Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 3 Picks

Not the best Saturday slate

Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 3 Picks

Week three of the college football season is upon us and we've seen some crazy results and near upsets. The SEC had about as good a week as I did this past Saturday. Auburn probably should have lost to Jacksonville State while Arkansas actually did fall to Toledo. I thought it was going to be an over, but was very surprised by the Rockets' performance in their first game of the year. It's still early to completely know what some teams bring to the table, but we're starting to get an idea on some squads. 


Record: 11-8 (4-4 last week)


Ball State (1-1) at Eastern Michigan (1-1)

MACtion on a Saturday as Eastern Michigan hosts Ball State. The Eagles are flying high after a road win at Wyoming last weekend. EMU has managed over 400 yards of offense in two games and should be able to hit that number against Ball State. The Cardinals were gashed by FCS opponent VMI in week one while Texas A&M scored 56 points in week two. It's hard to believe this is the same Eastern Michigan team that struggled last year to do anything right. The Eagles won on the road despite giving up 430 yards on the ground. Both of these teams have solid ground games and defenses allergic to stopping it. In 2013 this matchup was won 51-20 by Ball State while the 2014 game resulted in a 45-30 Cardinals win. The Eagles have gone over in eight of their last 11 home games and 17 of their last 24 Saturday matchups. Ball State trends to the over hitting in nine of its last 13 road tilts. SELECTION: Over 63


Kent State (1-1) at Minnesota (1-1)

For the second time this season, Kent State will get a taste of Big Ten football. The first time didn't go well, a 52-3 loss to Illinois in the season opener. This is a Golden Flashes team that has a solid defense and should be able to make things a little difficult for the Golden Gophers. Minnesota's offense has struggled with consistency, scoring a total of 40 points in games against TCU and Colorado State. Kent State's offense has been pretty bad against FBS teams. The Flashes will find it hard to move the ball on Minnesota, which has forced six turnovers and held the potent TCU offense to just 23 points. Minnesota has gone under in 15 of its last 28 games overall. SELECTION: Under 46


Central Michigan (1-1) at Syracuse (2-0)

The Orange are 2-0 with a freshman quarterback and a solid defense as they enter Saturday's game against Central Michigan. The Orange beat Wake Forest 30-17 last week in a game I figured would go under the total. They've forced seven turnovers in two games, which has helped an anemic offense get going. Central Michigan's loss came at home 24-13 to Oklahoma State. The Chippewas followed that up with a win over Monmouth 31-10. Quarterback Cooper Rush has played well so far, but he needs a little more from the ground game to keep defenses honest. Speaking of defense, CMU hasn't done too poorly and shouldn't struggle holding the Orange down. There won't be much in terms of home-field advantage in the stands, as Syracuse played in front of a poor crowd with a better opponent last week. Besides that, this team has a huge opportunity in week four with LSU coming to town. Revenge also is a factor as the Chips lost at home 40-3 to a better Syracuse team last year. As long as this thing hovers around 7 to 7.5, I'll take CMU. SELECTION: Central Michigan +7.5


East Carolina (1-1) at Navy (1-0)

Navy has dominated this series as of late winning two of the last three meetings since 2010. The Middies won 56-28 and 76-35 while losing the middle contest 38-35. Navy has had two weeks to prepare for this one after beating Colgate 48-10. The Midshipmen rushed for 371 yards and barely used quarterback Keenan Reynolds. East Carolina, meanwhile, is coming off a 31-24 loss at Florida meaning the Pirates have had just one week to prepare for the triple option. The Pirates' win was 28-20 over Towson in a game where they allowed the Tigers to rush for 179 yards. I'm just not impressed by ECU, which also has a home game against Virginia Tech looming, so the Pirates may get caught looking ahead a bit. Navy has covered 17 of its last 27 games. SELECTION: Navy ML (-180)


Virginia Tech (1-1) at Purdue (1-1)

Virginia Tech has its first road game and second contest against the Big Ten. The Hokies will have Brendan Motley under center, which means they will rely on the ground game a bit more. Purdue has struggled a bit against the run, allowing both opponents to put up over 160 yards on the ground. The problem is that outside of Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech's aerial attack isn't that great. What we can count on is Virginia Tech's defense. The numbers were ugly against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes' offensive talent is slightly better then the Boilermakers. Virginia Tech has gone under in five of its last six games as a road favorite and seven of its last 10 on the road overall. SELECTION: Under 47.5


SMU (1-1) at TCU (2-0)

