College football Week 3 picks against the spread for every top-25 game
Week 3 of the college football season features some tough spreads top pick among top-25 teams.
There are three matchups between ranked teams this week. No. 12 LSU travels to No. 7 Auburn in the SEC on CBS matchup at 3:30 p.m. No. 17 Boise State can make a statement at No. 24 Oklahoma State in the same time slot. Of course, the marquee matchups is No. 4 Ohio State and No. 15 TCU at Jerry World in primetime. That’s one of the toughest games of the week, but Sporting News is here to help you make your pick.
Here is a look at our record so far:
Straight up: 39-5 (21-2 last week)
Against the spread: 18-14 (8-7 last week)
Here are Sporting News picks against the spread for Week 3 (odds reflect consensus picks from VegasInsiders.com as of Sept. 11) :
(All times Eastern)
No. 5 Oklahoma (-17.5) at Iowa State
Rodney Anderson’s knee injury could knock down this line a little more given it’s the Cyclones’ home opener. Iowa bottled up David Montgomery last week, and Iowa State couldn’t keep up. Oklahoma gets revenge for last year’s upset against the Cyclones, but not before a back-door cover. Oklahoma wins 38-21 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Kent State at No. 11 Penn State (-34.5)
Noon, Fox Sports 1
Penn State is coming off back-to-back emotional wins, and Kent State did hang around with Illinois. This a different challenge, and Trace McSorley said the young playmakers are “starting to get it” after a convincing victory against Pitt. It depends on how long the Nittany Lions keep their foot on the gas. Penn State wins 49-10 and COVERS the spread.
No. 18 UCF at North Carolina (canceled)
No. 21 Miami (-10) at Toledo
The Hurricanes will travel to the Glass Bowl to face a Rockets team that had a bye week to prepare for a big opportunity for the Mid-American Conference. Miami, however, handled a similar road trip to App State in 2016, winning 45-10. They’ll do the same here despite some early resistance. Miami wins 40-27 and COVERS the spread.
Georgia Southern at No. 2 Clemson (-34)
Georgia Southern is 2-0, so Clemson will have to be ready after an emotionally draining win at Texas A&M. The Tigers should be ticked off, but Georgia Southern ranks fourth in the nation in rushing with 326.5 yards per game. That success on the ground is just enough to get under the cover. Clemson wins 41-10 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Middle Tennessee State at No. 3 Georgia (-32.5)
Vanderbilt beat Middle Tennessee State 35-7 in Week 1, and now the Blue Raiders travel to Athens to face a Georgia team that flexed its muscles at South Carolina in Week 2. Don’t expect Kirby Smart to let this team lose its focus. Georgia wins 49-10 and COVERS the spread.
East Carolina at No. 13 Virginia Tech (-28)
12:20 p.m., TBD
The Hokies are clicking, and they’re up against an East Carolina team that has been tough to read the last two weeks. The Hokies won 64-17 in last year’s meeting, and they’ll pour it on again. Bud Foster’s defense is allowing just 10.0 points per game so far. Virginia Tech wins 48-13 and COVERS the spread.
UC-Davis at No. 9 Stanford (No line)
2 p.m., TBD
UC-Davis did pull an upset against San Jose State in Week 1, but they’re up against a Stanford defense that has allowed just 13 points in two games. It’s also an opportunity for Bryce Love, who has averaged 4.1 yards through two games, to get back on the Heisman track. Stanford uses this as a tune-up for road games at Oregon and Notre Dame to close the month. Stanford wins 44-7 with no spread.
