College Football Best Bets: Our Top 5 Picks from Today’s Noon Games, featuring Georgia-South Carolina and Buffalo-Coastal Carolina (Sept. 17)
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Georgia’s Jackson Meeks.
Week 3 of the college football season is finally upon us, and Saturday's slate starts with a bang. Our staff wasted no time diving in, coming through with five best bets for Saturday's early slate.
Four of these games kick off right at noon ET, as Georgia travels to Charleston to take on South Carolina, Michigan hosts UConn, and Western Kentucky looks for revenge against Indiana.
To wrap it all up, Stuckey breaks down his top bet for Buffalo vs. Coastal Carolina at 1 p.m. ET.
Our college football crew hand-picked 16 total best bets for Week 3, so be sure to check out our best bets for the afternoon, evening and late-night kickoff windows as well.
Let's have a day!
Saturday's Early College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Georgia vs. South Carolina
I have something brave I need to get off my chest. A hot take as the cool kids say nowadays. Georgia is very good at football. Bold, I know.
The Bulldogs come into this game as the newly-crowned No. 1 team, per the AP Poll. That’s even though it was a quiet week, as they went against Samford in a nonconference tune-up.
This week, they will look to make some noise in what will be a drastically large mismatch battle of the trenches against South Carolina.
Bringing in Spencer Rattler didn’t solve South Carolina’s offensive woes, as the offensive line has proven unable to protect its quarterback and limit backfield pressure.
Good luck trying to figure it out against one of the best defensive lines in the nation.
On the other end, South Carolina’s defense is poor at open-field tackling, and the line is unable to generate any push back, an area that Georgia’s offense excels in as one of the best Havoc and open-field units in football.
Once again, the offense will scheme around screens and dump-offs in the middle while steamrolling the Gamecocks.
This is an overmatched team going against a hungry Georgia unit after what was basically a week off for the Bulldogs.
Take Georgia at no higher than -24 in what will be a rout.
Pick: Georgia -23.5 (Play to -24)
Georgia 1Q -6.5
Through two games Georgia has posted 4.7 points per opportunity to combine with .302 predicted points added. Both metrics, even given a small sample size, are a recipe for Georgia to come out of the gates strong on the road in Columbia.
South Carolina has not shown this same type of explosiveness through two weeks, only managing to score three points combined in the first quarters of its first two games.
Georgia’s defense will put Spencer Rattler in more passing downs than he is comfortable with early and often in this one. Rattler has posted a Success Rate of just 28% through two weeks in passing downs.
Overall points are going to be hard to come by for the Gamecocks on Saturday, so one touchdown drive will cash any first-quarter Georgia backers.
Pick: Georgia 1Q -6.5
UConn vs. Michigan
By Alex Hinton
Michigan has been a heavy favorite in each of its first two games, and it will be again this week against UConn.
The Wolverines are 1-1 ATS this season, but each game had at least 58 points. Michigan’s offense has been responsible for much of the scoring in its first two games.
Michigan is averaging 53.5 points this season. It has been rotating Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy at quarterback, however, head coach Jim Harbaugh officially named McCarthy the starter moving forward.
In his first career start, McCarthy dazzled, as he went 11-of-12 for 229 yards passing and three touchdown passes. McCarthy is averaging 16.2 yards per attempt this season and gives Michigan a more explosive passing attack.
Michigan scored 42 points in the first half last week and its quick strike ability will help the total this week.
Michigan has not faced a stiff test – Colorado State and Hawaii – and it will not against UConn this week, either.
The Huskies’ defense has allowed 39.5 points and 506 yards per game against FBS competition this season. Michigan is capable of scoring 58 points this week and covering the total by itself.
Its first-team defense has not allowed a point this season. However, the reserves have allowed 17 points in the second half. If UConn scores 7-to-10 points this week, there is a pretty good chance that this game reaches 58 points or more, and the over will cash.
Pick: Over 57.5 (Play to 60)
Western Kentucky vs. Indiana
Western Kentucky should have beaten Indiana last year, and guess what? I’m going right back to it this year.
The Hilltoppers are ranked higher than the Hoosiers in our own power ratings and SP+. Western Kentucky’s defense has the advantage in Havoc, EPA/Play and Points per Opportunity in this matchup.
I would not be afraid to hit the Hilltoppers’ moneyline, as this spread should be closer to a pick‘em.
While last season’s matchup was a high-scoring affair, anticipate a much lower-scoring game this year. In particular, I’m looking for WKU to force Indiana’s offense into passing situations and then pounce.
The Hilltoppers have one of the best defenses in passing situations, ranking 23rd in Passing Down EPA/Play Allowed and 22nd in Passing Down Success Rate Allowed.
Connor Bazelak has led IU to two straight wins over Idaho and Illinois but didn’t exactly set the world on fire with a 3:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and roughly a 54% completion percentage.
I expect the Tops to bring the pressure and force Bazelak to beat them with his arm.
Pick: Western Kentucky +6.5 or Better
Buffalo vs. Coastal Carolina
It hasn't been easy, but a rebuilding Coastal Carolina squad won its first two games in large part due to NFL prospect quarterback Grayson McCall.
Meanwhile, Buffalo has stumbled out of the gates with two straight losses, including a heartbreaker on a Hail Mary against FCS Holy Cross last week.
Many people have seen that result due to the wild ending, but not as many saw Coastal Carolina give up nearly 500 yards to FCS Gardner-Webb.
Coastal actually got outplayed statistically and needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to take the lead prior to two straight Gardner-Webb interceptions on its final two possessions. Keep in mind Holy Cross is a much stronger FCS team (currently ranked 15th) as well.
Not only should the Bulls come out hungry here for their first win of the season, but they'll also be seeking revenge for last year's three-point home loss. More importantly, that preparation and game experience will help for this matchup against a very complex and unique Chanticleer offense.
Plus, Coastal is much worse overall this year after mass roster attrition, while Buffalo should be slightly improved.
I like Buffalo at 14 or above against a Chants group that could overlook this one a bit with their Sun Belt opener next week.