College football best bets for Week 3 from Matt Youmans

September 15, 2023 02:19 PM

College football best bets for Week 3

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College Football Odds | College Football Betting Splits | Week 3 Hub

FLORIDA (+6) over Tennessee

On the list of the coaches to put your faith in and money on, Billy Napier is nowhere near the top. Napier was a questionable hire by Florida in November 2021 and his future in Gainesville is looking doubtful.

After going 6-7 last year, Napier did not have his team well prepared for the Aug. 31 opener at Utah, a mistake-riddled 24-11 loss to the Utes. His quarterback, Graham Mertz, is a Wisconsin castoff. The heat on Napier to start winning is getting intense, making the Gators’ game against Tennessee on Saturday of great importance to a coach who’s never going to be compared to Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier.

One thing the Gators always have done — even in leaner years with former coaches Will Muschamp, Jim McElwain and Dan Mullen — is beat the Volunteers. In a one-sided rivalry, Florida has won nine straight at home in “The Swamp” and is 16-2 in the past 18 meetings. Tennessee handed Napier, who was an 11-point underdog, a 38-33 loss last year despite 453 passing yards by Anthony Richardson.

The loss at Utah was not all bad. After allowing a 70-yard touchdown pass on the Utes’ first play, Florida held a 346-200 advantage in total yards the rest of the way. Mertz passed for 333 yards.

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton, a former Michigan transfer, is often hyped for his athletic ability and strong arm. Milton is not an especially accurate passer, however, and now he’s facing a legit defense in a true road game following tuneups against Virginia and Austin Peay.

I need to see it to believe it with Milton. The series trends in favor of Florida are too strong to pass on this home ‘dog.

Closing line value has not translated to wins for me so far this season, so I’m not going to be too number sensitive with this game. I played it +7 this week and still will take six points.

Pick: Florida +6

A bad beat on Texas Tech, a 6-point home ‘dog in a 38-30 loss to Oregon, was the low point of my 0-4 performance last week. But the early slump in this column is not just about bad luck. All losing streaks have something to do with bad handicapping. I’ll try to turn it around, and here are three more plays for Week 3 (home team in CAPS):

OHIO (+3) over Iowa State

The Bobcats should have the superior offense behind veteran quarterback Kurtis Rourke, who was knocked out in a season-opening loss at San Diego State. Rourke passed for 25 touchdowns with four interceptions last season. The Cyclones have scored more than 21 points in only two of their past 10 games. (Must get +3 to play).

South Alabama (+7.5) over OKLAHOMA STATE

Cowboys coach Mike Gundy is good and also lucky. Gundy has rotated three mediocre quarterbacks and has found just enough offense to beat Central Arkansas and Arizona State with a pair of fourth-quarter rallies. South Alabama should be Oklahoma State’s toughest test. The Jaguars returned 18 starters from a 10-win team that took a 32-31 loss at UCLA last year. Senior quarterback Carter Bradley has completed 75% of his passes, and running backs La’Damian Webb and Kentrel Bullock lead a ground attack producing 161.5 yards per game. The South Point offers the best number on the underdog. (Play to +7).

WEST VIRGINIA (-2.5) over Pittsburgh

Penn State is a powerhouse this season, so the Mountaineers were somewhat impressive in their ability to hang with the Nittany Lions most of the way in a 38-15 loss that got away late. This is a must-win type of game for struggling fifth-year coach Neal Brown, whose offense is stronger on the ground. West Virginia is running for 225 ypg with running backs CJ Donaldson and Jahiem White leading the charge. The Panthers have problems on the offensive line, so their running attack has been weak and quarterback Phil Jurkovec completed 10 of 32 passes in a loss to Cincinnati last week.

I made this a VSiN Pro play at West Virginia +1 early in the week before a major tout service released the play and flipped the Mountaineers to favorites. I hate to recommend bad numbers, so laying -150 is an option. (Play at -2.5 or better).

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