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  • College Football Picks & Predictions For Every Game – Week Three

College Football Picks & Predictions For Every Game – Week Three

College Football’s third week of the season features the first ranked vs ranked matchup of the year as #17 Miami will travel to face Micale Cunningham and #18 Louisville.

Also on the schedule:

  • Fresh off their win at Florida State, Georgia Tech will get a chance to pull another upset, this time at home against #14 UCF.
  • #24 Appalachian State attempts to continue the year of the Sun Belt as they take on Conference USA East favorite Marshall, one of the most impressive teams of week one in a game that will be nationally broadcast on CBS
  • #11 Oklahoma State tests out their high-powered offense vs Tulsa
  • #19 Louisiana tries to avoid an upset @ Georgi State after pulling an upset of their own in week one
  • A trio of ACC matchups take center stage as #25 Pitt takes on Syracuse, Wake Forest battles NC State, and Boston College debuts a new QB and head coach @ Duke
  • #7 Notre Dame, which looked shaky at times in week one, gets a chance to prove their worth in their only non-conference game of the year against USF

Unfortunately, some very intriguing games were canceled this week, most notably #16 Memphis vs Houston, #22 Army vs #21 BYU, #20 Virginia Tech vs Virginia, Baylor vs Houston, and #12 North Carolina vs Charlotte. Hopefully, at least a couple are able to be rescheduled.

2020 Stats

Straight Up: 23-6 (79%)
ATS Best Bets: 4-2 (+1.64 units)

Best Bets

Navy (+8) @ Tulane – 12 PM ET, ABC
Boston College (+6.5) @ Duke – 12 PM ET, ESPN3
#14 UCF (-7) @ Georgia Tech – 3:30 PM ET, ABC
#23 Appalachian State (-3.5) @ Marshall – 3:30 PM ET, CBS
#1 Clemson (-43.5) vs The Citadel – 4 PM ET, ACC Network
SMU (-13.5) @ North Texas – 6 PM ET, CBSSN
Louisiana Tech (+5.5) @ Southern Miss – 7:30 PM ET, ESPN2

Note: All projected scores are based on 1,000 simulations of the CSD Prime computer model – with some leeway for tweaks in the event of circumstances the model can’t pick up (e.g. injury)

Friday, September 18th

Campbell (0-1) @ Coastal Carolina (1-0)
Vegas Line: Coastal Carolina -26.5

CSD Pick: Coastal Carolina 37, Campbell 12

Saturday, September 19th

Tulsa @ #11 Oklahoma State

Vegas Line: Oklahoma State -23

QB Zach Smith is back to run the Tulsa offense after an improved year in 2019, and he should put up some points on the Oklahoma State defense, but he will be up against one of the best skill corps in the country. QB Spencer Sanders, RB Chuba Hubbard, and WR Tylan Wallace will run all over a Tulsa defense that really struggled last year. Give me the Cowboys, big.

CSD Pick: Oklahoma State 45, Tulsa 20

Austin Peay (0-2) @ #13 Cincinnati
Vegas Line: Cincinnati -33.5

CSD Pick: Cincinnati 40, Austin Peay 7

#19 Louisiana (1-0) @ Georgia State

Vegas Line: Louisiana -17

I’m upgrading this to a featured game following the cancellation of Houston-Baylor. ULL, led by backs Eli Mitchell and Trey Ragas, should roll here against a Georgia State team out of their league, but watch out, the letdown effect after an upset is strong, and the Ragin’ Cajuns may be ripe to be upset themselves.

CSD Pick: Louisiana 39, Georgia State 22

Syracuse (0-1, 0-1 ACC) @ #25 Pittsburgh (1-0)

12 PM ET, ACC Network
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -22

Pitt looked excellent in their week one victory over Austin Peay, crushing the FCS foe 42-0 by halftime, dominating them so much that the teams agreed to shortened quarters for the second half. The star of this Pitt team is the defense, more specifically, the pass rush, which was one of the best in the country last year and looks to have not dropped off in 2020. They go up against a Syracuse offensive line that was awful last year and looked awful in week one. The Orange held with North Carolina for three quarters last week, but the passing attack struggled. This probably won’t be close.

CSD Pick: Pitt 32, Syracuse 15

Liberty @ Western Kentucky (0-1)
Vegas Line: Western Kentucky -14

CSD Pick: Western Kentucky 33, Liberty 23

Navy (0-1) @ Tulane (1-0)
Vegas Line: Tulane -8

Alright, week one was rough for Navy. The Midshipmen looked like they had never heard of what a football was and got demolished by BYU, 55-3. But… this is a really good team on paper, one that should’ve been a clear tier-two team in the AAC alongside squads like SMU and Houston, and Tulane didn’t look great in their opener either, needing to come from behind to beat a bad Texas State team. I’m not ballsy enough to call it outright, but I have faith in the great Ken Niumatalolo to pick his boys up from the disastrous week one performance and at the very least put up a fight here, covering the eight-point spread.

