This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
College Capper: Week 3 College Football Picks
We're into Week 3 of the college football season and plenty of unexpected storylines are already brewing. Scott Frost's firing at Nebraska adds to the intrigue in the Nebraska-Oklahoma matchup and the Purdue-Syracuse showdown is setting up as one of the more interesting games of the weekend from a betting perspective. Our college cappers are here to break down their best bets this week.
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College Football Best Bets: Week 3
Another 3-2 week based on what was published. I can happily count Pitt as a win too as the line closed north of the seven points they lost by, but it was only 6.5 at the time of submission. That's three straight winning weeks regardless of how we split that. This week was a challenge for me. We've got a lot of really big spreads, and picking underdogs isn't always my forte. Mid-week line movement didn't hurt me last week, but it's taken North Carolina State off the board for me this week, as I liked them more around a touchdown than double digits. Oklahoma is low-hanging fruit too. I got in at (-8) when it opened Sunday. I'm surprised it's not north of two touchdowns presently. Let's see what we find!
Georgia (-24.5) at South Carolina
A road conference opener where we need four TDs to cover may not seem ideal. And this is a rivalry, one I know too much about thanks to my four years at USC. Maybe the 'Cocks show up for a bit, but they are also selling tickets at Costco, so I'd expect UGA fans to show up big in Columbia. The simple truth is South Carolina isn't going to score much, if at all. Their offensive line is simply dreadful, creating 1.95 yards per carry on the ground, while also allowing nine sacks through two weeks. UGA covers at 28-0, and it will be worse than that. First-half or first-quarter odds can also be considered if you don't love the big number.
Purdue (+1.5) at Syracuse
The Orange are in this column for the third time in four weeks, and I'm 1-1 thus far, so we'll see if I've figured them out. I find their win over Louisville to further look less impressive after the Cards' offense struggled at UCF and they are now home underdogs to FSU. And while I hit on the Orange blowing out UConn last week...it's just UConn. Purdue was probably a tad unlucky against Penn State. Defensively, they've been stout against the run, allowing just 2.2 yards per carry. That suggests they at least limit Sean Tucker some. An ascending yet bottom-tier ACC school likely shouldn't be favored over a mid-tier and hopefully ascending Big Ten squad, so we'll exploit that. Purdue wins straight up.
Mississippi at Georgia Tech under 64.0
Please line shop, as this total can be found as low as 62, which can make all the difference when betting points, which we all know I'm awful at. But on a slate where nothing stands out for me, I'll roll the dice. Georgia Tech is bad offensively, and while Mississippi hasn't been tested defensively, they are tackling well and keeping plays in front of them. Flipping sides, Ole Miss' offensive line is woeful, and they haven't fully settled on a quarterback. I expect they do here with Jaxson Dart, but he's a gunslinger that forces balls into tight windows. If GT can get some pressure, that leads to turnovers...which their offense won't covert. Ole Miss should keep GT to around 21 points, which means they need a lot to push this over.
Vanderbilt (+3) at Northern Illinois
Another repeat team in this column, Vanderbilt has treated me well thus far, covering at Hawaii and getting crushed by Wake Forest. It's certainly a big deal for NIU to get an SEC team on campus, even if it's the Commodores. But c'mon, they are favored? Vanderbilt is averaging 6.3 yards per carry on the ground, and I expect they'll have that kind of success again here against an undersized MAC squad. That should force NIU to be perfect when they get the ball, as it will be few and far between. NIU is 1-1 with a four-point scoring differential; against Tulsa and Eastern Illinois. Vanderbilt has to be a step up, right? Seven of their wins last year came by one possession, so even if an upset is in store, a blowout shouldn't be.
Washington (-3) vs. Michigan State
Truthfully, I'm banking on a vintage showing from the Washington fan base, making Husky Stadium the hostile facility it was in days of yore. Both teams are facing massive steps up in class after two soft contests, and while I love everything I've seen from Washington's new coaching staff, the fact remains Michigan State's is more established, and seemingly further ahead. But Indiana transfer QB Michael Penix is off to a terrific start out west and gashed Scottie Hazelton's defense for 320 yards and two scores back in 2020. If the Huskies D can contain Sparty on the ground, their passing attack will take over, followed by the crowd en route to a rout!
