Spread Options: College football picks against the spread for Week 3

·6 min read

After a brutal Week 1, my picks rebounded decently in Week 2 — though there are a few I really wish I had back.

I thought NC State would go into Starkville and handle Mississippi State pretty comfortably. As the week progressed, however, I knew I fell into a trap as the line continued to move in MSU’s favor. I also picked Syracuse solely as a way of fading Rutgers. I will, at some point this year, win by fading Rutgers, but Syracuse was just too inept to get it done. 

In Week 3 there are two marquee games — No. 22 Auburn vs. No. 10 Penn State and No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 11 Florida. But there are plenty of others that caught my eye on the board at BetMGM. Let’s dive in and get back to .500, shall we?

Last week: 3-3

Overall: 6-9-1

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

Boston College at Temple

Time: Noon | TV: ESPNU | Line: BC -14.5 | Total: 57.5

Even with QB Phil Jurkovec out indefinitely, I like Boston College to go down to Philly and take care of Temple pretty easily. After Jurkovec got hurt in the first quarter, BC played pretty conservatively on offense in last week’s win over UMass. The backup, Dennis Grosel, is a fifth-year senior who has been around for a while. He’s more of a running threat than Jurkovec and I think the BC staff will be able to put together a good enough plan to get past Temple, a team I don’t think is very good.

Pick: Boston College -14.5

Minnesota at Colorado

Time: 1 p.m. | TV: Pac-12 | Line: Colorado -2.5 | Total: 49

Both of these teams run the ball a ton so I’d be shocked if this wasn’t a low-scoring game.

Minnesota is averaging 48 rushing attempts per game while CU is averaging 43.5 per game. Minnesota generally plays a ball control offense. The Gophers lost star RB Mo Ibrahim in Week 1, but still fed backup Treyson Potts 34 times in last week’s win over Miami (Ohio). Colorado’s defense is allowing only 2.5 yards per rush, so Minnesota may be forced to go to the air. With top WR Chris Autman-Bell still questionable to play, I don’t like Minnesota’s chances of putting up a lot of points.

Colorado starts freshman Brendon Lewis at quarterback, and he has struggled passing so far. The Buffs have a really solid backfield duo in Jarek Broussard and Alex Fontenot and they should see plenty of work vs. the Gophers.

Lots of running, a lack of tempo and a sleepy 11 a.m. local kickoff time create a nice recipe for an under.

Pick: Under 49

Colorado running back Jarek Broussard (23) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado running back Jarek Broussard (23) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

No. 1 Alabama at No. 11 Florida

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: Alabama -15 | Total: 59

Even while his team registers blowout victories, Alabama coach Nick Saban is always looking for reasons to critique his team. It may seem nit-picky to the public, but it’ll help get things corrected in the long run. He wasn’t happy with the late-game execution vs. Miami, nor the performance vs. Mercer. That could mean bad news for Florida. 

I think the Gators’ secondary is going to have a rough afternoon. At the same time, I have enough confidence in UF coach Dan Mullen to put some points on the board — especially at home against an Alabama defense that has already suffered some injuries to key players. Florida definitely isn’t as explosive on offense as it was in 2020, but there will be plenty of points in this one. I feel better about the over than laying the 15 with Bama.

Pick: Over 59

Ball State at Wyoming

Time: 4 p.m. | TV: Stadium | Line: Wyoming -7 | Total: 53

I usually wait until it gets colder to start honing in on Wyoming, but I like this spot for the Cowboys. Wyoming had a huge lead on Northern Illinois last week, but took its foot off the gas and almost lost. I think the Cowboys will be much more focused in this one. For Ball State, it’s a cross-country trip after getting beat up by Penn State. That’s a tough ask, even for a veteran team.

While I lean toward Wyoming -7, I think the under is a better bet. Wyoming is a team that relies on its rushing game, and Ball State has been pretty solid against the run. There’s also a lot of wind in the forecast in Laramie for Saturday, which could cause some issues in the passing game. There’s also the recent history of Wyoming home games. The under is 10-5 in Wyoming’s last 15 games at home. And in Wyoming’s last 15 games as a home favorite, the under is 11-4. Let’s ride.

Pick: Under 53

Stanford at Vanderbilt

Time: 8 p.m. | TV: ESPNU | Line: Stanford -12 | Total: 49

Vanderbilt snapped an 11-game losing streak by going on the road and beating Colorado State. It was a good moment for the Commodores in Year 1 under Clark Lea, especially after losing by 20 to an FCS team in Week 1.

But things will be much tougher this weekend. Colorado State is not a good team. I’m not sure Stanford is great, but it has to be riding some momentum after upsetting USC last weekend in a game that was the final nail in the coffin for Clay Helton. The Cardinal used a two-QB system and looked terrible on offense in Week 1 against Kansas State. Against USC, the coaches went solely with Tanner McKee and he played very well.

The upgrade at quarterback, plus Vanderbilt’s complete inability to run the ball (2.8 yards per carry through two games against bad competition), make me comfortable laying the 12 points. These trends make me feel good about this pick, too. Vanderbilt is 3-12 ATS in its last 15 games as a home underdog. And in Vandy’s last 10 home games as a double-digit underdog, it is 2-8 ATS.

Pick: Stanford -12

quarterback Tanner McKee throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
quarterback Tanner McKee throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Oklahoma State at Boise State

Time: 9 p.m. | TV: FS1 | Line: Boise State -3.5 | Total: 57

Oklahoma State’s offense has looked really bad so far this year, continuing the troubling trends from the 2020 season. OSU needed a late stop to avoid overtime against Missouri State, an FCS team, in Week 1 and then mustered only 4.5 yards per play in an underwhelming five-point win over Tulsa.

OSU QB Spencer Sanders had a lot of hype as a recruit, but he just hasn’t developed. I don’t trust him to perform at a high level going on the road to Boise. Boise choked away a big lead in Week 1 at UCF and then demolished UTEP last week. A Power Five team hasn’t played on the blue turf since 2017 and OSU is actually the first Big 12 to ever make the trip to Boise. That stadium is going to be rocking and I like the Broncos to win by at least a touchdown.

Pick: Boise State -3.5

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