Welcome to Week 3 of the college football season! ... it is Week 3, right?
It can be hard to keep track of just what exactly is going on in college football nowadays, as the Big Ten looks to rejoin the fold, Pac-12 programs work with states to clear practice gatherings, and the MAC just kinda shrugs its way into the conversation. But it is indeed Week 3, which means we’re starting to learn a thing or two about these programs, and can begin to bet with a little bit of confidence.
Here are the three games I’m excited to watch this week, either from a draft perspective or a competition perspective, as well as my leanings on each line going into the weekend. Odds are supplied by our friends over at BetOnline.
Miami @ Louisville (-2.5)
I don’t have a great bead on this game, as Miami’s new offensive approach under Rhett Lashlee and transfer quarterback D’Eriq King against UAB seemed to be “We will run the ball until we win,” and Louisville’s game against Western Kentucky just reminded us all how much Mekhi Becton mattered to that team—they could not handle a good CFB EDGE in DeAngelo Malone, and now find themselves against a great one in Quincy Roche. That running game from Miami should take advantage of a bad Louisville run defense, while Roche’s presence could spell trouble for the Louisville passing game. That pushes me toward Miami, currently a slight dog on the road.
But I also think that public perception is higher on King, a well-known name and hot transfer target, and lower on Micale Cunningham, who I believe to be an objectively more talented player. The Cardinals also have a better stable of pass-catchers to pour points on quick. And while the Louisville offensive line definitely isn’t good, the Miami offensive line struggles in pass protection as well.
As such, I do like Louisville even as a slight favorite here, but I’m also looking at a total that has jumped to 64.5—five points since open at 59.5. If Miami is able to lace together some good running drives, they’re going to burn some clock even as they run their fast-paced approach. I might take the under instead of a particular line, but it’s a tough game to peg.
UCF @ Georgia Tech (+7.5)
I know this reads like a letdown spot for the Jackets, who came off of a bigtime win against Florida State in their opening ACC performance under new HC Mike Norvell—but watching the game back, it’s not like Georgia Tech got lucky or punched above their weight. Tech had two first-half picks in Florida State territory as true freshman quarterback Jeff Sims got his sea legs under him, and should expect Sims to limit the boneheaded plays against a less aggressive and talented defense in UCF.
What have we learned from our first two weeks of college football? The opening games tend to be duds. Louisiana-Lafayette beat a sleepy Iowa State team who couldn’t figure out their special teams; Arkansas State got warm with Memphis and then took it to a mistake-riddled Kansas State team. Dogs are good bets as things stay wild in the COVID-affected season, and I’ll take the warm and feisty Georgia Tech program to hang within a touchdown against UCF, which has seen opt-outs and graduations whittle away at their roster.
Austin Peay @ Cincinnati (-34)
Everything I just said about preferring teams who have played and favoring the dog in this weird kickoff to the season? Forget all of that.
Cincinnati is a well-coached team with Luke Fickell at the helm and returns a ton of starters in both trenches, on defense, and critically, at quarterback, where potential NFLer Desmond Ridder brings running ability and a live arm. Austin Peay just got absolutely waxed by a Pittsburgh team with a solid CFB quarterback in Kenny Pickett—Ridder is a more dangerous player.
The concern here is that Cincinnati won’t play at a quick enough pace to cover the spread, in which case, you can feel free to hit the under on this one as well (52.5 is the total). But with a turnover-oriented defense led by the returning safety James Wiggins, as well as first-team AACers safety Darrick Forrest and cornerback Ahmad Gardner, this team can create points and short fields on defense. Even if they turn to a run-heavy script, they have the power to score on grinding drives. I think they handle the spread.
To wager on these games and more, head over to BetOnline.