It's Wednesday and you know what that means - it's time to make some Week 3 college football picks!!!
Its been a whirlwind first two weeks of the college football season, as the picks starting out red hot, going 6-1 on opening week, only to fall back to Earth with a 3-4 performance in Week 2.
Still, we're feeling good heading into what's an interesting Week 3 slate.
Bottom line, there is no easy way for me to say this, but the Week 3 slate isn't good. As in, we have zero matchups of ranked opponents, and well, it's hard to find a bunch of games I feel really good about.
Therefore, the normally seven game slate has been reduced to five this week. Because again, well, this week's slate leaves a lot to be desired.
Still, the show must go on and it's time to make some Week 5 picks.
Before we get started, a quick reminder: Make sure you're listening to the College Football Betting Podcast, which drops every Thursday morning. I truly believe it's the best college football betting information you'll find anywhere.
Now, to the picks:
No. 14 LSU at Mississippi State (UNDER 54.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's been an admittedly unique season in Baton Rouge, as LSU got absolutely blasted in Week 1 only to put up 72 points in a dominant Week 2 against Grambling State.
So, who are the real Tigers? We'll begin to lean this weekend.
Really though, the story to me here isn't actually LSU. It's Mississippi State, and it's new coach Zach Arnett. While the Bulldogs were able to hold on in overtime last week against Arizona, this will be the Bulldogs first real, national stage, and the first time most have seen this team in the post, Mike Leach era.
RIP, as always, to the pirate.
Still, what is shocking to me - and will be shocking to most casual viewers - is that Arnett has completely abandoned the Air Raid as a head coach. I understand wanting to make your own mark, and understand wanting to play more complimentary football, but I'm just not sure this is the team to do it with. Not with one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football in Will Rogers, and a roster full of guys who were recruited to play the scheme. Incredibly, Rogers attempted just 17 passes last week against Arizona, after not attempting fewer than 37 passes in a single game last season.
That truly is a wild number.
Ultimately, I find it hard to believe that if Mississippi State couldn't move the ball against Arizona last week it's going to be any better against LSU. But to the Bulldogs credit, they still play pretty good defense under Arnett.
LSU wins, I'm thinking something in the neighborhood of 24-10. But rather than worry about the spread, I expect this number to go wayyyyy under.
Western Kentucky at No. 6 Ohio State (OVER 64): Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, FOX
So yes, I'm the guy that has planted my flag in the "Ohio State might just not be very good this year" ground. And I'm not going to back down here.
Still, I think points fly in Columbus on Saturday.
From the Ohio State perspective, Kyle McCord was officially named the team's starter this week. And while you don't want to put too much on tape for Notre Dame, I do think Ryan Day will want to get him into a rhythm with his wide receivers before heading to South Bend next week. This could also be the team to do it against, as Western Kentucky has given up an average of over 450 yards per contest in their two games before. Did I mention that the two teams they've played so far are Houston Baptist and South Florida. Not exactly a murder's row?
At the same time, there's another reason Ohio State may have to push full speed ahead on offense: They may have to go score for score with the Hilltoppers. This is one of the most prolific pass offenses in college football led by a quarterback in Austin Reed who threw for 40 touchdowns a season ago. They currently rank No. 11 nationally in passing, after finishing second in the category a year ago. Ahead of schools like USC and Tennessee.
So expect points, points and more points in Columbus Saturday.
Ohio State wins, and probably comfortably. But the over is the play here.
No. 8 Washington at Michigan State (+16): Saturday, 5:00 p.m. ET, Peacock
There isn't a soul in America dumb enough to bet on Michigan State after the week they had, is there?
Well, who's got 10 fingers, 10 toes and likes the Spartans in this spot?
YOU'RE LOOKING AT HIM, BABY!!!!
Now look, is this a five-unit, max bet that I'm rushing to the window to make like I'm the former Alabama baseball coach? Of course not. But there are a few reasons I think Sparty can keep it close.
One, while the Mel Tucker controversy has enveloped college sports this week, the guy replacing Tucker in the interim is a man named Harlon Barnett. He's a Spartan institution, starting on Mark Dantonio's staff in 2007 and coaching with the program for all but two of the last 16 years. The players by all accounts love him, and according to the coach himself, the whole group has been fully locked in here.
