College Football Odds & Picks: 3 Best Bets for Afternoon Games, Including Auburn vs. Penn State, Kansas State vs. Tulane, More
Michael Chang/Getty Images. Pictured: Auburn Tigers wide receiver Koy Moore #0.
The Week 3 college football action rolls on as we turn our attention to the afternoon slate.
After beginning the day with five best bets, our college football crew has three more for this kickoff window. We begin in the second home of all sports bettors — Las Vegas — as UNLV hosts North Texas. Then, we travel to the Little Apple, where Kansas State takes on the Green Wave of Tulane.
To close out the window, Penn State heads south to SEC Country to take on Auburn in a Big Ten/SEC nonconference matchup.
In addition to our afternoon best bets, be sure to check out our 13 other picks for the early, evening and late-night college football kickoff windows below.
Saturday Afternoon 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.|
North Texas vs. UNLV
How is North Texas an underdog here? Sure, UNLV has looked improved, but this team is just 3-17 in its third season under Marcus Arroyo.
Our Action Network power ratings make North Texas a 6.5-point favorite on a neutral field. SP+ makes the Mean Green a two-point favorite.
North Texas is 2-1 with blowout wins over UTEP and Texas Southern in which it showed off its depth and versatility. The Mean Green lost to an SMU team that threw it all over the place on them, which is something UNLV cannot do.
Doug Brumfield went just 18-of-33 with a touchdown and an interception against Cal last week, and the Mean Green defense does a good job of preventing big plays.
KD Davis is one of the best linebackers in the Group of Five and can limit this run offense that is just 95th in the country.
Quarterback Austin Aune is a 29-year-old veteran. Seriously, that isn’t a Perry Ellis joke. In fact, he is literally older than Perry Ellis – and he’s still in college.
Anyway, this veteran quarterback has four stud running backs and one of the nation’s best rushing attacks behind him.
Oscar Adaway III has returned from injury and rushed for 225 yards and four touchdowns. Ayo Adeyi has scampered for 257 yards and a score and is the home-run hitter for this squad.
The Mean Green are 17th in the country in Rushing Play Explosiveness and have an excellent opportunity against this Rebels defense that is 120th in the FBS at defending Rushing Explosiveness.
Look for the North Texas defense to step up, its veteran quarterback to protect the ball and Adeyi and Adaway to pick up big plays in the running game, as North Texas picks up the win in Las Vegas.
Pick: North Texas +3 (Play to +2)
Tulane vs. Kansas State
By Cody Goggin
Tulane may have gone 2-10 last season, but it’s been impressive in its first two games of the season, albeit against inferior opponents. The Green Wave have outscored their opponents (Alcorn State and UMass) by a combined total of 94-10.
While that’s not a huge signal this offense will improve, the fact that an offense that returns most of its starters has actually scored like it should have just shows it should at least be competent.
I think this total is set too low based on Kansas State’s results so far.
In both of its games against South Dakota and Missouri, it got out to a large lead and then just sat on the ball for most of the second half. Missouri threw interceptions on four straight drives as well, which makes the Wildcats defense look better on paper but is likely not repeatable.
Kansas State’s offense posted a Success Rate in just the 25th percentile on offense against Missouri. But this was because it built an early 21-3 lead and went into a more conservative approach for the rest of the day. A similar story occurred in the South Dakota game as well.
I think if Tulane can score, then Kansas State will stay in attack mode and may run up the total in this one. Tulane’s defense isn’t very strong, ranking 88th, per SP+. The Tulane offense, meanwhile, ranks 35th and will be the best offense that Kansas State has faced this season.
Kansas State ranked just 53rd in Defensive Success Rate last season, so chances are its defense is not quite as good as what it’s shown in these first two games.
This game in Manhattan should have some sneaky offensive potential, so I’ll be on the over.
Pick: Over 47.5 (Play to 48.5)
Penn State vs. Auburn
This will now be Sean Clifford’s fourth year as the Penn State starting quarterback. In the past three years, he’s failed to finish a season with a PFF passing grade over 70, and he has more than 10 Turnover Worthy Plays.
The 2019 season was the only campaign in which he averaged over 7.5 yards per attempt.
It’s been the same story this season, as he had a 54 PFF passing grade in Week 1 against Purdue. Despite the blowout last weekend, he only had a 64 PFF passing grade.
Clifford has no excuses. However, this was an offense that was 95th in EPA/Play and only gained 4.9 yards per play (105th in FBS) last season. Well, through two games this season, even though they’ve scored 75 points, the Nittany Lions are still only gaining 5.0 yards per play.
Penn State does have an outstanding five-star freshman running back in Nick Singleton. However, Penn State lost three starters on the offensive line from a unit that was 124th in Offensive Line Yards last year.
I don’t expect this rushing attack to run all over Auburn like it did against Ohio because Auburn had one of the best run defenses in the country in 2021. It only allowed 3.7 yards per carry and ranked inside the top 10 in Defensive Line Yards, Stuff Rate and Power Success Rate Allowed.
The Tigers did lose some depth on the defensive line, but they have an edge rusher who can absolutely get to the quarterback in Derrick Hall.
Hall had a 86.6 pass-rushing grade, nine sacks and a 15.5% pressure rate, all of which were top-five in the SEC in 2021.
Clifford has a 27.7 PFF passing grade when under pressure in 2021 — one of the worst marks in college football — so if Hall can get home, I don’t see Clifford and the passing attack having a lot of success.
I have Auburn projected at -5.2, so I love the value on it as underdogs at +3, and I would play it down to a pick’em.