Week 3 College Football Picks: Oklahoma-Nebraska, Miami-A&M + MORE (Presented by Betfred Sportsbook)
It's Wednesday and you know what that means.... IT'S TIME TO MAKE SOME COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS, BABY!!!!!
Last week was a total toss-up, as overall we went 3-3. We missed on our biggest bet of the day (naturally, involving the Alabama-Texas game) but also had a couple solid wins, as we were essentially the only place anywhere who to Arkansas to cover comfortably against South Carolina (Sam Pittman, baybe!!!), as well as the Kentucky-Florida under.
Now, it's time to get back over .500 with our best weekend of the season yet!
As always, the picks are presented by our presenting sponsor - Betfred Sportsbook - no one takes care of their customers like Betfred, and any new user can bet $50 on any game this week, and get $250, courtesy of Betfred.
Now, to the picks:
No. 1 Georgia (-13.5 - 1H) at South Carolina: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
At first glance, the number for the game (Georgia -24) feels huge for an SEC road team. Then, you look at recent history and see why: In their last two trips to Columbia, Georgia has beaten the Gamecocks by 24 and 29, and last year, a 27-point Georgia win led to South Carolina coach Shane Beamer to dropping one of the great post-game rants of all-time.
Point being, this feels like easily a three-touchdown affair, but rather than sweat a backdoor opportunity for the Gamecocks late, I'm just going to go ahead and play the first half line. It's not out officially yet, but should be somewhere in the 13 to 13.5 range.
The thought process is pretty straight forward. South Carolina had had one of the worst run defenses in college football this year. It's one thing to give up 295 yards to Sam Pittman and Arkansas last week, but it was quite another to give up 200 yards and nearly five yards per carry to Georgia State in Week 1. Which is exactly what South Carolina did
Now, on top of being unable to stop anyone on the ground, they've also lost key defensive lineman Jordan Stachan and linebacker Mo Kaba to season-ending injuries. Also, star corner Cam Smith may be unable to play in this one as well.
I fully expect Georgia to do what it's done to just about every opponent they've played the last few years not named "Alabama" - stuff it down their throats early and get up big, before Kirby Smart calls off the Dawgs (See what I did there?!) late.
The first half is the way to go.
No. 6 Oklahoma at Nebraska (+11): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
After wins over Kent State and UTEP we really don't know much about Oklahoma coming into this game, but clearly know plenty about Nebraska. The Scott Frost era came to an unceremonious end on Sunday, and now they're taking the field for the first time without him.
Yet at the end of the day, when we break down why the Scott Frost era came to an end, the answer is pretty simple: The man could not win a close game to save his life. This is incredible, but Nebraska is just 4-11 overall since the start of last season. As has been well-documented, all 11 of the losses are by nine points are fewer. Eight, by a touchdown or less. Basically, Nebraska is the Alabama of almost beating you - yet not quite.
As a matter of fact, just for fun I decided to look it up: Take out the Covid year when there were no fans in the stands. The last time that Nebraska lost, at home, by double figures, with fans in the stands was all the way back in the mid-2019 season, Frost's second year. He was just fired in his fifth.
So, when you add in the fact that the Cornhuskers are - at the very least - used to playing in close games (even if they don't win them) I think that gives them an advantage here. Especially at home. Especially against an Oklahoma team who really hasn't played anyone, and frankly hasn't looked dominant when they have.
Yes, I worry a little bit about that Nebraska defense against Dillon Gabriel, Jeff Lebby and the Oklahoma offense. But I do think the Cornhuskers find a way to keep this one close. Even if they probably won't win it.
No. 22 Penn State at Auburn (+3): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Ah, it's the return of "The SEC on CBS" for the second to last time, and we have an intriguing one between two teams we really don't know very much about. Penn State survived night one by the skin of their teeth against Purdue, and Auburn has played Mercer and San Jose State. Not exactly the SEC West juggernaut they'll see the rest of the year.
And as I look at this game, I can't help but think one thing: This is a great spot for me to learn from a mistake I learned in Week 1: Remember when I bet Utah against Florida in Week 1, with the Gators as a slight home underdog?
Yeah, I'm never betting another SEC home underdog in out of conference play again.
Shame on me, I'm putting myself in timeout and will learn from that mistake.
As for this game, well, I don't think either of these teams are great, but a few things stand out to me.
1. One, we know who Penn State QB Sean Clifford is at this point. He's just not good. As a matter of fact, I don't think it's any big secret that the Nittany Lions' best quarterback is probably their back-up Drew Allar, a former five-star, who some believe was the best high school QB in the country last year. But James Franklin is doing what I guess he deems to be the right thing here, and letting the vet play, even if the young guy offers him more upside.
2. Auburn's QB play isn't any better, but at least they're smart enough to know it. In two games so far, the Tigers have nearly double the run attempts (79) to pass attempts (44). They want to play close to the vest and not let their QB beat them, which I think in this game particularly is smart.
Most importantly, these two teams played a year ago in Happy Valley, and Auburn was a yard or two short of beating what I believe was a Penn State team that was better last year, than they are this year. This game is at Auburn.
For simplicity's sake (and because I'm afraid we get something like a 17-16 final) I'm going to stay away from the money line, and just take the SEC home team getting points. That seems always seems like a pretty safe bet.
BEST BET: No. 11 Michigan State at Washington (-3.5): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
The crazy thing about college football - something I've talked about in this column for years - is how, we spend nine months, all off-season thinking about these teams... and then one game happens, things don't go exactly how we expected, and we completely flip our opinions.
As I said in last week's column, you've got to stick with your preseason prep and not overreact to one or two games, or even a few good or bad quarters of play.
