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College Football Best Bets: Week 3 (2021)

by September 16, 2021
Kenneth Walker

Last week’s college football plays were a “mixed bag,” not just because our picks went 2-2. Our two wins were covers by underdogs (Oregon and Arkansas) that won their games outright by a combined 13 points per game. However, our two losses (Iowa St. and Washington) were on teams that did not cover their respective spreads by a combined 19 points. A mixed bag indeed, but one that could have been a lot more profitable had anyone got alongside the moneylines for the two underdogs. 

Two weeks into the season, bettors will often look for discernible trends that they can use for betting angles heading into the following week. Thus far, unders are 96-73 among all college football games involving D-1 teams, which they are hitting at a 56.8% clip. There are schools of thought that COVID-19 and the various protocols impacted defenses most last year, as it was harder for them to form cohesion due to limited training camps.

Will that trend influence any of our picks for this week? 

Here are my top four plays for Week 3 in college football.

Best Bets for Week 3: College Football

(Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Last Season: 35-22 (+9.5 units)
YTD: 6-4 (+1.40 units)

Cincinnati (-4) at Indiana

Many bettors will look at this game and jump at the opportunity to wager on a Big Ten team as a home underdog. However, the Hoosiers already had an opportunity to play a top-25 team and were stifled 34-6 on the road at Iowa. While Cincinnati’s defense may not be as good as Iowa’s this year, it should give Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. similar fits.

Cincinnati has allowed 10.5 PPG under new defensive coordinator Mike Tressel. They rank 18th in total defense, and two games against inferior opponents like Miami-Ohio and Murray State have helped them get adjusted to the new scheme and work out any kinks.

The Bearcats know the odds are stacked against them from making the College Football Playoff out of the AAC. This game and their road showdown against Notre Dame in South Bend are their only real opportunities to showcase their talent on a national stage, and it is a date that has likely been circled on their calendars for a long time. Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder has completed 72.3% of his passes so far and accounted for seven touchdowns. His duel-threat ability should keep the Hoosiers defense on their heels all game.

Indiana is 7-1 ATS in its last eight home games at Memorial Stadium, but they have not played many top-ten teams in that span. Thus, we like Cincinnati to walk out of Bloomington with a statement win.

PICK: Cincinnati -4 (-110)

Michigan State at Miami (-6.5)

The Miami Hurricanes followed their Week 1 beatdown from Alabama with an uninspiring (and almost narrow defeat) 25-23 win over Appalachian State. If Miami played this game against Michigan State at night, we would like the Hurricanes a lot more given the festive atmosphere at Hard Rock Stadium for a night game. Given that this game is played at noon, this has all the makings of a game that Miami sleepwalks through. That kind of game plays right into the hands of a Mel Tucker-coached football team.

The Spartans are going to look to pound the Hurricanes with a physical ground game. Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III has invigorated Michigan State’s running attack, and he has averaged more than ten yards per carry in his 30 attempts this season. The Spartans have rushed for more yards than they have thrown for this year (598-508) and have attempted 75 runs to just 54 passes. That is a great way to take a crowd that will be less than enthusiastic to begin with out of the game, provided that early negative game script does not force them to pass more than they want to.

Miami is 0-5 ATS in their last five games in Florida and is on upset alert in this early time slot on Saturday.

PICK: Michigan State +6.5 (-105)

Alabama at Florida: Over/Under 58.5

Before the season started, most previews of the Crimson Tide talked about how this could be Nick Saban’s best defense, while their offense had question marks of how they would replace so many NFL-bound players. However, through the first two weeks, Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young looks extremely comfortable running Nick Saban’s offense and should lead Alabama to a ton of points in what should be a high-scoring affair.

Young has thrown seven touchdowns while taking just two sacks. The scariest thing about Alabama’s offense is that their running game has not even gotten going yet, averaging 4.2 yards per carry with a long of just 20 yards. Florida’s two-quarterback system of Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson has shown just enough wrinkles so far that Saban and his defensive coaching staff will be busy preparing for. Alabama has had trouble containing mobile quarterbacks, and these two quarterbacks lead the team in rushing so far.

The over has cashed in each of the last five meetings between these teams and should exceed the projected total once again.

PICK: OVER 58.5 (-110)

USC (-7) at Washington State

USC was the first major program (with all due respect to UCONN) to part ways with their head coach this year, firing Clay Helton after 70 games with the school. While many will use this game and the coming weeks to evaluate how the Trojans look under interim coach Donte Williams, we prefer to get alongside USC now in what should be an invigorated and energized program.

USC was commonly one of the most penalized teams under Helton and consistently had one of the worst turnover margins in the country. Therefore, a coaching move at this point was likely the right decision, and we expect a spirited effort on the road from the Trojans.

PICK: USC -7 (-120)

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

College Football, Picks