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College Football Week 3 Predictions: Picks for Virginia-Maryland, Tennessee-Florida and More

The No. 4 Texas Longhorns shocked the world with a dominant road win over the No. 10 Alabama Crimson Tide in Week 2. Although Week 3 doesn’t feature any matchups that are nearly as meaningful, we’ve got some fun rivalry games like Tennessee-Florida and Pitt-West Virginia. Without further ado, let’s dive into my college football Week 3 predictions so that we can talk about the best Week 3 picks for Virginia-Maryland, Tennessee-Florida, Iowa State Ohio and more college football action.

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College Football Week 3 Predictions: Picks for Virginia-Maryland, Tennessee-Florida and More

Navy-Memphis College Football Week 3 Prediction

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Navy: +460 | Memphis: -650
Navy +14.5: -105 | Memphis -14.5: -115
Over 47.5: -105 | Under 47.5: -115
Expert: Isaiah Sirois

For updated Navy-Memphis odds and picks, click here!

The Navy Midshipmen will visit the Memphis Tigers on Thursday night. They’ll have to compete with the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles for viewership, but this pseudo-Thursday Night Football contest is an interesting one from a betting perspective. We’ve got a service academy, which are known for slow-paced, run-heavy offenses, lining up against a fast-paced Memphis team that ranked 36th in seconds per play last year (24.1) and 19th a year before that (23). But despite Memphis’ pace, the offense hasn’t been especially efficient — Memphis ranked 58th in yards per play last year (5.5) and 52nd a year before that (5.8).

This game would normally set up well for a wager on the under, but because the scheduling gods have planned this for a Thursday, we’re taking a different approach. Navy and Memphis squared off on a Thursday back in 2021 and combined for 52 points. Memphis, led by quarterback Seth Henigan, won by 17 at home. Henigan remains the starting quarterback, and he’ll look to preserve his undefeated streak against Navy on Thursday. He led the Tigers to a 24-point road victory over the Midshipmen just last season

The Memphis offense, which relies on Henigan, sets up well against Navy’s defense. The Midshipmen thrive on shutting down rushing lanes, as they ranked eighth in yards allowed per rush attempt last year (3.3), but they struggle against the pass, as they ranked 128th in yards allowed per pass attempt (8.9). Those struggles were on display against Notre Dame earlier this season, as Sam Hartman exploited the Navy secondary and recorded 10.1 yards per attempt. FCS Wagner couldn’t move the ball against them through the air last week, but that’s to be expected for a lower-division program.

Although Memphis hasn’t done much in the recent past, Henigan, their quarterback, has looked impressive. He recorded a passing efficiency grade of 143.9 last year, which ranked a solid 41st, a year after recording a 147.7, which ranked 48th. Importantly, Henigan has also averaged more than eight yards per attempt in both of those seasons, which is crucial against a slow-paced Navy offense that will try to win by limiting Memphis’ possessions. That strategy didn’t work against Hartman and Notre Dame, and it’s unlikely to work against Henigan and Memphis.

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Navy-Memphis College Football Week 3 Pick & Prediction: Memphis -9.5/Over 40.5 -105 at DraftKings

Virginia-Maryland College Football Week 3 Prediction

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Virginia: +450 | Maryland: -630
Virginia +14.5: -105 | Maryland -14.5: -115
Over 49.5: -110 | Under 49.5: -110
Expert: Isaiah Sirois

For updated Virginia-Maryland odds and picks, click here!

The Virginia Cavaliers and Maryland Terrapins have gotten off to disappointing but productive starts. Virginia looked good for a half against Tennessee before collapsing and then lost to James Madison after having a late lead. Maryland blew out FCS Towson in Week 1 but struggled against Charlotte, failing to take the lead and run away with it until the second half. However, both squads have put up plenty of points — they are 3-1 to the over on the year after going a combined 7-15-1 to the over last year. Because these teams were so profitable for under bettors last year, we’re able to squeak out an edge on the over.

Virginia’s offense has had a tumultuous start to the year, but that hasn’t kept them off the scoreboard. Quarterback Tony Muskett started against Tennessee but was replaced by Anthony Colandrea against James Madison. The second-string signal caller exploded against the Dukes, completing 76.9% of his passes for 14.5 yards per attempt. James Madison ranked a respectable 59th in yards allowed per pass attempt (7.1) last year, making Colandrea’s performance that much more impressive. This week, he’ll face a regressing Terrapins defense that allowed 9.5 yards per attempt to bad Charlotte quarterbacks last week.

