Here’s an early look at College Football Week 3 spreads, along with my projections. We’ll run through major injuries that are affecting spreads and hit on games you might want to consider betting early in the week due to expected line movement.
In the box below are my adjusted spreads for this weekend’s games. ATL stands for “Adjusted Thor Line.” Spreads are from the perspective of the home team, i.e. a negative number means the home team is favored. In the value column, a negative number indicates points of value on the spread for the home team, while a positive number indicates points value on the away team. ATT stands for “Adjusted Thor Total.” Projected totals are based on 2021 data and do not account for personnel or schematic changes (ie bring that with you to your handicap)
* Projected totals coming soon
Check out Thor Nystrom’s Week 3 College Football Power Rankings >>
College Football Week 3: Early Lines, Odds & Predictions
New Mexico St.
North Carolina St.
San Diego St.
College Football Game Previews & News
Texas (-11) vs. UTSA
ATL: UT -15.5
Quinn Ewers will miss 4-6 weeks after suffering an SC sprain to his non-throwing shoulder in Saturday’s near-miss loss to Alabama. Hudson Card, who took over for the injured Ewers, will handle starting duties until Ewers’ return. The earliest Ewers could return would appear to be Oct. 8 against Oklahoma, and you can bet Ewers’ rehab will be geared towards that idea.
Card provides more mobility than Ewers, but he doesn’t have near Ewers’ arm talent. Expect to see more running out of Texas with Card behind center. RB Bijan Robinson will get all the touches he can handle.
The discrepancy between my spread for this game (-15.5) and the Vegas line (-11) can be explained by Ewers’ injury.
We also found out this week that Texas TE Jaheel Billingsley, an Alabama transfer, is serving a six-game suspension for what was described as something that happened before he was with the Texas program. Billingsley was expected to be UT’s starting tight end.
If there’s a small bit of good news, it’s that WR Agiye Hall, ironically another Alabama transfer, had his suspension for a criminal mischief charge lifted late last week. Hall was the backup z-WR on Saturday’s depth chart for Alabama.
Hall took only one snap in Saturday’s game, and he wasn’t targeted. But the former four-star recruit could potentially work his way into a larger role alongside Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington in the weeks ahead.
Rutgers (-18.5) at Temple
ATL: Rutgers -19.2
Rutgers QB Noah Vedral remained out for Saturday’s blowout win over Wagner with a hand injury. Rutgers hasn’t offered a timeline for his return.
Ballyhooed redshirt freshman QB Gavin Wimsatt hasn’t been sharp with increased snaps through the first two games. For his career, Wimsatt is now 17-of-41 (41.5%) for 141 yards and a 1/4 TD/INT ratio. If Rutgers had its druthers, he probably wouldn’t take another snap in a significant spot this season. Too early to evoke Artur Sitkowski, but it’s been a rough start by any measure (but keep in mind this context: Wimsatt graduated a year early from high school, so this should be his true freshman year).
Rutgers won’t need Vedral to beat Temple. But Vedral’s status is something to monitor when Rutgers gets into Big 10 play.
Ohio State (-31) vs. Toledo
ATL: OSU -27.4
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba missed Saturday’s blowout victory over Arkansas State with the hamstring injury that knocked him out of the opening-week win over Notre Dame. Smith-Njigba is expected to miss this weekend’s game against Toledo, too.
OSU was also without WR Julian Fleming against the Red Wolves. Fleming warmed up before the game against the Fighting Irish and also before Saturday’s game against ASU but was unable to play in either. OSU HC Ryan Day expects Fleming back this weekend against Toledo.
With Smith-Njigba down, youngsters Marvin Harrison Jr. (7-184-3) and Emeka Egbuka (4-118-1) each went off against the Red Wolves. Both will get peppered with targets again against Toledo. If Fleming is active, he would give the Buckeyes the legitimate WR3 they didn’t have against ASU.
DC Jim Knowles said after the opening-week win over Notre Dame that the Buckeyes played “rather basic” defense that night and that there were a “lot of things we haven’t shown.” That remained the case after the win over Arkansas State, and will likely be the case after the Toledo game, too.
Expect Knowles to open up his bag of tricks when Big 10 play opens. Early returns on Knowles’ unit have been extremely positive, for whatever that’s worth.
Kentucky vs. Youngstown State
Kentucky RB Chris Rodriguez Jr., who’s been suspended for a DUI charge, has been cleared to return on Oct. 1 against Ole Miss. That means he’ll miss this weekend’s game against FCS YSU and also next week’s non-con matchup against Northern Illinois.
Kentucky is also missing RB Ramon Jefferson, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the opener against Miami (OH). Kentucky has managed to start 2-0 despite the compromised backfield depth.
RB Kavosiey Smoke will keep the starting gig through the end of the month. More explosive than Rodriguez but not as efficient, Smoke rushed for 80 yards on 14 carries in Saturday’s 26-16 upset win over Florida.
Florida State (-2) at Louisville
ATL: FSU -3.7
Arizona State DL transfer Jermayne Lole, one of the most sought-after defenders in the transfer portal over the offseason, wasn’t active for Friday’s upset win over UCF and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Lole missed last season with a triceps injury. He’s now dealing with an injury to his other arm. How Louisville continues to deal with that is something to monitor in the coming weeks. The Cardinals’ run defense is the clear Achilles Heel of the team. That was an area Lole was supposed to upgrade.
UCLA (-15.5) vs. South Alabama
ATL: UCLA -17.4
UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet didn’t play against Alabama State for unspecified reasons over the weekend. Fellow star QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson was then knocked out of that 45-7 win with an ankle injury.
Fear not, UCLA fans. Both players were full participants in Monday’s practice. Media reports from the field said DTR was moving around well, showing no lingering effects.
