It was a rough Week 2, with two bad beats (Penn State dropping the game-winning touchdown late and Oregon’s cover being negated by a holding call in the final moment) dipping the ledger in red. Week 3 presents a fascinating slate of games with a lot of massive lines and tight margins -- danger zones for bettors.
Alas, there are a few games worth your action, and this week’s slate seems to take on a theme: power run games. We’re rolling with teams that have them and that can stop them. It’s the bedrock of college football and the bedrock of this week’s picks.
Mississippi State (+14) at LSU
We're going back to the well, for good reason.
Mississippi State's season-opening loss to South Alabama is going to haunt them for the rest of the year, but it gives you an opportunity to capitalize on poor pricing in the marketplace. Mississippi State's run defense has been tremendous this season, thanks to an impressive front-seven. So far in 2016, despite a 1-1 record against shaky (at best) competition, the Bulldogs have allowed 128 total rush yards on 60 carries.
That will be tested against LSU, but considering that Leonard Fournette is banged up, I’m playing MSU to keep the game in check. Add in LSU's quarterback quandary and MSU's impressive offense with Nick Fitzgerald at the helm and it's difficult to see LSU pulling away in this contest game. Take the points.
Old Dominion at North Carolina State (-21)
The Wolfpack have one of the best offenses in the ACC with quarterback Ryan Finley and running back Matt Dayes, so they’ve been able to put points on the board with relative ease this season. Old Dominion’s defense can’t control both the ground and air game, and it certainly doesn’t have the offensive weapons to keep up in a shootout. This will be a contest determined by interest, and considering NC State is coming off a loss to ECU, you can bet on them wanting to prove a point at ODU’s expense.
UL Monroe at Georgia Southern (-26.5)
ULM allowed 239 yards rushing to Southern in Week 1 and 288 to Oklahoma last week. Frankly, those numbers could have been larger -- the average carry against ULM has gone for 5.73 yards. Georgia Southern has run the ball 66 times per game this season, averaging 362 yards per contest and 5.48 yards per carry, to go with nine touchdowns. Because the Eagles run the triple-option, there shouldn’t be much concern about them giving away a big lead by running the ball late -- that’s how they got the lead in the first place.
Miami at Appalachian State (+3.5)
Miami QB Brad Kaaya is yet to complete a pass longer than 10 yards outside the hashes (0-6, per PFF) this season, and while that streak is probably going to end this week, it's hard to feel great about No. 25 Miami heading into this contest.
Clearly, given the line, Vegas isn't high on them. In this case, you should follow their lead -- they're pretty good at this stuff. Boone, N.C., is a strange environment for Miami, whose paper-thin defense is yet to be tested this season, and taking into account what App State was able to show offensively the first two weeks, there’s a good chance this game gets messy and chaotic. I like the home dog in this situation, but if you're not on board, then take a moneyline flyer on Miami.
This rest week's slate
Arizona State (-19.5) at Texas-San Antonio
Arkansas State at Utah State (-9.5)
Eastern Michigan (-3) at Charlotte
Western Michigan (-3) at Illinois
East Carolina at South Carolina (-3)
Florida State (-1.5) at Louisville
Temple at Penn State (-9)
Maryland (-9.5) at Central Florida
Virginia at Connecticut (-4.5)
Iowa State at TCU (-24.5)
Colorado at Michigan (-20)
New Mexico at Rutgers (-6)
Middle Tennessee State (-6.5) at Bowling Green
Florida International (-1) at Massachusetts
Georgia State at Wisconsin (-34.5)
UNLV at Central Michigan (-13.5)
Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech (-6.5)
Army (-3) at UTEP
Florida Atlantic at Kansas State (-23)
Fresno State at Toledo (-20.5)
Boston College at Virginia Tech (-5.5)
South Florida (-14.5) at Syracuse
San Diego State (-11) at Northern Illinois
Western Kentucky (-18) at Miami (Ohio)
North Texas at Florida (-37)
Louisiana Tech at Texas Tech (-10)
New Mexico State at Kentucky (-19)
Texas State at Arkansas (-31)
Ohio at Tennessee (-27)
Akron at Marshall (-17.5)
Oregon at Nebraska (-3)
UCLA (-3) at BYU
Pittsburgh at Oklahoma State (-5)
Troy at Southern Mississippi (-10)
South Alabama at UL Lafayette (-2.5)
Kansas at Memphis (-20)
Michigan State at Notre Dame (-8)
Texas A&M at Auburn (-3.5)
Duke at Northwestern (-3.5)
Ohio State (-1.5) at Oklahoma
Alabama (-11.5) at Ole Miss
Georgia (-6) at Missouri
Navy (-5.5) at Tulane:
Hawaii at Arizona (-24)
USC at Stanford (-9)
Texas (-7.5) at California
Buffalo at Nevada (-11.5)
Utah (-13.5) at San Jose State Idaho at Washington State (-24.5)