Preview and Picks for NCAA Football Week 3
No college football Top 25 matchups in Week 3, but we'll still chip in some Opinions and Leans on other games. The major line moves continue this week, and I tweeted out the CFB line moves and totals, which saw plenty of 4-5 point adjustments from the opening odds last Sunday for this week's games. That includes in the Georgia-South Carolina game and Georgia Southern-Wisconsin contest. These signficant market moves are driven by pro bettors and select respected handicappers.
We'll add more coverage and comments of line adjustments in the weeks ahead, and add some handicapping tools to assist you in identifying value and more winners.
Our college football Week 2 Picks and Opinions went 2-0 last week on Top 25 matchups, and 1-1 on added totals. Opinion winners were on Ole Miss and Texas, who toppled Alabama 34-24 to create a shakeup in the top-10 this week and in the futures odds with Texas now +1000 on BetUS national championship odds and a leading contender along with Georgia (+240), Michigan (+500), Florida State (+1000) and Ohio State (+1100).
College football strategies and stability ratings
Last year's Top 25 matchup Picks went 11-7 ATS, and we'll update the Picks and Opinions each week along with Leans and bonus picks. I'll be providing Picks, Opinions or Leans on every Top 25 matchup each week, and add additional Picks and Opinions on Top 25 games/teams. The Top 25 matchups and teams draw the most media and betting interest, so we'll cover those games each week with added information you can bet on.
All college football 2023 Picks and Opinions through Week 2 are 7-2, including 6-0 ATS on sides.
Top 25 Matchup Picks: 0-1 (total)
Bonus Picks: 1-0
Top 25 Matchup Opinions: 3-0
Top 25 Games Opinions: 2-0
Top 25 Totals Opinions: 1-1
Check out more college football Week 3 updates with opening odds and line moves in my coverage in Forbes.
Week 3 Top 25 Picks And Matchups
There are no NCAA Football Top 25 matchups between ranked teams in Week 3. Clearly a disappointment, and we address it below.
Sat., Sept. 16
No. 9 Tennessee at Florida - 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
Line: Tennessee -6.5 and Total 58.5
Tennessee hasn't won at "The Swamp" in Gainesville since 2003, and is 0-9 since. Advantage at the line of scrimmage goes to Tennessee, and especially on defense where the Volunteers have 25 tackles for loss and 11 sacks through two games. Of course, they've played a soft schedule so far, and Florida plays one of the most difficult schedules in the country with a second game already vs. the Vols. With two quarterback transfers, slightly prefer Florida QB Graham Mertz, who passed for 333 yards in a Week 1 loss at Utah. Volunteers QB Joe Milton makes his first road start since transferring to Tennessee in 2021, when he was hurt. He has just two passes beyond 20 yards this season, and we're not as trusting of him with mistakes and misfires more likely in this environment.
No. 14 LSU at Mississippi State - 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN 53.
Line: LSU -9.5 and Total 54.5
Our opening week total loser on LSU-FSU was right there for a winner late, if LSU can get a late stop or FSU takes a knee to end the game in the closing 90 leading by 21 points. The +10 is gone on Mississippi State, but perhaps it comes back Saturday. Still, an opinion on the Bulldogs and top-tier SEC QB Will Rogers. He only passed 17 times last week to 39 rushes in a 31-24 OT win over Arizona in a game MSU was outgained by more than 125 yards and out-firstdowned 23-16. According to the Playbook newsletter, MSU fits a 75-39 ATS situation as a home underdog that was a bowl team last year. With LSU off a blowout win last week but showing defensive deficiencies against Florida State, MSU also applies to a 23-6 ATS subset that zooms to 15-1 ATS if opponent allows 100 rushing yards or more per game. Just a lean 'over' with this total up 5-points from the opener for this early Sat. kickoff on ESPN.
Opinion: Mississippi State
Wyoming at No. 4 Texas - 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Texas -30 and Total 48.5
We cashed in on Texas last week to run our Picks and Opinions on spreads to 6-0 ATS this season. The Longhorns road win over then No. 3 Alabama was no fluke in a 34-24 win as Texas showed their strength in the trenches and QB Quinn Ewers was superb passing for 349 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lot's of "Atta boy, Y'All" to the Longhorn players this week back in Austin, and an inflated line in support. In fact, offshore industry leader BetOnline is dealing Texas -30, with so much public support betting on a Texas-sized blowout win. I also cashed in on Wyoming in Week 1 when they overcame a 17-point deficit early against ranked Texas Tech (the only FBS team to return all 11 offensive starters) and rallied to win in double overtime as a +14 point underdog. The Cowboys are so well coached by 10th-year coach Craig Bowl, and getting a $1.8 million payday to show up in Austin helps this underrated progam. But this contest also has big letdown and lookahead potential with Texas' massive win over Alabama moving them into the top-5 of the AP Poll for the first time since 2010, and a conference opener on deck next week at Baylor. I took Wyoming +17 in first half as well. Of course the Cowboys could get crushed by Texas if the Longhorns bring their best again and want to add style points for the polls, but I'm not betting on it. Playbook adds this ATS situational clincher: Favorites of 16 or more points coming off an upset win over Alabama are 2-9 ATS since 1980. That includes 0-4 ATS if they were a 'Dog of 7-plus points versus the Crimson Tide.
