College Football Odds Week 3: Picks, Score Predictions for Top 25 Teams

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2019

Clemson's Trevor Lawrence (10) and Luke Price celebrate Lawrence's touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Richard Shiro/Associated Press

It's a good week to be a college football gambler.

It's not so much that the Week 3 schedule is littered with easy wagers, but rather that it lacks compelling contests with no money on the line. While 23 of the 25 ranked teams are in action, not one matchup features multiple ranked teams.

Iowa State and Iowa doing battle is usually fun. Clemson visiting Syracuse won't be fun for the Orange, but maybe it will be an entertaining watch. If you're a fan of Cougars and/or offense, Friday's Washington State vs. Houston matchup will have plenty of both.

The schedule lacks sizzle, but we'll help provide it with a look at the latest lines (from Caesars Sportsbook) and our score predictions. A handful of games only have opening lines, which have been collected from Vegas Insider and denoted with an asterisk below.


Week 3 Schedule and Odds

Friday, September 13

No. 20 Washington State (-8.5) at Houston, 9:15 p.m. ET

Saturday, September 14

Arkansas State at No. 3 Georgia (-33), 12 p.m. ET

No. 6 Ohio State (-16.5) at Indiana, 12 p.m. ET

Pittsburgh at No. 13 Penn State (-17), 12 p.m. ET

No. 21 Maryland (-7) at Temple, 12 p.m. ET

New Mexico at No. 7 Notre Dame (-35), 2:30 p.m. ET

No. 2 Alabama (-25.5) at South Carolina, 3:30 p.m. ET

Stanford at No. 17 UCF (-7.5), 3:30 p.m. ET

No. 24 USC (-3.5) at BYU, 3:30 p.m. ET

Arizona State at No. 18 Michigan State (-14), 4 p.m. ET

No. 19 Iowa (-2.5) at Iowa State, 4 p.m. ET

Idaho State at No. 11 Utah (-35.5), 4:15 p.m. ET*

Kent State at No. 8 Auburn (-35), 7 p.m. ET

No. 9 Florida (-8) at Kentucky, 7 p.m. ET

Lamar at No. 16 Texas A&M (-43), 7 p.m. ET*

No. 1 Clemson (-27.5) at Syracuse, 7:30 p.m. ET

Northwestern State at No. 4 LSU (-51), 7:30 p.m. ET*

Hawaii at No. 23 Washington (-21.5), 7:30 p.m. ET

Florida State at No. 25 Virginia (-7.5), 7:30 p.m. ET

No. 5 Oklahoma (-23.5) at UCLA, 8 p.m. ET

No. 12 Texas (-31.5) at Rice, 8 p.m. ET

Portland State at No. 22 Boise State (-31.5), 10:15 p.m. ET*

Montana at No. 15 Oregon (-35.5), 10:45 p.m. ET*



Iowa State 24, Iowa 20

AMES, IA - AUGUST 31: Head coach Matt Campbell of the Iowa State Cyclones talks with quarterback Brock Purdy #15 of the Iowa State Cyclones during a time out in the second half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Ames, Iowa. The Iowa State
David K Purdy/Getty Images

It's hard to have firsts in a rivalry that dates back 125 years, but Saturday's Cy-Hawk collision will have a new twist. ESPN's College GameDay will land in Ames, Iowa, for the first time in the program's history.

"This week, it's a great game, the best game out there," GameDay producer Jim Gaiero told Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. "The Iowa program is sometimes overlooked despite being as good as it is. And what Matt Campbell has brought to Iowa State is phenomenal, instilling a culture."

The 19th-ranked Hawkeyes are stingy as expected on defense. Paced by elite defensive end A.J. Epenesa, a potential top-five pick in next year's draft, Iowa has held its first two opponents to 14 combined points. After yielding just 14 points and 245 yards of total offense to Miami (Ohio) in the opener, the Hawks trimmed those numbers to zero and 125 this past week against Rutgers.

The offense is closer to good than great. Senior quarterback Nate Stanley is rock-solid, and he's expanding his perimeter attack after losing tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant to the NFL. All six of Stanley's touchdown passes have gone to wide receivers, with junior Ihmir Smith-Marsette collecting a team-high three.