The Iron Skillet is up for grabs as TCU hosts SMU. The Mustangs' first game against the Big 12 went poorly with them losing 56-21 at home to Baylor. TCU needs to put up big-time numbers to impress the College Football Playoff committee and separate themselves from Baylor, who may be competing with them for a spot in the four-team tournament. The Horned Frogs scored 70 points last time out and could do the same against the Mustangs' generous defense. SMU's offense has improved greatly under new head coach Chad Morris and may be able to put up some points on TCU, which allowed just seven to Stephen F. Austin and 17 to Minnesota. Last year this was a 56-0 TCU win while the year before belonged to the Horned Frogs 48-17. SMU has gone over in 15 of its last 26 games. SELECTION: Over 66.5


Rutgers (1-1) at Penn State (1-1)

What a week it has been for Rutgers, which will be playing without their best wide receiver in Leonte Carroo and their head coach Kyle Flood, who is suspended for three games. Now the Scarlet Knights head to hostile Happy Valley to take on Penn State, which is coming off a 27-14 win over Buffalo. The Nittany Lions should not allow much in the way of yards or points to a Rutgers offense that was stagnant in its first and only half without Carroo way back against Norfolk State. Penn State won this game 13-10 last year in New Jersey and has won five straight against its second-year Big Ten East Division foe. SELECTION: Penn State -10 and Under 46.5


SE Louisiana (2-0) at Ohio (2-0)

You knew we were going to have at least one FCS vs. FBS matchup and for that we head to Ohio. The Bobcats are coming off a real solid home win over Marshall and have a road game at Minnesota next weekend. Between the two contests is a matchup with SE Louisiana, which is ranked in the FCS top 25. The Lions are actually sitting their starting quarterback D'Shaie Landor for Donovan Isom. SE Louisiana has played good defense in two games this year and may have a little bit of an easier task if Ohio goes to its third-string QB. Both JD Sprague and Derrius Vick are injured and Greg Windham has been taking reps with the first team. Focus could be a bit of an issue for Ohio in this one. SELECTION: Under 48


Norfolk State (0-2) at Marshall (1-1)

Norfolk State starts its season with a third straight FBS opponent. The Spartans lost the opener 63-13 to Rutgers in a game that they were up 7-0 before Leonte Carroo returned from a first-half suspension and took over. Week two was a 24-10 loss to Old Dominion. Norfolk State features FAU transfer Greg Hankerson at quarterback as well as wideout Isaac White, who led the team with 48 catches last year. Marshall's offense sputtered at Ohio, but figures to get things going in this one. The Thundering Herd put up 41 points on Purdue in week one. The home team will employ two QBs as they try to jumpstart their offense. SELECTION: Over 54



- Temple is arguably one of the best stories in college football starting out with wins over Penn State and Cincinnati. The Owls are doing so with a solid defense led by linebacker Tyler Matakevich and a very nice ground game led by Jahad Thomas. Now the Owls hit the road for the second straight week to play UMass, which struggled in Colorado for its first game of the year last week. The Minutemen moved the ball vs. the Buffs, but turnovers did them in as well as allowing 390 yards on the ground. This is unchartered territory for the road team, which a favorite of 10.5 to 14 points for the second time since 1992. The Owls are the better team, but will they cover in this situation? It's not an official pick, but I'll consider the Minutemen plus the points. Blake Frohnapfel and Tajae Sharpe are a solid combo. 


- Charlotte is another good story as the 49ers start their first year in FBS football 2-0. They beat Georgia State on the road and Presbyterian at home so the level of competition hasn't been too steep. Now they travel to Middle Tennessee on Saturday and play a Blue Raiders team that has a bit of a turnover issue. MTSU has lost the ball six times with four of those coming last week against Alabama. Watch this game to see how Charlotte handles its first true test. One could make a case for the 49ers to cover the big number especially since this is a MTSU team that has been a favorite of around this much just two times the last three seasons. Charlotte's on my radar as a live dog in the future, but this game will show me what this fledgling program is made of. 


- I looked long and hard at the Duke/Northwestern game, which is underrated on the slate. Both teams are 2-0, but have gotten there in different ways. The Blue Devils beat up on Tulane and NC Central while the Wildcats got on the radar with their season-opening win over Stanford. The Cardinal were flying almost cross country for a noon kickoff which could partially explain the lackluster effort. To be honest, I don't think either is as good as their numbers show. I made a case to myself for the under with Duke struggling with Northwestern's defense. I also made a case for Duke to myself because the Blue Devils are home and the unranked home team as a favorite against the ranked team has been a solid situation. In the end, I couldn't make either official, but I lean to the under and Duke.


— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

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