Another college football Saturday is upon us and while there are no matchups of top 25 teams, there are plenty of intriguing games on the board and a ton of betting value to be found. That includes a showdown between Arizona State and Michigan State, K.J. Costello returns for Stanford and can Tennessee start to turn its season around?
We have spent all week looking up and down the Week 3 college football betting odds, compiling the best picks and predictions on spread and totals, as well as team totals, player props and derivatives.
SUN DEVILS’ SLOW STARTS
The Arizona State Sun Devils will need to be a whole lot better in the first half if they have any hope of being competitive this weekend against the host Michigan State Spartans. Arizona State has sleepwalked through the first half of its opening two games in 2019, scoring a combined 13 points prior to the half in victories over Kent State and Sacramento State. And that doesn’t bode well at all for Herm Edwards’ crew, which faces a Spartans team that has limited Tulsa and Western Michigan to just 14 first-half points in back-to-back one-sided wins.
Add in the fact that Michigan was the best team in the nation in 2018 at limiting first-half scoring – allowing just 6.3 points per game prior to the break – and it could be a rough start for the visiting Sun Devils. We like a pair of picks here, rolling with host Michigan State on the -7.5 first-half line and going with the Under on the first-half total of 21.
NOWHERE TO RUN
The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels have certainly lived up to their moniker so far in 2019, but they’ll face a daunting task Saturday as they tangle with a stout Northwestern Wildcats defense. The visiting Rebels are led by running back Charles Williams, who ranks third in the nation in rushing yards heading into the weekend (311) and already has four touchdowns on the ground. But the Wildcats are well-rested following a Week 2 bye and limited Stanford to just 3.38 yards per carry on 39 attempts in their season-opening 17-7 loss to the visiting Cardinal.
Northwestern is a 17.5-point home favorite going into this one – and their run-stopping success is no fluke, after they finished 26th in yards against per game last season. with the Rebels’ pass offense very much a work in progress, look for the Wildcats to stamp out the ground game and cover the spread in this one.
SINDELAR A GAME-TIME DECISION
The Purdue starting quarterback situation likely won’t be settled until just prior to Saturday’s game against the visiting TCU Horned Frogs. Boilermakers head coach Jeff Brohm says that, while he’s optimistic that Elijah Sindelar will be cleared from the concussion protocol in time for the game, it’s far from a certainty. Sindelar, who suffered a concussion in Purdue’s Week 2 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores, is off to a blistering start to the season, having thrown for 932 yards and nine touchdowns against three interceptions. Freshman Jack Plummer will get the start in Sindelar’s place if he can’t go.
The concussion news dropped Purdue from being a slight favorite to a slight underdog for Saturday’s game against the Horned Frogs. If Sindelar is cleared, jump on the home team money line before it shifts; if you’re too late, you can still take the Boilermakers ATS if they emerge as the favorite again.
Hawaiians are a kind, generous people – and that philosophy extends to their football team, for better or worse, as the Warriors prepare to face the host Washington Huskies. Hawaii enters the game as one of the most careless teams in the country with the football, having turned it over a whopping eight times (three fumbles lost, five interceptions). And those extra possessions in favor of the home team could sink the Warriors’ chances of competing against a Huskies team that is not only favored by roughly three touchdowns, but has also turned the ball over just twice so far.
Coupled with the Huskies coming off a +3 turnover differential showing in 2018 (and Hawaii finishing at -9), it’s clear that the home side has the edge in the ball security department. Look for Washington to turn one of those Warriors turnovers into a touchdown, a development that pays out at +200.
WIMBUSH BACK IN THE MIX?
The Central Florida Knights will likely have their top three quarterbacks in the fold for this weekend’s encounter with the visiting Stanford Cardinal. Reshirt senior Brandon Wimbush missed last week’s game against Florida Atlantic due to an undisclosed injury, but head coach Jeff Lebby says Wimbush will be in action Saturday. Wimbush and Dillon Gabriel have split the majority of the work so far, but Darriel Mack has been cleared to return and might also hit the field against the Cardinal.
While winning the game is certainly the Knights’ top priority, they might be almost as concerned with getting multiple quarterbacks into Saturday’s game. And with this line having climbed all the way to UCF -9, the conditions are ideal for bettors to favor the visitors ATS given the uncertainty of the UCF offense.
STRAKEL TAKES OVER
The Arkansas Razorbacks have named graduate transfer Nick Starkel their starting quarterback ahead of Saturday’s showdown with Colorado State. Starkel will take over for Ben Hicks, who started each of the Razorbacks’ first two games but was pulled from both due to poor performances. Starkel, who came to Arkansas from Texas A&M, has been the far superior option so far, having completed better than 72 percent of his pass attempts while throwing the Razorbacks’ only passing touchdown to date.
While the upgrade from Starkel to Hicks (who completed less than half of his attempts) is a favorable one, Arkansas’ team total in this one is a sky-high 37.5. With the Razorbacks having scored just 37 points in two games, and Colorado State having finished in the top-30 in plays per game in two straight years (and is 18th this season), the Arkansas U37.5 is a decent play here.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS
It’s been a good-news, bad-news kind of week for the Stanford Cardinal as they prepare to face the Central Florida Knights on Saturday. First, the good: The Cardinal will have quarterback KJ Costello back in the fold after he missed last week’s loss to USC after suffering an injury in the first half of the season opener against Northwestern. Unfortunately, he’ll be missing one of his key offensive lineman, with tackle Walker Little set to undergo season-ending knee surgery; he was also injured vs. the Wildcats.
While losing Little certainly hurts, the return of Costello is a big one for a Cardinal team that saw backup Davis Mills struggle against the Trojans (237 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). The Knights like it fast (ranking 30th in plays per game last season) and Costello is talented enough to lead Stanford over its 26.5-point team total.
A disappointing 24-10 setback to No. 1 Clemson wasn’t the only loss the Texas A&M Aggies suffered last week; they’ve learned they’ll be without leading rusher Jashaun Corbin for the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury. Corbin suffered the injury midway through the third quarter of last week’s loss; he had compiled 34 yards on 13 carries to that point but gained over 100 yards the week prior in a victory over Texas Southern. Corbin finishes the year with 137 rushing yards and a score.
Given that the Aggies are ridiculous 43.5-point favorites for this week’s game against visiting Lamar, look for head coach Jimbo Fisher to take full advantage and give as many of his players as much rest as possible; temperatures will also approach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is another good reason to pump the brakes. We like the Under-63 option here.
ONE TITANIC CHALLENGE
After comparing his team to “The Titanic,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt will look to right the ship this week as the winless Volunteers host state rival Chattanooga. And getting back on track could mean a heavier reliance on a run game that has looked a lot better than the passing game through the first two weeks. Ty Chandler (202 yards) and Eric Gray (106) should both see plenty of action in a game in which the hosts are favored by four touchdowns.
Their early-season success, coupled with struggles from starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, could make this a 55-carry kind of game as Tennessee looks for its first win of the season. And with the Mocs coming in having averaged just 22 points per game against far inferior competition, we see the Vols controlling the game sufficiently to keep their foes below their team total.