Kramer: Bettor's guide to Week 3 in college football

By Adam Kramer  (VSiN.com) 

September 17, 2022 09:02 AM
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So, is anybody any good?

Now, I’m only half-joking. Well, maybe three-quarters-joking. But Week 2 of the college football season was a delightful bit of carnage to take inventory of.

The Sun Belt smashed the Power 5 mailbox, which was both entertaining and genuinely shocking. Texas A&M lost outright at home to Appalachian State as an 18-point favorite, Marshall beat Notre Dame in South Bend as a 20.5-point dog, and Nebraska lost to Georgia Southern despite being tabbed a 23.5-point favorite. 

Oh, and Alabama almost lost as nearly a three-touchdown favorite to Texas. Remember that?

Given everything that transpired after the Crimson Tide’s close call, it feels like a distant story. But the nation’s No. 1 team looking completely and utterly mortal to a backup quarterback is another moment worth charting.

Kansas also won a football game, as if you needed any further evidence that the sport is in a wild mood. The Jayhawks toppled West Virginia as a two-touchdown dog, moving to 2-0.

Kansas is 2-0. Rutgers is 2-0. Notre Dame is 0-2. Just like we all thought.

What does this all mean? Time will tell. These weeks tend to sneak up when you’re least expecting them, and that is precisely what happened here. Whether it’s a blip on the radar or a snapshot into the future, however, is something we’ll learn in the months ahead.

Here’s what I do know: This is where college football is at its finest. When Kansas and Georgia Southern are key talking points, the rest of us win (well, except for Nebraska fans; more on that in a moment).

No other sport can be this random and weird and lovable without an introduction. As we settle into the season, we can appreciate that the sport is staying true to its origins.

The Appetizer: Football Tidbits and Observations

1. It’s hard to capture just how disappointing Notre Dame’s home loss to Marshall is. Quarterback Tyler Buchner really struggled, the Irish rushing attack was limited and the defense, which was supposed to be the heart and soul of this team, didn’t do much to slow Marshall down. The question now is pretty simple: Where is the floor? Notre Dame plays UNC, BYU, Clemson and USC this year, although every game suddenly feels up for grabs. Not the ideal start for Marcus Freeman, who is the first Notre Dame coach to ever start 0-3.

2. Speaking of disappointment, let’s talk about Jimbo Fisher. I thought Texas A&M would start to turn the corner this season. There is just too much young talent on the roster not to. But to see the Aggies total 186 yards of offense against a defense that allowed nearly 600 yards last week is truly shocking. Texas A&M now plays Miami, and a 1-2 start feels plausible. It wouldn’t shock me to see massive depth-chart changes in the coming days, including at QB. Oh, and the schedule gets much tougher soon.

3. Amid the carnage, BYU delivered a massive win over Baylor at home deep into the night. The Cougars were without two of their top wideouts, which was one of the reasons why the line moved some toward kickoff. BYU covered the 2-point spread with a win in double OT, and we have to, at the very least, start pondering the possibility of a playoff run. The Cougars play at Oregon next week, which will be fascinating. Notre Dame and Arkansas are also on the schedule. If BYU keeps rolling, prepare for the exhausting playoff chatter.

4. J.J. McCarthy is now 40-1 to win the Heisman. The Michigan QB was 90-1 as of a few weeks ago, but that changed quickly as he was named the starting QB moving forward. McCarthy completed 11 of 12 throws for 229 yards and three touchdowns against Hawaii (yes, it was Hawaii). In two games, he has four touchdowns and only one incompletion. Jim Harbaugh said he wanted to use these first two games to make a decision, and McCarthy took full advantage over Cade McNamara.

5. Wisconsin, you’re not getting off that easy. While the Badgers’ loss to Washington State was buried in the sea of storylines, it should not go unnoticed. Wisconsin closed as a 17.5-point favorite over Wazzu but could only muster 14 points at home. I thought we would see a much-improved Wisconsin team this year. As of now, that is not the case. On the flip side, what a win for Washington State. Jake Dickert has done an amazing job since taking over in the middle of last season.

