Week 3 College Football Odds & Predictions: Best Bets for Afternoon Slate, Including Nevada-Kansas State
Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images. Pictured: Memphis Tigers football team.
- Nevada vs. Kansas State and Mississippi State vs. Memphis highlight the college football Week 3 afternoon slate.
- Georgia Southern and Ball State are in action, as well.
- Our experts make their five best bets for five different games in this window.
There’s no slowing down on college football Saturdays if the goal is to earn some hard-earned cash.
Some of the more notable matchups of Week 3 are featured early in the day, but the afternoon window provides several low-key spots with value.
Our experts dove right into a possible ugly situation for Arkansas at home vs. Georgia Southern, Mississippi State vs. Memphis and the high-flying SMU offense vs. Louisiana Tech, among others.
Check out all of our top bets for Saturday afternoon’s slate of games, and use the table below to navigate to each preview.
Check out our Staff’s Best Bets for All 3 Saturday Kickoff Windows:
Saturday College Football Best Bets for Week 3
Picks for Today’s Afternoon Kickoffs
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our staff’s best bets for college football’s Week 3 Saturday afternoon slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific pick 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.
Photos via Getty Images.
Nevada vs. Kansas State
2 p.m. ET
Quarterback play will headline the matchup between two undefeated teams when Kansas State duels Nevada.
Kansas State will be without Skylar Thompson, who suffered a non-contact injury after returning for his sixth season. Thompson’s importance to the Wildcats can’t be understated and was on full display last season.
Kansas State started out 3-0 with him under center before he went down with a season-ending injury. Backup Will Howard took over and led the team to a 1-6 finish.
In the three games with Thompson at quarterback, he averaged 9.8 yards per pass attempt (YPPA) and contributed seven touchdowns without committing a turnover. In the final seven games, Howard threw for eight touchdowns with 10 interceptions, while averaging just 127 passing yards per outing.
Kansas State will match up against one of the most prolific quarterbacks at the collegiate level in Carson Strong.
Strong is averaging nearly 350 passing yards per game, with six touchdowns and one interception. Strong has averaged 8.9 yards per pass attempt (YPPA) and has led this offense to 35.5 points per game through two games. The 6-foot-4 quarterback has shown why he has the potential to be the first quarterback off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Wolfpack defense has been solid — allowing just 4.6 yards per play — but they’ve been vulnerable against the run. Without the concern of a true passing threat, Nevada is going to pack the box and slow down the Kansas State rushing attack.
Meanwhile, the Kansas State defense ranks 92nd in Pass Success and has allowed an average of 6.4 yards per pass attempt this season. Look for Strong to expose this defense and continue to improve his draft stock by beating a Big 12 team.
Kansas State is going to struggle to keep up offensively against Nevada.
Pick: Nevada -1.5
SMU vs. Louisiana Tech
3:30 p.m. ET
Soft number on the total here, and one that makes little sense.
SMU has admittedly gone under in both games this season, but not for lack of trying. The opener against Abilene Christian fell short by one point, while the Mustangs only had the ball for less than 24 minutes against North Texas (still, they posted 1.4 point per minute of possession and were projected for 43.7 had they controlled the ball for even half the game).
The Mustangs have the nation’s leading touchdown passer (Tanner Mordecai, 11) and four receivers have multiple touchdown catches. How scary is it that Reggie Roberson Jr. — the team’s best skill player — doesn’t have one yet? The answer is very.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech has all the makings of an ‘over’ team. In no way, shape, or form, would I invest in a defense that just allowed 495 passing yards and five total touchdowns to Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Cole Kelley last week.
The only hope for La Tech is the offense, led by former Oklahoma and West Virginia signal caller Austin Kendall. Last year’s unit was unwatchable, but the 2021 Bulldogs are averaging close to 40 points per game so far.
Neither team can get after the passer, so two former Big 12 quarterbacks will light it up in an entertaining non-conference tilt.
Pick: Over 66
Mississippi State vs. Memphis
4 p.m. ET
By Shawn Burns
Mississippi State vs. Memphis will be one of the more interesting games of the weekend.
Memphis freshman quarterback Seth Henigan exploded onto the national scene with 417 passing yards and a five-touchdown performance in the Tigers’ win over Arkansas State.
Mississippi State had a lackluster performance against Louisiana Tech to open its 2021 season but impressed last week in an upset win over North Carolina State. The Bulldog defense completely suffocated the Wolfpack offense as they cruised to a two-touchdown victory.