Iowa State has huge ambitions for Campbell's fourth season on the sideline. The Cyclones are coming off consecutive eight-win seasons for the first time since the 1970s, and despite calling the Big 12 home, they might have one of the best defenses in the country.

Defensive linemen Ray Lima and JaQuan Bailey, linebacker Marcel Spears Jr. and defensive back Greg Eisworth all made the Preseason All-Big 12 Team. While the team's Week 1 29-26 Northern Iowa triple-overtime win may not show it, Iowa State's defense dominated. The Cyclones held the Panthers to 262 yards of total offense and a minuscule 1.1 yards per rush, and they only allowed one offensive touchdown.

After losing running back David Montgomery and wide receiver Hakeem Butler to the NFL, Iowa State is still finding its way offensively. Sophomore Brock Purdy has star potential, but the team is sorting through different weapons at the other skill positions.

With an energized home crowd and arguably a more explosive offense, the Cyclones will find just enough points to claim this round of the rivalry.


Clemson 48, Syracuse 16

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 07: Travis Etienne #9 of the Clemson Tigers runs with the ball during a game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2019 in Clemson, South Carolina. Clemson defeated Texas A&M 24-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

To say Clemson is a step above Syracuse isn't a slight to the Orange but rather a reflection of the Tigers' dominance. Clemson has played in three of the last four national championships (winning two) and hasn't lost a game since the 2018 Sugar Bowl.

While it's early, the Tigers again seem poised for a playoff push. They've won their first two outings by a combined tally of 76-24, including a more-lopsided-than-it-sounds 24-10 triumph over No. 16 Texas A&M (Clemson owned a 17-3 halftime advantage).

Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence opened as a strong Heisman Trophy candidate. While he's not off to the blazing start most imagined—37-of-58 for 436 yards and two touchdowns (three interceptions)—analysts haven't wavered in their belief that he's one of college football's elite.

"It has not been a great start statistically, but look at some of the throws Lawrence made against Texas A&M and it's obvious a breakthrough performance is on the horizon," ESPN's David Hale wrote. "He's just biding his time."

This could be the contest that gets Lawrence into high gear.

After pitching a 24-0 shutout against Liberty in the opener, Syracuse's defense collapsed last weekend against Maryland. The Terrapins got any and everything they wanted in their 63-20 blowout win, putting up 21 points in both the first and second quarters.

What's worrisome for Syracuse is the club struggled against the run (354 yards) and the pass (296) in that game. This clash has potential to again get ugly on both fronts, as Clemson's junior running back Travis Etienne can be just as potent as Lawrence (28 carries for 258 yards and three scores).

The Orange may nevertheless be irrationally confident (in a good way) going into Saturday. They kept last year's matchup close (27-23) and stunned the then-second ranked Tigers in 2017 (27-24).

Quarterback Tommy Devito has tons of arm talent, and while he's a risk-taker (seven career touchdowns against six interceptions), underdogs sometimes need to take risks to orchestrate an upset. Michigan State transfer receiver Trishton Jackson is an athletic playmaker, and senior Moe Neal leads a talented stable of running backs.

Syracuse has a chance to make the favorites uncomfortable, but Clemson is so talented that feeling won't last longif it surfaces at all.


Remaining Score Predictions

Washington State 49, Houston 35

Georgia 42, Arkansas State 13

Ohio State 38, Indiana 20

Penn State 31, Pittsburgh 10

Maryland 35, Temple 31

Notre Dame 52, New Mexico 14

Alabama 45, South Carolina 13

UCF 30, Stanford 24

USC 35, BYU 27

Michigan State 23, Arizona State 13

Utah 42, Idaho State 10

Auburn 49, Kent State 14

Florida 31, Kentucky 23

Texas A&M 45, Lamar 3

LSU 52, Northwestern State 0

Washington 37, Hawaii 24

Virginia 35, Florida State 28

Oklahoma 52, UCLA 20

Texas 48, Rice 17

Boise State 41, Portland State 12

Oregon 59, Montana 10