CSD pick: Tulane 30, Navy 28

☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Navy +8

Boston College @ Duke (0-1, 0-1 ACC)

Vegas Line: Duke -6.5

In comes former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley to coach the Golden Eagles of Boston College after what felt like forever for BC under Steve Addizio. I really like Hafley, and he should have no trouble immediately improving a defense that struggled mightily last year. The Eagles are experienced, especially on the second level, and I have faith in Hafley. They take on a Duke team that is undoubtedly more talented but didn’t look great last week against Notre Dame. QB Chase Brice was just fine, and there was almost no run game to speak of. Who wins this game will come down to how former Notre Dame QB Phil Jurkovec plays for Boston College. I’m going to hedge my bets a little and say Duke will win, but it will be a lot closer than Vegas thinks. Give me Jurkovec and the Eagles +6.5.

CSD Pick: Duke 24, Boston College 23

☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Boston College +6.5

Houston @ Baylor

Vegas Line: Baylor -6.5

This game got thrown together at the last minute and is now Fox’s big noon game of the week. The winner of this should probably earn a spot in the top 25 next week, so there are some stakes for this non-conference showdown between two teams that had their scheduled season openers canceled. This is a tough one to call. Houston struggled a lot last year, but are returning almost everyone on both sides of the ball (outside of QB D’Eriq King). On the other hand, Baylor returns almost no one (except for QB Charlie Brewer) from a team that was awesome last year. That’s funny. Brewer is excellent, as is new Baylor head coach Dave Aranda, and I think the talent gap will just be too big here. I expect Baylor to secure a win for the Big 12, a conference in desperate need of one.

CSD Pick: Baylor 34, Houston 26

USF (1-0) @ #7 Notre Dame (1-0)

2:30 PM ET, USA
Vegas Line: Notre Dame -26

USF fell off a cliff over the past one and a half seasons, and new coach Jeff Scott has a real rebuilding project on his hands, but last week -against The Citadel, granted- the Bulls run game looked really good, rushing for two touchdowns and over 300 yards against the FCS foe. They will almost certainly lose this game (~ 5% win probability) against a monumentally more talented Notre Dame team, but how close they can keep it will be very telling for Scott’s tenure. Unfortunately for USF, I happen to think the answer to that question will be “not very close”, the Notre Dame defense looked awesome last week, holding Duke to just 73 rushing yards, but I do think this game is worth keeping an eye on to see how the Notre Dame offense, which wasn’t great last week, fares against the Bulls.

CSD Pick: Notre Dame 40, USF 12

Stephen F. Austin (0-1) @ UTSA (1-0)
3:30 PM ET, ESPN2
Vegas Line: UTSA -14.5

CSD Pick: UTSA 32, Stephen F. Austin 12

#23 Appalachian State (1-0) @ Marshall (1-0)

3:30 PM ET, CBS
Vegas Line: Appalachian State -3.5

This game got moved up to the flagship CBS network, which is pretty cool for two G5 teams. This is the Sun Belt East favorite, App State, against the Conference USA East favorite, Marshall, and it should be a super fun game to watch. Marshall’s freshman QB, Grant Wells, hit at a 70% clip for 307 yards and four touchdowns in his debut for Marshall in week one, and RB Brenden Knox looked excellent, but they were playing Eastern Kentucky.

App State QB Zac Thomas is experienced, the Mountaineer run game is awesome, and DB Shemar Jean-Charles put in one of the best performances of week two. I like this Marshall team, and Wells looks to be good, but let’s not overreact to one game. Let alone one game against Eastern Kentucky. Give me one of the most consistent programs of the last half-decade, App State, to win this one and cover the 3.5-point spread easily.

CSD Pick: Appalachian State 34, Marshall 26

☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Appalachian State -3.5

#14 UCF @ Georgia Tech (1-0)

3:30 PM ET, ABC
Vegas Line: UCF -7

Miami-Louisville is the biggest game of the day, but this might be the most interesting. With the news of the Big Ten planning on restarting their football season, the dreams of an AAC playoff team may be dead for now, but UCF and HC Josh Heupel still have a lot to prove after a down year in 2019. They take on a Georgia Tech team that beat Florida State last week but did not look pretty doing it. Freshman QB Jeff Sims looked like a freshman, he made some plays but also threw two “gimme” interceptions. Georgia Tech’s upset last week was more the product of FSU playing poorly than the Yellow Jackets playing well, and I expect a stacked UCF team, one that was a lot better than their record indicated last year to cruise to a win here and easily cover the seven-point spread.

CSD Pick: UCF 34, Georgia Tech 22

☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – UCF -7

Troy @ Middle Tennessee (0-1)
3:30 PM ET, ESPN
Vegas Line: Troy -3.5

CSD Pick: Troy 32, Middle Tennessee 29

The Citadel (0-1) @ #1 Clemson (1-0)
4 PM ET, ACC Network
Vegas Line: Clemson -43.5

Come on. I know Clemson pulled their starters early and only beat Wake Forest by 24 last week, but a 43.5 point spread against The Citadel, a team that USF gashed for 302 rushing yards last week, is a joke. The Citadel averages just one point in my model’s 1,000 simulations of this game. This won’t be close.

