College Football Week 3 Best Bets, Picks, Predictions

While the Top-25 matchups cool off, you can find the best bets for College Football Week 3. Hitting on best bets for Notre Dame-Cal, Texas-UTSA, Pitt-Western Michigan, and plenty more. Get the top betting picks for Week 3 College Football.

Week 3 College Football Best Bets & Predictions

As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter @wayne_sports_ where I post all of my bets for college football and the NFL. I do my best to update this article later in the week with any bets I add, but not every bet makes it here. You can also check out my Tallysight profile for all of my picks here.

Record This Season: 24-18-1

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Indiana Hoosiers

Game Info: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 12:00 PM EST

Coverage: BTN

Western Kentucky is 2-0 to start the season on the back of their passing offense that ranks 33rd in the country in EPA. The record-breaking offense that was the most pass-heavy in college football is gone, but Austin Reed has been very good so far with a 114.5 passer rating that ranks ninth among quarterbacks with at least 65 dropbacks.

Meanwhile, Indiana’s pass defense has surprisingly struggled. The Hoosiers rank 90th in PFF’s pass coverage grade despite facing a middling Illinois team and an FCS Idaho team. Reed and Daewood Davis, a former Oregon transfer who has 202 yards in two games, should be able to move the ball.

Meanwhile, the Indiana offense has posed more questions than answers through two weeks. They only gained 4.6 yards per play and 1.2 yards per rush against Illinois in Week 1 before needing a second-half rally to overcome a 10-0 halftime deficit to an FCS team that was 4-7 last season.

Connor Bazalek has been underwhelming to start his Indiana tenure, to say the least, as he’s completed just 54.3% of his passes. I haven’t seen anything from him that would suggest he’s capable of leading an offense to a blowout win, much less against a defense that ranks ninth in the FBS against the pass, albeit against lower level competition. I like the Hilltoppers to keep this thing close.

FPI: Western Kentucky 65, Indiana 78

SP+ Spread: Western Kentucky -3.4

Best Bet: Western Kentucky +6.5 (play to +5.5)

Cal Golden Bears at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Game Info: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 2:30 PM EST

Coverage: NBC/Peacock

It was an obvious letdown spot for Notre Dame, and I’m frustrated that I didn’t see it coming. They worked tirelessly all offseason to prepare for their Week 1 game against Ohio State, were leading at halftime, and fell apart in the second half. Of course, the following week they would struggle. Handicapping emotion is half the battle in this sport.

However, this week sets up for a beautiful bounceback spot for the Irish. Cal has been solid on its way to a 2-0 start, but it’s shown a key weakness in defending the run. UC Davis ran for over 5 yards per clip against them and UNLV’s Aidan Robbins hit 6.0 YPC last week. The Irish haven’t run the ball well at all this year, but they should be able to establish their ground game given the matchup behind their elite offensive line.

The season-ending shoulder injury for quarterback Tyler Buchner is a bigger issue, and Drew Pyne, a redshirt sophomore, enters as a relative unknown. Pyne has attempted just 39 passes in three seasons, but he did complete 15 of 30 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns against two elite defenses in Wisconsin and Cincinnati last season.

Ultimately, this is an obvious buy-low spot for Notre Dame against a Cal team still finding its footing after losing 14 of its 22 starters from its final game last season. It’s important to wipe away some of the lasting images of that shocking loss to Marshall and capitalize on the best value you’ll see all season for the Irish.

FPI: Cal 74, Notre Dame 18

SP+ Spread: Notre Dame -19.9

Best Bet: Notre Dame -10 (play to -13)

Penn State Nittany Lions at Auburn Tigers

Game Info: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 3:30 PM EST

Coverage: CBS

It’s important not to overreact to one game against a non-Power Five school, but Penn State might finally have their guy in the backfield. Freshman Nicholas Singleton exploded with ten carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns last week, becoming the first Nittany Lion to run for 100 yards since 2020.

If Sean Clifford can be supported by a dynamic ground game, it changes everything for this offense. Clifford isn’t the most exciting passer, and it might be Drew Allar time sooner rather than later, but he’s capable of running a consistent offense against quality competition. Much was made of the loss of Jahan Dotson, but the trio of Mitchell Tinsley, Parker Washington, and Keandre Lambert-Smith have combined for almost 300 yards through two games.

Meanwhile, Auburn’s T.J. Finley has struggled mightily thus far with three interceptions to just one touchdown and a poor passer rating of 61.5 despite facing Mercer and San Jose State. Finely ranks third in the FBS in PFF’s turnover worthy play rate at 9.5% (min. 25 dropbacks). Things will get much tougher for him this week against a Penn State secondary featuring Joey Porter Jr. and Ji’Ayir Brown, two All-Big Ten candidates.

Auburn’s offense is built through its ground game with the dynamic Tank Bigsby, and he’ll create problems for a defense that PFF rates as the sixth-worst at tackling in the country. Bigsby has 29 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns through two games. However, I believe Penn State can load the box and rely on its secondary to handle Finely on the perimeter.