Well, in the preseason one thing I convinced myself was that Michigan State wasn't as good as people thought. I get why everyone was excited about them coming off an 11-win season, but if you go back and look, a lot of things could've gone much different last season. They had an OT win against Nebraska that probably should've been a loss (RIP, Scott Frost era!). A three-point win against Penn State at home. A five-point win against Indiana. That wild second half rally against Michigan.
I'm not saying the Spartans don't deserve credit for what they did last year. But they won four games by five points or less, three of them at home. At some point, it feels like a bounce or two might go the other way. Not to mention that they hardly looked like world beaters in their opener against Western Michigan, where they were up just 21-16 midway through the fourth before pulling away late.
And so I bring all this up to say, I'm a bit of a seller on Michigan State this year, and also this is a game where they could, in theory, get exposed.
Remember, last year they finished with the worst pass defense in college football and are now going up against a Washington team that loves to throw the ball. New Washington coach Kalen Deboer comes from Fresno State, where he had back-to-back Top 10 pass offenses, and has the Huskies rolling in season one as well. Transfer Michael Penix (who he coached when he was an assistant at Indiana) is completing 70 percent of his passes, with six TD's and one interception, leading to, you guessed it, a Top 10 pass offense nationally.
And remember, even despite Jimmy Lake getting fired last season, the defense was still legitimately good as they ranked in the Top 25 nationally in pass defense. They also ranked No. 1 in pass defense, and are Top 10 again nationally in that category as well. It's a bad sign for a Michigan State squad whose QB, Payton Throne, completes about 63 percent of his passes.
This is all a long-winded way of me saying that sometimes in college football, styles make fights. And I think the advantage in the style goes to Washington here.
They cover at home.
No. 13 Miami at No. 24 Texas A&M (-5.5): Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Ok, so I already know what you're thinking: "Torres, you're just taking the Aggies here to be contrarian. Texas A&M SUCKS!!!!! Everyone is going to be on Miami as an underdog, so you're just zigging when everyone is zagging."
Well, while I certainly am, I actually think Texas A&M is the right side - as crazy as it sounds.
Let me explain why.
First off, for all the frustration with Texas A&M's offense last week - and Aggie fans should be frustrated - one thing that did get lost in the shuffle was how the defense played. Remember, App State scored 61 points in Week 1, and they were held to 17 at Kyle Field. Now giving up 17 points at home to App State isn't something they make 30 for 30's about, but it should have been enough for the Aggies to win that game. Instead, the offense failed them.
Speaking of that offense, that is what's under the microscope this week, and let me just say this: I thought that Jimbo Fisher's press conference was insanely revealing to me this week. Basically, he said that everything was on the table after the loss to App State, including two key things:
He was willing to give up play-calling
He was willing to make a QB change
What that says to me is that this is a man that truly does know that his tenure is on the ropes. The goodwill from last year's Alabama win is behind him, and so too is the goodwill of signing the greatest recruiting class in the history of college football.
I truly believe that by the end of Saturday night, a QB change will be made, and I also think that the 12th man at Kyle Field will do the rest, especially against a Miami squad that has will be walking into a tough environment after two cushy road games.
If anything, you know what this reminds me of?
Remember last year, when Texas A&M was coming off back-to-back "bad" losses (at least in the eyes of their fans) to Arkansas in Dallas and Mississippi State at home? The next week they got a pretty big night game, against Alabama... and we all know how that ended.
I'm getting many of the same vibes, and I'm predicting a 24-10 Aggie win.
Fresno State (+12) at USC: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Everyone is officially on the Lincoln Riley express in Los Angeles, and yes, I even fell into the trap as well last weekend.
But dig deeper into that 41-28 win over Stanford, and one thing stood out to me: Stanford had four turnovers, two of which directly led to 10 points for the Trojans. Without those two turnovers, USC still wins, but the game is a lot closer.
Therefore, when you factor in that Fresno State is coming into the LA Coliseum with a legitimately fantastic offense (they rank No. 14 nationally) I think they'll be able to move the ball on a bad Trojans defense. I also think they come in with a chip on their shoulder after they probably should've beaten Oregon State last week.
Oh, and Fresno QB Jake Haener - one of the best QB's no one in college football knows about - has his own chip, after not getting recruited by USC out of high school. I'm not smart enough to know if the Trojans should, or shouldn't have recruited him, but I do know he's thrown for over 7,000 yards in his career.
Fresno - a team which beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl last year - will strike some fear into USC and is good enough to pull off the outright upset.
No. 20 Ole Miss (-16.5) at Georgia Tech, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC: Ole Miss hasn't played anyone yet, and to be blunt, I'm still a little confused about their QB situation. They probably win, but I need to see this team with my own two eyes before I bet them.
No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon (-3.5), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX: I'm tempted to bet BYU here, but off an emotional home win that ended at about 11 p.m. PT time last week, it's a tough ask to go on the road against a ranked opponent and play a noon kick-off (locally) a week later. The alternative of course is betting on Bo Nix. So yeah, I'll just pass.
Mississippi State (-3) at LSU, Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: Last week I went back and forth for quite some time on the Tennessee-Pitt game, and ultimately decided to just stay away - and boy am I glad I did. I got the same vibes this week with this game. I've liked Mississippi State all off-season, and really do think they are probably the better team. I also think it's a really tough ask to go to LSU at night and get the win. I actually think Mississippi State has the better offense and defense coming into this game, but what did I say up top, about betting against SEC home underdogs?
A reminder: The picks are brought to you by Betfred Sportsbook. New users can get $250 when they bet $50 on any game this weekend - good in Arizona, Colorado and Iowa only