Maryland’s offense has looked good to start the year. The Terps may not have run away with last week’s game until late, but they racked up 530 total yards on 7.6 yards per play. Charlotte’s defense is awful, but it’s not much better than what Virginia’s has looked like early in the year — the Cavs coughed up 395 yards to James Madison on 6 per play and 499 yards to Tennessee on 5.9 per play. Virginia was a top-30 defense last year and allowed only 4.8 yards per play, but the Cavaliers played only 10 games and lost star linebacker Nick Jackson to Iowa. Jackson led the team in tackles (104) and ranked second in sacks (5), and the Cavs have clearly been missing him thus far.

Ultimately, we’re just getting too good of a number to pass up. Anything below the key number of 51 has value. The Terps cleared that threshold in seven of their regular-season games last year. The Cavs only did it four times, but their defense has taken enough of a step back such that we can trust Taulia Tagovailoa and the Maryland offense to put some points on the board. Tagovailoa is averaging 7.9 yards per attempt this year, which could prove problematic for a Virginia defense that is allowing 6.8, the exact number it allowed last season, which ranked a solid but unspectacular 33rd.

Virginia-Maryland College Football Week 3 Pick & Prediction: Over 49.5 -108 at DraftKings

Iowa State-Ohio College Football Week 3 Prediction

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Iowa State: -137 | Ohio: +114
Iowa State -2.5: -115 | Ohio +2.5: -105
Over 44.5: -110 | Under 44.5: -110
Expert: Isaiah Sirois

For updated Iowa State-Ohio odds and picks, click here!

The Iowa State Cyclones will visit the Ohio Bobcats on Saturday afternoon in a crucial spot for both teams. Iowa State handled FCS Northern Iowa in Week 1 before struggling against Iowa in Week 2, trailing 20-3 at the start of the fourth quarter before an unconvincing comeback attempt. Ohio lost to San Diego State in Week 0 after star quarterback Kurtis Rourke went down, but the Bobcats bounced back to beat FCS LIU and Florida Atlantic. They’re now home dogs to the Cyclones, but what has Iowa State shown us to warrant that advantage?

The numbers point to two closely matched teams. Through two games against FBS opponents, the Bobcats are averaging only 4.6 yards per play but have given up only 4.2. In their lone FBS contest, the Cyclones averaged 3.9 yards per play and allowed 4.5. Ohio’s numbers are skewed by Rourke’s absence — the star quarterback ranked sixth in passing efficiency (167.7) and fourth in yards per attempt (9.2) last season. He is yet to look like his usual self, but he’ll get a chance to bounce back at home on Saturday, where he earned a 202.9 passing efficiency grade while averaging 11 yards per attempt.

Iowa State’s plan coming into the 2023 season wasn’t to start quarterback Rocco Becht, but with Hunter Dekkers gone due to a gambling investigation, the Cyclones had to turn to the young quarterback. Becht has played acceptably in limited action — he bullied FCS Northern Iowa for a 200.7 passing efficiency grade and 8.7 yards per attempt before getting stifled by Iowa for a 94 and 4.6. Fortunately for him, Ohio’s defense is much less stingy than Iowa’s, giving him a much-needed chance to bounce back. Unfortunately, he’ll have to bounce back on the road. His lone road appearance last season saw him score an 80.5 and average 5 yards per attempt.

Home and away splits don’t mean everything in college football, but I suspect they’ll prove particularly meaningful for both quarterbacks on Saturday afternoon. Rourke is one of the best quarterbacks in college football, especially when playing on his home turf, while Becht is inexperienced and looked awful in his solitary road appearance. Rourke helped Ohio go 5-1 against the spread (ATS) at home last season. Iowa State went a pedestrian 2-3 ATS on the road — and 0-2 ATS as a road favorite.

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Iowa State-Ohio College Football Week 3 Pick & Prediction: Ohio +2.5 -105 for 1.5 Units at FanDuel

Penn State-Illinois College Football Week 3 Prediction

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Penn State: -720 | Illinois: +500
Penn State -14.5: -106 | Illinois +14.5: -114
Over 48.5: -105 | Under 48.5: -115
Expert: Isaiah Sirois

For updated Penn State-Illinois odds and picks, click here!

I used this space to write about Illinois’ defense last week before the Kansas game. The Illini responded to my faith in them by surrendering a whopping 34 points and 8.4 yards per play. The Illinois defense that ranked second in the FBS in yards allowed per play (4.4) last year is clearly no more — they rank 101st (6.2) after games against Toledo and Kansas. Saturday’s matchup against the No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions will be disastrous if the Illini can’t find their footing, and head coach Bret Bielema has given us no reason to believe they will.

