By Zack Schlegel
Welcome to Bet The Game’s college football week 3 edition of ‘Best Bets’. We will be breaking down our best bets of the college football weekend regularly throughout the season, as we move closer toward the College Football Playoff.
Week 3 of the college football season is unique for players, coaches, and sports bettors alike. In a lot of cases, it’s a tune up game before the beginning of conference play. This is significant to understand when it comes to handicapping games and picking against the spread.
You’ll see a lot of large spreads with teams from major conferences facing off against inferior competition. Recognize that these highly favored schools are going to do their best to put away their competition early, in hopes to rest their starters and avoid any injuries heading into conference play.
Look to play the heavy favorites in the first half if at all, but don’t be surprised to see these larger underdogs covering the big number in the end. My recommendation is to play week 3 lightly. For the sake of entertainment, consider the following five (more meaningful and competitive) games when looking to grab a little action this weekend.
Michigan State vs. Arizona State
Betting Line: Michigan St -14.5, o/u: 41.5
Date: September 14th, 1:00 p.m.
Last Meeting: 2018, 16-13 Arizona St
I cannot believe I am going back to the well with this one. Last season, this was arguably the worst betting loss of the season for me. Michigan State was a small favorite on the road in a late night kick-off game against Manny Wilkins, N’Keal Harry and company. I definitely laid the number with the Spartans and had a couple money line parlays that ended with Michigan State. Arizona State proceeded to shatter all of my hopes and send me to bed early after a fourth quarter comeback led to a game winning 28-yard field goal as time expired.
This year has to be a different story, right? The Sun Devils are coming off of two wins against inferior opponents in Kent State and Sac State. Needless to say, they haven’t been tested yet. This will be Arizona State’s first road game of the season, and on top of that they have a true freshman at quarterback going against one of the top defenses in the country. Jayden Daniels has played well for Arizona State so far, but anytime you have a true freshman making his first road start, there’s bound to be some hiccups.
On the other side, Michigan State’s senior QB Brian Lewerke has not forgotten that 16-13 loss last season in Tempe. He played high school football 30 min away from Sun Devil stadium, and admitted that it would be awesome to beat them since they are from his home town. They’ll have to do more than just beat them in order to cover this two-touchdown spread, but with a defense that has allowed just 216 yards per game (-3 rushing yards per game), it’ll come down to the Spartans offense being able to put up points of their own.
This line opened at Michigan State -10.5 and has moved all the way up to -14.5 and -15 in some books. Clearly a lot of action on the Spartans and many are feeling similar to me about this game. Let’s just hope that Michigan State doesn’t lay an egg on offense, in a game that is expected to see a total of just over 40 combined points between the two schools.
The Play: Michigan State -14.5
Temple vs. Maryland
Betting Line: Maryland -7.5, o/u: 67
Date: September 14th, 9:00 a.m.
Last Meeting: 2018, 35-14 Temple
In last year’s contest between these two schools, Temple got the best of Maryland on the road. The Owls jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead and held on to win 35-14, allowing just 195 yards of total offense to Maryland. In fact, Maryland did not score a single offensive point the entire game — both TD’s were from defense and special teams play. Maryland was coming off of two big wins over #23 Texas, and then a 45-14 route of Bowling Green on the road.
This year, Maryland is 2-0 once again heading into the match-up, averaging a ridiculous 71 points per game. The Temple Owls have only played one game in which they destroyed Bucknell 56-12, putting up 695 yards of offense and allowing just 211 yards on defense. Temple has had two full weeks to prepare for this Terrapins offensive attack, and double the amount of game film that Maryland has on them this season.
Temple QB Anthony Russo is back to face this Maryland defense for the second time. He didn’t need to do a whole lot last year, as the Owl’s defense took care of business. However, this year he will have to play a major role for Temple to get back-to-back wins against a highly confident Maryland team looking to make noise in the Big Ten.
The line on this game opened around Maryland -4 and has been pushed up past the key touchdown number to -7.5 currently. Roughly 66% of the public action is on Maryland. I believe Temple’s defense will come to play again, and keep this game closer than the number indicates. Grab the points with the Owls, and don’t be surprised if we see an outright upset for first year head coach, Rod Carey.
The Play: Temple +7.5
Mississippi State vs Kansas State
Betting Line: Mississippi St -7, o/u: 52
Last Meeting: 2018, 31-10 Mississippi St
Mississippi State got the best of Kansas State and their old ball coach Bill Snyder, in last year’s 31-10 win for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State’s RB Kylin Hill ran all over the Wildcats’s defense for 211 yards and 2 TD’s. For Kansas State, 2019 and beyond is all about new head coach Chris Klieman, who made his way over from the FCS level where he won four Division I FCS Championships with North Dakota State. It’s safe to say that Klieman is a guy who knows how to win.
