College Football Week 3 Odds & Early Bets: Picks for Georgia Tech vs. Ole Miss, Utah State vs. Air Force & More
Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Ole Miss Rebels.
Week 2 is in the books, and what a weekend it was that flipped college football on its head.
Texas is fully back after downing Alabama in Tuscaloosa, while Deion Sanders and Colorado blew out rival Nebraska to solidify the Buffaloes as a top-25 team in college football.
But now, it's time to refocus. Week 3 is here, and there are plenty of bets to be made before lines move.
The market clearly moves a lot over the course of the week. Money pours from the time lines open until kickoff on Saturday. Like any other sport, it's paramount to get the best price possible when betting on college football.
For example, a -6.5 favorite could move to -7.5 on Saturday morning, and then you run the risk of that team winning by one of the most likely outcomes — a seven-point victory — and you just lost your bet. It happens every week.
But that mess could have been avoided if the bet was locked in at -6.5 on Monday morning.
I'm here to help you navigate the market by providing a few lines I'm buying right now — or other lines that I'm waiting to buy later in the week.
The hope for this piece is to beat the market, get the best price possible, and in the long run, save you some money with closing line value. To do that, we'll utilize our Action Network PRO projections, ESPN's SP+ and my own projections to create a consensus.
You hear all the time, "Process over results." The best way to know if the process is working is by closing line value (CLV), meaning how many points did you beat the closing line by? Well, I'm here to help you hopefully get the most CLV possible early on in the week so you're sitting in a great position by the time we reach Saturday.
Utah State vs. Air Force Odds
Utah State vs. Air Force Projections
|Air Force -16.0||Air Force -17.2||Air Force -13.6|
Air Force had a typical Air Force-like performance against Sam Houston on Saturday. It held the ball for a 61% time of possession and ran the ball on 59 of its 62 plays for 4.2 yards per carry, which helped hold Sam Houston to only 44 offensive plays.
The Falcons returned only five starters on the offensive side of the ball, but the triple option keeps humming year after year.
They did lose the school's all-time leading rusher in Brad Roberts, which is a big blow, but the biggest thing with Air Force is it brought back six offensive linemen with starting experience. That will allow the Falcons to continually rank inside the top five in Stuff Rate Allowed and Offensive Line Yards as they have for the past two seasons.
More importantly, they're facing a Utah State defense that hasn't even come close to stopping the triple option the last two times the Aggies faced it.
In 2022, Air Force scored 27 points and averaged 4.8 yards per carry on the ground with a 44% Rushing Success Rate. In 2021, Air Force put 45 points up on the board while running for 437 yards and 6.9 yards per carry.
Utah State returned only four starters on the defensive side of the ball and really hasn't been tested yet by a decent offense.
Cooper Legas had a pretty lackluster game against Iowa in the opener, but that was expected after reviewing his numbers from last year. Legas was thrust into the starting role after Logan Bonner got hurt and threw for a 57.4 PFF passing grade and averaged just 6.8 yards per attempt.
The problem with Utah State is it has almost no experience across its offensive line.
Air Force did lose a couple of key starters in its front seven but has all upperclassmen ready to fill their positions. The drop-off with service academies just isn't as drastic as it is at other schools.
The Falcons dominated Sam Houston in the opener, holding the Bearkats to just three points and 1.8 yards per play. They did return four of their five starters in the secondary, so it's going to be difficult for Legas on Friday night.
All three projection models have Air Force projected north of -13, so I'd grab the Falcons at -9 before it moves.
San Jose State vs. Toledo Odds
San Jose State vs. Toledo Projections
|Toledo -17.2||Toledo -13.1||Toledo -13.9|
Toledo almost came away with a win at Illinois in the opener, while San Jose State has been beaten badly by two Pac-12 schools to begin the season.
Toledo is the favorite to win the MAC this year, and you can see why from returning star quarterback Dequan Finn, top running back Jacquez Stuart and top two wideouts Jerjuan Newton and Devin Maddox.
Finn is an electric dual-threat quarterback who didn't put up great passing numbers last year. He held a PFF passing grade of 69.8 and averaged 7.1 yards per attempt, but he put up 6.1 yards per carry, 25 missed tackles and 24 runs of more than 10 yards.
