College Football Picks: Picking Games Week 3

College Football Picks: Picking Games Week 3

This article is part of our College Football Picks series.

One big upset, one nearly colossal upset, but all in all, a fairly normal Week 2 in the college ranks.

The big upset of course was Toledo over Arkansas, big in that Toledo is from the MAC and Arkansas from the SEC. But it's not like Arkansas has ever been an established club under Brett Bielema, so while the result was unexpected, it can't be considered "Earth shattering" ... for anyone outside Little Rock, that is.

The near-miss happened just east of Little Rock in Tiger Stadium where the Auburn Tigers inexplicably needed overtime to beat Jacksonville State. Before we get ahead of ourselves, Auburn is supposed to be a good team this year, but it's not like everyone has the Tigers in their final four. That said, Jacksonville State is, well, Jacksonville State, a school which most people outside of Florida weren't even aware of until Saturday. The Tigers avoided a devastating loss, however, and in the end, kept their national title hopes alive.

As for the normality of Week 2, well that's really the only way to describe a slate in which top-25 teams went a combined 17-2 against foes ranked outside the top-25.

Some may call it boring, but it just means that when these top-25 teams eventually meet up in the coming weeks, there will be more on the line for both teams. That's the definition of excitement in my book.

What isn't exciting is having a poor week just two weeks in, which is what

One big upset, one nearly colossal upset, but all in all, a fairly normal Week 2 in the college ranks.

The big upset of course was Toledo over Arkansas, big in that Toledo is from the MAC and Arkansas from the SEC. But it's not like Arkansas has ever been an established club under Brett Bielema, so while the result was unexpected, it can't be considered "Earth shattering" ... for anyone outside Little Rock, that is.

The near-miss happened just east of Little Rock in Tiger Stadium where the Auburn Tigers inexplicably needed overtime to beat Jacksonville State. Before we get ahead of ourselves, Auburn is supposed to be a good team this year, but it's not like everyone has the Tigers in their final four. That said, Jacksonville State is, well, Jacksonville State, a school which most people outside of Florida weren't even aware of until Saturday. The Tigers avoided a devastating loss, however, and in the end, kept their national title hopes alive.

As for the normality of Week 2, well that's really the only way to describe a slate in which top-25 teams went a combined 17-2 against foes ranked outside the top-25.

Some may call it boring, but it just means that when these top-25 teams eventually meet up in the coming weeks, there will be more on the line for both teams. That's the definition of excitement in my book.

What isn't exciting is having a poor week just two weeks in, which is what happened to me last week, but as I mentioned last week, the college football season is full of peaks and valleys. Let's just hope last week's valley will be followed by a peak this week.

As always, I'll tweet any insights I come up with post-article each week. You can follow me at @gregvara

CREAM OF THE CROP
(Week: 1-2; Season: 2-2)

Saturday

UNLV at Michigan: It's still a bit too early to get a read on Michigan, but one thing seems clear -- the Wolverines are going to play defense under Jim Harbaugh's leadership. As for UNLV, well, the Rebels are a complete mess. They showed some signs of life on offense last week prior to QB Blake Decker going down, but after that, the Rebels were completely inept on the offensive side of the ball. The total is in the 40s for this game, which is always a little scary, but considering Michigan's new style and UNLV's hopeless offense, this one should go comfortably under.

Total: Under 49

Northwestern at Duke:
Two games into the 2015 season and the Wildcats have allowed a grand total of six points. Sure, one of their opponents was Eastern Illinois, but the other was Stanford. In other words, their defense appears to be the real deal. Duke, on the other hand, appears to be the same high-scoring team its been the last few years, but I expect the Blue Devils to have a tough time moving the ball this week against a real defense.

Total: Under 48

Mississippi at Alabama:
Ole Miss has set a staggering pace on offense early this season, but those numbers have come at the expense of some weak competition. The Rebels will obviously step up in class this week when they head to Tuscaloosa, but something tells me that while Bama will put up a strong defense, the Tide won't be able to completely shut them down. On the opposite side, Alabama has shown a pretty strong offense in the first couple weeks of the season, and this game should end up being a back and forth affair ... for a while anyhow.

Total: Over 54

Western Kentucky at Indiana:
If these teams met a year ago, the total may have been in the 90s, but after an offensive dud from WKU in Week 1 and a less than impressive offensive showing for the Hoosiers last week, this line is ripe for the picking. WKU is an offensive machine that hasn't quite hit its stride yet, but it's only a matter of time. Indiana went well under the total last week, but consider that a blip on the radar of what will be another high-scoring squad this year.

Total: Over 70.5

BEST OF THE REST
(Week: 0-3; Season: 1-4)

Thursday

Clemson at Louisville: One thing I forgot to factor into my analysis of Clemson last week was its knack for playing well early in the season. I won't make the same mistake twice. While the Tigers are well-known for failing to show up in big spots late in the season, they've never had an issue stomping the competition early in the year. Louisville has some issues on offense; mainly it doesn't know which QB to start. That might fly against weaker competition, but it won't work against a Clemson team that has no problem putting up points.

Side: Clemson -5.5

Saturday

Illinois at North Carolina: Illinois has looked solid early on, and while the competition hasn't been all that spectacular, a 96-3 start is still impressive. North Carolina, on the other looked, nearly upset South Carolina in Week 1. The problem is the number the Heels are being asked to lay. If Illinois is really on the uptick, then it should make this game close and possibly win. If not, the Illini could still keep the game within 10 points.

Side: Illinois +9

PASSing THOUGHTS:
(Week: 0-2; Season: 1-3)

Friday

Florida State at Boston College: Florida State has managed to win its first two games comfortably, but the Seminoles have lacked some cohesion with their new starting QB and that might come back to bite them this week. It's been a long couple years for the other teams in the ACC playing second-fiddle to the Noles, but this might be the year that some teams get their revenge. This looks like a great spot for the Eagles to at least make FSU sweat a little.

Side: Boston College +7

Saturday

Auburn at LSU: One team nearly threw its entire season away last week and the other picked up an extremely impressive road win at Mississippi State. The line is on the magic number seven, which makes me wonder where it would have been had Auburn looked good last week. Be that as it may, the number is what it is, and although I'm a little worried about the way each team looked last week, I'm going to ride the home team.

Side: LSU -7

Stanford at USC:
The Trojans have rolled some easy competition to this point, but this game could provide some frustration for the high-powered USC offense. Once that frustration sets in, anything can happen. Stanford slipped up early in the season, but the Cardinal know that a good run through the Pac-12 can save their season. That run starts this week as they keep this one close.

Side: Stanford +10

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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