Bielema arrived in Illinois after the Illini parted ways with their previous head coach, Lovie Smith, after the 2020 season. The Illini had ranked 100th in yards allowed per play (6.3) that season. Bielema helped the Illini rebound to 29th (5.1) and then second (4.4), but that kind of defensive success hasn’t been inevitable for the head coach. In his final year at Arkansas, the Razorbacks ranked 118th in the metric (6.6). The year before, they had ranked 121st (6.7); the year before that, 88th (5.8). The defense peaked at 40th (5.2) in his second year at the helm.

Illinois’ massive defensive regression makes sense — they had a terrible offseason. The Illini lost star cornerback Devon Witherspoon, safety Jartavius Martin and safety Sydney Brown in the first three days of the draft. They also lost their starting running back, Chase Brown, and their starting quarterback, Tommy DeVito, limiting their ability to keep the defense fresh. Their departures have led the Illini offense, which ranked 92nd in yards per play (5), to average just 5.7 in non-conference play with Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska still on the schedule.

The books are asking us whether we think an Illinois team that narrowly beat Toledo and got shut down by Kansas until garbage time can limit Penn State to an implied total of 31.8 points while scoring at least 16.7 on their own. The Nittany Lions averaged 7.2 yards per play against West Virginia and 5.9 against FCS Delaware, the latter performance stemming from a run-heavy second half that featured plenty of backups and developmental players. Penn State went 4-1 against the spread (ATS) on the road last season and was 4-0 as a road favorite. Look for them to get the job done again.

Penn State-Illinois College Football Week 3 Pick & Prediction: Penn State -9.5/Over 40.5 -110 at DraftKings

Western Michigan-Iowa College Football Week 3 Prediction

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Western Michigan: N/A | Iowa: N/A
Western Michigan +28.5: -110 | Iowa -28.5: -110
Over 42.5: -115 | Under 42.5: -105
Expert: Isaiah Sirois

For updated Western Michigan-Iowa odds and picks, click here!

The Western Michigan Broncos will have to line up against the No. 25 Iowa Hawkeyes on the road this weekend, and they’re 28.5-point underdogs for the matchup. This raises an obvious question: Can Iowa actually score 29 points? Even in the absolute best-case scenario in which the defense stifles Western Michigan for zero points, Iowa’s offense would have to put together five scoring drives (or score at least one two-point conversion) to cover this spread — assuming, of course, that the defense doesn’t chip in with a score of its own.

This spread is stunningly wide for an Iowa team that routinely fails to deliver on offense. The Hawkeyes dropped only 24 on Utah State and 20 on Iowa State with new quarterback Cade McNamara at the helm. The Hawkeyes cleared the 29-point threshold just once all last season, doing so at home against Northwestern, but they only won that game by 20 points. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz last led Iowa to a win of at least 29 points in a 2021 throttling of Maryland that featured six interceptions.

In Iowa’s defense, Western Michigan is not a good football team this year — but Iowa isn’t 28.5 points better than them. In Week 0, the Broncos took care of business against FCS St. Francis, totaling 509 yards on 5.5 yards per play in a 17-point win. They then imploded against Syracuse in Week 2, racking up 318 yards on 4.4 yards per play in a 41-point loss. Western Michigan coughed up 6.5 yards per play to Syracuse, which isn’t horrendous, but it is worse than the 5.5 they allowed last year. Meanwhile, Iowa’s offense is averaging 4.3 yards per play this year after averaging 4.2 last year.

Iowa is getting way too much credit at this number. The Hawkeyes will likely need at least one defensive score to cover this spread, which, while not impossible, isn’t something you can trust to happen. Western Michigan doesn’t have much exciting talent on the offensive end, but running back Jalen Buckley has flashed some explosiveness early, and any points that the Broncos can put on the board will make Iowa’s job that much harder. The Hawkeyes couldn’t even prevent a rebuilding Utah State team from scoring 14 in Week 1 or a suspension-ridden Iowa State team from scoring 13 in Week 2.

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Western Michigan-Iowa College Football Week 3 Pick & Prediction: Western Michigan +28.5 -110 at Caesars

South Carolina-Georgia College Football Week 3 Prediction

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
South Carolina: N/A | Georgia: N/A
South Carolina +27.5: -110 | Georgia -27.5: -110
Over 54.5: -115 | Under 54.5: -105
Expert: Isaiah Sirois

For updated South Carolina-Georgia odds and picks, click here!

