College Football Week 3: Ranked Teams That Are Safe Bets to Cover Spread

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIISeptember 12, 2012

EAST LANSING, MI - AUGUST 31: Le'Veon Bell #24 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates a fourth quarter touchdown with Jack Allen #66 of the Michigan State Spartans and Keith Mumphery #25 of the Michigan State Spartanswhile playing the Boise State Broncos at Spartan Stadium on August, 2010 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 17-13. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Nearly one fifth of the Top 25 teams in college football changed overnight this weekend, but Week 3 pits many of the nation's best against teams that were cut from a different, decidedly less-talented cloth.

Even cupcakes can cause a gambler to cringe. Ridiculously high spreads and little frame of reference for the 2012 season will make for some intriguing betting action.

Here are ranked teams you can count as safe bets to cover, taken from the average spreads on


MICHIGAN STATE (-6) over Notre Dame

The Spartans will look for Andrew Maxwell to take better care of the football in his second start against a ranked opponent.

In the home opener against Boise State, Maxwell threw three interceptions and can't afford similar miscues against the Fighting Irish.

Everett Golson is Maxwell's counterpart, and he performed well in his first two starts. However, this Michigan State defense is easily tougher than the units that he went up against from Navy and Purdue.

This should be a tight game until late, and it will come down to who will make the big play.

It will be Golson's first true road start in college, and he does not have any experience in pulling out close games. His backup, Tommy Rees, engineered the game-winning drive at home this past Saturday.

Michigan State's physical nature will overpower the Irish, and Le'Veon Bell will use his 6'2", 244-pound frame to run downhill and keep the dual-threat Golson off of the field.



LSU (-42.5) over Idaho

It's surprising that this line isn't higher, considering how the Vandals have only managed an average of eight points per game against the likes of Eastern Washington and Bowling Green. Even against LSU's third string, I don't like their chances of getting on the board.

Meanwhile, the Tigers just thrashed the Washington Huskies 41-3, a team that was lurking just outside the Top 25 until that occurred.

LSU has averaged 279 yards on the ground through two games, and the only reason that this spread has to be this low is because Idaho has managed to keep its opponents' rushing totals at a reasonable level.

This is a whole different animal. Instead of EWU's Quincy Forte (5'11", 185 lbs.) or BGSU's Anthon Samuel (5'11", 188 lbs.), the Vandals will be dealing with 6'2" Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard, who is also 5'11" but weighs 244 pounds.

Such a size advantage will allow the Tigers to pummel the opposition into the ground. Vandals QB Dominique Blackman also won't throw for 357 yards like he did at Bowling Green.

Rather, more like 157.



Virginia Tech (-10) over PITTSBURGH

This ACC-Big East clash pits one of the most exciting quarterbacks in college football against a floundering Pittsburgh Panther program still in a transitional period in the wake of the Dave Wannstedt era.

Logan Thomas responded to an overtime scare from Georgia Tech by guiding the Hokies to an easy 42-7 victory over Austin Peay in Week 2.

In what will be Virginia Tech's first road game against an old rival, there will be a revenge factor at play. According to a report by Carl Deffenbaugh of, the Hokies have lost the past three games against Pitt but still hold the 7-4 edge in the overall series.

This isn't the Panthers of recent memory with playmakers like LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and Jonathan Baldwin. Pitt gave up 31 points to Youngstown State at home to start the season and is coming off of a blowout loss at Cincinnati.

Not much is going the Panthers' way in 2012, and there's no reason that Thomas and Co. shouldn't roll to victory in Heinz Field.