CSD Pick: Clemson 53, The Citadel 1

☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Clemson -43.5

SMU (1-0) @ North Texas (1-0)
Vegas Line: SMU -13.5

POINTS. This one will have the scoreboard lighting up, as two of the best offenses in the G5 go head-to-head in what should be a fun primetime shoutout in Texas. Both these teams struggled in week one against inferior teams, but I have a lot more faith in SMU to turn it around. SMU QB Shane Buechele might be the best QB in the state, and on the road here the Mustangs should easily cover the 13.5 point line in what will be a very high-scoring affair.

CSD Pick: SMU 45, North Texas 26

☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – SMU -13.5

Game of the Day:
#17 Miami (1-0) @ #18 Louisville (1-0)

7:30 PM ET, ABC
Vegas Line: Louisville -2.5

The game of the day comes between two teams looking to be contenders in the ACC this year. Notre Dame and North Carolina both looked a little shaky in week one, and both of these squads are ready to step up if that continues.

Louisville comes in fresh off a win over a decent WKU team, 35-21. QB Micale Cunningham wasn’t great, completing just 56% of his passes in the win, but the offensive line looked to be much improved. Also struggling was RB Javian Hawkins, who averaged just 4.0 YPC, but All-American contending WR Tutu Atwell was great as per usual, pulling in seven catches for 78 yards. On defense, LB Monty Montgomery (three tackles, sack) and S Russ Yeast (zero catches allowed) are a pair of veteran leaders that I really like.

For Miami, the ‘Canes beat another decent C-USA team, UAB, by a 31-14 margin in a game that was a lot closer than that margin indicated. QB D’Eriq King looked very good, throwing for 148 yards and a score, and adding 104 and one on the ground. RB Jaylan Knighton (59 yards, 6.6 YPC) looked decent behind an offensive line that still wasn’t great but looked better than last year. On defense, Miami didn’t appear to be on the level of the 2019 defense. Edge rusher Quincy Roche got a sackbut struggled in run defense, it was actually Jaelan Phillips (one hit, two hurries, two tackles) who impressed me more. S Gurvan Hall Jr (zero catches allowed) looks to be taking a step up in the secondary.

As for this one, Miami’s rush game, between Cam’Ron Harris, Jaylan Knighton, and D’Eriq King looks excellent, and the Cards might struggle to stop it, but I have very little faith in Miami’s secondary. The QB/WR duo of Micale Cunningham and Tutu Atwell is one of the best in the ACC. This will be tight, and a fun game to watch between two very dynamic QBs, but I slightly favor the Cards at home

CSD Pick: Louisville 31, Miami 30

Louisiana Tech @ Southern Miss (0-1)
7:30 PM ET, ESPN2
Vegas Line: Southern Miss -5.5

My upset special for the day comes from Conference USA where I’ll take Louisiana Tech to beat Southern Miss outright. La Tech returns one of the most tenured coaches in the G5, Skip Holtz. Southern Miss just fired their coach, Jay Hopson, after one game, creating a staff in turmoil. Not to mention, the Golden Eagles looked awful in week one, getting crushed at home by a bad South Alabama team. La Tech needs to replace a lot this year, especially on the lines, but I think they can get this done on the road.

CSD Pick: Louisiana Tech 31, Southern Miss 30

☆Crazy Sports Dude Best Bet Alert☆ – Louisiana Tech +5.5

Texas State (0-2) @ UL Monroe (0-1)
Vegas Line: Texas State -5.5

CSD Pick: Texas State 33, UL Monroe 32

Wake Forest (0-1, 0-1 ACC) @ NC State

8 PM ET, ACC Network
Vegas Line: NC State -2.5

Two ACC teams rated firmly in the middle of the pack face off in what will be a nice “switch-to” game during Miami-Louisville. Wake Forest performed decently against #1 Clemson last week, falling 37-13 to the Tigers, but covering the spread in the process. Only one ACC team was able to perform that feat all of last year (North Carolina). QB Sam Hartman threw for 182 yards and earned a 67.6 grade from Pro Football Focus despite a rough day from the offensive line.

The Demon Deacons take on an NC State team that didn’t play last week due to COVID issues, a team that should be much improved after a rare down year in Dave Doeren’s tenure.

The defense will take a step up for the Wolfpack, a lot of talent returns there, but which side wins this game will come down how improved NC State QB Devin Leary is after a disastrous 2019. Leary gets most of the skill corps back around him, and I have confidence in Dave Doeren, who has been incredibly consistent outside of last year. I’ll take NC State, but this will be one of the closest games of the day.

CSD Pick: NC State 28, Wake Forest 26

Abilene Christian @ UTEP (1-1)
Vegas Line: UTEP -4

CSD Pick: UTEP 23. Abilene Christian 22

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