Vanderbilt at No. 8 Notre Dame (-14.5)
2:30 p.m., NBC
The Commodores drilled Nevada 41-10, and this is an opportunity to shine at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish had an emotional letdown game against Ball State where Brandon Wimbush threw three interceptions in a 24-16 win. Through two games, Vandy’s Kyle Shurmur hasn’t thrown an interception and has taken just one sack. Notre Dame should be on upset alert here, but we think they get through it. Notre Dame wins 30-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 12 LSU at No. 7 Auburn (-9.5)
3:30 p.m., CBS
The last two meetings have been decided by a combined nine points, and that includes LSU’s 27-23 victory last season. This will be the first big SEC road test for Joe Burrow against a nasty Auburn front. The winner here will be expected to challenge Alabama in the SEC West. Another one-score game seems about right, but Auburn is just different at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn wins 31-23 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
BYU at No. 6 Wisconsin (-21.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPN/ABC
The Badgers haven’t covered big spreads the last two weeks, but this one is more manageable against an improved BYU team. Alex Hornibrook was 18 of 19 for 256 yards and four touchdowns against the Cougars on the road last year in a 40-6 blowout. The Badgers keep it close to that score this year, too. Wisconsin wins 38-14 and COVERS the spread.
No. 14 West Virginia at N.C. State (canceled)
No. 17 Boise State at No. 24 Oklahoma State (-3)
3:30 p.m., ESPN
Boise State is the highest-ranked Group of 5 team in the country, and they’ve been impressive in the first two weeks. Brett Rypien and Taylor Cornelius each average more than 300 yards per passing, and Rypien hasn’t thrown an interception. The Broncos pose a challenge here, but the instinct is to go with the home team. Oklahoma State wins 45-41 and COVERS the spread.
SMU at No. 18 Michigan (-35.5)
3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
SMU hasn’t developed a rushing attack under Sonny Dykes yet, and they’re up against a Wolverines defense that found its mojo in a blowout against Western Michigan. SMU hung with TCU in the first quarter last week before reality set in. A similar trend emerges here. It’s right on the line. Michigan wins 42-7 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
San Jose State at No. 20 Oregon (-41.5)
5 p.m., TBD
Oregon is averaging 60 points per game and looks good under first-year coach Mario Cristobal. This is their tune-up before Stanford, but the Spartans were shut out by Washington State. The Ducks continue piling up the numbers. Oregon wins 59-10 and COVERS the spread.
No. 1 Alabama (-21) at Ole Miss
7 p.m., ESPN
Ole Miss scores 60 points per game, and the Rebels have their quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu. That has us at least second-guessing whether Alabama can cover against a team that has given them trouble in the past. Then again, Alabama beat Ole Miss 66-3 last year. The scorched-Earth tour continues, and Nick Saban won’t be happy about the points given up afterward. Alabama wins 52-21 and COVERS the spread.
Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 16 Mississippi State (-32)
7:30 p.m., SEC Network
This is a tough sandwich game for the Bulldogs before SEC play begins, especially coming off a road victory against Kansas State. First-year coach Billy Napier will get the Ragin’ Cajuns going eventually, but the Mississippi State offense is just too much. Mississippi State wins 45-14 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
No. 4 Ohio State (-12.5) vs. No. 15 TCU
8 p.m., ABC
The Buckeyes are loaded with talent, and this is acting coach Ryan Day’s biggest test. Win, and the Buckeyes will welcome back Urban Meyer with their College Football Playoff schedule unchanged. Lose to a solid Gary Patterson team, and the pressure is on. Ohio State simply has too much talent. Ohio State wins 41-20 and COVERS the spread.
No. 22 USC (PK) at Texas
8 p.m., FOX
Both teams must have this one to avoid a 1-2 start. Texas escaped with a 28-21 victory against Tulsa, and this is the showcase nonconference game for Tom Herman. USC can get back in the hunt in the Pac-12, but quarterback JT Daniels must learn from the loss at Stanford. He will. USC wins 29-24 and COVERS the spread.
No. 10 Washington (-6.5) at Utah
10 p.m., ESPN
Washington has won the last two meetings by 10 points, and that included a 33-30 escape last season. Two solid coaches with similar styles will face off here, and the Utes will hang around. Washington, however, will escape this trap with a big victory. That said, the upset alert is ready. Washington wins 31-20 and COVERS the spread.
No. 23 Arizona State (-4.5) at San Diego State
10:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
The Sun Devils play to win the game under Herm Edwards, and now they’ll have to play with heightened expectations. Manny Wilkins averages 308.5 passing yards per game and hasn’t made mistakes. That trend continues. Arizona State wins 38-31 and COVERS the spread.