College football odds from BetUS Sportsbook refresh periodically and are subject to change, including on props and live betting. For bettors interested in reduced juice sportsbook options, checkout BetAnySports and Heritage Sports, which also offers ZERO juice on a CFB Top 25 Game of the Week, offering the 'most squeeze for your juice."
Saturday, Sept. 16
No. 1 Georgia (-27.5) vs. South Carolina | 3:30 p.m. | CBS
No. 2 Michigan (-40.5) vs. Bowling Green | 7:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
No. 3 Florida State (-26.5) at Boston College | 12 p.m. | ABC
No. 4 Texas (-29.5) vs. Wyoming | 8 p.m. | Longhorn Network
No. 5 USC | Bye
No. 6 Ohio State (-29) vs. Western Kentucky | 4 p.m. | FOX
No. 7 Penn State (-15) at Illinois | 12 p.m. | FOX
No. 8 Washington (-16.5) at Michigan State | 5 p.m. | Peacock
No. 9 Notre Dame (-34.5) vs. Central Michigan | 2:30 p.m. | Peacock
No. 10 Alabama (-32.5) at South Florida | 3:30 p.m. | ABC
No. 11 Tennessee (-6) at Florida | 7 p.m. | ESPN
No. 12 Utah (NL) vs. Weber State | 2 p.m. | Pac-12 Network
No. 13 Oregon (-37.5) vs. Hawai'i | 8 p.m. | Pac-12 Network
No. 14 LSU (-9.5) at Mississippi State | 12 p.m. | ESPN
No. 15 Kansas State (-3.5) at Missouri | 12 p.m. | SEC Network
No. 16 Oregon State (-25) vs. San Diego State | 3:30 p.m. | FS1
No. 17 Ole Miss (-18) vs. Georgia Tech | 7:30 p.m. | SEC Network
No. 18 Colorado (-23.5) vs. Colorado State | 10 p.m. | ESPN
No. 19 Oklahoma (-28) at Tulsa | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN2
No. 20 North Carolina (-7.5) vs. Minnesota | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN
No. 21 Duke (-19) vs. Northwestern | 3:30 p.m. | ACC Network
No. 22 Miami (NL) vs Bethune-Cookman (NL) | 7:30 p.m. | ACC Network (Thurs)
No. 23 Washington State (NL) vs. Northern Colorado | 5 p.m. | Pac-12 Network
No. 24 UCLA (NL) vs. North Carolina Central | 5 p.m. | Pac-12 Los Angeles
No. 25 Iowa (-28.5) vs. Western Michigan | 3:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
Others receiving votes: Clemson 86, Arkansas 33, TCU 19, Kansas 19, Tulane 17, Wisconsin 10, Kentucky 5, Mississippi State. 5, Minnesota 3, Cincinnati 3, Fresno State. 2, Wyoming 1, Oklahoma State. 1, Maryland 1, James Madison 1.
Florida Atlantic at Clemson (-24.5), BYU at Arkansas (-8.5) and TCU (-7.5) at Houston are other games to watch with the favorites trying to win and move back into the Top 25.
Totals moves in 1st hour (1/2)— Fairway Jay (@FairwayJay) September 10, 2023
VIR/MD 49’ > 52
GAS/WIS 58‘ > 63
FSU/BC 54’ > 56’
WF/ODU 57’ > 59’
ISU/OH 42’ > 44’
PS/ILL 45’ > 48
MIZZU 50’ < 46
LSU/MSU 49’ > 53
NMST/NM 44‘ > 51
MIN/NC 50’ < 49
NW/DUKE 52’ < 46’
WMU/IOWA 45’ < 43’
SC/GEO 47’ > 55
OKL/TUL 63’ < 59’ https://t.co/mUIn1KxENk
Schedules and Realignment
The NCAA and its Board of Directors deserves plenty of criticism, often in big money sports football and basketball. Unfair, corrupt and big bureaucracy, and the latest slam comes from North Carolina coach Mack Brown, who recently said he had “lost all faith” in the NCAA’s ability to govern college football, then ended by saying: “Shame on you, NCAA."
There are no NCAA Football Top 25 matchups between ranked teams in Week 3. Clearly a disappointment, and something the NCAA will likely address in upcoming seasons with realignment. After all, the NCAA is missing out on money when not having major marquee matchups to televise. And isn't that what the added realignment is all about? WFT is UCLA doing playing North Carolina Central this week? Money game my A--, and hopefully UCLA and USC's move to the Big Ten, along with Washington and Oregon, means they will schedule Stanford and Cal, and state rivalries in the Pacific NW with Washington State and Oregon State to be more competitive contests and keep the fans interests and rivalries alive.
We're watching you too Michigan and Ohio State. A MAC opponent from the state is fine and should continue, but the other cupcakes where we see 30 point favorites can be replaced with a conference team. Same for Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and SEC powers. Playing Middle Tennessee State, UT Martin, Mercer and Austin Peay to give those FCS and lower level teams a payday should be replaced with a conference opponent more often moving forward with the new 'Power 4' featuring 16-18 teams in the conferences.
Check back by Saturday morning for any additions and updates.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and loves college football. He's been handicapping and betting college football for more than two decades and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. FairwayJay chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairwayJay here at OSGA.com and on X (Twitter) @FairwayJay for more sports and betting insights.