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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

College Football Week 3 Picks 2016 (September 17th)

Just in case you are unaware, I am going to be posting my College Football Picks from Week 3 in this thread, but I am not going to have my usual full breakdown of the picks and why I have picked these games.

I will do that for five of the games, but the rest of the picks will be in the 'My Picks' section of the thread.

Why have I done this? Well I am flying out to Los Angeles and Las Vegas for eight days and I won't be taking my laptop with me as it is all about partying and enjoying a break. I will post Week 4 Picks from the College Football season on Saturday 24th September, but it will again be mainly my picks without the explanations due to time constraints, but I will back to the usual threads when College Football Week 5 rolls around.

Florida State Seminoles @ Louisville Cardinals Pick: The winner of the ACC Atlantic are expected to win the Conference in the Championship Game and them move onto the Play Offs. There are three teams in this Division that will legitimately believe they can go on and win the National Championship and two of those teams are facing one another in Week 3 of the 2016 season.

Many would have circled October 29th as the day the ACC Atlantic would have been decided when the Clemson Tigers visited the Florida State Seminoles, but the Louisville Cardinals have been so impressive in the first two weeks that they have joined those two teams as the elite in the Division.

The next three weeks will see Louisville host Florida State and face Clemson on the road and they will believe they can win these games with Lamar Jackson in the form he has displayed. Jackson was expected to be amongst the best Quarter Backs in the Conference, but he has even surpassed those expectations with the games against Charlotte and Syracuse.

Louisville have put up 132 points in those two games, but Bobby Petrino will be the first to tell you that this is a significant leap in terms of talent they are facing. Jackson is going to be challenged by the Florida State Seminoles Defensive Line which should be strong against the run all season and they have also generated plenty of pressure on Quarter Backs.

Jackson's mobility will mean he can escape some of the pressure, although the Offensive Line is going to face the toughest assignment so far in this young season. One area the Quarter Back may thrive is throwing the ball against a Secondary that has given up too many big plays for Jimbo Fisher's liking and who have lost Derwin James at Safety, a player who was the second highest tackler for the Defense last season.

His absence should give Jackson a chance to continue to make big plays through the air, but I think the Seminoles will have the most success slowing him down so far with their Defensive Line likely to create pressure and prevent Louisville from running the ball all over them.

I also think the Florida State Offense is going to be able to give Louisville plenty to think about in this game after seeing Deondre Francois play well as a Freshman at Quarter Back. Francois isn't as mobile as Jackson but he only has 16 fewer passing yards and 2 fewer Touchdowns, yet he has faced Mississippi and had 419 passing yards against them. It is his first road test, but Francois will be aided by Dalvin Cook who is one of the leading Heisman contenders.

While the Cardinals have begun the season playing the run well, they haven't played a team like Florida State who have brought back 11 starters from the Offense of last season. Cook will trouble them and Francois showed more wheels last week and I like the Seminoles to win here if their young Quarter Back can avoid the pressures that come with a first road start.

Florida State have thrived as a single digit road favourite over the last five years as they have gone 6-1 against the spread in that spot. The Cardinals are not a home underdog too often so they have to feel they have been disrespected in this one considering how they have begun the season, but I think the Seminoles could win it all this year and are the better team.

After some twists and turns in this one, I think Florida State come through and they cover this number on the road.

Alabama Crimson Tide @ Mississippi Rebels Pick: Nick Saban has created plenty of history in his time as Head Coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, but he is hoping to avoid another piece by avoiding defeat to the same team three years in a row. That has never happened to him in his ten years as Head Coach in Tuscaloosa and the Crimson Tide should have plenty of motivation as they have double revenge on their side in their trip to Oxford.

Chad Kelly was huge for the Rebels in their upset of Alabama, although they were aided massively by the five turnovers they created. Now Mississippi have just 5 starters on both sides of the ball and have already faced one of the elite teams in the nation in the Florida State Seminoles and have come up short.

Mississippi blew a big lead in that defeat to Florida State and they were outgained by 200 yards in that game. Hugh Freeze has spoken of the excitement of playing Alabama, but I think it is easy to forget that the Rebels don't look up to their level this time around.

Of course they may pick up five turnovers again which is going to be difficult for any team to overcome at any level. It is well established that it is going to be difficult to run the ball against Alabama and Mississippi have already struggled once against a strong Defensive Line when averaging 2.7 yards per carry against the Florida State Seminoles in Week 1.

