Week 3 college football picks: Bet the small schools as we gear up for SEC football next week
Wooooooooah buddy!!! It's Thursday and you know what that means, it's time to make some college football picks. And after a BIG Week 2 (which was really Week 1 for the picks) we're going to stay hot, people.
That's right, if you follow the picks (which you can read here, or see on Instagram) you know that it was a GREAT first week. Overall, the picks went 4-1 to start the season, including our best bet - Texas (-21.5) in the first half - covering with ease. Man, oh man. It feels so good to have college football back. And so good to start with a few wins.
So with that, let's look ahead to the Week 3 college football picks, and just be warned: Once again I'm going with several, smaller, off the radar games. The bottom line remains that the SEC doesn't kick off until next week and most of the Big 12 is off this week too. Meaning we've got a bunch of ACC and small schools games to fill out our card. I promise next week, we will go BIG on the SEC. Until then though, we stick with the ACC and small schools.
As always, the lines here are provided by our friends at My Bookie - and remember, if you're gambling this weekend, make sure to use My Bookie. When you check out, use promo code "TORRES" to double your initial deposit. That's right: You want to bet $30 on the Louisville-Miami game, use promo code "TORRES" and they'll give you $60 to play with. It's the best deal going.
Anyway, enough small talk, let's get to the picks:
Boston College at Duke (UNDER 51.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3
As you've probably heard by now, Big Ten football is back, baby! Why do I bring that up? It's because while we won't get Big Ten football for another month (stupid, I know), what better way to honor the league's return than with a sloppy, low scoring game early. If we can't get Iowa-Purdue in the noon ET time slot, Boston College-Duke is the next best thing!
I'm kidding. But only by a little bit.
In all seriousness though, it's just hard for me to imagine all too many offensive fireworks in this game. We kind of saw what Duke was against Notre Dame last week - a fine team, but one that just isn't all that dynamic when they have the football. New quarterback Chase Brice played well, but the run game averaged just 2.4 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, this will be Boston College's season debut - after they lost the heart and soul of their team in running back AJ Dillon and starting quarterback Anthony Brown transferred out of the program (ironically to Oregon - wonder if he wishes he had stayed in Chestnut Hill?). You really mean to tell me, a new team, with a new head coach (former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley) and a new quarterback is about to go crazy when they have the ball in their hands? The positive however is that you'd think the defense would be at least a little bit better, with the addition of Hafley as head coach, who led one of the best defenses in the country last year (admittedly the talent won't be close to the same at Boston College as it was in Ohio State, but hopefully the scheme and effort will be).
So what happens when you take two bland offensive teams, one improved defense and throw them together in a Saturday afternoon kickoff few can watch? Not a lot of points, baby!
It might not be pretty. But pretty cashes just the same. Take the UNDER in this one.
Central Florida (-7.5) at Georgia Tech: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
In a relatively uneventful opening weekend where Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Texas all rolled, the story was probably Georgia Tech's upset of Florida State at Doak Campbell. That's right, the Yellow Jackets swarmed into Tallahassee and got the win, pulling an outright upset as a nearly two touchdown underdog.
And yes, I just said the Yellow Jackets "swarmed" into Doak Campbell. It was a totally terrible, totally planned awful pun. Forgive me for that.
Anyway, as fun as that game was, I think it's a perfect time to fade them the other direction here. The Yellow Jackets were awesome last weekend, but are actually playing a significantly better team in UCF this weekend to return home.
And if you know to know how bizarre the world is right now, yes, UCF is a significantly better team and program than Florida State is.
Look, I know it's easy to make fun of the Knights because of their past, and all the "2017 national champions" stuff from a few years ago. But just know that this team is damn good. I mean really, REALLY good. First off, they went 10-3 last year. Not bad. On top of that, those three losses came by a combined seven points. Oh, and did I mention that they had the No. 2 offense in college football last year - and that they return eight freaking starters!!
Yes, Georgia Tech is much improved this season. And yes, it's worth noting that two of Central Florida's starters on defense elected to opt out in the preseason. But even if Georgia Tech is able to slow them down a little bit, I just don't think it will be enough to keep up long term.
Florida Atlantic at Georgia Southern (-1.5): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
First off, imagine telling someone a year ago that Florida Atlantic versus Georgia Southern would end up as ESPN's premiere, 3:30 p.m. kickoff game on the third Saturday of September. You probably would've thought to yourself: "Oh boy, what did Lane Kiffin do now?" Thankfully the answer is "nothing" as Kiffin isn't even in Boca anymore. But if there was ever an indication of just how goofy 2020 is, this has to be it, right?
