College football Week 3 predictions for big games
Will Week 3 produce one of college football’s noteworthy early-season upsets?
Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State all go on the road as double-digit favorites this weekend, hoping to avoid an unexpected trip-up inside the Top 5. For the Crimson Tide, they’ll return to the site of their last loss vs. a team from the SEC East, Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.
Nick Saban said this week he remembers the “lining being kicked out of his team’s britches” that sweltering afternoon, but reminded all this week these players were in the sixth grade that weekend in 2010.
Remember — these selections are for entertainment purposes only and if you’re looking to get rich off of these predictions, you may want to look elsewhere. I took one on the chin last week an impressive start and in early September, my straight up record is embarrassing (who picks FAU to upset UCF as a double-digit underdog?).
Football is about improving week to week and that’s my plan in Week 3. One thing I’ve noticed early on is that it’s extremely hard to predict winners and losers in games you wouldn’t normally play. In betting, you take a side you feel strongly about, picking and choosing your battles.
Where we stand after Week 2: Brad Crawford — Straight up: 13-7; Against the spread: 11-9; Chris Hummer — Straight up: 15-5; ATS: 10-10
Onto this week’s picks for Week 3’s biggest games .
Iowa -1 at Iowa State
(Photo: Jeffrey Becker, USA TODAY Sports)
Hummer: Iowa State is an extremely dangerous team from a scheme perspective coming off a bye – Matt Campbell and his coordinators are fantastic. That said, I just think the Hawkeyes are a bit better. Iowa wins in the trenches and Nate Stanley makes just enough plays through the air to squeak out a win in what will be the best game of the weekend. … Iowa 24, Iowa State 21.
Crawford: Will the Cyclones end their losing skid to the Hawkeyes on Saturday with College GameDay in town? With ample time to prepare, I like Iowa State’s chances in a game that might be an instant classic. The Cyclones didn’t have their best last time out, but they’ll be motivated in this one. . Iowa State 20, Iowa 17.
USC -4.5 at BYU
(Photo: Joe Robbins, Getty)
Hummer: Generally, when teams are near even and one team is getting a field goal or more, I like to go with the points. That’s BYU at home in this situation. I’d expect people to be heavy on USC after its big win over Stanford. But I could argue the Cougars on the road are a much tougher test. Plus, USC’s covered in just four of its last 10 games. … BYU 28, USC 24.
Crawford: This one is a tough ask for the Trojans with a freshman quarterback, but USC is more talented. BYU should be 0-2 right now and hasn’t impressed me offensively. Coming off the big win at Tennessee, perhaps there’s a letdown coming at home for the Cougars. I’ll take USC, side-stepping the mid-week turmoil with Lynn Swann quitting and moving to 3-0. . USC 24, BYU 17.
UNC +3.5 at Wake Forest (Friday)
(Photo: Jim Hawkins, Inside Carolina)
Hummer: Maybe it’s silly to keep picking against North Carolina given what we’ve seen the first two weeks. But I think Wake Forest is better. Jamie Newman is on fire for the Demon Deacons, and they’re averaging 39.5 points per game. Wake Forest rolls on to a 3-0 start. … Wake Forest 35, North Carolina 31.
Crawford: I can’t keep picking against the Tar Heels. We’re past the ‘fool me once’ stage and Sam Howell has been terrific as a true freshman in his first two career starts. North Carolina is gunning for its third consecutive outright victory as an underdog and Mack Brown has this team believing it can win the Coastal. This doesn’t count as a conference game for either team by the way after the two agreed on a non-conference series back in 2015. . North Carolina 36, Wake Forest 35.
Pitt at Penn State -17
(Photo: Harvey Levine-FOS/247)
Hummer: This game hasn’t been close since Pitt upset Penn State in 2016. In fact, the Nittany Lions are 25-8 since that loss. James Franklin might not say the word “rival” out loud, but his team has been ready for this game. I like the Nittany Lions to roll. … Penn State 42, Pittsburgh 24.
Crawford: Not a game I’d touch at the counter this week, Penn State has looked the part over its first two games, but rivalry games are different. The Panthers should be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulders after being embarrassed in this spot last season and I’ll reluctantly take the points. But if there’s a message to send here before making this pick, it’s avoid, avoid, avoid. . Penn State 31, Pitt 24.
