What ten games appear to be the best bets and the best picks against the spread going into the first weekend of Week 3? Here you go. Enjoy.
Now the puzzle pieces are starting to come together after two weeks, and that leads to two themes in a light week without too many big games.
1) The favorites need to go favorites, except when it comes to the biggest of teams.
Not in this are Clemson (-27.5 against Syracuse), Ohio State (-16.5 against Indiana), Oklahoma (-21.5 against UCLA), and Georgia (-33.5 against Arkansas State) who should all win, but might struggle to cover. Those are a bit too dicey to be among the ten best predictions against the spread.
2) It’s time to go with the snobs over the slobs – Caddyshack tag line, before you get too mad about it – with several Power Five teams getting great odds against some Group of Fivers. However, to start with big league vs. big league …
10 Best ATS Picks So Far: 13-10
Click on each game for the game preview and fearless prediction.
LINE: Michigan State -14.5, o/u: 42.5
ATS PICK: Michigan State
Call this being an all-in believer that Michigan State might be the nation’s most under-ranked and under-appreciated team going. The D leads all of college football against the run – again – the O is getting the pop it needs out of QB Brian Lewerke, and Arizona State sputtered and coughed against Kent State and Sacramento State.
Sun Devil QB Jayden Daniels has been terrific so far, and he’s going to be the franchise for the next few seasons, but he’s a true freshman playing his third game against this D.
LINE: Iowa -2.5, o/u: 44.5
ATS PICK: Iowa
There’s two ways to go with this. Maybe you don’t touch this thing with a 75-foot-pole, because it’s rivalry game involving an Iowa State team with the make-up to beat anyone in America on the right day, or need overtime to get by Northern Iowa in Week One. Or, you go with the team that’s better at college football and giving away just 2.5 points.
It’s never the wrong call to pick the better team, especially when the spread is less than a field goal.
Iowa State could absolutely win this. The Gameday atmosphere will be electric, the energy will be there from the start, and … Iowa is just better.
LINE: Louisville -10.5, o/u: 50.5
ATS PICK: Louisville
Louisville might just be okay.
It’s a strange game played in Nashville, TN between two teams from Kentucky, but the venue shouldn’t matter if the Cardinals play like they did over the first two weeks. They gave Notre Dame problems, but mistakes did them in, and then they rolled through Western Kentucky by 42 in a nice tune-up game.
WKU’s offense has been fine, but it was the only team to lose to an FCS team in Week One – dropping the date to Central Arkansas 35-28 – and it should have an issue keeping up if Louisville gets off to a hot start. You’re not asking for a total wipeout, just an 11 point win by an ACC team over a suspect Conference USAer.
Keeping with the Power Five over Group of Five thing …
LINE: Oklahoma State -13.5, o/u: 64.5
ATS PICK: Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State offense has been unstoppable so far. The passing game is crisp and explosive, the running game amazing, and everything so far has worked for the nation’s third-most efficient passing attack and eighth-best O overall.
Tulsa has no pass rush, it doesn’t take the ball away, and the offense hasn’t done too much so far. Coming up with seven points against Michigan State is fine – that D is a killer – but 34 against San Jose State? The Golden Hurricane could put up 34 this week and still lose by over two touchdowns.
Throw in the passing of Oklahoma State super-booster T. Boone Pickens, and the not-really-a-road-game aspect to this – the two schools are only an hour apart – and the Cowboys roll.
AGAIN with the snobbery of Power Five over Group of Five …
LINE: Duke -6.5, o/u: 51.5
ATS PICK: Middle Tennessee
Duke has seen the two extremes so far, losing 42-3 against Alabama to kick things off, and having an easy time of it against North Carolina A&T last week.
This week should be somewhere in the middle.
Middle Tennessee is a good, sound team with a nice offense and the ability to keep up the pace for a bit, but it doesn’t have the run defense and it doesn’t control the clock at all. It’ll seem like Duke has the ball all game long with an efficient and workmanlike performance to win by more than a touchdown.