CFB Week 3: How to bet Alabama-Florida and other big games this week
A tidy 4-1 record on last week's picks kicked off a great year of football, and we're back with five more early looks for the best games the college slate has to offer this Saturday.
In Week 3, a handful of teams have the chance to get on your radar for a potential big season.
The Bearcats need this one to put themselves on the map for the national championship game. A road win over a Big Ten team is a big resume boost - even if the Hoosiers have disappointed early this season - as Cincinnati strives to become the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff.
Full disclosure, as a "Desmond Ridder for Heisman" backer, I'm going to be pulling for Cincinnati to get it done here, but no matter what we think of the Bearcats, a road game against a Big Ten team is a pretty significant step up from its usual competition. Backing the Bearcats to win and cover is asking a fair amount against an Indiana team that thrives in the underdog role. If you're betting this game, the prudent play is to take the points here.
Pick: Indiana +3.5
The question surrounding Dan Mullen this weekend is whether the Gators are going to try to take down the Crimson Tide in The Swamp without starting their better quarterback. Emory Jones has been serviceable in the Gators' intra-state beatdowns, but Gator Nation is more interested in Anthony Richardson.
Richardson has 11 carries for 275 yards on the ground with two touchdown passes on 11 attempts in limited time. Is Mullen holding the electric freshman back to spring him on Nick Saban as part of an elaborate plot, or is he just holding him back? Richardson grabbed his hamstring on his long touchdown run against South Florida and is questionable for Saturday's tilt, which complicates things.
Pick: If Richardson is healthy, Gators +15.5
Our second ranked-on-ranked game has a pair of teams that took a back seat in preseason prognosticators' predictions. Bryan Harsin's Tigers have put up 60-plus points in a pair of easy outings already, but here we get our first look at his version of Auburn against a team with a pulse. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions hope to be the bigger and badder cats, as they might now have the best shot at national prominence out of the Big Ten.
I just can't move past the Nittany Lions' escape in Madison, and their mere 17:09 time of possession in a winning effort. Now they're asked to win somewhat decisively against an SEC team and veteran quarterback Bo Nix with a new lease on life. Mostly though, Tank Bigsby comes in fresh, and after seeing the Badgers' rushing duo pick up 177 yards on 44 carries, he and freshman Jarquez Hunter can drain the clock much like the Badgers did - just without the three careless turnovers from the quarterback.
Pick: Auburn +6
The west side has its own ranked battle which will be a lot more interesting than you probably think. The Sun Devils get their big test a week after the Cougars scored a rare win in the Holy War. I'm not sure BYU can get up to that level for a second straight week, and as tempting as it might be to back them as 'dogs like we did last week, they should have the Sun Devils' full attention.
This is ASU's chance to get on the national radar alongside UCLA and Oregon in the Pac-12 and take another step toward a Rose Bowl showdown. Dual-threat Heisman dark horse, Jayden Daniels, will give BYU a lot more issues than Charlie Brewer could last week. Sparky shows out in Provo.
Pick: Arizona St. -3.5
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on twitter @mrussauthentic.