Beyond that, you know what's crazier: Don't laugh. But Georgia Southern is my favorite bet of the week. And apparently I'm onto something, as, in one of the great line swings I've ever seen, Georgia Southern opened as a 5.5 point underdog and is now... a 1.5 point favorite!!! Admittedly, part of that is that Florida Atlantic came down with a bunch of cases of Covid this week. But also, it's Vegas telling you the wrong team was favored.
The bottom-line is that while Florida Atlantic is still a "name brand" thanks to Kiffin's time at the school, they are a shell of the program they were just nine months ago. In addition to Kiffin's departure, the team's starting quarterback left during fall training camp, and three offensive linemen and several of the top receivers graduated off last year's roster as well. The front of the jersey might say "Florida Atlantic" but this is a completely different team and program than the one Kiffin left last winter.
Oh and on top of all that, this isn't the easiest opener, as Georgia Southern is a triple-option team (like Army or Navy) that is tough to prepare for if you've never seen them in person. Also, Georgia Southern has a game under their belt, where - get this - they beat Campbell last week despite missing 33 players to Covid, injury or suspension. THIRTY THREE! AND THEY STILL WON.
Now healthy, the bottom line is that Georgia Southern is just the better team. If you were lucky enough to grab them when they were getting points, be thankful. But I still like them to roll here.
Texas State (-5.5) at Louisiana-Monroe: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Remember when I told you at the top we were rolling with a few random games this weekend? Well people, it doesn't get more random than Texas State at Louisiana-Monroe. We're going on a wild, betting ride together and to quote Jerry Macguire... WHOSE COMING WITH ME!?
That's right, I don't know the next time I will bet a Texas State or Louisiana Monroe game. But this is the week, baby! And it's for two reasons. One, Texas State is better than their 0-2 record would indicate. And two, outside of UTEP (which I discussed in last week's column), Louisiana-Monroe might be the worst team in FBS football.
Starting with Texas State, if you've followed college football closely early, they are actually one of only a handful of teams in the sport two play two games so far this season. They are 0-2, but lost by just a touchdown to SMU (when they were over a three touchdown underdog) and fell apart late, losing to UTSA in double-overtime. I don't want to say that "if a few plays went the other way they could be 2-0" because that's probably not true. But they absolutely could be 1-1. It isn't inconceivable that they could be 2-0 as well.
Yet instead they're 0-2 - and still a road favorite at Louisiana-Monroe. So what does that say about them? Probably that they aren't very good. This is a program that is now in Year 5 under Matt Viator, which is important because, well, chances are pretty good you've never heard of Matt Viator until I just typed his name above. That's because in four years they've never been better than 6-6, never made a bowl game and don't appear to be any better this year. They opened losing 37-7 to Army, in a game where they gave up almost seven yards per rush to a team that does nothing but run the ball.
Anyway, this is all a long-winded way of me saying "Texas State is better than their record indicates" and "UL-Monroe is awful." I'm rolling with the Bobcats here.
Wake Forest (+2.5) at NC State: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network
This is another game that I liked early in the week, and has swung completely in our favor. Wake Forest opened as a 4.5 point underdog and is now down to 2.5 at MyBookie and 1.5 other places. So yeah, jump on this while you absolutely can.
Look, it's easy to forget after they lost to Clemson last week, but Wake Forest was actually a pretty darn good team last year. They went 8-5 a season ago which marked their fourth straight season with at least seven wins. Which, for Wake Forest football, basically counts as a "golden era." This year there's no real way to gauge how good or bad they are since they opened with arguably the top team in the country, and even in that one, they didn't play awful. The Demon Deacons were able to move the ball through the air, and get a couple stops on defense where they held Clemson to field goals instead of touchdowns. Which again, against Clemson actually counts for something.
Then there is NC State, which is kind of the opposite of Wake Forest. They are coming off a bad year (4-8), have a new offensive coordinator and almost an entirely new defense. The only consistency in that program is inconsistency.
So yeah, I guess what I'm trying to say is: Take the Demon Deacons.
Miami at Louisville (-2.5): I know we all want action on the big, Saturday night game. But I just don't feel like there is an edge here. Both Miami and Louisville played well in their openers, but it's hard to know if they are good, or just played bad teams. I still have enough questions about Miami's offense and Louisville's defense (which were both wildly inconsistent last year, that I want to wait and see before I wager.
Houston at Baylor (-3.5): Kind of a wild story here, as both teams have had games canceled in the last 10 days for reasons out of their control (positive tests at their opponents schools) which led them to swiping right and ending up with this game. Still, while this game looks fun on paper it does feel like a stay away. I just don't know what to expect from Dave Aranda in his first game as a head coach or whether Houston will actually be better in Year 2 under Dana Holgorsen. Another one that I'd love to have some action on, but will stay away from.
Same with Tulsa-Oklahoma State, South Florida-Notre Dame and Citadel-Clemson. All just feel like big-time stayaways.
Thank god we're getting SEC football next week!
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