This will be Klieman’s first test against an SEC school. While with the Bison, he helped them pull off upsets over Big 12 and Big Ten schools, and is excited for the opportunity to face an SEC opponent. Kansas State will certainly have an opportunity to make history this Saturday, as there are a number of facts and figures working against the Wildcats in this one. Here are a few you should be aware of:
Penn State transfer QB Tommy Stevens has played well for the Bulldogs and has some clear chemistry with head coach Joe Moorhead, having played under him at Penn State. He will get his first real test against a tough Kansas State defense. The Wildcats come into this game leading the nation in rushing, averaging 347 yards per game behind star RB James Gilbert. Kansas State has covered the spread in both of their wins this season by an average of 19.75 points, and they are also 6-2 ATS in their last 8 road games overall.
I’ll be rolling with the underdogs in this one, as I believe Kansas State will be able to control the pace of the game with their rushing attack, and force enough chaos on defense to make things difficult for Stevens and the Bulldog’s offense.
The Play: Kansas State +7
Iowa State vs. Iowa
Betting Line: Iowa -1.5, o/u: 42.5
Date: September 14th, 1:00 p.m.
Last Meeting: 2018, 13-3 Iowa
College football’s game of the week heads to Ames, Iowa! The Iowa Hawkeyes have won the last four games in the series, however five of the last eight meetings have been one score games. Expect a slow, smash mouth defensive slug fest in this one. Taking a look at the low NFL-like total in this game will tell you all you need to know — points will be at a premium. Both of these teams rank in the top-10 in total defense through the first two weeks of the season.
Lately, it seems like every season we witness Iowa State pulling off a major upset win. In 2017, they took down two top-5 opponents (#3 Oklahoma and #4 TCU). In 2018, they nearly knocked off Oklahoma again, and got the best of #25 Oklahoma State as well as #6 West Virginia in dominant fashion. However, Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell has yet to beat his in-state rival Iowa. There would be no better way to get his first victory against the Hawkeyes, than to do it in front of a national television audience with the College Gameday crew in town.
Both of these schools boast talented quarterbacks. Iowa’s Nate Stanley has thrown for nearly 500 yards and 6 TD’s in his first two games, while Iowa State’s Brock Purdy is a rising sophomore star looking to have a breakout performance. This will be Iowa’s first road game of the season after running through a couple cupcake opponents to begin the season. Iowa State has had two full weeks to prepare for this rivalry game, and will be well rested for the challenge.
While Iowa has dominated the series lately, I love some Matt Campbell in an underdog position at home with two weeks of rest. This is possibly the biggest game of his coaching career, and you know that Ames, Iowa is going to be buzzing for this one. Give me the Cyclones and the points… actually, you can keep the points. Iowa State wins this one outright.
The Play: Iowa State ML
Purdue vs. TCU
Betting Line: TCU -2, o/u: 53.5
Date: September 14th, 4:30 p.m.
Last Meeting: 1970, 15-0 Purdue
Of all the games this weekend, this may be the game I am looking forward to the most. Have you seen what the young man Rondale Moore has being doing to defenses lately? Just a cool 24 catches for 344 yards, and 2 TD’s receiving in two games. He is the leading wide receiver in the nation, and hasn’t even been involved in the running game yet, but he will. Meanwhile, Purdue’s senior QB Elijah Sindelar is quietly leading the nation is passing. Sindelar has completed 65.4% of his passes while throwing for 9 TD’s, and he has only been sacked one time.
After a frustrating opening loss to Nevada on the road, where the Boilermakers turned the ball over five times, Purdue rebounded with an impressive 42-24 win against SEC opponent, Vanderbilt. TCU is another one of those teams who has only played one game so far, so they have had two full weeks to rest and prepare for this challenge against Purdue. Gary Patterson’s teams always boast impressive defensive numbers, and we can expect that to be the case once again in 2019.
If anyone is going to slow down this Purdue offensive attack with Sindelar and Moore, it would be the defensive mind of Patterson. TCU was derailed by injuries last season, losing their top defender Ross Blacklock, but still ended up in the top-25 in total defense in 2018. Blacklock is back from his injury and will be looking to make a big impact at defensive tackle in this match-up. The Horned Frogs are 12-5 ATS as a road underdog since 2010, and even though the current line in TCU -2, it opened as TCU being a 1.5-point underdog.
I expect the TCU defense to create a lot of chaos in this game, and make things difficult for Sindelar in the passing game. The preparation time and the amount of film they now have on sophomore sensation Rondale Moore, will be enough for TCU to come up with a successful game plan and carry them to a win and cover on the road this Saturday.
The Play: TCU -2
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