Week 3 Games of the Year: How Line Changes Should Influence Your Bets

Last week, I started my Week 2 college football research by looking at the Game of the Year lines that were released in July. It’s early enough in the season to continue this exercise as we learn how the market has adjusted to two weeks of play for most teams.

On select games, I will mention the opening number that was released by Circa Sports, which is a sportsbook in Las Vegas. They’re often the first sportsbook to release college football point spreads and totals on Sunday afternoons, and they take the first action of the week from professional bettors.

Here’s a closer look at the 13 Week 3 Games of the Year lines that were offered by the Las Vegas SuperBook:

North Carolina at Wake Forest (-3)

Game of the Year line: Wake Forest (-3)

This matchup between two ACC schools is considered a non-conference game and won’t be reflected in the ACC standings. The line hasn’t moved from the summer, as both teams are 2-0. North Carolina has the better wins by beating South Carolina and Miami as underdogs, but this game is either a bet on Wake Forest or pass for me.


Kansas at Boston College (-21.5)

Game of the Year line: Boston College (-13)

Kansas’ home loss to Coastal Carolina in Week 2 has caused an aggressive move from the Game of the Year number, as well as Circa’s initial opener, which was Boston College at -18.5. Kansas also struggled against Indiana State in their opener, while Boston College notched an upset win over Virginia Tech and beat Richmond in Week 2. Maybe Les Miles can motivate his team in the underdog role, but I want no part of backing the Jayhawks.


Washington State (-8) vs. Houston at NRG Stadium

Game of the Year line: Washington State (-6.5)

This game is not on a campus and will be played at the Texans’ stadium in Houston. The big storyline in this one will be Mike Leach coaching against Dana Holgorsen. Leach and Holgorsen worked together at Valdosta State in the 1990s, with Holgorsen then serving as an assistant under Leach at Texas Tech from 2000-07. While I’m going to stay confident in my preseason prediction that Washington State is a team to sell, I’m not sure if this is the spot to start fading Leach’s team.


Oklahoma (-21.5) at UCLA

Game of the Year line: Oklahoma (-10)

Usually, I would say an 11.5-point adjustment is an overreaction after two weeks, but I can’t argue against it in this case. UCLA has lost to Cincinnati and San Diego State, leading many to ask if Chip Kelly has lost his touch. On the other sideline, QB Jalen Hurts and Oklahoma were dominant in a Week 1 win against Houston. This line opened at Oklahoma -17.5 at Circa, so early bettors have had no problem laying the points with the Sooners.


Arizona State at Michigan State (-13.5)

Game of the Year line: Michigan State (-10)

Circa opened this game Michigan State -10.5, and it’s been bet up to -13.5 in less than 24 hours. The Spartans have cruised to wins over Tulsa and Western Michigan to open the season, while Arizona State struggled in a 19-7 win against Sacramento State — which flew under the radar on a late Friday night. I agree with the line move on the Spartans due to Michigan State’s defense facing true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels in the first road start of his college career. I also like that Michigan State lost to Arizona State in Tempe last season, so there should be extra focus on this game for the Spartans. I’m not sure if I would bet Michigan State against the spread in a game that has a low total of 45.5, so I might take the under for Arizona State’s team total when those numbers are released.


Pittsburgh at Penn State (-17)

Game of the Year line: Penn State (-14.5)

It appears Pittsburgh has dropped off quite a bit after winning the ACC Coastal last season. However, I wouldn’t be in a rush to bet Penn State in a big favorite role. The Nittany Lions won 45-13 against Buffalo, but it was a misleading final score. Penn State trailed 10-7 at halftime and were outgained 429-357 in yardage.


Florida (-9) at Kentucky

Game of the Year line: Florida (-9)

The current point spread is the same as the line that opened in July, but new information about these teams has emerged in the last two months. Florida’s offense really labored in a Week 0 win against Miami, and now that Gators’ win might not mean as much after Miami lost to North Carolina last week. Kentucky starting quarterback Terry Wilson suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2 and Troy grad transfer Sawyer Smith is set to lead the Wildcats’ offense. It’s going to be a raucous crowd Saturday night in Lexington, but I have no opinion on this particular game.


Alabama (-25) at South Carolina

Game of the Year line: Alabama (-22.5)

Alabama opened as a 21-point favorite on Sunday, and it took only four hours for the line to move four points in the Crimson Tide’s favor. South Carolina is starting a freshman at quarterback in Ryan Hilinski, who threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns in his debut against Charleston Southern. South Carolina beat Alabama the last time these two programs played in 2010, so I don’t think Nick Saban will mind running up the score when the opportunity presents itself.


Iowa at Iowa State (Pick ‘em)

Game of the Year line: Iowa State (-4.5)

Iowa State received a lot of preseason hype, but now there’s worry in Ames after needing triple overtime to beat Northern Iowa in Week 1. The Cyclones had a bye in Week 2, getting extra time to prepare for this massive game against Iowa, while the Hawkeyes are coming off a 30-0 home shutout against Rutgers.


Clemson (-27.5) at Syracuse

Game of the Year line: Clemson (-21.5)

This is another game where a big road favorite has seen the early money. Clemson opened -24 at Circa, with the line trending towards the Tigers giving four touchdowns. It’s hard to disagree with the line move after Syracuse’s 63-20 loss at Maryland in Week 2. I’m not going to bet against Clemson, but I can see the Tigers just doing enough to win comfortably and get out of Syracuse without suffering injuries to key players.


Florida State at Virginia (-7.5)

Game of the Year line: Virginia (Pick ‘em)

A 7.5-point line move from mid-July to now is extremely significant as it indicates that Florida State’s perception is probably as bad as it has ever been — and it remains that way after the ‘Noles needed overtime to survive against lowly Louisiana-Monroe. Stay away from this game at the current number.


Stanford at UCF (-7.5)

Game of the Year line: UCF (-3)

This matchup was always going to be a tough spot for Stanford. A cross-country trip to Orlando in a game sandwiched between conference battles against USC and Washington was a brutal scheduling situation. Now, Stanford’s on-field production is in question after a 45-20 loss to USC. The good news for the Cardinal is that QB K.J. Costello looks like he’ll return to the lineup after leaving their Week 1 victory against Northwestern with an injury. This is a huge statement game for UCF, who has the opportunity to beat a respected Power Five team.


USC (-4.5) at BYU

Game of the Year line: USC (-4)

USC picked up a huge win on Saturday night, as freshman Kedon Slovis led the team to a 45-20 win over Stanford. But now the Trojans travel to Provo to face a BYU team that just rallied to beat Tennessee in double overtime. With a Friday night game against Utah coming in Week 4, this scheduling spot doesn’t favor USC. It’s too early in the week to decide how to play this game, so I’m staying away for now.

MORE: Brett McMurphy’s College Football Bowl Projections After Week 2