LB looks at the NCAAF Week Three fixtures and picks his best bets and upsets across all of College Football.
Last week was tough to stomach. Despite calling only one game wrong (and the less said about Notre Dame the better) I ended up slightly down for the week. Surprising absolutely nobody, Iowa State beat Iowa picking up a moneyline and ATS win, and Arkansas covered for the second week in a row. Pittsburg outplayed expectations by bringing Tennessee to Over Time but they ultimately lost by 7 and failed to cover. Week 3 looks tricky but there are a few dogs ready to bark.
UTSA at Texas
The Roadrunners travel to Austin to take on a depleted Longhorns and I’m surprised to see them such underdogs. UTSA were one of the best teams to bet last year (9-5 ATS), particularly as underdogs (5-1). They are 2-0 ATS already this year and come up against a popular Longhorns team dealing with something of an injury crisis. Yes, there is talent across all position for The Longhorns but they will be without the talismanic Quinn Ewers and might even need to call on third string QB Charles Wright, who has yet to play a single snap. There is even talk of second choice RB Roschon Johnson starting under center. As good as Texas can be there are just too many questions to make them two-score favorites here. And let’s be honest, would any of the Longhorn’s faithful be surprised to see a promising season come undone in September after a much-heralded QB went off injured in a controversial loss to ‘Bama?
Oklahoma at Nebraska
Speaking of unsurprising upsets, would anyone be shocked if Nebraska kicked off the post Scott Frost era by upsetting Oklahoma? I was at the curtain raiser in Dublin when The Cornhuskers imploded against Northwestern and despite being seemingly unable to defend, Nebraska clearly has a lot of talent. Oklahoma has more talent of course, so it is just a question of motivation and coaching. We will find out on Saturday if Frost really was the problem, but I’m happy to take a bet on a big home underdog at odds like these.
Penn State at Auburn
Auburn has one of the most talented programs in the country and for that reason alone I’m happy to back them as home dogs. Penn State will be a Top 10 team come Sunday with a win here so this will be by no means easy for Auburn, not at all, but they have the talent to win this one. Purdue ran Penn State awfully close, with a fumble being the difference in West Lafayette. This is an intriguing matchup but I think Jordan-Hare Stadium will give The Tigers a massive advantage and enough for a home win.
Bounce Back Angles
Two potential “best of the rest” programs in the playoff race ended their CFP hopes last week with brutal home upsets against unranked sides. The #8 Irish offense was almost non-existent when losing to Marshall in Southbend giving Marcus Freeman a tough “drop or not” dilemma in regard to novice QB Buchner. His season-ending shoulder sprain has made that moot and the inexperienced junior Drew Payne steps up. It’s circle the wagons time in Notre Dame and I see a big home win to steady the ship, with the experienced line units doing everything in their power to give Pyne as comfortable a first day as possible. Pyne threw a couple of TDs when covering for Jack Coan last year too.
The Aggies’ tendency to shoot themselves in the foot continues to surprise me. The talent at College Station is almost unrivalled and the questions being aimed at Jimbo Fisher are beginning to grow louder. Miami are no slouches but a trip to Texas on the back of two comfortable wins against FCS level Bethune and #110 Southern Miss. The Aggies should be an entirely different prospect.
Colorado at Minnesota
Lines this big generally do not appeal to me and I rarely bet them. But I’m willing to make an exception this week because Colorado are simply terrible. Minnesota will enjoy a similar ground advantage over Colorado to the one Air Force exploited last week. The only difference will be that The Golden Gophers offense will punish Colorado more swiftly and more comprehensively than The Falcons Triple Option.
The Buffaloes are dead last in terms of rushing defense (131st). The pass defense looks great on paper (3rd!) but that is quite misleading. Neither TCU nor Air Force tried to pass much (20 & 8 attempts respectively) because the ground game was so effective. They are coming up against an in-form RPO offense at the worst possible moment. I can see Colorado throwing bodies up against the rush, giving Tanner Morgan ample opportunity to cause havoc deep.
A line this big has significant “bad beat” risk late on so I will include a 1st Quarter ATS bet as something of a cover.
UTSA at Texas: UTSA +12.5
UTSA at Texas: UTSA Moneyline Win at +350 (7/2)
Oklahoma at Nebraska: Nebraska +11
Oklahoma at Nebraska: Nebraska Moneyline Win at +310 (31/10)
Penn State at Auburn: Auburn Moneyline Win at +130 (13/10)
Colorado at Minnesota: Minnesota -27.5 & Over 47 Points at +265 (27/10)
Colorado at Minnesota: 1st Quarter Minnesota -7 at -125 (4/5)
A three team Parley of Notre Dame (-11), Texas A&M (-5.5) & Minnesota (-27.5) at +595 (6/1)