FPI: Penn State 13, Auburn 40

SP+ Spread: Penn State -1.5

Best Bet: Penn State -3 (play to -4)

Pittsburgh Panthers at Western Michigan Broncos

Game Info: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 7:30 PM EST

Coverage: ESPNU

In its ACC Championship season, Pittsburgh had two regular season losses. One was by four points to conference foe Miami in a shootout between now Steeler Kenny Pickett and future NFL quarterback Tyler Van Dyke. The other was to Western Michigan in a game where the Panthers were 14-point favorites. You can bet Pat Narduzzi has had this game circled as an opportunity to get some retribution.

Kedon Slovis suffered an injury as he took a ton of big hits on Saturday, and backup Nick Patti also tweaked his ankle. I’d expect one or both to be active this week, but frankly, I’m not sure it matters a ton. Pitt has a significant advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball and their run game should dominate.

Western Michigan returned just 22% of its snaps along the offensive line this season, and the early results have been bad as they rank 119th in the FBS in pass-blocking this year. With the likes of Calijah Kancey, John Morgan III, and Habakkuk Baldonado, the Broncos will have no hope of protecting Jack Sapolek, who has been incredibly underwhelming in replacement for Kaleb Eleby.

The revamped Pittsburgh rushing offense should go ham this week, as well, after Western allowed Michigan State to run for over 6 yards per carry in Week 1. Last week, Israel Abanikanda had the hot hand with 25 carries for 154 yards and a score, but Rodney Hammond’s two-touchdown effort in Week 1 showed he can handle a large workload as well. With a stout run game and massive edge in the trenches, I’m backing Pitt here.

FPI: Pittsburgh 31, Western Michigan 96

SP+ Spread: Pittsburgh -18.9

Best Bet: Pittsburgh -10 (play to -13)

Michigan State Spartans at Washington Huskies

Game Info: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 7:30 PM EST

Coverage: ABC

After Kenneth Walker left for the NFL, there were distinct concerns about Michigan State’s ability to run the ball. However, the Spartans’ rushing offense has thrived. Jalen Berger and Jarek Broussard have combined for 362 yards at a 6.2 YPC clip behind an offensive line that PFF has rated as the best in the country in run-blocking.

Despite facing Kent State and Portland State to start the season, Washington’s run defense is ranked 103rd in EPA so far this season. While I am not a Payton Thorne fan at all – his 85.8 passer rating so far ranks 91st among quarterbacks with at least 25 dropbacks – I do expect the Spartans to be able to run the ball in this game.

Michigan State’s defense also has a distinct edge. Washington is playing its third game under new head coach Kalen DaBoer, and while the early results have been promising, this is their first game against a Power Five opponent. The Spartans provide a far tougher test with their dynamic defensive line and experienced secondary.

Jacoby Windmon has been the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week two straight weeks. He ranks first in the country with four forced fumbles, second with 5.5 sacks, and he’s PFF’s highest-graded edge rusher in the country. I expect him to wreak havoc against a Washington offensive line that’s without all-star tackle Jaxson Kirkland for the season.

If you look at Bill Connelly’s SP+ ratings and ESPN’s FPI ratings, Michigan State should be favored in this game, and I tend to agree. I like the Spartans to win this game, and I would bet this spread all the way down to a pick ‘em. Getting the h

FPI: Michigan State 11, Washington 25

SP+ Spread: Michigan State -7.4

Best Bet: Michigan State +3.5 (play to pick ‘em)

UTSA Roadrunners at Texas Longhorns

Game Info: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 8:00 PM EST

Coverage: LHN

Texas certainly put a scare in Alabama last week, and I was right there with the country in shock that it was that close for four quarters. Steve Sarkisian clearly spent all summer preparing for that game, and he almost pulled off the massive upset. The Longhorns leave that game beaten down and injured, and this week is an obvious letdown spot for them.

The injury to Quinn Ewers is massive for Texas as he had equipped himself to Power Five football much faster than I expected. Ewers ranks 9th in the FBS in PFF’s big-time throw rate at 10.5% while Card’s career rate is just 2.5% which would rank outside the top 100 (min. 25 dropbacks). After Ewers was hurt on Saturday, Texas’s offense stalled, and Card also seemed to be hobbled with an ankle injury of his own.

To make matters worse for Texas, All-American candidate RB Bijan Robinson suffered a shoulder injury. It’s not expected to keep him out this week, but if Robinson isn’t at 100%, the Texas offense will struggle to move the ball consistently. UTSA’s defense is ranked 41st in the country in EPA against the run and 21st in PFF’s run defense grades.

UTSA has been quite impressive this season despite losing leading rusher Sincere McCormick to the NFL. Frank Harris has led a dynamic offense with 696 passing yards and six touchdowns to just one interception while last season’s First Team All C-USA receiver Zakhari Franklin has followed it up with 20 catches for 222 yards and two scores.

I hate betting against SP+, but the site doesn’t factor in the emotional handicapping aspect here. Similar to how Notre Dame was exhausted and unprepared for Marshall last week, I anticipate something similar for Texas this week. I wouldn’t go as far as to say UTSA will win outright, but they’re very capable of keeping it close, and this isn’t a game Sarkisian can overlook.

FPI: UTSA 66, Texas 6

SP+ Spread: Texas -15.1

Best Bet: UTSA +12 (play to +10)

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. As the United States embarks on an exciting journey towards the legalization of sports betting, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to cover industry news, NFL and NBA odds, and more.

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