What to watch: Week 3 college football viewing guide, picks against the spread

·8-min read

Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.

After an upset-filled Week 2, what will Week 3 of the college football season have in store?

We saw ranked teams like Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Wisconsin all lose at home to unranked opponents last Saturday. This week, six different ranked teams head on the road to face unranked teams and a few others are potentially on upset watch in tricky matchups at home. There are also two intriguing ranked vs. ranked showdowns.

You never know where the upsets are going to emerge in college football, and that’s what makes it so much fun.

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: Oregon -3.5 | Total: 58

Last week, BYU pulled out a big home win in double overtime over Baylor, the defending Big 12 champions. It was a defensive struggle but the Cougars were eventually able prevail to improve to 2-0. After such a hard-fought win, BYU has to travel up to Eugene to play in another raucous environment — this time as the road team. Already at No. 12, it’s easy to picture the Cougars steadily climbing in the rankings if they continue to win.

Oregon, meanwhile, will get its second shot at the national spotlight after a 49-3 loss to defending national champion Georgia in Week 1. The Ducks rebounded last week by blowing out Eastern Washington at home 70-14 to give coach Dan Lanning his first career win. Bo Nix was much more sharp in the win, completing 28-of-33 throws for 277 yards and five touchdowns. Can that carry over against a far superior opponent?

Nick Bromberg: BYU +3.5, Sam Cooper: BYU +3.5

No. 22 Penn State at Auburn

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: PSU -3 | Total: 48.5

This is a big opportunity for Bryan Harsin and the Auburn program. The 2021 season finished on an ugly note and the offseason was even uglier. But the outlook on The Plains always looks much better when the Tigers start to string some wins together. Knocking off a ranked Big Ten team — especially one that beat you last year — would be hugely beneficial for the Tigers as they head into SEC play. But to beat Penn State, the Auburn offense needs to play much better than it did a week ago in a 24-16 win over San Jose State.

On the other side, Penn State already has a road win on its resume this season. The Nittany Lions had a dramatic win over Purdue in Week 1 before blowing out Ohio last week at home. Penn State is looking for consistency on the offensive line and has also been able to work in some promising young players early in the season. That includes freshman running back Nick Singleton, who went off for 179 yards and two TDs on just 10 carries last week. Now Singleton and the PSU offense will have the challenge of facing an SEC defense in a hostile environment.

Nick: PSU -3, Sam: PSU -3

Auburn running back Tank Bigsby (4) carries the ball against San Jose State during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Auburn running back Tank Bigsby (4) carries the ball against San Jose State during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

No. 11 Michigan State at Washington

Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: UW -3.5 | Total: 56.5

Michigan State was one of the stories of the 2021 season. The Spartans came out of nowhere and got off to an 8-0 start and ended up finishing 11-2 in Mel Tucker’s second season on the job. MSU is 2-0 to start this season, but hasn’t been super sharp on offense in wins over two MAC opponents — Western Michigan and Akron. Now the Spartans get to travel across the country to face Washington, a team in its first season under new head coach Kalen DeBoer.

Washington went 4-8 in 2021, enduring the disastrous ending of Jimmy Lake’s short term as Huskies head coach. UW struggled mightily on offense in recent seasons but is off to a good start under DeBoer and with Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. at quarterback. Through two games, Penix has thrown for 682 yards and six touchdowns, albeit against lackluster competition (Kent State and Portland State). We’ll learn a lot about how improved the Huskies really are with MSU making the cross-country trip to Seattle.

Nick: UW -3.5, Sam: MSU +3.5

No. 13 Miami at No. 24 Texas A&M

Time: 9 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: A&M -5.5 | Total: 44.5

On the heels of an embarrassing loss to Appalachian State, Texas A&M has to quickly turn the page with Miami coming to Kyle Field. The Aggies have underwhelmed on offense at various points during Jimbo Fisher’s tenure with last Saturday’s loss serving as the latest example. A&M gained just 186 yards and nine first downs as App State completely controlled possession. Will Fisher be able to make some changes in the lead-up to hosting such a high-profile non-conference opponent?

