Betting unders isn’t fun. But sometimes numbers balloon too high and they become good bets. This week, I’m taking my medicine with a couple unders on inflated point totals and looking at some numbers that fly in the face of power ratings. Below, you’ll find my College Football Week 3 picks and best bets for an intriguing slate.
Stay with us all season long for college football odds and game previews.
Free College Football Pick’em! Compete for $50 in prizes every week by entering our free college betting games.
College Football Week 3 Picks, Best Bets
To place a bet on any of the games below, click on their odds in the tables.
Purdue at Syracuse
This line’s been all over the place as bettors and oddsmakers puzzle over what to make of this matchup. Syracuse is a tough and physical team with a secondary that’s played well in man coverage so far this season. They held Louisville to just 6.8 yards per attempt when in man in Week 1 and Purdue was held to a 33.3% passing success rate against man coverage versus Penn State also in Week 1.
You can find both teams favored so no matter who you’re betting, you can find a favorable number. In this instance, I’m taking the more physical team at home. We saw Purdue lose to a physical team in Penn State already and we’ve seen Syracuse take passing offenses out of the equation.
Syracuse is a tough place to play, so I’m fading the Boilermakers in this one.
Brett’s bet: Syracuse +1.5 (-110), placed Sept. 14 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Best available number: Syracuse
SMU at Maryland
74.5 points is a lot of points. When you get into that territory, you’re hedging that neither team punts more than once, turns the ball over, or kicks field goals. While both offenses are potent under a pair of respectable QBs– Tanner Mordecai and Taulia Tagovailoa– they haven’t run their offenses at a blistering pace yet this year. SMU is 83rd in plays run per game (67) and Maryland is 111th (62), albeit in a small sample size.
Against suspect competition (Buffalo, Charlotte down a starting QB), Maryland’s defense ranks 11th in limiting explosive plays. While that’s not expected to hold up this week, it points towards the Terps having a defense with a pulse. Defenses with pulses are bad for overs sky-high point totals.
Now is the time to strike on the under: the total opened at 68.5 and that quickly rocketed to 74.5. Since hitting 74.5, there’s been some buyback and movement down to 73.5 in most posts.
Should the pace slow at any point in this game– or should either team mix in a few rush attempts– there’s no reason this game should be touching that total.
Brett’s bet: Under 74.5 points (-110), placed Sept. 13 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Best available number: Under
Miami (FL) at Texas A&M
The market not only didn’t overreact to Texas A&M’s upset loss against Appalachian State, it didn’t really react at all. The Aggies head into a home game with Miami as 5.5-point favorites– a number that’s remained relatively unchanged. Miami is favored in the FPI by four points and on a neutral field in the SP+. Even adding in a tough environment like Kyle Field, a 9.5-point swing seems steep.
With a low point total (currently ), it’s best to treat this game like an NFL spread and 5.5 points between two fairly-even teams is a high mark.
I’m taking the points with Miami because, in these low-total games, points are valuable.
Brett’s bet: Miami FL +5.5 (-110), placed Sept. 14 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Best available number: Miami FL
Fresno State at USC
The market has yet to adjust to USC. Power ratings systems have them ranked in the 20s and 30s overall and that’s not accurate to the way this team is playing. Defense is a real red flag for the Trojans in the long run, but this offense is firing on all cylinders. So before I dive into my best bet for the game, I’m taking USC and the points before the market really adjusts (USC is 2-0 ATS this season).
Like the SMU at Maryland contest, this point total is out of control; all of my points about tempo and no room for turnovers applies here, too. As quick as USC can score through the air, I’m skeptical that Fresno State will keep up. Their passing offense so far is 51st in explosiveness despite having one of the nation’s better QBs in Jake Haener. Against the likes of Cal Poly (FCS) and Oregon State, I’d expect this number to be higher.
USC has an implied team total of 44.5– more points than they scored on a lifeless Stanford defense last week. That means Fresno State absolutely has to hit 30 points, a mark they’ve achieved in both games but just barely. With high point totals, there’s little room for error and I’ll bet against that every time.
Brett’s bet: Under 74.5 points (-110), placed Sept. 14 at Caesars Sportsbook
Best available number: Under
College Football Week 3 Odds
Follow TheLines on Twitter for all college football odds and analysis, and best of luck with your college football Week 3 picks.