10 College Football Picks Against the Spread (ATS) for Week 3

K-State heads to Mississippi State seeking revenge

The Week 3 edition of college football picks against the spread is highlighted by some intriguing non-conference matchups: Kansas State makes the trip to Mississippi State; under-the-radar NC State travels to struggling West Virginia; and Penn State hosts Pittsburgh in the final game of a four-game series. Elsewhere, high-scoring Oklahoma meets low-scoring UCLA, and Washington State and Houston get together in the home of the Texans. Here are 10 predictions for games against the spread.

 

Washington State (-9) over Houston (Friday)

Two of the best offensive teams in the country will meet at the home of the Houston Texans. Houston’s Dana Holgorsen played at Iowa Wesleyan from 1991-92. The Tigers’ offensive coordinator at that time? Current Washington State coach Mike Leach. The two then served on the same staff at Valdosta State from 1993-95, and Holgorsen was an assistant at Texas Tech while Leach was the head coach from 2000-07. On to the game. Houston has been a bit disappointing so far, averaging 5.9 yards per play against Oklahoma (not awful) and 5.5 against Prairie View A&M (not good). Defensively, the Cougars have been torched in the passing game for 332 yards vs. OU and 248 vs. Prairie View A&M. Guess what Washington State does well? Yep, passing the ball. Washington State 38, Houston 24

 

Kansas State (+8) over Mississippi State

Mississippi State mauled the Wildcats in Manhattan last year, outgaining K-State 538 to 213 en route to a 31–10 win. Why will this year’s game be different? Well, Mississippi State appears to have taken a step back on both offense and defense, and Kansas State seems to be a bit better in the first season under new coach Chris Klieman. The most concerning stat for MSU (keeping in mind it is still very early in the season): The Bulldogs have allowed 5.5 and 6.5 yards per play to Louisiana and Southern Miss, respectively; last year they didn’t give up more than 5.4 in any game. Mississippi State also has questions at quarterback. Will it be Tommy Stevens, the starter who was knocked out of the game last weekend? Will it be Garrett Shrader, who came in for Stevens against Southern Miss? Or will it be Keytaon Thomas, who rejoined the program last week after bolting when Stevens was named the starter? Mississippi State 27, Kansas State 20

 

NC State (-7) over West Virginia

West Virginia has struggled mightily on offense two games into the Neal Brown era. The Mountaineers are averaging 232.5 yards per game (128th nationally), including a paltry 32.0 on the ground (129th). NC State has cruised past two inferior opponents, beating East Carolina 34–6 and Western Carolina 41–0. It’s still early, but the Wolfpack could make a claim to being the third-best team in the ACC behind Clemson (no argument) and Virginia (some argument). NC State 28, West Virginia 10

 

Penn State (-17) over Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh knocked off Penn State 42–39 in 2016, the first game between these two rivals since 2000, but has since lost back-to-back games by scores of 33–14 (at Penn State) and 51–6 (at Pitt). The game returns to Happy Valley this year, and it’s clear that Penn State has the superior team once again (hence the 17-point spread). The Nittany Lions struggled in the first half of last week’s win over Buffalo but have otherwise played very well early this season. Pitt rebounded from a 30–14 loss at home to Virginia in Week 1 to beat Ohio 20–10 last weekend. This will be the Panthers’ first road game of the season. It will not go well. Penn State 44, Pittsburgh 17

 

Colorado (-3.5) over Air Force

The Mel Tucker era couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. The Buffs beat their two biggest rivals — Colorado State in convincing fashion (52–31) and Nebraska in a thrilling comeback (34–31 in overtime). Now, they play in-state foe Air Force for the first time since 1974. The Falcons opened the season with a 48–7 win over Colgate in Week 1 but did not play last weekend. Air Force should be back in the hunt for a bowl game after consecutive 5–7 seasons. But Colorado is the more talented team — and it’s a team playing with a ton of confidence. Colorado 30, Air Force 20

 

USC (-4.5) over BYU

Is it possible that a USC quarterback is flying under the radar? Freshman Kedon Slovis has been sensational since stepping in for JT Daniels in the second half of the Week 1 win over Fresno State. Last week, he completed 28-of-33 attempts for 377 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in an eye-opening 45–20 win over Stanford. The Trojans offense has scored a total of 76 points in two games — an impressive number considering the teams they have played. BYU is riding high after its improbable win at Tennessee, but this is a flawed team that will struggle to outscore a team with offensive weapons like USC. USC 27, BYU 20

 

Northwestern (-20) over UNLV

UNLV has played one FBS opponent. It was not good. The Rebels lost at home to Arkansas State, 43–17, and were outgained 498 to 300. Quarterback Armani Rogers completed only 8-of-23 attempts for 42 yards — a brutal 1.8 yards-per-attempt average. Northwestern did not play in Week 2 after struggling offensively (210 total yards) in a 17–7 loss at Stanford. The Wildcats, however, did play relatively well on defense, limiting the Cardinal to one offensive touchdown. There is no longer a question of who will play quarterback for the Cats; the job belongs to Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson following the injury to senior TJ Green. Northwestern 35, UNLV 14

 

Louisville (-9.5) over Western Kentucky (Nashville, Tenn.)

Louisville is clearly an improved team in Year 1 under Scott Satterfield. The Cardinals opened the season with a respectable 35–17 loss to Notre Dame and then shut out Eastern Kentucky 42–0 last weekend. The rushing attack has been strong, with 249 yards against Notre Dame and 322 against EKU. Western Kentucky is finding its footing under its new coach, Tyson Helton. The Hilltoppers were the only FBS team to lose to an FCS opponent (Central Arkansas) in Week 1, but they bounced back with a 20–14 win at FIU last week. It was a positive step after a disastrous start. The game will be played at Nissan Stadium, the home of the Tennessee Titans. There figures to be more Louisville fans, but it won’t exactly feel like a home game. Louisville 31, Western Kentucky 17

 

Duke (-6) over Middle Tennessee

Duke makes the trip to Murfreesboro for the first-ever meeting between these two schools. The Blue Devils have been good in true road games in recent years, with a 4–2 record last season (including non-conference wins at Northwestern and Baylor) and 2–3 in 2017. The ’19 season has gone as expected to date, with a blowout loss to Alabama in Atlanta and a lopsided win over North Carolina A&T. Middle Tennessee, too, has one big loss (at Michigan) and one big win (Tennessee State). Asher O’Hara has been solid at quarterback replacing four-year starter Brent Stockstill, providing a threat both as a passer and a runner. The Blue Raiders are good enough to make Duke sweat. Duke 30, Middle Tennessee 23

 

Oklahoma (-23) over UCLA

Things have not gone well for UCLA in 2019. The Bruins are 0–2 and have scored a total of 28 points in losses to Cincinnati (on the road) and San Diego State (at home). After showing signs of life late last season (averaging 485.5 yards over the last four games), Chip Kelly’s offense has regressed early this season. UCLA managed only 218 yards against Cincinnati and 261 against San Diego State. Not good. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has no problem moving the ball. The Sooners lead the nation with 709.5 yards per game and 10.9 yards per play. The schedule has not been taxing (Houston and South Dakota, both at home), but those are still very impressive numbers. The Sooners will roll. Oklahoma 44, UCLA 20

 

Last week: 4-5-1

Season: 9–10-1

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