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Friday, 18 September 2015

College Football Week 3 Picks 2015 (September 18-19)

You wait so long for the new College Football season to begin and in a flash two weeks zip by before you know it.

It has been a fun two weeks though, although there isn't much change in my own Play Off Ranking thanks to the teams in those positions having the kind of cupcakes that they were expected to dominate in Week 2.

However, it might be all change at the end of Week 3 with the likes of the Alabama Crimson Tide and USC Trojans taking on live Conference opponents this week and this is when College Football really gets going.

So the Play Off Ranking before I get on with the Week 3 Picks:

1) Ohio State Buckeyes- the Buckeyes took some criticism for the way they played in Week 2, but I think this is a team that will raise their level when opponents level picks up. Still some questions about the starting Quarter Back rotation to answer though.

2) Alabama Crimson Tide- Nick Saban will be looking for revenge for the one SEC loss last season when they host Ole Miss in a very big SEC West game in Tuscaloosa.

3) USC Trojans- like Alabama, the USC Trojans are in for a big test against a Conference foe in Stanford this week as they look to prove they are for real.

4) TCU Horned Frogs- the powder puff non-Conference schedule doesn't help some of the Big 12 teams and TCU play SMU this week after beating Stephen F Austin last week.

Looking In: Michigan State Spartans, UCLA Bruins, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, Baylor Bears.

Week 3 Picks
Florida State Seminoles @ Boston College Eagles Pick: A lot of people have got trap game written all over this one for the Florida State Seminoles with a spread that is awfully tempting.

It tempted me anyway.

The Seminoles and the Boston College Eagles have both won games against overmatched opposition although Florida State have not looked imperious in their wins. That has raised some doubts about them and they are facing a Boston College team that should be able to run the ball effectively, but the Eagles are inexperienced and this is the biggest challenge they could have faced off two relatively 'easy' games.

Steve Addazio will get the most out of his squad and you can expect to see an 'A' effort from the Eagles, but the same should be the case for the Seminoles who go into a bye week after this game. There have been some teething problems for the Seminoles as they break in Everett Golson at Quarter Back, but Dalvin Cook has sparked Florida State from Running Back and will need to be at his best against a solid Defensive Line.

The Offensive Line has been a worry for the Florida State Seminoles too and there is plenty of work to be done in the bye week before the rest of Conference play gets underway.

You can see why some will believe the upset is on here, but Jimbo Fisher has inspired the Seminoles to an 11-10 record against the spread as the road favourite. That would be 11-5 if you don't count the 2012 season and I do think Boston College's inexperience perhaps costs them the chance of the upset this week.

The Seminoles have won 5 straight games against Boston College and the three previous wins before last season all came by double digits which includes their last two visits to the Eagles.

Auburn Tigers @ LSU Tigers Pick: It was a difficult test for the LSU Tigers to play their first game of the season against a SEC West rival who had already played a game. However, LSU made harder work of the Mississippi State Bulldogs than they should have after building a big first half lead.

The win will at least settle down the team who don't have anything easy this week as they host the Auburn Tigers in another Conference game which could easily decide the destination of the SEC West Division.

Not many will really believe in the Auburn Tigers after two poor showings and they need to have improved massively on the first two weeks if they are going to head into Death Valley and come away with the win. The rush Defense has particularly struggled and now Auburn will face Leonard Fournette who had three rushing Touchdowns against the Bulldogs last week.

Fournette is a definite contender to win the Heisman Trophy this season and will be an important player for LSU all season, while Brandon Harris definitely can offer more than last week when he managed the game. His Running Back should establish the rush and keep Harris in third and manageable spots and I like LSU moving the chains in this one.

The LSU Defense is one of the best in the country too so there will have to be a big improvement from Jeremy Johnson if Auburn want to move the chains themselves. Turnovers have really hurt Johnson and he might not get a lot of support on the ground after LSU gave up just 43 yards on 26 carries against Mississippi State last week.

There is a revenge factor in play for LSU too who were blown out in Auburn last season and they have won 7 in a row at home against them by an average of 16 points per game.

Barring Auburn suddenly finding their Offensive groove, I like the Tigers of LSU to win this one by a Touchdown.

East Carolina Pirates @ Navy Midshipmen Pick: This wasn't a Conference game last season, but the Navy Midshipmen have moved into the American Athletic Conference and it has been split into two Divisions.

I do wonder if the East Carolina Pirates can pick themselves up after giving a full effort in pushing the Florida Gators all the way last week. Playing a SEC Offense can be punishing on a Defensive Line which will now have to prepare for the triple option Offense that Navy will be running.

The Pirates have given up 4.2 yards per carry so far and I am not sure they can keep Navy from moving the chains effectively in this one, especially as Keenan Reynolds is very comfortable running the Midshipmen Offense. Navy will also have been much more used to having to replace a number of starters, but keeping their Quarter Back is huge for them and this is a team that can certainly be a threat in this Conference.

