Here are the biggest takeaways from Week 3 in college football that can help bettors going forward:
TCU barely covered as 13-point underdogs against Ohio State in Week 3, but the Horned Frogs are probably feeling unlucky that they didn’t win straight up. TCU played an even game in the box score, as Ohio State only outgained them 526-511 in the yardage department. The Buckeyes benefitted from a fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter and an interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter that gave them the lead for good. It looks like TCU’s strong performance has been factored into the odds this week — they begin their Big 12 slate with a trip to Austin to play Texas as three-point road favorites.
Vanderbilt fell short against Notre Dame after winning the total yards battle 420-380. Vandy may have covered, but they lost 22-17 after being stopped on their final drive. The result was concerning for Notre Dame, who had a 16-0 lead late in the second quarter. Looking forward, the fatigue of Notre Dame’s defense could play a factor during the next few weeks. The Fighting Irish defense was on the field for 97 plays in Week 2 against Ball State and had 70 snaps against Vanderbilt. The toughest stretch of Notre Dame’s schedule is coming up. They hit the road for the first time this season to play Wake Forest on Saturday. The defense will have to get off the field on third downs in that game because Bryce Love and Stanford are next on the schedule, followed by Virginia Tech.
USC was already in a tough situation, as they had to go on the road for the second straight week to play the revenge-minded Longhorns. The Trojans controlled the game early, going up 14-3 late in the first quarter. But two costly sequences changed the momentum and led to a 37-14 Texas win. First, USC was stopped twice at the one-yard line late in the second quarter, which would’ve given them a 21-13 lead. Then, a blocked field goal was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter that put Texas up 30-14. That 10-point swing was too much for true freshman QB JT Daniels to overcome. After losses at Stanford and Texas, there could be betting value on USC in a weak Pac-12 South. Daniels and the offense will learn from the early losses and should improve throughout the season.
Teams to Buy
Oklahoma State’s 44-21 win at home against Boise State shouldn’t be overlooked. The Cowboys were small favorites all week against the Mountain West powerhouse before Boise State swung to a 2.5-point favorite on the day of the game. This was an impressive win for Oklahoma State since it was Boise State’s biggest game of the season. Look to bet on the proven Oklahoma State squad as their Big 12 schedule begins.
Nebraska could’ve made the “tough-luck losers” section of this article for the second week in a row as they outgained their opponent by over 100 yards and lost. This week, it was Troy who took down Scott Frost’s team, but Nebraska deserves a pass — walk-on sophomore Andrew Bunch started at quarterback with first-team QB Adrian Martinez out with a leg injury. Nebraska’s 0-2 start could lead to buy-low opportunities on the Cornhuskers, especially when they are big underdogs. Nebraska starts their conference schedule as 18-point ‘dogs at Michigan on Saturday. If Martinez is healthy enough to start, there could be value on Nebraska to stay within that number.
Washington passed a big test on Saturday with a 21-7 win at Utah, which is one of the toughest environments in the Pac-12. The Huskies needed to get back on track after a disappointing Week 1 loss to Auburn. That early defeat will create possible point spread value on the Huskies throughout the season, even when they are large favorites. Chris Petersen knows his team needs to win their last nine regular season games and a Pac-12 Championship if they want to be considered for the College Football Playoff. They’ll also look to win games by a large margin and hope that “style points” impress the committee when the rankings are released. Bet on the focused Huskies to take care of business for the remainder of the season.
Teams to Sell
This might be too easy of a team to pick on, but you don’t want any part of Florida State until their offense shows some kind of life against an FBS opponent. The Seminoles averaged 4.0 yards per play and only scored seven points at Syracuse in Week 3. This was the same Syracuse defense that allowed 621 yards and 42 points to Western Michigan in Week 1. Quarterback Deondre Francois has struggled adjusting to Willie Taggart’s fast-tempo offense. It says a lot that FSU is favored by only 9.5 points at home against Northern Illinois in Week 4. Just three weeks ago, Florida State was a seven-point favorite in the home opener against Virginia Tech.
Louisville was very lucky to win as 23.5-point favorites against Western Kentucky in Week 3, considering the Cardinals were outgained 428-292 in total yards and needed 14 points in the fourth quarter to squeak out a 20-17 victory. The perception of Louisville has been high the last few seasons because of Lamar Jackson, but Bobby Petrino’s team isn’t as talented as the past squads led by Jackson. Because of that, the Cardinals are already making a quarterback change with Malik Cunningham getting the nod over Week 1 starter Jawon Pass. Avoid betting on Louisville as they figure out their quarterback controversy.
Missouri is off to a 3-0 start and top NFL quarterback prospect Drew Lock has accumulated 11 touchdown passes and 1,062 passing yards. But now could be the time to fade Mizzou as their schedule strengthens. The Tigers host Georgia in Week 4 before having a bye and then travel to South Carolina and Alabama in back-to-back weeks. There wasn’t anything to like about the Missouri defense in Week 3 against Purdue, and Vegas noticed. Georgia is currently a 14-point favorite against Missouri in what could be a dream matchup for Jake Fromm and the Bulldogs offense.