6. That USC offense can fly. I still have questions about the defense, but it’s hard not to love what you’re seeing from Caleb Williams, who is now + 320 to win the Heisman and the second choice on the board. We have a long way to go, but the Trojans are fun again.

7. Quinn Ewers will reportedly be out 4-6 weeks for Texas. This stinks. He looked fabulous against Alabama before injuring his shoulder, and now the Longhorns will likely be without one of their key pieces for a good chunk of the year.

8. Scott Frost has been fired. After losing to Georgia Southern late Saturday night, it felt inevitable. But I am surprised Nebraska pulled the trigger when it did considering Frost’s buyout would have gone down significantly on Oct. 1. The fact that Nebraska didn’t wait shows how little patience was left. Goodness did I miss badly on this team.

The Buffet: The Five Best Games of the Weekend

1. No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon (-3.5, 56.5) 

If you’re into overreactions, this is your matchup. Just over a week ago, Oregon was absolutely destroyed by Georgia. The Ducks responded with a 70-burger on Eastern Washington. BYU, meanwhile, delivered a superb home win (and cover) over Baylor without a few key players. The natural momentum feels like it’s in BYU’s favor, although its game with Baylor could come with a cost. That was a physical and emotional slugfest. It might be dangerous to draw too much from Oregon’s game against the champions as well. Tough one to figure. 

2. No. 13 Miami at No. 24 Texas A&M (-5.5, 49)

So, what now? For Texas A&M, this feels like the appropriate question after losing outright as massive chalk. The concern certainly rests on the offense’s shoulders, which hasn’t looked right this year. Frankly, it hasn’t been great since Fisher arrived. Miami failed to cover a spread of nearly four touchdowns against Southern Miss, and the schedule has been favorable thus far. This environment will be a much larger test for a relatively young team, and that is certainly something worth watching. A&M has rallied before after crushing defeats, and it wouldn't shock me to see it happen again.

3. No. 22 Penn State (-3, 49) at Auburn

I can honestly say I’m still trying to figure out exactly what both of these teams are. Penn State certainly has shown something in the first few weeks, and I loved what I saw from the running game against Ohio in Week 2. The Nittany Lions covered the 28-point spread, and there were a lot of positive takeaways, albeit against an inferior team. Auburn is also unbeaten, although the Tigers weren’t exactly inspiring in a 24-16 win over San Jose State as a 24-point fave. With that said, weird football things happen at Auburn, and it’s still a brutal environment for a road team. That Under is looking good early on.

4. No. 11 Michigan State at Washington (-1, 54.5)

Speaking of weird out-of-conference games, enter Michigan State-Washington. Although Michigan State is ranked 11th, Washington is a slight home favorite at the open. Neither team has played a major opponent yet (Washington beat Kent State and Portland State; Michigan went 2-0 against Western Michigan and Akron). Michael Penix Jr., the Indiana transfer, has looked great for Washington so far, and he could be the difference. Although I like what I have seen from Sparty’s offense, Washington is an early lean.

5. Texas Tech at No. 16 NC State (-9.5, 55)

I’m a little surprised this point spread opened as large as it did, although let’s explore. NC State is 2-0, although it nearly lost the opener as a double-digit favorite to East Carolina. Texas Tech is 2-0, and it pulled off a superb win over Houston as a short favorite in double overtime (it was a push for me). The Red Raiders appear to be a heck of a lot better. With that being said, this will mark the first time they head on the road under their new head coach. They will likely do so with Donovan Smith, the team’s backup QB, who has largely played well. It’s a big number, and many are likely to back Texas Tech given last week. Me? I’m not so sure.

Last Call: Parting Shots on Other Games of Note

Fresno State at No. 7 USC (-13.5, 71)

This is a fabulous football game. USC’s offense is fully firing, and Fresno State is still a dangerous team despite losing to Oregon State on the final play. It wouldn’t shock me to see this total settle in the mid-70s.

Mississippi State (-2.5, 54) at LSU

Well, LSU looked much better last week. Sure, it came against a lesser team, but progress is progress. Mississippi State deserves credit for handling (and covering) against a feisty Arizona group. My question here is simple: How much will Baton Rouge disrupt this game?

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