College Football Week 3 Betting Preview: No Jordan-Hare Magic This Week, Please

  • We have four bets for college football’s Week 3
  • We’re fading Texas? Shocking
  • In the Alabama/LSU game, we guarantee that the Tigers will win

Welcome back to our weekly college football betting preview. Some great games on the schedule this week, and some wild lines on the betting card. Last week we went 2-2 again, which was fine. We didn’t pick Kentucky to break the streak because I was too lazy to write up five games. Darn.

All odds/spreads in this article are from Bovada.

2018 Record: 4-4-0

USC (+3.0) vs Texas

Team Spread
USC +3.0 (-110)
Texas -3.0 (-110)

My first thing is that Texas is struggling. They struggled when they lost to Maryland, and they struggled when they took all four quarters to beat Tulsa. I have no faith in the Longhorns, not under Tom Herman, not under anybody. Furthermore, the incredible amount of money backing Texas at every opportunity creates a Tiger Woods effect: the line is almost never accurate.

USC vs Texas Statistical Comparison

2018 Stat USC Texas
Record 1-1 1-1
S&P+ Defensive Rank 26th 43rd
S&P+ Offensive Rank 84th 45th
S&P+ Overall Rank 47th 42nd

For their part, USC is also having a disappointing start, but losing to Stanford is entirely forgivable. Everyone loses to Stanford! Your team is going to lose to Stanford. I don’t think they’ll have as much trouble getting things going on offense in this games as they did against Stanford.

I don’t think they are really the 84th most effective offense in the country. I don’t think Sam Ehlinger is as good as KJ Costello. I don’t know who Texas’ running back is, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t Bryce Love.

Betting Tip: I love USC to cover here.

Boise State (+2.0) at Oklahoma State

Team Spread
Boise State +2.0 (-110)
Oklahoma State -2.0 (-110)

Boise State is really good. That’s more or less all I should have to offer at this juncture, or at any point in the last ten years.

Alright, let’s dig into it a little. S&P+ has Boise State as the favorite in this game, but that could be down to a couple biases in the system. Namely, since S&P+ is primarily a play-by-play efficiency stat, teams like Boise State going up against lesser opponents can achieve very high ratings. The opponent adjustment doesn’t really make up for the ability to run counter for eight yards fifteen times a game.

Boise State vs Oklahoma State Statistical Comparison

2018 Stat Boise State Oklahoma State
Record 2-0 2-0
S&P+ Defensive Rank 28th 12th
S&P+ Offensive Rank 6th 28th
S&P+ Overall Rank 5th 11th

That said, Oklahoma State is benefiting from more or less the same thing. Their two opponents, Missouri State and South Alabama, are arguably lesser teams than Boise State’s. Boise State even beat Troy, who are fine. More on that later.

The point is that I don’t see a reason for Oklahoma State to be favored, and that makes Boise State tempting. Doubly tempting, given their history of upsetting Power 5 teams.

Betting Tip: Never bet against Boise State in this scenario. Never.

LSU (+10.0) at Auburn

Team Spread
LSU +10.0 (-110)
Auburn -10.0 (-110)

Again, LSU is projected to win this game, per S&P+. That doesn’t square with the betting line, which has Auburn as strong favorites.

I can totally understand why this line is upside down. LSU’s biggest win was against Miami, a game that has since exposed the Hurricanes as frauds. Auburn beat Washington, and we’re not allowed to disrespect Washington, whatever the circumstances. That makes two teams with the same record and wildly different resumes.

LSU vs Auburn Statistical Comparison

2018 Stat LSU Auburn
Record 2-0 2-0
S&P+ Defensive Rank 8th 20th
S&P+ Offensive Rank 62nd 36th
S&P+ Overall Rank 12th 18th

Also, people are scarred by two things: Auburn beating Georgia and Alabama back-to-back, and LSU being generally forgettable in SEC play for the last few years. There’s little faith in the LSU Tigers under Coach O, and a bone-deep fear of the cosmic weirdness that summons itself anytime Auburn takes on a highly-touted rival in Jordan-Hare stadium. While I grit my teeth, I’ll suggest that maybe Auburn Jesus doesn’t take the field until late November, at the earliest.

Betting Tip: LSU plus the points! Go Tigers! No, the other Tigers!

Troy (+10.5) at Nebraska

Team Spread
Troy +10.5 (-110)
Nebraska -10.5 (-110)

I understand that some of you are avowed fans of Scott Frost. That’s fine, I won’t judge you. Let me just tell you about what Neal Brown has accomplished at Troy.

In three years at Troy, Neal Brown has recorded two double digit win seasons. They beat LSU in Death Valley. They very nearly beat Clemson. They’ve transcended the Sun Belt. They are a talented, stable team, exactly the kind of G5 school you regret scheduling. Ahhh dangit, you think. They managed to keep that coach for another year.

Troy vs Nebraska Statistical Comparison

2018 Stat Troy Nebraska
Record 1-1 0-1
S&P+ Defensive Rank 114th 42nd
S&P+ Offensive Rank 38th 30th
S&P+ Overall Rank 86th 29th

This is all to say that Troy is something of a known quality while Nebraska is still very much finding its feet under Scott Frost. The Cornhuskers first game (against Akron) was perhaps fortuitously postponed, and their second game (against Colorado) was something of a predictable loss.

They enter this game against Troy with big expectations (and a crazy spread) and may very well get upset. The Cornhuskers will one day be very good under Scott Frost. That day is probably not Saturday. So let’s take the points, shall we?

Betting Tip: I love the points here. I also kind of love Troy. Let’s make it happen!

Geoff Johnson

MTS co-founder Geoff Johnson is a lifelong Mets fan, something he can't do anything about. He has a great track record when it comes to wagering on baseball – largely because he's more than willing to bet against the Mets. His career profits are impressive, but not quite as good as his handsome friend Frank Lorenzo. He wishes he hadn't let Frank write his profile.