For Miami, this is a big chance to get a win over an SEC opponent on a national stage early in Mario Cristobal’s tenure. Expectations are sky-high for the Hurricanes with Cristobal now in charge at his alma mater after going 35-12 in four seasons at Oregon. Thus far, Miami is 2-0. But the team’s most-recent outing, a 30-7 win over Southern Miss, was a bit concerning. Miami actually trailed 7-3 late in the first half before mounting a comeback. To win in College Station, the Hurricanes will need to be much sharper from the get-go.

Nick: Miami +5.5, Sam: Texas A&M -5.5

Fresno State at No. 7 USC

Time: 10:30 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: USC -12.5 | Total: 73.5

USC is off to a fast start under Lincoln Riley. After a 66-14 beatdown of Rice in Week 1, the Trojans handled Stanford 41-28 in Week 2 behind a sterling offensive outing from Caleb Williams, Jordan Addison and Travis Dye. All three were high-profile transfers for USC with, most notably, Williams following Riley from Oklahoma to be his quarterback once again.

While the USC offense has been stellar, the defense has been a bit leaky and will have its hands full against Fresno State. The Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker to Oregon State at home last weekend. Fresno took a 32-29 lead with 1:05 to play but allowed the Beavers to win 35-32 with a touchdown as time expired. Last year, Fresno State beat UCLA at the Rose Bowl and nearly upset Oregon, so Jake Haener and the Bulldogs will not be intimidated at all going against the Trojans.

Nick: USC -12.5, Sam: Fresno State +12.5

Head-to-head ATS: Nick: 5-5, Sam: 4-6

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (13) throws a pass against Stanford during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez
Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (13) throws a pass against Stanford during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez

Week 3 best bets

Nick Bromberg (Last week: 3-0, Overall: 4-2)

Colorado State at Washington State (-17): This line feels like a letdown game waiting to happen for the Cougars after their win over Wisconsin. But It’s hard to overstate how bad Colorado State has been so far. The Rams were expectedly blown out by Michigan in Week 1 and then lost by 15 at home to a Middle Tennessee team that scored just seven points against FBS newbie James Madison. Pick: WSU -17

Mississippi State (-2.5) at LSU: Will the Brian Kelly era get off to an 0-2 start against FBS teams? I think it could. Mississippi State has looked very good in its first two games of the season and has a good enough secondary to force Jayden Daniels to his second and third read. Couple that with a very good quarterback in Will Rogers and I think the Bulldogs move to 3-0. Pick: MSU -2.5

SMU at Maryland (-2.5): Each of these teams have scored at least 31 points across the first two weeks of the season and SMU has broken the 40-point mark. But something tells me that the under is the right play here. The total immediately jumped out to me as being way too large and I’m going to go with that hunch. Pick: Under 73.5

Sam Cooper (Last week: 3-0, Overall: 6-0)

South Alabama at UCLA (-15.5): I trust UCLA to score a bunch of points at home and I think South Alabama has enough firepower to make this game interesting. South Alabama put up more than 500 yards on the road in a rout over Central Michigan last week. Pick: Over 59

BYU at Oregon (-3.5): BYU just played a really physical home game vs. Baylor and could have some issues against an Oregon defense that is much better than it showed against Georgia. At the same time, I don't trust the Oregon offense to put together a bunch of scoring drives. The under is 17-8 in BYU's 25 games as an underdog under Kalani Sitake. Pick: Under 58

San Diego State at Utah (-21): This is a revenge spot for Utah after the Utes lost to San Diego State last year. And I think SDSU is much worse than it was last year when it won 12 games. I think Utah rolls. Pick: Utah -21

For other Week 3 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.

For Week 3 picks from Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger, subscribe to the College Football Enquirer.