Some adjustments can be made, but it does look a game that will be resting on Chad Kelly's arm after he threw for 341 passing yards against the Crimson Tide last season. Breaking in new faces in the Receiving corps and trying to build a rapport with them has seen Kelly make a few mistakes this season and he will also be under immense pressure from the Alabama Defensive Line and front seven who have been creating Sacks.

It will be tough for the Rebels to move the chains consistently in this one and they don't have the same Defensive performances to suggest they can keep Alabama from doing that. With this Offensive Line, Alabama would always find a Running Back to take advantage of the holes being created and that looks to be Damian Harris who is averaging 9.15 yards per carry on his own.

There looks to be little doubt that the Crimson Tide can establish the run in this one which will only make Jalen Hurts a bigger threat at Quarter Back. Hurts is a freshman but won the job with his performance in Week 1 and he should have success throwing against this Secondary with some big Receivers who are amongst the better ones in the Conference.

Mississippi have created limited pressure in their first two games and Alabama look in a very strong position to not only earn revenge for back to back defeats to the Rebels but to do it in style. I respect how well Mississippi have played as the home underdog under Hugh Freeze when it comes to covering the number, but only a huge number of turnovers will allow them to cover this time around.

I don't think those will come about and the Crimson Tide were 3-0 against the spread as the home favourite last season. I will back them to cover in this one.

Ohio State Buckeyes @ Oklahoma Sooners Pick: When the Oklahoma Sooners scheduled their 2016 season, they could not have foreseen that the Houston Cougars would be one of the stronger teams outside of the Power 5 Conferences. A loss in the opening game to the Cougars means Oklahoma are walking a tightrope when it comes to their Play Off spot so a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes is arguably the last thing they needed in a non-Conference game.

It can work to the Sooners advantage if they can win this game as they would move up the polls with a victory, but the Buckeyes look an improved team despite all of the players leaving from the last NFL Draft. Ohio State have been very good under Urban Meyer going 50-4 since he arrived as Head Coach and there are players here who want to right the wrongs of last season when they clearly underachieved.

This is the first test for the Buckeyes having beaten two overmatched teams to begin the season. Playing on the road in Norman has never been easy as the Sooners have a 96-8 record at home under Bob Stoops, but it has to be noted that 5 of those losses have come in the last four seasons and they are 20-15 against top 10 opponents.

A key battle looks to be the Oklahoma Offensive Line against the Ohio State Defensive Line when it comes to establishing the run. Everyone knows that the Sooners have a strong Running Back corps and an experienced O-Line, but the question is how this young Ohio State Defensive Line can cope in a hostile environment. They showed against Notre Dame in the Bowl last year that they are going to be strong and have opened this one by giving up just 2 yards per carry.

The Buckeyes should be able to bring the pressure on Baker Mayfield too at Quarter Back and that is where the Sooners Offensive Line has had a difficult time. They have given up a number of Sacks so even a Joey Bosa-less Defensive Line should be able to get after Mayfield which should see Ohio State perhaps pick up some turnovers and at least slow down this passing Offense.

There will be a battle when it comes to the Sooners establishing the run, but the same can be said on the other side of the ball. The Oklahoma Defensive Line have only allowed a little over 83 yards per game on the ground and they are doing that at 2.4 yards per carry, and they did deal with a mobile Quarter Back in their opening game against the Houston Cougars who they held to 2.7 yards per carry.

However a key difference between these teams which might prove to be the reason one team wins and the other loses is the Oklahoma passing Defense which has struggled in the first two games. Ohio State have started slowly in their last game on Offense, but JT Barrett is an experienced Quarter Back who should be able to make big plays in the passing game and that should give Ohio State the slight edge in this one and help them win a huge game on the road.

I expect the Buckeyes can move the chains through the air with a little more consistency than Oklahoma as the teams have generated a different level of pass rush in their opening games. The Buckeyes are 10-1 against the spread in the four years under Meyer where they are either a single digit favourite or underdog.

I do think Oklahoma have to be respected as a strong underdog with Bob Stoops as Head Coach, but I will back the Buckeyes to record a big win on the road and cover this number.

Michigan State Spartans @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick: This is the big non-Conference games that the Michigan State Spartans will be playing this season and they are coming off a bye before heading to South Bend. Both the Spartans and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are hoping to make it to the Play Offs, but the Fighting Irish have less room for mistakes having already been beaten by the Texas Longhorns to open the season.