Also, as much as the Tucker controversy has taken headlines, what's quietly been also true is this: Michigan State has been a much improved team this year. I know they've only played Central Michigan and Richmond, but they've done everything you could possibly want through two weeks, destroying both with what is currently a Top 5 national defense. Noah Kim has also provided some stability at quarterback and the running game has been solid with UConn transfer Nathan Carter tearing up defenses through two weeks
(You just knew I was going to get a UConn reference in here, right?!)
In the end, I'm not sure if Kim and this offense will be able to go score for score with Michael Penix and Co., but a near three score differential is too much.
Back Sparty here.
No. 11 Tennessee at Florida (UNDER 59): Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Admittedly, it's terrifying betting any under involving Tennessee, but at the same time let me drop a take on you: As bad as the final score looked for Florida against Utah a few weeks ago, the Gators aren't terrible. At least on defense.
It's easy to go back to that game and say that Florida absolutely got blown out in Salt Lake City, but that's simply not true. Believe it or not, they actually outgained the Utes and held the home team to 270 yards of total offense. As a matter of fact, through two games, Florida has the No. 3 total defense in all of college football.
They obviously won't end there, but they aren't as bad as you think they are. At least on that side of the ball.
And because of it, I expect this one to be close and relatively low scoring, at least for a Vols game.
The bottom line is that through two games Tennessee's pass game has looked good but not great, and it has actually been the run game which has kind of stood out for the Vols.
In the end, I believe that both teams actually try to focus on their run game here. Tennessee doesn't want to put Joe Milton in position to make any big mistakes and Florida simply wants to keep this Vol offense off the field. And they certainly want to limit Graham Mertz's mistakes.
Incredibly, Tennessee hasn't won in the Swamp since 2003. I'm not sure if they do it here, but I expect it to be a close, relatively low scoring game. I love the under.
Colorado State at No. 18 Colorado (OVER 60.5): Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Finally, let's go ahead and wrap the Week 3 column with some thoughts on America's team, teh Colorado Buffaloes.
That's right, I know it feels like we're in Colorado overdrive at this point, but at the same time, whether people admit it or not, they can't get enough of the Buffs. The Colorado game essentially got the same TV rating as Texas-Alabama last week, a staggering thing to think about. Oh, and "College Gameday" and "Big Noon Kick-Off" are both going to be in Boulder this weekend.
What a time to be alive! And what a time for Colorado to put up a bunch of points on Saturday.
The bottom line is that this offense really is humming, and in front of the home crowd, in a rivalry game, I expect the Buffaloes to score at will on a Rams team that gave up 50 points at home to Washington State a few weeks ago. I also expect Colorado State to move the ball well enough to put up some points of their own. They've made a quarterback change to redshirt freshman Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi, who won a true road game last year at Nevada and helped rally the Rams late in that opening loss to Washington State.
Remember, Nebraska was able to move the ball on Colorado last week, with that loss being more on Jeff Sims and turnovers than complete ineptitude in all phases of the game.
I've got Colorado winning this one 48-20 and the over hitting with ease.
South Carolina at No. 3 Georgia (-28) - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS: Ah, it's the return of the SEC on CBS for one final season, and let's be honest, how excited is Gary Danielson right now to not have to grit his teeth through another Big Ten snoozer? In terms of this game, I have no idea what we get. Georgia hasn't looked great, so in theory I could see it being close. But after two ow profile games, I could also see them come out guns blazing, ready to go. Georgia wins, and I suspect overs as well, but I just can't bet it.
Minnesota at No. 20 North Carolina (-7.5) - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: Both teams are 2-0, and really it's going to be a battle of who can exert their will on who. Minnesota wants to run the ball and kill the clock, while Drake Maye and his crew want to throw it all over the field. I wonder if the Tez Walker fiasco is a distraction to Carolina, but I just can't bet a side here. We're two Drake Maye bombs in the first quarter from UNC having an insurmountable lead, which is why I'd rather just stay away.
BYU at Arkansas (-8) - Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Just a fascinating game between two teams that have yet to face a power conference opponent and have, at times, looked pretty pedestrian even against bad competition. KJ Jefferson gives Arkansas an edge in this one, as does the home field advantage. But not having Rocket Sanders gives me enough of a pause not to bet this one. This is a must get for the Hogs, with a trip to Baton Rouge to open SEC play next week.