I fully expect East Carolina to have some success throwing and running the ball themselves, but I believe Navy win the line of scrimmage and wear down the East Carolina Defense before pulling away.

East Carolina have played well as the road underdog in recent games and this is a Conference game but one that comes in a Florida Gators and Virginia Tech Hokies sandwich. Players are only human in wanting to put in their strongest efforts in the games that receive most attention and that might be an issue for East Carolina this week.

The Midshipmen haven't been the best home favourite to back, but this could be a rare cover in that spot with a bye week to prepare for this game.

Texas Tech Red Raiders @ Arkansas Razorbacks Pick: I really expected something from the Arkansas Razorbacks this season, but their defeat to the Toledo Rockets is a bitter blow. It is not a fatal one though and I know many have jumped off the Arkansas bandwagon, but I can see them bounce back in the right way by knocking off the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

There is no doubting the Red Raiders numbers look impressive coming into Week 3 of the season, but they have played two overmatched opponents and had similar impressive numbers ahead of a game against Arkansas last season.

On that occasion Texas Tech were home but worn down the Razorbacks in a 21 point home defeat and I think Arkansas can do something similar this time around. Alex Collins didn't have a great game last week, but he was a huge part of the Arkansas running game that produced almost 440 rushing yards in the win over the Red Raiders last season.

Texas Tech have given up 5.9 yards per carry in their two games this season against teams that aren't as good as Arkansas, while the pass Defense hasn't been much better. Last season Arkansas didn't have to throw it much to win this game, but Brandon Allen has been in great form to open the season with back to back 300 yard passing games and Arkansas should be able to move the ball however they like.

Of course the 'Air Raid' Offense used by Texas Tech will have their success moving the ball too, however I do like the Arkansas Defense which has played well this season. I expect they can make enough plays to get the ball back to the Offense who should have their way more often than not with the Texas Tech Defense.

The Razorbacks were 5-1 against the spread last season coming in off a loss and they are 6-1 against the spread against a non-Conference opponents over the last couple of seasons. Texas Tech are playing with revenge, but are only 2-4 against the spread as the road underdog under Kliff Kingsbury while the focus might be on facing the TCU Horned Frogs in a huge Conference game next week.

California Golden Bears @ Texas Longhorns Pick: I am pretty high on the California Golden Bears and what they can do in the Pac-12 this season after going 6-18 in the first two seasons under Sonny Dykes. The Golden Bears have won both games they have played this season and now head to the Texas Longhorns as the road favourites to win, a position they haven't been in under Dykes the last two seasons.

I can see why the public are on the Texas Longhorns, but I like the sharp side of the coin here and I like California to prove they are for real by winning a big game on the road.

Texas are only in the second season under Charlie Strong but the Head Coach is feeling the pressure to the extent of throwing in Jerrod Heard in just the second game of this season. The Offensive problems against Notre Dame sparked the decision to make the change at Quarter Back and the Longhorns dismissed the Rice Owls last week, although they were outgained in the game.

One of the disappointing aspects of the Texas performances in the first two games has to be the play of the Defense which now faces Jared Goff. The California Quarter Back has helped the Golden Bears average almost 400 passing yards per game and the Longhorns might struggle to keep up with their visitors on the scoreboard.

This is the first real test the Golden Bears will be facing on the Defensive side of the ball, but Texas have been inconsistent Offensively and are relying on a young inexperienced player to get things going. The Longhorns are 1-3 against the spread as the home underdog under Charlie Strong and I think California are still flying under the radar and can 'surprise' despite being the favourite to win the game.

Stanford Cardinal @ USC Trojans Pick: The talent looks to be on the USC side of the field as the Trojans host the Stanford Cardinal in a big Pac-12 game, one that could have some big National Championship implications come the end of the season.

The loss to the Northwestern Wildcats was really unexpected from Stanford, but the Defense continues to play well and they are good enough to slow down this Offense.

There have been plenty of positives about the way USC have carried themselves with the ball in their hands, but Stanford haven't given much away at all in their first two games. That Defense has been the reason Stanford have gone 3-1-1 against the spread as the road underdog with David Shaw as Head Coach, while the Cardinal are 3-1 against the spread when set as an underdog of 7 points or more.

That does make me second guess this number, but I do believe USC Trojans might be the best team in the Pac-12 after the first couple of games played.

USC have improved to 6-2 against the spread as the home favourite and Stanford has a huge game on deck against the Oregon Ducks which could decide the Pac-12 North.

Stanford have struggled to run the ball and could see their own Offense kept in third and long, but I am looking for Kevin Hogan to have a strong game at Quarter Back. If Hogan can make the big plays, I think Stanford can stay within this number and I will back them to do so even if everyone seems to be on the USC Trojans to win this one handily.

BYU Cougars @ UCLA Bruins Pick: The BYU Cougars beat UCLA in a blow out the last time they met one another in 2008, but it has to be remembered the Cougars were favoured in that game. That means 4 of the last 5 games in the series have been covered by the favourite and the UCLA Bruins come into the game with plenty of confidence behind them.