After two games, Memphis leads the nation in total offense, averaging 633 yards per game and almost 50 points per contest.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers have been abused, allowing close to 400 yards passing and 34 points per game, including 50 to Arkansas State last week.
Will Rogers and the Mississippi State offense have had some great moments, but turnovers and penalties have held them back so far this season.
The defense, which is one of the best in the SEC, carried them last week and will need to step up again against the high-powered Tigers.
This game is in Memphis, which is a short three-hour drive from Starkville, and I would be surprised if Mississippi State fans don’t fill up at least half of the Liberty Bowl.
The Bulldogs will finally break out on offense, and Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan will get tested by an elite SEC defense.
Mississippi State will have a few uneasy moments but will win by at least a touchdown.
Pick: Mississippi State -3
Georgia Southern vs. No. 20 Arkansas
4 p.m. ET
Here’s a nugget for you trend folks: The four triple-option teams (Army, Navy, Air Force and Georgia Southern) have gone 30-9-2 ATS since 2005, per Action Labs. That’s a cover rate of 76.9% with an ROI of just under 50%.
Trends are generally rubbish without causality, but this one makes logical sense. It’s just difficult to cover a very large number as a favorite against a slow, triple-option offense that bleeds the clock, thus limiting the number of possessions in a game.
Additionally, this is a horrible situational spot for the home-favored Hogs.
Arkansas comes off an enormous upset win over Texas that resulted in a fine by the SEC for rushing the field. It will have to recover from the hangover and come out mentally ready for a triple-option attack nobody on this defense has seen at the collegiate level.
Plus, this game comes a week before a date with Texas A&M in Arlington. Oh, and after that, the Hogs will have three more conference games against ranked opponents.
There’s enormous potential for the Razorbacks to come out flat here.
Plus, who could blame head coach Sam Pittman for simply wanting to get out of this one with a victory while staying healthy and not showing much on tape?
Therefore, if Arkansas does get down big, we could have a decent chance at a backdoor at such a large number.
Also, this isn’t simply a fade of the Arkansas spot and bet on a triple-option team at such a large number, as I do show value on the line.
Georgia Southern has been an abject disaster to start the season. The Eagles barely pulled out a win in its opener against FCS Gardner Webb and then got demolished by Florida Atlantic, 38-6.
However, there’s reason for optimism and why this might be a good chance to buy low on them outside of the horrible spot for Arkansas.
Georgia Southern projected starting quarterback Justin Tomlin, who has plenty of prior experience running the offense, did not suit up for the first two games due to an academic suspension.
As a result, head coach Chad Lunsford had to turn to former Tulane running back Amare Jones, who simply does not have the tools as a passer or even a pitcher.
Lunsford did make a change last week by starting true freshman Cam Ransom, who also got time in the opener. He had some success before exiting in the second quarter with a leg injury with Georgia Southern leading 6-0 and driving.
Lunsford then went with freshman Sam Kenerson, who subsequently fumbled inside the 10 late in the second quarter. Instead of potentially going up by two touchdowns, it all went downhill from there, as Kenerson just clearly didn’t have a firm grasp on the varied option attack.
With Tomlin returning under center, the offense — which has talent at running back and plenty of returning experience along the offensive line — should look much more competent.
It could also see the return of projected starting running back JD King, who has missed the first two games with an injury. He is listed on the depth chart this week as a co-starter.
Pick: Georgia Southern +23
Ball State vs. Wyoming
4 p.m. ET
By Matt Wispe
There’s nothing I like more than bad offenses playing in bad weather with totals that were likely too high even in perfect conditions. Out in Laramie, Wyoming, there’s a game that fits the bill.
Ball State has played with a reasonable pace at 23.7 seconds per play. Despite ranking in the top 35 in pace, the team has only averaged 69.5 offensive plays per game, which ranks outside of the top 50.
That’s because they’ve been inefficient with the ball. The Cardinals have a success rate of just 34.3% and have averaged only 22 points per game.
Wyoming, on the other hand, has averaged 28.1 seconds per play — which ranks 85th nationally — and has only averaged 68.5 plays per game. The Cowboys have been more efficient with a 47.2% success rate, but it’s their reliance on the run that has kept their scoring down.
Because there are forecasted crosswinds of 15 mph, this game fits one of my favorite BetLabs pro systems: windy unders. With a 56% win rate and 10% ROI, this game looks like a prime under candidate.