Week 2 of the college football season was very fun, even if it didn’t feature any ranked matchups. Week 3 figures to be even better as the three top-ranked teams in the country will be in action on the road against ranked opponents.
Each Monday, we will look at the early game lines, courtesy of our friends at SportsLine. Here are the lines you need to know — and some to steer clear of — for Week 3 of the college football season.
Lines you need to know
No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (-2.5) at No. 10 Louisville Cardinals : The first of our three massive games on Saturday is a Noon ET kick between the Seminoles and Cardinals. It’s the only matchup of top 10 teams and features a pair of dynamic quarterbacks with legitimate Heisman aspirations in Lamar Jackson and Deondre Francois . Florida State, despite being on the road, is a 2.5-point favorite, although that line has come down after getting as high as 4.5 on Sunday.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-10) at No. 19 Ole Miss Rebels : Oddsmakers aren’t expecting the Rebels to have the same success they had in 2015 against Alabama this year as the Tide are a double-digit favorite on Monday afternoon. Alabama coach Nick Saban wasn’t particularly thrilled with his team’s play on Saturday against Western Kentucky Hilltoppers , and you better believe the Tide will be looking for revenge against Ole Miss for spoiling what could have been a perfect season last year. The Rebels gave Florida State a battle for a half, but depth issues on defense and the lack of a rushing attack are the reasons this spread’s pushed out to 10.
No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (-2) at No. 14 Oklahoma Sooners : The nightcap will be Ohio State’s trip to Norman where the Sooners will have a chance to get their national championship hopes back on track against the Buckeyes. Oklahoma showed its vulnerability in the Week 1 loss to Houston Cougars , but with the Buckeyes coming to Norman, they can earn a signature non-conference win and be right back in the College Football Playoff conversation. Ohio State can prove that its early dominance of lesser competition isn’t just a mirage.
No. 12 Michigan State Spartans (+8) at No. 18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish : The *other* big ranked matchup of the weekend has the Spartans as more than a touchdown underdog to Notre Dame. The Irish have finally made the decision to move forward with DeShone Kizer as the starter and that has oddsmakers (and myself) feeling far more comfortable with the offense. Michigan State hasn’t played since a lackluster showing against Furman in the opener and the oddsmakers don’t have a ton of faith in them keeping this to a one-score game.
These may raise some eyebrows
No. 17 Texas Longhorns A&M (+4) at Auburn Tigers : The Aggies are a four-point road dog this week at Auburn. The Tigers’ defense has been strong, but considering the offense’s struggles against Clemson Tigers in the opener, this is certainly an interesting line with a very talented Texas A&M squad coming to the Plains.
Duke Blue Devils (+6) at Northwestern Wildcats : Duke just lost to Wake Forest Demon Deacons at home. That’s bad. Northwestern just lost at home to Illinois State after losing at home to Western Michigan Broncos in Week 1. That’s worse, and yet, the Wildcats are touchdown (sans extra point) favorites. I don’t know much, but I do know you don’t lay a touchdown with a team that scored seven points against Illinois State. Take that for what you will.
Pittsburgh Panthers (+6.5) at Oklahoma State Cowboys : If the Pokes hadn’t lost on that really weird Hail Mary that shouldn’t have happened but did to CMU, this might have been over a touchdown. James Conner and Pitt’s offense are going to look to bully the Cowboys’ defense that last year really struggled against the run (87th nationally).
Consider staying away
Vanderbilt Commodores (+6.5) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets : I don’t know what Vanderbilt team shows up in Atlanta on Saturday. If it’s the team that couldn’t move the ball on South Carolina Gamecocks in Week 1, the Jackets might be the right side. If it’s the offense that put up 47 on Saturday against MTSU, then the ‘Dores might be the right side on the money line. I don’t trust either team in this game so it’s a firm walk away for me.
UCLA (-3) at Brigham Young Cougars : Every BYU game is super weird and it’s because of Taysom Hill . The Cougars are on my hard pass list each week, because they’re always in the game, but also do weird things in close games and I can’t trust either side of this line. Don’t wager on BYU football.
Oregon Ducks (+3) at Nebraska Cornhuskers : This line also feels weird and that tells me to walk away. Nebraska’s margin of victory over Wyoming Cowboys was inflated off of a complete collapse by Wyoming’s QB, but Oregon’s defense is also just flat out not good. The Ducks feel like the right side, but I can’t trust that defense.
Texas A&M at Auburn UNDER 54.5: Recent history would make you think that this will be a shootout, but make no mistake, the defenses are the stars for both of these teams in 2016. I don’t have much faith in Auburn’s offense and while the Aggies have some playmakers, they just aren’t consistent at driving down the field and putting points on the board. If we avoid too much in the way defensive or special teams scores, I think this comes in under the total pretty comfortably.
Alabama at Ole Miss UNDER 55: Ole Miss’ offense hasn’t looked great since the first half of the Florida State game — 38 points against Wofford isn’t exactly lighting it up — and we know Alabama’s defense is a beast. The Tide’s offense hung 52 on USC, but you’re sending two freshman QBs into their first career true road game, which likely means Lane Kiffin will look to be a bit more conservative to avoid turnovers — exactly what doomed Alabama last year against Ole Miss. For those reasons, I’ll be rocking the under in Oxford.
Texas at California UNDER 81: This total is absurd, I’m sorry. Cal’s defense is bad, there’s no doubt about that, and the Golden Bears will push the tempo on offense. That said, Texas’ defense is pretty good. I think Texas would have to hit 52 for this to get threatened and that is a lot of points. This could be a high-scoring game and still come in under. This isn’t Texas Tech-Arizona State. At least one team will be playing defense on Saturday.
San Diego State at Northern Illinois OVER 50: I like to give you one over each week, and for Week 3, I’ll be riding with Donnel Pumphrey and the Aztecs at Northern Illinois to push past this total. Pumphrey is a beast and Northern Illinois struggled with Brian Hill and the Wyoming rushing attack in the opener. The hope is that NIU can score some points, but if they can get to 17 or 20, I feel comfortable in the Aztecs getting over 30.
Over/Under record: 4-4
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / College Football Week 3 lines, game odds: Huge road tests for the top 3 teams