No one should be dismissing the BYU Cougars easily having seen them win on back to back weeks with Hail Mary passes that have been completed, but the UCLA Bruins are easily the toughest test they would have faced.

Josh Rosen has been a revelation for the Bruins and I expect he is going to have a lot of success against a pass Defense that has allowed over 300 yards per game. Paul Perkins is a huge weapon running the ball out of the backfield if BYU try to drop more men into coverage to prevent Rosen from hurting them through the air, and the Bruins should be able to move the ball effectively.

UCLA have improved to 9-6 against the spread as the home favourite under Jim Mora while they are 10-4 against the spread against non-Conference opponents under the Head Coach.

It is a big test for Tanner Mangum who is starting his first true road start, although the new BYU Cougar Quarter Back led the team to a come from behind win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers with a Hail Mary on the road to end a long home winning run on opening day for the Cornhuskers.

Mangum is going up against an experienced UCLA Defense that has limited Virginia and UNLV in their first two games. I do think the BYU Cougars Offense is the best they would have faced and UCLA begin Conference play next week which might have taken away some of the focus, but I expect the Bruins to be too good in front of their own fans.

If the Defense can just continue to tighten up as they have in games, the UCLA Bruins shouldn't let the BYU Cougars hang around as Nebraska and Boise State did and I like UCLA to win this big.

Mississippi Rebels @ Alabama Crimson Tide Pick: The first couple of weeks of the season have made the Mississippi Rebels a dark horse to win the SEC West, but blowing out two overmatched foes isn't enough to prepare Ole Miss for a trip to Tuscaloosa.

The revenge element for the Alabama Crimson Tide has to play a part as Ole Miss were the only team to beat the Crimson Tide in the regular season. They have shown they are going to have a strong Defense after an impressive win over the Wisconsin Badgers and I like what Jake Coker has done so far, although this is easily his toughest test of the season so far.

Chad Kelly has shown he is capable of replacing Bo Wallace, but this is his first road test and playing in front of this passionate crowd has made many Quarter Backs a nervous wreck.

Alabama have won 23 straight home openers in the SEC and they have won their last three at home against Mississippi by at least 13 points per game. Playing with that revenge factor from last year will help keep the Crimson Tide completely focused in the game and the side are now 8-1 against the spread in their last 9 home games in SEC play.

I have to respect Ole Miss as a road underdog under Hugh Freeze where they are 5-2 against the spread, while that record reads 4-2 against SEC teams in that time. However, I think the Rebels are being over-rated by blowing out two overmatched teams and I like the Alabama Crimson Tide to cover in one of the big games of the week.

Air Force Falcons @ Michigan State Spartans Pick: It can be dangerous taking a weaker team to take on one of the true powerhouses in College Football, but this looks a very good spot for the Air Force Falcons to try and keep this close against the Michigan State Spartans.

The Spartans are coming off a huge win over the Oregon Ducks and mentally they have to suffer a bit of a letdown in this one. They are also playing a team that doesn't play 'conventional' football as the triple option Air Force run can be a problem for any team in the country, especially one that might be coming off a high as the Michigan State Spartans.

Air Force have won their two games this season convincingly, but not against a team as talented as Michigan State, and they can give the game their full attention with a bye week to come.

Let's face it, Michigan State win this game, but I am not sure they cover what is a lot of points, especially if they are not focused completely on the game. The Spartans win, but I like Air Force in this spot to cover.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick: The starting Quarter Back is out, the starting Running Back is out, there are injuries on the Defensive Line and Notre Dame Fighting Irish are set as the home underdog against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

They do look a live underdog though, and Brian Kelly is well versed in defending the triple option so Notre Dame are going to know what to expect in this one. The Defense is amongst the best in College Football and the Fighting Irish might just circle the wagons for this game as they try and prove the oddsmakers wrong.

The fans will be expecting revenge having been humiliated by Georgia Tech the last time they faced them at home in 2007 when the Yellow Jackets arrived in South Bend as the favourites.

Eventually the injuries will likely catch up with Notre Dame, but it might not be in Week 3 and I think they rally together as I mentioned above. It's not a lot of points but I will back the Fighting Irish who the public are fading badly.

MY PICKS: Florida State Seminoles - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
LSU Tigers - 6.5 Points @ 1.85 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Navy Midshipmen - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Arkansas Razorbacks - 10.5 Points @ 1.95 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
California Golden Bears - 6.5 Points @ 1.85 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Stanford Cardinal + 9.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
UCLA Bruins - 16.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 7 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
Air Force Falcons - 24.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish + 2.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

Week 2: 5-4-1, + 0.68 Units (10 Units Staked, + 6.80% Yield)
Week 1: 7-6, + 0.48 Units (13 Units Staked, + 3.69% Yield

Season 2015: 12-10-1, + 1.16 Units (23 Units Staked, + 5.04% Yield)
Season 201475-82-2, - 13.39 Units (172 Units Staked, - 7.78% Yield)
Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

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