Brian Kelly will feel his team can run the table now they have decided DeShone Kizer is going to be the starting Quarter Back going forward. Kizer showed he was more than capable of leading the Fighting Irish last season but this is going to be a tough test for the Offense against a Spartans Defensive unit that looks stronger than last year.

It is going to be difficult to run the ball against Michigan State all season and that means there will be more pressure on Kizer to make plays with his arm. The Spartans Secondary also looks improved from last season, but I do think Kizer will be able to do that having showed plenty since starting in the 2015 season.

The key for Notre Dame in this game is going to be improving the Defensive work having given up 50 points to Texas in their opening week loss. I expect that Defensive unit to have improved since Week 1 and they are facing a Michigan State Offense that has just 4 returning starters and who have lost their Quarter Back to the NFL.

Notre Dame have showed that improvement on the Defensive Line and they might be able to force Michigan State into third and long situations and pressurise an inexperienced Quarter Back in a truly tough road start. Tyler O'Connor did beat Ohio State in a start last season, but that was thanks to a strong Defensive unit rather than his 89 passing yards and he could be under pressure in this one if the Offensive Line hasn't worked out the issues in pass protection.

I really like Mark Dantonio as Head Coach and I do think he would have done plenty of good work in the bye week to prepare for this game. The Spartans are 6-1 against the spread as the road underdog which also should give them respect and the public are pounding the Spartans with more than a Touchdown start.

However I think the Spartans are facing a really difficult challenge this week against the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame are 2-0 against the spread when favoured by more than a Touchdown but fewer than double digits at home and I think they are the stronger team on both sides of the ball. The Offense should be able to score between 24-31 points against the Spartans and I am not sure Michigan State will have enough points to keep up with them and I will be looking for the Fighting Irish to cover this big number.

Miami Hurricanes @ Appalachian State Mountaineers Pick: After seeing how well the Tennessee Volunteers played in their win over the Virginia Tech Hokies, Appalachian State Mountaineers performance in Week 1 looks even more impressive. It took Tennessee until Overtime to beat the Mountaineers at home and now Appalachian State host the Miami Hurricanes looking to spring a surprise.

The Mountaineers bounced back from their loss to Tennessee by recording a comfortable win over Old Dominion at home last week. However I think the Mountaineers will be tested this week as they are now not going to be an unknown quantity like they were in Week 1 against Tennessee and that should mean the Hurricanes are ready for what is coming.

Appalachian State will look to run the ball behind a strong Offensive Line and then use experienced Quarter Back Taylor Lamb to make one or two really big plays with his arm. They used that to good effect against the Volunteers but this young Miami Defensive Line have played the run effectively so far this season.

There are big expectations for the Defensive Line and how they play the run and so far the Hurricanes have lived up to those, although this is the best team they have played. Slowing down the run has given the pass Defense time to make plays too and I think the Hurricanes will be able to slow down Appalachian State enough to give themselves every chance of winning this one on the road.

Miami have been able to generate plenty of pressure on the Quarter Back which has led to Interceptions and keeping Appalachian State in third and long spots will give the Hurricanes a big edge.

On the other side of the ball, Miami have been able to run behind this Offensive Line which is very experienced now. They should be able to establish the run against Appalachian State and Miami have a Quarter Back in Brad Kaaya who is amongst the best in the nation.

Establishing the run has meant Kaaya has not been needed so much through the first two games, but he will be set up to make big plays in this one. The Mountaineers have played well on the Defensive side of the ball, but this is a step up in level from Week 2 and I think the Hurricanes are going to score enough points to cover this number.

Appalachian State have been one of the hottest teams in the nation since the middle of the 2014 season and they are 18-3 since then straight up. The Hurricanes have not been the best road favourite to back in recent seasons, but I think this edition is one of their stronger teams and seeing what Appalachian State did in Week 1 at Tennessee will give them the film to work out how best to beat them here.

Playing on the road is tough for a young team, but I think they are stronger in the trenches and have an experienced Quarter Back to win this by at least four points.

MY PICKS: Florida State Seminoles - 2 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 10.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes - 2 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish - 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Miami Hurricanes - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Vanderbilt Commodores + 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Boston College Eagles + 6 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Oklahoma State Cowboys - 6 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Navy Midshipmen - 6 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Duke Blue Devils + 6 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)

Week 2: 4-5, - 1.32 Units (9 Units Staked, - 14.67% Yield)
Week 16-5, + 0.58 Units (11 Units Staked, + 5.27% Yield)

Season 201587-77-2, + 2.77 Units (166 Units Staked, + 1.67% 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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