, who have had three games under their belts. However, those gaudy numbers must be the only reason Syracuse is a road favorite over Purdue in this matchup.

The Boilermakers have done nothing to this point to warrant being a home underdog, as they squandered a three-point lead with a minute to go to a Fresno State team that now has the nation’s second-longest winning streak (11 games) and beat Virginia Tech on the road in Blacksburg. This is still a Boilermakers team that ended a 20-year drought in competing in the Big Ten Championship last year.

Texas transfer quarterback Hudson Card has looked comfortable in a new scheme, finishing with a QBR of 59 or higher in both starts without committing a turnover. And we expect the Boilermakers defense that held Virginia Tech to 11 yards rushing to make the difference against Syracuse’s running back tandem of LeQuint Allen and Ike Daniels, who have each averaged 5.3 yards per carry or better this season.

DraftKings is the only shop where one can back Purdue at moneyline odds greater than +115.

College football best bets made 9/15/2023 at 7:09 a.m. ET.

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