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 games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective. This week, we’ll pick just four after the Baylor vs. Houston matchup was canceled at the last minute.
Week 3’s collection of games lost some of its luster when several matchups — Army vs. BYU, Virginia vs. Virginia Tech, and two separate Houston games against Memphis and Baylor — were postponed due to COVID-19 cases. But there are quite a few non-conference and ACC games worth your attention before the kickoff of SEC play and Big 12 conference games next weekend.
And not only do we have ACC, Big 12 and SEC conference games to look forward to next Saturday, the return of the Big Ten is also on the horizon. Before we get caught looking too far ahead, let’s take a look at the best of what Week 3 has to offer.
(Note: All times ET, point spreads/totals from BetMGM)
No. 14 UCF at Georgia Tech
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: UCF -7.5 | Total: 60.5
Georgia Tech pulled off one of the more notable upsets of Week 2 with its come-from-behind road win over Florida State. The Yellow Jackets, in Year 2 of their transition out of the triple-option offense under coach Geoff Collins, received a really promising performance from true freshman quarterback Jeff Sims. In the 16-13 win, Sims threw for 277 yards and rushed for 64 yards while the defense shut down the Seminoles after the first quarter.
UCF should present a tougher test for Sims and the Yellow Jackets. The Knights went 10-3 last year after having undefeated regular seasons in 2017 and 2018. UCF is led by sophomore QB Dillon Gabriel, who had a monster freshman season of 3,653 yards and 39 TDs. He has weapons like Tre Nixon, Marlon Williams and Otis Anderson back by his side. A few notable players from the UCF defense decided to opt out, but it’s still a unit with plenty of speed and talent.
Sam: UCF -7.5, Nick: UCF -7.5
No. 23 Appalachian State at Marshall
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: App State -3.5 | Total: 57
The postponement of the Army vs. BYU game opened up the coveted 3:30 time slot on CBS for Appalachian State and Marshall. It’s a great opportunity for some recognition for these two strong Group of Five programs, both of whom are coming off wins to open their respective seasons.
Marshall turned in a dominant 59-0 win over Eastern Kentucky back on Sept. 5, a win that featured the first start for redshirt freshman QB Grant Wells. Wells went 16-of-23 for 307 yards and four touchdowns. Brenden Knox, the 2019 Conference USA MVP, added 85 yards rushing and a TD of his own in the win.
App State, the two-time reigning Sun Belt champions, will be a bigger challenge. The Mountaineers opened their season with a 35-20 win over Charlotte that featured a rushing onslaught of 308 yards. Both Marcus Williams and Camerun Peoples topped 100 yards in the win while senior QB Zac Thomas threw for 204 yards.
Sam: App State -3.5, Nick: App State -3.5
No. 17 Miami at No. 18 Louisville
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Louisville -2.5 | Total: 64.5
Miami opened up its season with a 31-14 win over UAB. It was D’Eriq King’s debut in a Hurricanes uniform, and he showed what makes him one of the most exciting players in the country. King missed a few throws but showed his dynamic athletic ability, finishing the night with 83 yards rushing, 144 yards passing and two total TDs. King’s effort was part of Miami’s 337 yards rushing in Rhett Lashlee’s first game as Miami OC.
Louisville also played well in its first game of 2020. The Cardinals racked up 487 yards of offense in a 35-21 win over Western Kentucky, including 343 yards and three touchdowns from QB Micale Cunningham. Cunningham is one of the most underrated players in the country and has a chance to put his skills on display in what should be the game of the weekend. We knew UL’s offense was good, but the performance of the defense against WKU was also encouraging. Trying to contain King will be a big test.
Sam: Louisville -2.5, Nick: Miami +2.5
Wake Forest at NC State
Time: 8 p.m. | TV: ACCN | Line: NC State -2.5 | Total: 54.5
Wake Forest kicked off its season last week against Clemson, the No. 1 team in the country, and it went about how you’d expect. Clemson dominated, but Wake was able to tack on 10 points in garbage time to make the final score — 37-13 — a little more respectable. The Demon Deacons really struggled to run the ball, but two of QB Sam Hartman’s freshmen targets, Donavon Greene and Taylor Morin, had strong debuts. Dave Clawson hopes that chemistry will carry over into Saturday night’s game against NC State in Raleigh.
NC State makes its 2020 debut after a miserable 4-8 record in 2019 that included just a 1-7 mark in ACC play. The Wolfpack had the conference’s worst offense, averaging just 22.1 points per game. But almost all of that unit is back with redshirt sophomore Devin Leary locked in as the starting QB. Leary’s improvement — he completed only 48.1 percent of his throws — will be crucial because the skill position depth around him is pretty solid.
Sam: NC State -2.5, Nick: Wake Forest +2.5
Head-to-head ATS: Sam: 1-4, Nick: 4-1
Week 3’s best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 1-2)
Syracuse at Pittsburgh: I trust that the Pitt defense is going to be very good. I don’t know if I trust the offense just yet despite the Week 1 blowout of Austin Peay. I think Pitt wins comfortably, but Syracuse keeps this within the number. Pick: Syracuse +21.5
Louisiana at Georgia State: Let’s see if the win over Iowa State was far from a fluke. Louisiana dominated the Cyclones and won by 17, or more than the line is here. I’ll take the Ragin’ Cajuns in a game that moves them to a comfortable 2-0. Pick: Louisiana -16.5
Note: Nick’s pick of under 62.5 in Houston-Baylor was deleted after the game was postponed.
Sam Cooper (Last week: 3-0, Overall 6-3)
Boston College at Duke: I liked what I saw from Duke’s passing game last week against Notre Dame with Clemson transfer Chase Brice under center. The Blue Devils should have a lot more success against Boston College, the team that had the worst defense in the ACC by a significant margin in 2019. BC should also be able to put up some points. David Bailey rushed for 844 yards and seven TDs last year as AJ Dillon’s backup and now is the starter behind an o-line that returns four starters. Pick: Over 51.5
South Florida at Notre Dame: I expect Notre Dame, with RB Kyren Williams and one of the best offensive lines in the country, to move the ball with ease against South Florida. I would also be surprised if USF scored more than 10 points against a strong Irish defense. USF beat The Citadel, an FCS team, 27-6 in its opener but managed to only pass for 102 yards on 25 attempts as a team. That won’t get the job done on the road in South Bend. Pick: Notre Dame -24.5
UCF at Georgia Tech: The win over Florida State was encouraging for Georgia Tech, but I thought this spread would be closer to 10 points in favor of UCF. UCF is a sizable step up in offensive cohesiveness compared to FSU and is 12-6 against the spread in its last 18 non-conference games. I expect the Knights to win this game by double digits, even if it takes a little while for them to pull away. Pick: UCF -7.5
For Week 3 picks from Dan Wetzel, Pete Thamel and Pat Forde, subscribe to the Yahoo Sports College Podcast.
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