Rubenstein: Which Top CFB Teams Can You Trust on the Road in Week 3?

Rubenstein: Which Top CFB Teams Can You Trust on the Road in Week 3? article feature image

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dwayne Haskins

It’s Week 3, so that means it’s time to make sure you pack one extra pair of underwear (always always always) and as many chargers as you can fit into your luggage.

Sorry, this may seem specific, but it’s with good reason, because it’s meant for a bunch of top teams that are finally either leaving home for the first time this season or going to an actual campus instead of a concrete palace an old billionaire built for himself.

All spreads as of Thursday morning. Check out live data here.

The Headliners

#12 LSU at #7 Auburn

  • Spread: Auburn -10
  • Over/Under: 44.5
  • Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium

Part of me is tantalized by the fact that Auburn, both in the short and long term of coach Gus Malzahn’s career, hasn’t been super successful as a home favorite.

The Tigers now get an LSU defense that should bring out the happiest tendencies of Jarrett Stidham’s feet and potentially do enough good (turnovers, field position, etc.) to set up an LSU win on the road.


The other part of me doesn’t like Joe Burrow staring into the teeth of this Auburn defense on the road while still trying to find his own footing.

Wait, now you’re thinking too hard, Dan — two good defenses, one proven/good QB.

The Pick: Under 44.5

#17 Boise State at #24 Oklahoma State

  • Spread: Oklahoma State -2.5
  • Over/Under: 64.5
  • Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Boone Pickens Stadium

See THIS is a nonconference game — the uncertainty of how real the Broncos are after destroying everything in their path AND Oklahoma State with what looks like a very good team and a brand-new starting QB.

I understand the attraction of rolling with a home team that’s giving its fans their first big-game taste of the year, but the combo of Boise’s experienced defense and four-year starter at QB, plus Oklahoma State not being particularly good for your wallet at home (both as a dog or favorite), has me thinking blue, and outright at that.

The Pick: Boise State +2.5 

#4 Ohio State vs. #15 TCU

  • Spread: Ohio State -13.5
  • Over/Under: 59
  • Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)

There’s something special happening with this Ohio State team: Interim head coach Ryan Day thinks clearly about his QB and doesn’t run him 12 to 20 times a game when he has perhaps the best collection of skill talent around him.

I know, right? The De-Urbanization is real.

Oh, and TCU should probably be able to do a pretty good job for a while against this Ohio State offense, but I’m not wild about new QB Shawn Robinson not having a decent defensive test under his belt before facing this Buckeye defensive line.

The Pick: Ohio State -13.5

The Field

#23 Arizona State at San Diego State

  • Spread: Arizona State -5
  • Over/Under: 45.5
  • Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: SDCCU Stadium

Every part of my brain wants to fade Arizona State after a big, emotional home win over Michigan State as the Sun Devils go on the road to play a decent opponent. However, San Diego State, down its starting QB, is looking too sloppy to believe in, even only as 5-point dogs.

Time to calm this feeling of taking a confident Herm Edwards team on the road: Despite last year’s win over Stanford, SDSU, no matter the QB, hasn’t been dependable at home (a crumbling NFL stadium with a limited fan base), so I can breathe a little easier.

I wasn’t prepared for this ASU team to be actually good; it’s a very strange feeling.

The Pick: Arizona State -5.5

#10 Washington at Utah

  • Spread: Washington -6
  • Over/Under: 47.5
  • Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
  • Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium

There was some concern last week as the Huskies’ offense looked sluggish at home vs. North Dakota, but I may be more concerned about Utah’s offense after only scoring one offensive TD vs. Northern Illinois last week. NIU’s defense is good, but come on, Utah.

Also, nobody really ever looks good in SLC, regardless of who’s favored, so I’ll roll with more sluggishness on their murderous turf.

The Pick: Under 47.5

#22 USC at Texas

  • Spread: Texas -3
  • Over/Under: 48
  • Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

There will be people who look at Texas’ early season struggles and run toward USC, and that’s fine … but not I!

The Trojans are coming off a road loss as they again pack extra underwear and phone chargers ahead of an Austin visit.

Also, beyond starting QB J.T. Daniels coming off (briefly) with a hand injury vs. Stanford, I just don’t particularly like teams after playing the Cardinal and going back on the road.

The Trojans will be tired, and the Horns will be up for this. And if Sam Darnold covered for a lot of USC issues last year as the Trojans barely edged Texas, what does that mean for Saturday’s contest, as USC replaces his production with a true freshman?

The Pick: Texas -3

#1 Alabama at Ole Miss

  • Odds: Alabama -21
  • Over/Under: 71
  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
  • Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

Right now, Alabama is SkyNet, but just a little more ruthless.

Also relevant: Ole Miss has an incredible collection of offensive firepower if you’re pondering a backdoor cover or backdoor over.

All that in mind, 71 is a lot of points for any game involving the Bama defense and a team that barely plays any consistent offense.

The Pick: Under 71

BYU at #6 Wisconsin

  • Spread: Wisconsin -21
  • Over/Under: 45.5
  • Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Camp Randall Stadium

I’m not a huge fan of taking a BYU team that’s struggled on defense so far, though Wisconsin is being a bit overvalued early on against the spread (0-2), and this feels like a look-ahead spot with the Badgers getting Iowa in Week 4.

I went back and forth, but I just can’t find a reason to think the Cougars keep this close, especially after not scoring enough to keep up with an offense led by Cal’s freshman backup at QB last week at home.

The Pick: Wisconsin -21

Florida State at Syracuse 

  • Spread: Florida State -3
  • Over/Under: 68
  • Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET
  • Location: Carrier Dome

Look, the Carrier Dome knows.

It knows when Syracuse is an underdog at home. It knows when that favorite comes in with flaws. It knows when a team like Florida State is struggling along the offensive line, struggling with pass defense, struggling with consistent execution of a new offense.

It knows when Syracuse, with its own defensive issues, is ready to make it a game.

It also knows that defensive questions on both sides mean you take the over, especially in a weird, all-knowing Carrier Dome.

The Pick: Over 68