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Best Under the Radar College Football Bets for Week 3 (2021)

by September 16, 2021
Charlie Brewer

We fell short in Week 2, going 1-2 with Purdue being our only victory. An angry Boise State team simply overmatched UTEP. But the team that really let us down was North Carolina State, who were completely inept on the road against a competent opponent.

Simply put, coach Dave Doeren didn’t have his team ready to play, and N.C. State’s play calling was abhorrent. The Wolf Pack gave up a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown to start the game and squandered two early drives with great field position. It was simply an embarrassing performance for a team I had high expectations for in the ACC.

Okay, rant over. It’s time to move forward with my favorite under the radar bets for Week 3:

  • Week 2 record: 1-2
  • 2021 season record: 4-4

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Ohio Bobcats +20 at Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns

Louisiana needs a get-right game, and the Bobcats serve as a great opponent to right the ship against.

Following a 38-18 loss to Texas in the season opener, ULL came out flat and barely beat Nicholls State despite being 26-point home favorites. Nicholls actually out-gained Louisiana, 511-394, and the usually dominant Ragin’ Cajuns run game netted just 90 yards on 31 carries.

The Bobcats have gotten off to a disastrous start after longtime head coach Frank Solich stepped down for health reasons after 16 seasons. Ohio is 0-2 and most recently lost straight up at home to Duquesne as 28.5-point favorites.

Louisiana coach Billy Napier should get his running game back on track against Ohio, who’s surrendered 451 rushing yards in their two games this season. Louisiana was among the favorites to win the Sun Belt, and I expect them to get things back on track before conference play begins.

Pick: Louisiana -20

Utah Utes -8 at San Diego State Aztecs

This game qualifies for my under-the-radar list after Utah fell out of the top 25 following an upset road loss to BYU in their annual rivalry game. But this matchup against San Diego State screams bounce-back spot.

Let’s start with what went wrong for Utah against BYU. Things started terribly, as the Utes turned the ball over on their first two drives. The Utes were only out-gained 380-340 by the Cougars but were far less effective in sustaining drives. Utah had only 15 first downs to BYU’s 21 and went 2-for-11 on third and fourth-down attempts, while BYU went 12-for-20 in such situations. Quarterback Charlie Brewer also had an uncharacteristically disappointing performance, going 15-of-26 for 147 yards.

Defensively, the Utes struggled to stop BYU’s running game, allowing 236 yards on 46 carries, an average of five yards per carry.

San Diego State’s 2-0 record looks impressive on the surface. However, those two wins came against New Mexico State, arguably the worst program in the country, and Arizona, the worst team in the PAC-12. San Diego State flat-out dominated Arizona last week, out-gaining the Wildcats 454-230 and racking up 21 first downs. However, the Aztecs surrendered 326 passing yards against New Mexico State and failed to cover as 31.5-point favorites.

I expect Brewer to bounce back against a susceptible Aztecs secondary and expect San Diego State’s offense to struggle with a step up in class against what should be a motivated Utes defense.

This line has been steadily moving up from its opening number of Utah -7, and in some places, this spread is now as high as Utah -10. I’m trusting a great coach in Kyle Whittingham, who’s 34-27-1 ATS after a loss, to right the ship and get the Utes back on track.

Pick: Utah -8 (bet up to -10)

Stanford Cardinal -12 at Vanderbilt Commodores 

Betting on Vanderbilt can be a frustrating, and perhaps futile practice. However, I’m holding my nose and taking the Commodores in what feels like a complete overreaction line.

Let’s look back at the last couple weeks. In Week 1, Stanford lost 24-7 to Kansas State as 3.5-point underdogs. Last week, the Cardinal closed as 17.5-point underdogs before upsetting USC on the road.

Now, the Cardinal are laying 12 points on the road against a Power Five opponent?

Let’s dig into the Stanford-USC box score a bit more. The Cardinal won the game by 14, incredibly impressive. But let’s remember that Stanford scored its first touchdown on an 87-yard run and also scored on a pick-six in the third quarter. Stanford was out-gained 408-375, had 24 first downs and averaged 5.6 yards per rush. The Trojans also committed nine penalties for 111 yards, and that’s why they fired head coach Clay Helton earlier this week.

Vanderbilt is also riding high after snapping an 11-game losing streak with a road win over Colorado State. While beating a middling Mountain West program on the road doesn’t exactly move the needle for most programs, this was a massive win for new head coach Clark Lea as he instills his identity on this program.

The box score wasn’t pretty, as Vandy was out-gained 445-342. But Vanderbilt showed a lot of character in rallying out of an early 14-0 deficit a week after falling to East Tennessee State at home. Vanderbilt still has a long way to go, but they have momentum entering this matchup.

I know, it’s ugly. And maybe new Stanford QB Tanner McKee is a revelation. But this is too many points and too much of an overreaction to one game.

Pick: Vanderbilt +12

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

College Football, Picks