It’s time to dig out of the hole.
Trust me, it could have been worse. In our Week 2 Picks Against the Spread, we whiffed on the first eight picks. That led to a 5-11 record ATS in Week 2, something we’re not proud of.
Fortunately, Week 3 offers several chances at redemption, including three games involving ranked teams. No. 1 Alabama meets No. 11 Florida in a rematch of last year’s SEC championship game. No. 22 Auburn travels to No. 10 Penn State for a “Whiteout” game in primetime. No. 19 Arizona State and No. 23 BYU meet in a late-night showdown, too.
BENDER: Week 2 takeaways, from Ohio State’s upset to Notre Dame’s sudden two-QB system
Each week, SN College Football writer Bill Bender will pick the Top 25 games against the spread.
With that in mind, it is time to get back on the winning side:
Odds courtesy of FanDuel.com
Week 3 picks against the spread
This used to be the marquee game in the old Big 12. Now, the question is whether Nebraska can cover a three-plus TD spread? The Huskers are 6-4 ATS as a road underdog under Scott Frost, and the offense should put up enough points on the Sooners.
Pick: Oklahoma wins 45-24 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.
The Aggies are 1-1 ATS, and we missed both picks. Zach Calzada might get the start with Haynes King injured at quarterback, and the Lobos are 2-0. That said, this feels like a game where Texas A&M doesn’t slow down with Arkansas coming up in Week 4.
Pick: Texas A&M wins 42-10 and COVERS the spread.
This is one of the Bearcats’ big games against a Power 5 opponent, and Indiana offers a tough challenge. The Hoosiers recalibrated against Idaho last week, and the quarterback duel between Desmond Ridder and Michael Penix Jr. should be fun. The Hoosiers are 3-7-1 ATS as a home underdog under Tom Allen, and we think the Bearcats are the better team.
Pick: Cincinnati wins 28-24 and COVERS the spread.
The Black Diamond Trophy is in play for the first time since 2017, and it will be awesome to see these rivals on the field. We’re a little surprised the Hokies are an underdog given the promising start under Justin Fuente.
Pick: Virginia Tech wins 27-24 in an UPSET.
Coastal Carolina is 2-0 ATS, and they will look to continue that run on the road against a tough MAC opponent. Buffalo lost 28-3 to Nebraska in Week 2. It’s asking for a little more on the road, but Grayson McCall delivers another cover.
Pick: Coastal Carolina wins 38-20 and COVERS the spread.
The Hurricanes are 0-2 ATS this season, and we haven’t been thrilled with how they played in either game. The Spartans, however, have found the right combination with quarterback Payton Thorne and running back Kenneth Walker III. The Spartans win this one outright.
Pick: Michigan State wins 30-27 in an UPSET.
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Michigan is ranked again under Jim Harbaugh, and that means the spreads are going to be heavier now. The Wolverines will continue to roll with a rushing attack that averages 339 yards per game, but they need to work on the passing game, too. Northern Illinois has played two wild games so far. This one they get the back-door cover.
Pick: Michigan wins 38-14 but FAIL TO COVER the spread.
The Irish are 0-2 ATS and a hard team to figure out after survival-mode victories against Florida State and Toledo. These teams haven’t met since 2014, so emotions should be high. The Irish close this one out without as much drama.
Pick: Notre Dame wins 34-21 and COVERS the spread.
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This is a huge statement game for Florida, which proved it can hang with Alabama in the SEC championship game last season. Bryce Young will be making his first start in a true road game, and The Swamp should be rocking. The Gators have lost three games at home under Dan Mullen. Look for the Crimson Tide to stay under control and pull away in the second half.
Pick: Alabama wins 34-17 and COVERS the spread.
This spread keeps ticking up, a nod to a nasty Iowa defense that has allowed just 11.5 points in two games and has scored three touchdowns. Kent State nearly covered against Texas A&M, however, and Dustin Crum is a veteran quarterback who can string together a few drives. The Golden Flashes slip under the cover.
Pick: Iowa wins 34-13 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Clemson hammered Georgia Tech 73-7 last season, and they have won the last three home meetings by an average of 23.7 ppg. The Tigers have not given up an offensive TD yet, and if they can avoid turnovers a cover is possible. This is one of the tougher calls with the large spread.
Pick: Clemson wins 44-13 and COVERS the spread.
The Buckeyes were shocked in a non-conference loss to Oregon, and defense will be the emphasis against a Tulsa offense that averages 20 points per game through two weeks. Look for the Buckeyes to get right on both sides in a blowout victory.
Pick: Ohio State wins 52-17 and COVERS the spread.
FAU thumped the Eagles 38-6, which makes it tough to trust them on the road against the red-hot Razorbacks. Arkansas runs the risk of an emotional letdown after the big win against Texas, and perhaps Georgia Southern can take advantage of that with its run-heavy offense.
Pick: Arkansas wins 31-10 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Georgia answered questions about its offense in a blowout against UAB last week, and Kirby Smart will surely remind his team of the double-overtime loss to the Gamecocks in Athens in 2019. It is the SEC opener for both teams, and first-year coach Shane Beamer’s first taste of the rivalry. That still seems like too many points, even against a nasty Georgia defense.
Pick: Georgia wins 39-10 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Auburn hasn’t played a Big Ten opponent in the regular season in 1931. The “Whiteout” will be a tough test, and junior Bo Nix will have to be efficient against a tough Penn State defense. The Nittany Lions make enough big plays in the passing game to score a key non-conference victory.
Pick: Penn State wins 31-24 and COVERS the spread.
Virginia has won four in a row in this series, and the Cavaliers have a unique opportunity to knock the Tar Heels further down the ACC Coastal pecking order. All four of those wins are by 10 points or less. This could be a trendy upset pick, but we like the Tar Heels to win a thriller.
Pick: North Carolina wins 31-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
The instinct is to bank on the Green Wave to cover again after the effort against Oklahoma two weeks ago. Both teams scored big numbers against FCS schools this week, so this will be a shootout. Given the line has dropped a point, there is some value in taking the Rebels (and the over).
Pick: Ole Miss wins 49-31 and COVERS the spread.
BYU has a chance to knock off three straight Pac-12 opponents, and Jaren Hall has emerged as a playmaker at quarterback for the Cougars. Arizona State counters with a merciless rushing attack led by Jayden Daniels and Rachaad White. The Sun Devils pull out a tough victory on the road.
Pick: Arizona State wins 30-24 and COVERS the spread.
UNLV covered a large spread against the Sun Devils in Week 2. This is a bizarre date on the schedule for an Iowa State team coming off a rivalry loss. The Rebels can squeak out a second cover in two weeks if they avoid the early knockout punch at home.
Pick: Iowa State wins 38-10 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Both teams are 2-0 ATS this season, and it should be an exciting offensive matchup. Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener has eight TDs and no interceptions, and UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet averages 13.1 yards per carry. Big plays are coming on both sides. Fresno State has won the last three meetings, so this will be worth staying up late for.
Pick: UCLA wins 38-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
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