UCLA HC Chip Kelly used the matchup with an FCS team to get most of his roster field playing experience. On Monday, Kelly said that 88 players on the roster saw the field against Alabama State.
Notre Dame (-9) vs. California
ATL: ND -19.5
Notre Dame QB Tyler Buchner suffered a season-ending high-grade AC joint sprain in his non-throwing shoulder in Saturday’s 26-21 home loss to Marshall. He will undergo surgery in the coming days. Buchner was a mixed bag in his two starts, going 28-of-50 for 378 yards and a 0/2 TD/INT rate.
ND HC Marcus Freeman announced Monday that QB Drew Pyne will assume starting duties, backed up by Steve Angeli, a true freshman. Pyne is smaller and less athletic than Buchner, and he doesn’t have as much arm strength, either.
But Pyne has looked decent as a caretaker in his looks the past couple of years. With Pyne behind center, the ceiling of the offense lowers, but the floor may have risen. Buchner has playmaking chops but has posted a 3/5 TD/INT rate over 85 career attempts. Pyne has a 3/1 TD/INT ratio over 39 career attempts with a slightly higher passer rating.
Angeli was a consensus four-star recruit. He’s bigger than both Buchner and Pyne – 6’3/215 – and has a strong downfield arm with touch. Angeli is a pocket passer who is comfortable throwing on the move and off-platform. Irish Wire compared him to “[Ian] Book hulked up.”
Buchner’s injury certainly doesn’t help the Irish. But it categorically doesn’t cripple them, either.
Five Early Week Lines of Interest
Kansas State (-16) vs. Tulane
ATL: KSU -10.2
This line appears to be heavily juiced towards Kansas State after the Wildcats drop-kicked Missouri 40-12 over the weekend. KSU’s defense played awesome, but the final margin of victory was also highly attributable to Mizzou’s stinky QB play – the Tigers threw four interceptions on only 31 attempts.
Meanwhile, KSU’s offense looked one-dimensional. Star RB Deuce Vaughn ran for 145 yards. But QB Adrian Martinez went just 9-of-20 for 101 yards. KSU doesn’t have much of a receiving corps.
This line is probably not giving sufficient credit to Tulane, also 2-0. That’s likely because nobody has seen Tulane play yet. The Green Wave has outscored opponents 94-10, but those opponents were an FCS team and a quasi-FCS team in UMass.
Tulane returned a metric ton of starting experience this season. The arrow for the Green Wave is pointing upwards – they’re a buy team. And this looks like a good opportunity to grab value on them while Vegas is still offering it.
UNLV (-3) vs. North Texas
ATL: UNT -1.1
UNLV has looked more competitive in the early going, blowing out an FCS team and staying within one possession in a loss to Cal over the weekend. Still, it’s surprising to see the Runnin’ Rebs favored by a field goal in this spot.
North Texas, 2-1, annihilated UTEP – a 2021 bowl team – in the opener and also blew out an FCS team last week. In between, UNT got boat-raced by SMU. But that’s no embarrassment – SMU is one of the G5’s top teams.
My numbers say the wrong team is favored.
Mississippi State (-2) at LSU
ATL: LSU -0.7
Washington (-3.5) vs. Michigan St.
ATL: MSU -3.6
Speaking of my system disagreeing with the sportsbooks on the favorite, we have two more interesting cases in the P5 this week.
On Sunday, sportsbooks opened Mississippi State as a 3-point favorite at LSU. As I talked about with Thomas Viola on our Sunday lookahead show, I felt that was a mistake. Sure enough, the line had dropped to MSU -2 overnight.
The public is having a hard time getting LSU’s one-point loss to Florida State in primetime in the opener out of their minds. With the credit of home field, this game should be pick ‘em or LSU -1.
My numbers are showing an even bigger discrepancy in the Michigan State-Washington tilt. The market is increasingly confident in the new-look Huskies now that they can play some offense under new HC Kalen Deboer and transfer QB Michael Penix.
That’s certainly understandable amid UW’s 2-0 start – the Huskies have outscored opponents 97-26. But those opponents were an FCS team and Kent State. Kent State is notorious for scheduling payout games against P5 opponents in September and laying down for them with an eye on MAC play. Since 2019, KSU is 0-8 in those spots, with the closest loss coming by 23.
Michigan State opened 2-0 with a pair of blowouts over MAC teams (87-13 combined scores).
Both teams have looked good against cupcakes. But the market may have upgraded UW too much while overlooking the Kenneth Walker-less Spartans. I didn’t buy a ticket on this one yet – but you better believe I’ll be digging deep into this matchup in the coming days.
Texas A&M (-5.5) vs. Miami (FL)
ATL: A&M -1.3
The market isn’t penalizing A&M at all for last week’s home upset loss to Appalachian State. On the one hand, I sort of understand. Appy State finished with just a 22.6% postgame win expectancy… it was slightly fluky that they won.
On the other, I don’t. A&M is a rare exception the market has granted in terms of not penalizing a team that no-showed a loss the previous week to an inferior opponent. The Aggies didn’t take Appalachian State seriously – Aggie players were openly and enthusiastically mocking Appy in pregame pep rallies – and paid the price. Now we’re supposed to expect A&M to flip the light switch back on the next week because Miami… is a bigger name?
Miami has destroyed an FCS team and Southern Miss the first two weeks. We haven’t yet seen Mario Cristobal’s team play a quality opponent. But this Miami team is more dangerous than recent incarnations.
The Hurricanes have an NFL prospect at QB (Tyler Van Dyke), they solved their running game by finding a gem in the portal (Henry Parrish Jr.), they’re strong along both lines, they can get after the quarterback, and they have multiple future NFL players in the secondary.
This line is giving A&M too much respect while seemingly overlooking the Hurricanes.
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