Week 3, now that’s what I’m talking about! 4-1, +4.62 is why we play the game. The only loss was a defeat snatched from the jaws of victory as GaSo was up 14-7 early third getting 19.5 having already weathered 3 first half picks by Davis Brin. But it was not to be as Wisconsin scored the final 28 as the turnovers just kept happening. Perfect otherwise, with best bet Florida winning in style as a home dog (Liberty, UNLV ML, and Oregon the others). Some in the punditry class have referred to this week’s slate as “loaded” with its 6 ranked-v-ranked games, and Florida St’s visit to Clemson not even among them. At the very least, the switch has flipped to conference game dominant schedule, which I think most prefer to a Saturday full of “buy games.” Alright, lets back up 4-1 with more winners (chronological, best bet aside).
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Bet 1: Oklahoma -13.5 (-115) at Cincinnati (11:00am CT Sat 9/23, FOX; all odds via FanDuel)
Welcome to the Big 12 Cincinnati. No gentle conference opener for this P5 debutante. Giving up this many points on the road isn’t a good long-term strategy, but it’s the right move in this case. OU has caught my eye as a team that could actually win the CFP from a high teens preseason ranking, a rarity. They were sluggish two weeks ago in a home win against SMU, but even that ended up 28-11. Cincinnati’s overtime loss to Miami OH last week was probably due in part to a lookahead, but if you’re good enough to make a game of it versus OU, you turn it on and beat your MAC opponent at home.
Bet 2: SMU +220 ML at TCU (11:00am CT Sat 9/23, FS1)
As mentioned, the Mustangs held their own against OU in Norman, and having faced Prairie View A&M last week (69-0), there’s a high likelihood they’ve been in TCU prep for two weeks. TCU has gotten right post-Colorado, but FCS Nicholls State and Houston don’t make much of a CV. The spread is TCU -6.5/7, and given their success in close games last year, it may seem counterintuitive to make the aggressive moneyline play here. But the result in one score games is something that usually evens out from year to year, so I think SMU is both the better team, and poised to win outright as they have their last two visits to Fort Worth.
Bet 3: Florida Atlantic +15.5 (-110) at Illinois (2:30pm CT Sat 9/23, BTN)
First ever meeting in this American-B1G non-con showdown. Tom Herman leads his team to Champaign having been beaten down by Clemson 7 days prior. The color orange is where the similarities end though. Luke Altmeyer has been the anti-Tommy Devito through 3 games, entering with a 3 TD 7 INT split. His starting job won’t be for long if that doesn’t change, and I think the focus will probably result in less big plays, at least until he’s proven himself capable. The Illini defense was much better vs PSU than Toldeo or Kansas. I think they try to get back to the winning formula of 2022 and play it safer, and lean on that defense. FAU turned it over 4 times at Clemson, with Casey Thompson done for the year, it’s even easier for Herman to play it safe, and they keep it close.
Bet 4: Iowa State -3.5 (-105) vs Oklahoma St (3:00pm CT Sat 9/23, FS1)
This line stinks to high heavens. ISU is laying more than a field goal to a perennial top-third of the B12 team after losing 10-7 at Ohio (not State!). Why would anyone lay the points? Because Oklahoma St isn’t any good either, and ISU is at home. The Pokes’ only FBS win was at Arizona St, and they were blown out at home by an admittedly decent South Alabama team last week. And in doing so, they barely generated 200 yards of offense. This is as low octane a Gundy team as we’ve seen in a great while. The total is only 36.5, and I’ll be disappointed if the Cyclones don’t hold the visitors to 10 or less.
Best Bet (2 units): USC -34.5 (-118) at Arizona St (9:00pm CT Sat 9/23, FOX)
I just don’t see why the scoring would stop in the 35-point lead range. All evidence suggests it ends closer to 50. Remember OkSt is really bad, and they beat ASU 27-15 in Tempe. Fresno St won 29-0 last week. USC by less than 35? No. Jaden Rashada is out for a month plus having missed Fresno, and the offense turned it over 8 times in his absence. USC scores too quickly for the new clock rules to inject doubt. If ASU hangs around enough, so be it. I’ll take the loss. But I’m not going to stay away out of fear of a garbage time beat.
Week 3: 4-1, +4.62 units; Season: 10-8, +1.32 units. Good luck!