College Football Week Preview: Three Underdogs to Watch

Professional sports handicappers Ross Benjamin takes an early look at 3 college football underdog that possess ample betting value.

Vanderbilt @ Notre Dame 2:30 PM ET
Game# 137-138

One of the more interesting college football week 3 games shows unbeaten Vanderbilt visiting #8 Notre Dame. As of this writing (9/11), Vanderbilt is a 14.5-point underdog at each of the major offshore sportsbooks.

Notre Dame free pickNotre Dame opened the season with an impressive 24-17 win against Michigan and did so as a 3.0-point home underdog. The “Fighting Irish” turned in a lackluster performance last Saturday during a much closer than expected 24-16 home victory over Ball State. Notre Dame was flatter than a pancake in that contest and didn’t come remotely close to covering as a 33.5-point chalk.

Vanderbilt has begun their 2018 campaign with decisive home wins over Middle Tennessee State 35-7 and Nevada 41-10. They easily covered both contests with last of which came as a10.0-point favorite. The Commodores defense was stout in those 2 wins in allowing just 272.0 yards per game and forced 6 turnovers. By the way, Notre Dame committed 3 turnovers last week against Ball State.

Any college football away underdog of 3.0 to 18.0-points (Vanderbilt) who’s coming off an ATS win as a favorite of 10.0-points or more, and they’re facing an opponent coming off back to back home wins, resulted in those away underdogs going 16-0 ATS since 2010. Additionally, those underdogs won 10 of those 16 games straight up.

Pick: Vanderbilt +14.5

Ohio State @ TCU 8:00 PM ET
Game# 203-204

Despite Bookmaker presently show TCU as a sizable 13.0-point home underdog against Ohio State, this shapes up to be a very intriguing matchup.

You can’t be much more dominating than #4 Ohio State showed during fits first 2 games of the season. The Buckeyes recorded home blowout wins over Oregon State 77-31 and Rutgers 52-3. However, it should be concerning if you’re a Buckeye fan to have witnessed a lower echelon “Power 5” team like Oregon State put up 31 points and rush for 196 yards. Especially when considering #15 TCU is averaging 241 yards per game rushing and 5.7 yards per attempt thru their first 2 contests.

Ohio State free pickSpeaking of TCU, since 2005, they’ve gone an outstanding 28-2 straight up in non-conference home games. The Horned Frogs opened their 2018 slate with a 55-7 home rout of Southern University. Then just 5 days later they hammered SMU 42-12 while covering as a substantial 23.5-point road favorite.

Any college football home team (TCU) that’s coming off 2 straight wins by 21 points or more, and they’re facing an opponent (Ohio State) who scored 42 points or more during each of its last 2 games, resulted in those home teams going 40-9 (.816) straight up since 1980. As a matter of fact, since 2010, the home teams in that precise situation are an even better 22-1 (.957) straight up. The straight up records pertaining to this college football betting angle take on added significance when accounting for the home team (TCU) being a double-digit underdog.

Pick: TCU +13.0

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Arizona State @ San Diego State 10:30 PM ET
Game# 209-210

The San Diego State Aztecs will host a ranked “Power 5 Conference” school on Saturday when #24 Arizona State comes a calling. Currently (9/11), the Aztecs find themselves as a 4.5-point home underdog. This will be just a 3rd time since 2014 that San Diego State is a home underdog and they won straight up on each of the prior 2 occurrences.

Arizona State vs San Diego StateThe Herman Edwards era at Arizona State couldn’t off got off to a grander start. The newly appointed 65-year-old head coach watched his Sun Devils open with a 49-7 home blowout of UTSA, and they covered that contest as an 18.5-point home favorite. Then last Saturday, Arizona State upset Michigan State 16-13 and accomplished that as a 4.5-point home underdog.

San Diego Sate opened their season by suffering a 31-10 loss at #9 Stanford. The Aztecs bounced back with last Saturday’s 24-10 triumph over Sacramento State. That win improved San Diego State to 17-2 in their last 19 home games.

This situation resembles San Diego State being an 8.0-point home underdog against national ranked Stanford last season. The Aztecs walked away with a 20-17 upset win on that day. Moreover, this appears to be a very dangerous spot for the Arizona State Devils. It’s their first road game of the season, and it follows a huge upset win, not to mention they’ll next be facing PAC-12 favorite Washington. Furthermore, this is an Arizona State football program which has gone a dismal 4-13 straight up in their previous 17 road games, and that includes 1-7 as a favorite or underdog of 7.0-points or less while failing to cover on each of those 8 occasions. This looks like an ideal situation to wager on a college football home underdog.

Pick: San Diego State +4.5

Ross Benjamin Free Pick

Ross Benjamin is a top sports analyst and one of the sports industry's most respected handicappers. Follow him on Twitter: @RossBenjamin1 or visit his website at