Toledo QB Dequan Finn's seven TD game vs. Kent State pic.twitter.com/vIixblJstG
— Colton Denning (@Dubsco) October 16, 2022
If that wasn't enough for opposing defenses, they also have to defend Stuart, who averaged a whopping 5.7 yards per carry on 134 attempts.
The thing is, both Finn and Stuart put those numbers up behind a below-average offensive line that ranked 90th in Offensive Line Yards.
Head coach Jason Candle went out and grabbed three Power 5 offensive linemen from the portal, and coming into this season, the Rockets have 94 starts across their line. It immediately showed up, as they averaged 3.5 Line Yards rush against a good Power 5 front seven. For reference, they averaged just 2.9 Line Yards per carry last year.
Coming into the season, the Spartans defense had to replace a lot of production in its front seven. Star linebacker Kyle Harmon is gone after racking up 102 tackles last season, as are the Spartans' top two pass rushers in Cade Hall and Viliami Fehoko, who combined for 16.5 sacks.
They got beat down on the ground in the opening two games, giving up a combined 5.2 yards per carry against USC and Oregon State while ranking 130th in PFF run defense through three weeks.
Chevan Cordeiro was pretty poor in the opening two games against the Trojans and Beavers. He averaged just 5.0 yards per attempt with a 64.8% adjusted completion percentage and a 57.8 PFF passing grade.
The thing with Cordeiro is he played behind a terrible offensive line last season and was constantly under pressure. The Spartans did return 86 starts on their offensive line and there have been some improvements in protecting Cordeiro, but it hasn't translated to success through the air.
Meanwhile, Toledo is coming off a season in which it graded out as one of the best Group of Five defenses in the country.
Image via PFF.
The real success came in the secondary. The Rockets finished 12th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 14th in EPA/Pass Allowed.
They return everybody in that secondary and are once again stacked in their front seven, so it's going to be a long day for the Spartans offense.
All three projection models have Toledo projected above -13, so I would grab it at -8 now before it moves.
Georgia Tech vs. Ole Miss Odds
Georgia Tech vs. Ole Miss Projections
|Ole Miss -24.2||Ole Miss -25.9||Ole Miss -25.1|
Ole Miss struggled with a Michael Pratt-less Tulane for the majority of its game Saturday before pulling away and winning, 37-20.
Jaxson Dart had a decent game, going 17-of-27 for 267 yards and two touchdowns, but he did have two turnover-worthy plays.
The key to Dart's success is keeping a clean pocket.
Last season, he was under pressure on 35% of his dropbacks and put up a PFF passing grade of just 47.2 passing grade on those plays. When he had a clean pocket, he posted an 89.4 PFF passing grade, averaged 9.4 yards per attempt and had a 76.5% adjusted completion percentage.
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) September 2, 2023
Even though Ole Miss struggled to run the ball against Tulane, it will have a much easier time on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets lost a massive amount of production in their front seven with linebackers Ayinde Eley and Charlie Thomas both leaving for the NFL. The duo combined for an absurd 230 tackles a season ago.
Georgia Tech brought in a couple of transfers, including Andre White and his 139 tackles from Texas A&M, but the Yellow Jackets aren't going to be able to replace both players and keep the same level of production.
Even with second- and third-team All-ACC linebackers, Georgia Tech still gave up 4.5 yards per carry and ranked 114th in EPA/Rush Allowed. In the opener against Louisville, they gave up 227 yards on the ground and 6.6 yards per carry. Last week, they allowed 4.7 yards per carry against FCS foe South Carolina State.
Haynes King had a great game in the opener against Louisville on paper, going 19-of-32 for 313 yards and three touchdowns. However, he did throw an interception, lost a fumble and put up a PFF passing grade of 60.8.
King is under a brand new system with first-year Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner. Faulkner has been a quality control coach at Georgia for the last three years, but before that, he served as the offensive coordinator for Southern Miss, Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee. So, it seems he's still getting his feet wet in this offense.
All three projection models are showing value here on the Rebels, so I'd grab them at -19.5 now before it moves.