The first two full weeks of the college football season have been very entertaining, but the Week 3 slate doesn't look so good on paper. But that's usually when some of the biggest upsets of the season can emerge from left field. After a rough Week 2, let's see if I can pick a few out.
I went 2-4 last week to drop to 6-7 on the year. It's not a horrible start, but it's not great either. Let's turn the page and get back to winning this week, shall we?
Last week: 2-4
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
No. 14 LSU at Mississippi State
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN | Line: LSU -9.5 | Total: 54.5
The lasting memory of LSU this season is getting blown out in the second half vs. Florida State, but this team was ranked No. 5 in the preseason for a reason. The Tigers are really good, and I feel like we could be getting them at a bit of a discount here in the SEC opener at Mississippi State.
Starkville is not an easy place to play, but I don’t think Mississippi State matches up well with LSU at all. MSU completely changed its offense and has run the ball 63% of the time through two games. LSU’s weakness on defense is in the secondary, and the combination of Maason Smith and Mekhi Wingo on the interior of the defensive line will make life difficult for the Bulldogs.
MSU is coming off a game where it was plus-four in turnovers yet still needed overtime to beat Arizona at home. I don’t like playing road favorites very much, but I’m not hesitant to do it here.
Pick: LSU -9.5
East Carolina at Appalachian State
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN+ | Line: App State -9.5 | Total: 49.5
East Carolina is off to a tough 0-2 start to the season and has really struggled to throw the ball without longtime QB Holton Ahlers. But the Pirates showed some mettle on defense against Michigan and then limited Marshall to only 3.4 yards per rush last week in a game they led entering the fourth quarter. Rasheen Ali rushed for 85 yards for Marshall, and 56 came on one run.
I think ECU can find a way to muck it up and play a low-scoring game against an App State team that wants to lean on the run and is coming off a tough, double-overtime loss to North Carolina.
Pick: Under 49.5
No. 11 Tennessee at Florida
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: UT -6.5 | Total: 58.5
Billy Napier is just 6-8 at Florida thus far and could really use a signature win following the disappointing loss at Utah in Week 1. Could it come this weekend at home vs. Tennessee?
If you’ve been paying close attention to Tennessee, the offense just isn’t operating at the same level under Joe Milton as it did with Hendon Hooker at quarterback. Milton is a good player, but he doesn’t have the pinpoint accuracy and elite processing of Hooker that made the Vols so explosive last year.
Will Milton be able to elevate his play in the toughest road environment of his career? I’m not so sure. At the same time, Florida needs to play a much cleaner game than it did on the road against Utah. The Gators were killed by penalties at inopportune times and it’s hard to trust Graham Mertz and this offense.
The Gators are my lean, but with the spread ticking under the key number of seven, I have a stronger opinion on the total. With Milton’s inconsistencies and Florida wanting to play slow, I like the under.
Pick: Under 58.5
Miami (Ohio) at Cincinnati
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN+ | Line: UC -14.5 | Total: 45.5
Cincinnati was impressive last week as it beat Pitt as a seven-point underdog, but I think this is a spot where the Bearcats could be caught flat-footed. After beating a team like Pitt, I won’t be surprised if they overlook Miami Ohio with the much-anticipated Big 12 debut vs. Oklahoma coming next week at Nippert Stadium.
Miami already played a much tougher team this year when it went down to Florida and lost to the Miami Hurricanes. And this is an in-state rivalry that carries much more weight on the Miami side. The RedHawks haven’t beaten the Bearcats since 2005. Cincinnati’s roster is full of transfers after an offseason coaching change, so the motivation level to really pummel a rival won’t be there.
I wasn’t high on Cincinnati at all entering the season, so I think UC is being overvalued here. Miami has a veteran quarterback and can keep this game within the number.
Pick: Miami OH +14.5
James Madison at Troy
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: NFLN | Line: Troy -2.5 | Total: 46.5
Despite an uneven start to the season, I like this spot for Troy. The Trojans definitely aren’t as good on defense as they were last year when they won the Sun Belt, but I think this is a good bounce-back opportunity at home against a James Madison team that had an emotional comeback win over Virginia last week.
JMU’s quarterback play could be a bit shaky in this environment, and I think Troy’s offense will be able to move the ball pretty effectively against a JMU defense that was gashed for 377 passing yards by a true freshman backup quarterback for Virginia. If Troy can have some of that success through the air, it opens things up for running back Kimani Vidal, who has rushed for 331 yards already this season.
Pick: Troy -2.5
North Texas at Louisiana Tech
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN+ | Line: LT -4.5 | Total: 69.5
This isn’t a bet on Louisiana Tech as much as it is a fade of North Texas and its defense. Through two games, North Texas has allowed 104 points and 1,197 yards to two teams not exactly known for offensive prowess — Cal and Florida International. The loss to FIU was especially ugly. FIU posted 46 points and 514 yards, which is more points and yards than it had combined in its previous two games this season — a 22-17 loss to Louisiana Tech and a 14-12 win over Maine.
Pick: Louisiana Tech -4.5
Georgia Tech at No. 17 Ole Miss
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: SECN | Line: Ole Miss -19 | Total: 63.5
Ole Miss beat Tulane last weekend in New Orleans, but it wasn’t as lopsided as the 17-point margin makes it look. The game was tied entering the fourth quarter and Tulane was deep in Ole Miss territory with the chance to take the lead with under seven minutes to play. And that was with Tulane playing a backup quarterback.
Now, with the SEC opener at Alabama coming next week, this is a prime lookahead spot for the Rebels against a Georgia Tech team that is undervalued on the market. Since Brent Key took over the program last season, the Yellow Jackets are 6-1 against the spread as an underdog. This is just too many points. Ole Miss is quietly dealing with a bunch of injuries, too, including leading WR Tre Harris going down with a knee injury vs. Tulane.
The Rebels will win the game, but Georgia Tech always plays hard and has enough firepower to stay within the number.
Pick: Georgia Tech +19