The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs will get a chance to bully the South Carolina Gamecocks between the hedges on Saturday. Although South Carolina handed Georgia one of the worst losses of the Kirby Smart era, this Gamecocks team has a glaring fundamental flaw: they do not have a rushing attack. South Carolina lost most of its running back room in the offseason and is yet to find a capable option at the position. The Gamecocks totaled -2 rushing yards on 31 attempts against UNC in Week 1. They then totaled 108 yards on 39 attempts against FCS Furman. With Georgia’s elite rushing defense on tap, don’t expect the Gamecocks to figure things out on the ground by Week 3.

Without a viable rushing attack, the Bulldogs will have to lean on quarterback Spencer Rattler, which bodes poorly for their chances. Rattler put together some big games last year, but let’s not forget what he did against Georgia. He completed 52% of his passes for 4.7 yards per attempt, no touchdowns and an interception, netting him a passing efficiency grade of 75.6. If that’s the best he could do in Columbia, imagine how much worse things will be in Athens against a Georgia defense that leads in the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI). Ball State recorded just 4 yards per pass attempt against them last week, and UT Martin recorded 3.9 a week before.

Of course, the Bulldogs won’t cover this spread just by beating up on Rattler and the South Carolina offense. They’ll also have to put some serious points on the board to win by four scores. Still, they beat the Gamecocks by 41 in Columbia last year as a 25.5-point favorite. Losing offensive studs like quarterback Stetson Bennett and tight end Darnell Washington hurts, but the Bulldogs are more than deep enough to make up for their departures, especially when they only have to outscore a one-dimensional South Carolina offense.

There is some risk of a backdoor cover with a spread this wide, but it should probably be at least a field goal wider. The Bulldogs won five of last year’s regular-season games by at least 28 points, including their first three games of the year. Their slow pace and run-heavy offense make winning by massive margins difficult, but it also limits the chances opposing offenses will have to put late-game points on the board. Georgia allowed the third-fewest fourth-quarter points last year (3.8) and the 17th-fewest a year before (4.8).

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South Carolina-Georgia College Football Week 3 Pick & Prediction: Georgia -27.5 -110 at BetMGM

Tennessee-Florida College Football Week 3 Prediction

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Tennessee: -250 | Florida: +202
Tennessee -6.5: -110 | Florida +6.5: -110
Over 58.5: -110 | Under 58.5: -110
Expert: Isaiah Sirois

For updated Tennessee-Florida odds and picks, click here!

In one of the most meaningful Week 3 games, the No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers will head into the Swamp to face the Florida Gators. Despite being one of last year’s most explosive and efficient offenses, the Vols haven’t looked the same under new quarterback Joe Milton III. Milton has completed a solid 66.7% of his passes but for a passing efficiency score of only 144.8 on 6.8 yards per attempt. Tennessee’s offense averaged 6.9 yards per play last year but averaged only 5.8 against Virginia and 7 against FCS Austin Peay. Tennessee’s poor performance prompted a player’s only meeting on Sunday.

But although Tennessee’s offense has looked less efficient, the defense has impressed. The Vols held Virginia to just 3 yards per play. Austin Peay averaged 4.5 but was averaging only 3.6 until a pair of garbage-time splash plays went for a combined 78 yards. The Vols now rank 23rd defensively in the FEI, up from the 35th-place showing they recorded last year. Their offense has ticked down from fourth to eighth. Defensive coordinator Tim Banks has his best-ever cast, and the Vols’ defense has been showing out with him at the controls.

Meanwhile, Florida got out to a discouraging start against Utah in Week 1 before beating up FCS McNeese State. The Florida rushing attack, which averaged a pathetic 0.6 yards per attempt against Utah, rebounded to total 327 yards on 6.4 per play last week. Quarterback Graham Mertz seemed to finally get comfortable in the win, completing an impressive 82.4% of his passes for 11.4 yards per attempt. But Billy Napier’s offensive scheme relies on establishing the run to sell pre-snap motion, and doing so will be difficult against a Vols defense that held Virginia to 3.1 yards per rush attempt and Austin Peay to 2.3.

Florida’s defense has looked solid to begin the year. Although the Utes put up 24 points against the Gators, they racked up only 270 yards on 5.1 yards per play. The Gators then held FCS McNeese State to 2.8 yards per play — and six total first downs — last week. Florida’s defense is already up to 31st in the FEI after it ranked a dismal 62nd last year. Despite the fast pace at which the Vols play, I’m buying the under. These teams combined for 71 points last year. I think they’re more than 13 points with better defenses on both sides and both Hendon Hooker and Anthony Richardson in the NFL.

Tennessee-Florida College Football Week 3 Pick & Prediction: Under 59 -110 at Caesars

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