Last week: 3-2; season: 9-6
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It's always nice to get off to a good start early in the season as it allows you to absorb consecutive losing weeks. I posted a 2-3 week again this past week, but because of my 3-0 start, I'm still above .500 for the season. Unlike the first 2-3 weeks, this past one didn't hold much drama.
The two winners came easy as the under in the Iowa game was well ahead of pace the entire way and Duke won outright as a double-digit dog. The losers weren't all that close either as the Alabama-Texas game was never on pace for the over, the Missouri Tigers fell behind early and never got back within the number and the Ohio State Buckeyes started slowly and ran out of time to cover.
As we get further in the season, we've now put our eyes on many more teams, which means more games are in play. Whether that's good or bad is yet to be determined, but I sure like having a visual of all of these teams and how they might perform this weekend.
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Colorado +27.5 at Minnesota
The Gophers have done everything right so far this season. Yes, they've played terrible teams, but they've taken care of business. Colorado on the other hand has looked terrible this season. So why am I taking the Buffaloes here? Human nature. The spread is based on how these teams have played to this point in the season and the number is justified. What it doesn't take into account is that the Gophers have what might be their biggest game of the season next week at Michigan State. Everyone around here knows how light their schedule is this season and if everything falls right, the Gophers could find their way into the Big-10 Championship at the end of the season, but they have to win a couple of key games, one of which is next week. Now, are we to expect that these kids are totally focused on a four-TD underdog this week?
Over 52 Old Dominion at Virginia
Old Dominion played at one of the slowest paces in all of D-1 football, but the Monarchs like to throw it more than they run it, which is kind of a weird dichotomy, but it is what it is. Virginia has been middle of the pack in terms of pace this season, but I think that's largely to do with its inability to find a rhythm. Brennan Armstrong is a beast when he's rolling, but we haven't seen that version of his yet this season. I think this is the breakout spot however as you can only keep a good QB down so long. 52 is not a big number at all in the college game; Old Dominion went well over that number when it played East Carolina in its most recent game and if Virginia finds any rhythm at all, this should be an easy over.
Nevada +23 at Iowa
I'm generally a contrarian, I expect things to happen that are against the grain. You might say I'm an "Even Steven" kind of guy, though; I expect things to balance out in the long run. Typically, I'd be expecting Iowa to get its offense going at some point, so I might be on the Hawkeyes this week, but there just might be something legendary about this offense in Iowa City. Through two games, this offense is average just over 150 yards per game and it's not like they've been facing some defensive juggernauts. With that in mind, I have a hard time seeing how the Hawkeyes cover a number like this without the help of a couple of defensive scores, which they could get of course, but you can never count on defensive scores.
Over 59.5 Purdue at Syracuse
There's really only one unknown in this game and that's whether the Syracuse defense is solid or not. In two games this season, it's surrendered just a total of 21 points and the Orange have played two FBS teams. Granted, one of those two was UConn, but the other was Louisville. It sounds like I'm making an argument for the under here, but that's not the case as I'm simply questioning if that unit is good. If they are, I could still see Purdue scoring plenty of points, but if not, then this game should turn into a back-and-forth shootout. Either way, I think Syracuse's improved offense gets plenty of points.
Under 66 Oklahoma at Nebraska
I'm not sure we're going to see a bounce for the Cornhuskers now that Scott Frost is gone, but something tells me it won't be business as usual. In case you are wondering, business as usual lately has been plenty of offense and no defense. If anything, I expect to see a slight improvement on the defensive end and perhaps a more conservative offense. Oklahoma has been sharp to start its season, but it has been the defense that has led the way. I'm not sure this is a typical Oklahoma team that will rely on its offense to save its defense every week. I'm expecting the Sooners to dominate on the ground and grind out a comfortable and relatively low-scoring win.
Last Week: 2-3-0, Last Season: 7-6-0
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