Clemson -26 at Syracuse
(Photo: Joshua S. Kelly, USA TODAY Sports)
Hummer: The Tigers are much better. But I’d be silly to take the over with that line. Syracuse has played Clemson to a possession each of the last two years, and there’s the added motivation of the Orange coming off an embarrassing defeat to Maryland. … Clemson 38, Syracuse 14.
Crawford: We were told throughout the offseason that College GameDay was coming to the Carrier Dome for this Week 3 showdown . well, the anticipated prime-time matchup won’t be a battle at all. I don’t envision Tommy DeVito making enough plays to keep this one within the numbers vs. the Tigers after Kellen Mond struggled on Saturday against the same Brent Venables defense. . Clemson 42, Syracuse 13.
Oklahoma -22 at UCLA
Hummer: This won’t be close. The Bruins have been awful thus far offensively, averaging 14 points per game, and don’t expect Oklahoma’s defense to be a cure. UCLA’s covered just five times in 14 games with Chip Kelly as its head coach. That record doesn’t get any better here. … Oklahoma 45, UCLA 14.
Crawford: Pick a number. That’s how many the Sooners can score on Saturday out West if Lincoln Riley chooses to put his foot on the gas against Chip Kelly. I vowed to never take the Bruins to cover again after they trashed me in Week 1 vs. Cincinnati and I’m not changing my mind now. . Oklahoma 48, UCLA 17.
Florida State +7.5 at Virginia
(Photo: Greg Oyster, 247Sports)
Hummer: Virginia is much better than Florida State. That feels weird to type, but here we are. The Cavs are probably the best offense the Seminoles will have seen this season, which is bad news for a program that’s given up an average of 40 points a game. Virginia picks up its first win over FSU since 2011. … Virginia 35, Florida State 24.
Crawford: Here’s the perfect opportunity to strike for Florida State. Tattered and left for dead at 1-1 with two unimpressive performances, the Seminoles go on the road and fight to the bitter end against a very good Cavaliers team. Am I giving Florida State too much credit? Probably so, but I’ll just say it wouldn’t surprise me if this one is really close as Virginia’s first test. . Virginia 31, Florida State 23.
Ohio State -14.5 at Indiana
(Photo: Jamie Sabau, Getty)
Hummer: The Buckeyes have covered in four of their last five games, and I like that to continue on the road. In the past I’d be a bit concerned about Ohio State coming out slow on the road for a sleepy 11 a.m. start. I don’t think that happens this week. Ohio State’s defense gives freshman QB Michael Penix a headache with some complex looks. … Ohio State 38, Indiana 20.
Crawford: Lock of the week Ohio State cover? I hate using that phrase, but man, this sure feels like it. This is a head-scratching line to me, maybe because of the Hoosiers’ 2-0 start. It’s already at 16 and may increase prior to kickoff. The Buckeyes have won 23 straight against Indiana and four of the last six have been by at least 20 points. . Ohio State 41, Indiana 17.
Alabama -25.5 at South Carolina
(Photo: Denon McMillan, 247Sports)
Hummer: This might come as a surprise given the way South Carolina played against UNC, but I like Gamecocks to cover here. South Carolina is talented enough defensively to keep itself in the game. And while I don’t love a true freshman QB going up against Alabama, the Gamecocks will score enough. … Alabama 42, South Carolina 17.
Crawford: This is South Carolina’s toughest game of the year from a matchup standpoint, but at least the Gamecocks come in with confidence after lighting up Charleston Southern for a school-record 775 yards of total offense in Ryan Hilinski’s first career start. No program in college football this week goes polar extreme from opponent to opponent quite like Will Muschamp’s team, however. . Alabama 38, South Carolina 10.
Florida -8.5 at Kentucky
(Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)
Hummer: Maybe I would’ve looked at this a bit different at Terry Wilson been able to play. But without him, I like the Gators to roll past the Wildcats. Kentucky ended a long losing streak to Florida last year. Don’t expect Florida to get caught again. … Florida 31, Kentucky 20.
Crawford: The best bet here is going with the under, though I do think the Gators will hit a big play or two against a secondary that isn’t nearly as talented as it was last season. As Hummer mentions, the loss of Wilson changes Kentucky’s season significantly in my opinion, beginning with this showdown vs. Florida. . Florida 27, Kentucky 17.