Sometimes college football weekends are stacked with can’t-miss games that have College Football Playoff implications with every snap. Then there are weekends like Week 3, where many top ranked teams are playing inferior competition as a tune-up ahead of conference play so best bet predictions are harder to find.
On paper, it certainly appears to be an underwhelming slate of games, especially compared to next weekend which should feature several games between Top 25 opponents. However, college football has an uncanny ability to transform Saturdays with low expectations into chaotic, upset-filled spectacles. Additionally, when you have your own money on the line, any game can become a high-stakes drama.
So, let’s engage in some “dumpster diving” to find value in predictions that might otherwise escape your attention.
Virginia Predictions Week 3
- Record to date: 1-1 on spread, 0-2 on over/unders
Maryland -14.5 vs. Virginia, Under 48.
Outside of the rivalry implications with Virginia Tech, I think this is the most important game on Virginia’s schedule this season. Tennessee was always going to be a long shot. Regardless of the opponent, the first home game of the year was going to be a difficult emotional test. Now, the Hoos must answer an important question: will a disappointing 1-point loss provide a proof-of-concept for how to be competitive going forward or will the letdown from the defeat snowball into further poor performances?
Maryland has been a difficult opponent to measure through its first two games. Talent-wise, this roster should be in the top half of the Big 10 and a lock to make a bowl game for the third consecutive season. However, as evidenced by a sleepy first half against Charlotte last Saturday, the Terrapins are not immune from periods of ineffectiveness.
Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has received significant media attention because of his famous brother, but he is a solid passer who can stretch the field with his arm. Through two games, five Maryland receivers have catches of at least 24 yards. Virginia needs to put pressure on Tagovailoa to keep these explosive plays from developing. Unfortunately, that has not been a strength for the Hoos thus far this season, as the defense has a sack rate of under 3% (103rd in the FBS). For comparison, UVA’s offensive line has allowed a sack rate of 13.8% (8 total sacks) through two games.
The discrepancy between the effectiveness of the offensive and defensive lines is what concerns me most about this game. Virginia’s attempts to “establish the run” have not worked, as the offense ranks 127th in the country by averaging 1.5 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Maryland’s ground game, led by redshirt sophomore Roman Hemby, ranks second in the FBS with 7.1 yards per attempt.
As a former Northern Virginia resident and UVA alum, nothing would make me happier than to see the Hoos crush a former conference rival (remember this?). However, after watching the Cavaliers front seven concede devastating chunk running plays for two weeks, I am not optimistic. Terps over the Cavs, 34-13.
Important note for this section: As a Virginia alum and regular reader of The Sabre, I love talking about the Cavaliers. However, I never bet for or against Virginia in my personal portfolio.
Week 3 Best Bet Predictions
- Season record: 5-5
Florida International +7 at Connecticut: FIU has played in three consecutive one-score games, so getting a touchdown is immediately appealing. After two middling offensive performances, the Panthers finally found their footing with a 46-point output against North Texas. The key to this increased production was running back Kejon Owens who had 10 carries for 101 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first appearance of the season. Connecticut has struggled against the run thus far, allowing 5.0 yards per carry (105th in the FBS) and 229.5 yards per game (123rd). The Huskies’ offense hasn’t been much better, averaging only 14 points per game and 4.8 yards per play. Expect a low-scoring and close game.
Toledo -7 vs. San Jose State: Earlier, I asked the question about how UVA would respond to a crushing close loss. Toledo had to answer this question in Week 2 after losing an upset bid against Illinois on a last-second field goal. The Rockets responded with 549 offensive yards in a 71-3 victory over Texas Southern. Quarterback Dequan Finn is the catalyst for Toledo’s offense. Against the Tigers, he completed 16 of 17 passes for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. Against the Illini, he had 20 completions and just as many rushing attempts. San Jose State faced stiff competition in the first two weeks (USC and Oregon State) so defensive metrics are heavily skewed, but those games did highlight deficiencies with the secondary. The Spartans have allowed 9.8 yards per pass attempt (117th ) and opposing quarterbacks have completed 73% of their passes (116th). Finn should have a field day against this defense.
Charlotte +7.5 vs. Georgia State: The media had minimal expectations for the 49ers coming into the season, but head coach Biff Poggi has made an immediate impact in his first year in Charlotte. His team was one of my preseason over bets because of how he brought in upgraded talent through the transfer portal. Charlotte led at Maryland at halftime last weekend and has enough speed at skill positions to be competitive against any team outside the Power 5. Quarterback Jalon Jones has demonstrated his ability as a dual-threat playmaker, leading the team in rushing yards through two games. He should get plenty of opportunities to make a difference in this game facing a Georgia State team that allowed FCS Rhode Island to score 35 points and put up 408 passing yards in Week 1.
Oklahoma State -7 vs. South Alabama: I am riding with Mike Gundy’s squad for a second week after an important road victory in Tempe on Saturday evening. After trailing 15-10 at halftime, the Pokes’ defense pitched a shutout the rest of the game. The axiom “if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one” does not apply to Oklahoma State. That’s because Gundy has used three different quarterbacks in both games. This unconventional approach has allowed the team to play the “hot hand” and forced opposing defenses to scout multiple formations and tendencies. After faltering at Tulane in the opener, the Jaguars struggled against FCS Southeastern Louisiana for the entire first half last week. USA has turned the ball over 10 times through two games, and the offensive line has allowed a sack rate of 14.3% (125th nationally). These are not the statistics you want to see ahead of facing a team coached by Mike Gundy.
Louisiana Tech -4 vs. North Texas: The UNT defense has been anything but “mean” to start the season. After conceding 58 points to California in Week 1, North Texas allowed 514 yards and 46 points to FIU last Saturday. This should be a boon to a Bulldogs’ offense that has struggled to score but has moved the ball effectively in the air. Louisiana Tech ranks inside the top 30 in completion percentage and passing yards per game. The secondary has been a strength as well, limiting opposing offenses to an average of only 126 passing yards each contest despite playing a pass-happy SMU squad in Week 1. This should be a high-scoring contest, but I like Tech to win by at least a touchdown at home.
- Record to date: 1-1
Missouri ML vs. Kansas State (+165): One of my sports betting tenets is to “run to the smell.” This means that when a line seems too good to be true, it probably is. Kansas State appears superior in almost every statistical category. The Wildcats have one of the best run defenses in the Big 12 and Missouri runs the ball on two-thirds of its plays (7th most in the FBS). The Tigers’ four-point home win against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday doesn’t inspire confidence, and last year’s matchup was a decisive 40-12 win for KSU. So why does Vegas have this as a 4.5-point line? I have no idea, but I’m willing to spend a few dollars to find out. Here’s hoping the 11 a.m. kickoff and altered travel plans will throw Chris Klieman’s squad off its game.
Random Fact to Impress Your Fellow Tailgaters
After discussing several unheralded programs in this week’s column, let’s finish with a fact about the nation’s buzziest team. ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Boulder for the rivalry matchup between Colorado and Colorado State. Following another impressive victory on Saturday, Deion Sanders’ program is one of the biggest stories in the sports world. What is most impressive about Colorado’s success is that they have accomplished it against formidable competition. The Buffaloes are one of only 10 schools to face two Power 5 opponents in the opening weeks. Of these teams, only Colorado and fellow Pac-12 member Utah have a 2-0 record.
SabreBetrics is a Virginia graduate and longtime fan of The Sabre. The opinions expressed in this article are not directly associated with The Sabre and are intended for recreational use only. Sports betting should be a fun activity, not a stressful one. Please do not bet more than you can reasonably afford to lose.