College football Week 3 best bets: LSU-Mississippi State, Colorado and more

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Florida Gators quarterback Graham Mertz (15) looks to pass the football during an NCAA football game on Thursday, August 31, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AP Photo/Tyler Tate)

The amount of exciting college football matchups is less than usual in Week 3, but that doesn’t mean that the betting action will slow down. While there’s not a single matchup between two top 25 teams, there are still plenty of interesting matchups that appear to offer value for bettors.

Here are my top plays for this week, featuring LSU at Mississippi State followed by a series of interesting SEC matchups and a pick in Coach Prime’s third game.

(Lines from Caesars Sportsbook as of Thursday, Sept. 14)

Game of the Week

No. 14 LSU at Mississippi State

Line: LSU (-9.5, -385) at Mississippi State (+300), 54.5 O/U

Day/Time/TV: Saturday, Sept. 16 at 11 a.m. (ESPN)

Analysis: There weren’t any strong Game of the Week candidates, but the LSU-Mississippi State matchup could be interesting.

Jayden Daniels and company might face some obstacles against a solid Mississippi State defense on the road, but we expect LSU to prevail considering that the Tigers’ defense should be able to have a strong day against a Bulldogs offense that’s in transition mode.

Expect Daniels and the LSU offense to figure things out quickly enough for this to be a relatively stress-free win for a team that needs to start off SEC play strong to fully put the Week 1 embarrassment against Florida State behind it.

The pick: LSU -9.5

SEC best bets

No. 11 Tennessee at Florida

Line: Tennessee (-6, -235) at Florida (+192), 58.5 O/U

Day/Time/TV: Saturday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. (ESPN)

Analysis: While we’ll know much more about these teams after Saturday, one thing we do know is that recent history has been in Florida’s favor when facing Tennessee.

Last season’s matchup between these two ended up in a shootout, and Billy Napier’s offense should be able to thrive against a Tennessee defense that tends to struggle against SEC competition. While Tennessee’s offense is still strong enough to have success against a work-in-progress Florida defense, the Gators should be able to keep things close once again.

The pick: Florida +6

South Carolina at No. 1 Georgia

Line: South Carolina (+27.5, +2000) at Georgia (-10000), 54.5 O/U

Day/Time/TV: Saturday, Sept. 16 at 2:30 p.m. (CBS)

Analysis: The No. 1-ranked Georgia Bulldogs haven’t missed a beat and are set to make life miserable for a South Carolina team that’s off to a disappointing start.

While it’s tempting to take Georgia to cover, it’s unlikely that they’ll need to keep their first-team offense on the field deep into the second half, which sets up South Carolina for a backdoor cover. That’s why we’re taking the under instead, as the total should stay below 54.5 even if South Carolina sneaks in some second-half points, as Georgia will just be looking to chew clock at that point.

The pick: UNDER 54.5 points

No. 15 Kansas State at Missouri

Line: Kansas State (-3.5, -170) Missouri (+143), 47.5 O/U

Day/Time/TV: Saturday, Sept. 16 at 11 a.m. (SECN)

Analysis: Kansas State wiped the floor with Missouri last year in this renewed rivalry matchup, and while they’ll be on the road this time around, we don’t see the Tigers closing the gap enough to be scared away from the Wildcats.

Kansas State quarterback Will Howard has the Wildcats offense off to a strong start, and their defense has also looked the part to where we feel confident in them keeping the momentum going even though Missouri has its share of talent.

Missouri quarterback Brady Cook has struggled early on though, so the Kansas State defense should make his life hard enough to where laying the points feels like a value even if Howard and the offense aren’t quite as sharp.

The pick: Kansas State -3.5

Other plays

Colorado State at No. 18 Colorado

Line: Colorado State (+23, +1150) at Colorado (-2400), 61 O/U

Day/Time/TV: Saturday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Analysis: Coach Prime’s Buffaloes looked the part once again in Week 2, as Shedeur Sanders looks like a legitimate Heisman candidate at this point.

While there’s little doubt in the Buffs winning this week, 23 seems like a lot of points to lay considering that they might get caught looking ahead since they’ve got both Oregon and USC the next two weeks after this.

However, Sanders and the offense shouldn’t be slowed down much by a rough-looking Colorado State defense, and Colorado State’s offense was able to find some life in Week 1 to where the over feels like a solid play.

The pick: OVER 61 points

No. 8 Washington at Michigan State

Line: Iowa (-4, -190) at Iowa State (+158), 36.5 O/U

Day/Time/TV: Saturday, Sept. 16 at 4 p.m. (Peacock)

Analysis: This pick comes down to factors in my opinion that make Washington a strong play this week.

The first is that Washington quarterback Michael Penix has been exceptional to start the season and was able to light up Michigan State through the air last season, and that trend should continue considering that Michigan State now has coaching turmoil.

That leads to the second factor, which is Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker being suspended indefinitely, so Washington should be able to cover since it’s unlikely that Sparty will be fully prepared for Penix and the Huskies high-powered offense.

The pick: Washington -16.5

PICKS RECORD

2023 season: 5-6-1

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