Would You Rather: Week 3 College Football Lines

Photo: © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Two-point conversions are the enemy of the handicapper. I've often said this.

It was a two-point conversion which took the LSU lead to 14 instead of 13, which made the Texas responding touchdown cut the deficit to 7 instead of 6 -- which ensured our Texas +6.5 bet didn't cash. It was a two-point conversion which the Miami Hurricanes missed with a 5-point lead, allowing North Carolina to win outright in regulation with a responding touchdown -- which ensured our Miami -5 bet didn't cash.

After a slew of wicked breaks in Week 1, I finished Week 2 still in the green, though salty at those game scripts that turned a homerun week into a solid double. I went 4-3, bringing my year total up to 5-7, and my overall cash out to -1.65 units. (Thank goodness for the Dog Player, which has gone 2-0 for me, cashing in on SMU +115 and BYU +145).

Team tendencies and strengths are coming into clarity with every passing week, so we should be set for another positive week in Week 3. This is also one of our last weeks to take advantage of out of conference edges, so I'm looking to be aggressive at the books.

Lock Of The Week

Hawai'i (+21.5) @ Washington (Saturday, 7:30 PM EST)

Time to ride the rainbow, team!

Washington was a ranked team last week, and they lost to an unranked Cal squad that, yes, has a pretty good defense -- but the Huskies' squad lost a ton of talent from 2018, and Jacob Eason's calm evisceration of FCS powerhouse Eastern Washington may have led to an overzealous crowning. He looked pretty pedestrian against the Golden Bears.

Now, Hawai'i doesn't have half the defense that Cal does -- so Washington should be able to pour points all over them, right? Not necessarily. In a one-possession game against Cal, Washington kept the ball on the ground, shortening the game by keeping the clock running. Hawai'i's giving up 5.88 yards/carry, which is seventh-worst in the FBS -- so they're gonna give up points. But this won't be like Hawai'i's other games against Arizona (cover, win outright) and Oregon State (no cover, win outright) -- Washington is gonna pull the pace down.

And so the number of drives will decrease, but the Rainbow Warriors will still be able to punch back with some points of their own. Hawai'i QB Cole McDonald has the arm strength, fearlessness, and mobility to make the Run 'n Shoot a highly dangerous offense, and while the Washington secondary is the best he's faced so far this year, it's also not as good as the public seems to think: every starter save for nickel Myles Bryant graduated, and the lack of experience is reflected in the quality of play.

The implied Hawai'i score is 17 points, given the total (59) -- the only time they scored less than that last season was the bowl game against Louisiana Tech, which McDonald didn't finish (he was benched). When he's on, this team will score.

And McDonald should be on: he got a Week 1 benching for throwing 4 INTs against Arizona. That seems like a message from HC Nick Rolovich and the coaching staff: that they know McDonald is better than that. Now with an undefeated record and a chance to sweep the Pac-12 in regular season play before stepping into their conference schedule against the Mountain West, I expect Hawai'i to smell the blood in the water from the battle Washington fought and lost against the Golden Bears. They'll be up for it.

You may want to take Hawai'i 1st Half, to protect against an impassioned Chris Peterson halftime speech that leads to a Husky surge. But I think Hawai'i will hang around a two-possession deficit for the whole game, and even if Washington builds a 20+ point lead, we know that they're going to salt the game away with runs (i.e. score no more points) and Hawai'i will be willing to pour garbage time tuddies on the total. I like this line a lot.

Stay Away

Clemson (-28) @ Syracuse (Saturday, 7:30 PM EST)

Stay Away is doing pretty well for you so far. In Week 1, it protected you from a gut-wrenching backdoor cover between Stanford and Northwestern. In Week 2, it again kept you from a last second Texas A&M cover against Clemson.

Clemson's back, featured in a four touchdown spread on the road against a 'Cuse team that's played them tight in the past two years, but also generally looked a lot better in the past two years. Four touchdowns is oh so juicy, but I won't take the cheese.

Dog Player

Iowa State (+110) v. Iowa (Saturday, 4:00 PM EST)

This is a free bet on the Dog Player, as I see it -- but hey! I'm undefeated, and there's not a ton of attractive dogs on a very lopsided Week 3. I'll give you a deep cut underdog ML to bet at the end, if you're feeling super frisky.

But Iowa State, who opened as a home favorite in the Corn-Off -- er, the CyHawk Bowl -- has now swung under the line as a dog. And I get the fear: Iowa State came out limp against Northern Iowa and nearly gave the game away. So much for the sneaky Big 12 champions.

But Iowa State is still well-coached, with a better QB talent -- yes, I said it -- a better QB talent in Brock Purdy over Hawkeye mainstay Nate Stanley. They've had an extra week to prepare for this game, and I think a Week 1 FCS opponent with a Week 2 bye and a Week 3 rivalry game is such a huge look-ahead spot, that it didn't really tell the story of the Cyclones. I'll take the home crowd in an angry, rough-and-tumble matchup.

Feeling frisky: Georgia State (+260) v. Western Michigan

Four For The Road

Air Force (+3.5) v. Colorado (Saturday, 12:30 PM EST)

A triple option team against one of the worst run-stopping defensive fronts in the country -- what could go wrong?!

It's too early to say Colorado's that bad at defending the run, but man it hasn't been pretty thus far. Coming off a huge win against the Cornhuskers and staring down the barrel of Arizona State in the Pac-12 South opener -- a conference in which no team is good -- they catch Air Force off a bye. I'll buy the field goal for the Academy.

NC State (-6.5) @ West Virginia (12:00 PM EST)

West Virginia is really, really bad this year, guys. They haven't covered yet; NC State has covered twice. West Virginia can't run the football at all; NC State is averaging 4.53 yards allowed/attempt on defense, which is seventh-best in the nation. Yeah, NC State ain't played nobody -- but this is a well-coached team with superior talent, especially on defense. West Virginia is gonna be an auto-fade for me against Power 5 competition until the public catches up.

Pitt (+17) @ Penn State (Saturday, 12:00 PM EST)

Penn State is lying to you. It took a second half surge for them to put Buffalo to sleep -- and Buffalo ain't it this year -- and they stampeded over the FCS Idaho Vandals in Week 1. But their offense is solely reliant on explosive plays, which Pitt's defense won't give up as easily -- while Penn State's defense bleeds big plays. Pitt has the speed, both in on-field talent and in pace of play, to capitalize.

Oklahoma (-23.5) @ UCLA (Saturday, 8:00 PM EST)

If you can still grab this before the line moves to 24, do it -- and even at 24, I'd still think about. This line opened at 20 and has climbed since, and with good reason: Oklahoma and UCLA both play at warp speed, but only one has the weapons and quarterback to put points on the board. This number could very well be covered by the first half.



Written By:

Benjamin Solak

Director of Special Projects

Director of Special Projects and Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast. The 3-Wide Raven.

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