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Saturday, 16 September 2017

College Football Week 3 Picks 2017 (September 16th)

The College Football 2017 season has already reached the third week and there have been plenty of big games played already which will likely have ramifications later in the season.

It is a tough spot for teams who are trying to put together the eye-catching schedules which can lead to a Play Off berth, especially those who fall to defeat like Florida State did against Alabama and Ohio State did against Oklahoma in Week 2.

Those losses can be overcome, but losing two games in a season is going to be a tough sell to enter the final four Play Offs and that means there are a number of teams who can't afford another let down in the remainder of the season. It does put a lot of pressure on teams both at the players and management level and it will be interesting to see how teams cope.

With a holiday and time constraints, it has meant the early picks have come out a little later or without the breakdown I have wanted, but that is not the case in Week 3. The College Football Picks will all come from the Saturday games that are still on the schedule with a couple of cancellations taking place, and I am looking for a first really positive week of the season.

On Saturday you can watch out for my Boxing Picks from the huge Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin card, and later in the evening or on Sunday morning the NFL Picks from Week 2 will also be posted.

Let's look forward to a strong weekend with some solid games to enjoy.

Kansas Jayhawks @ Ohio Bobcats Pick: This was supposed to be the year when Head Coach David Beatty was able to win more games than he has in the last two years here in Kansas, and they have begun the season 1-1. However we are almost ready for Big 12 Conference play and the Jayhawks will be heading to the Ohio Bobcats looking for revenge for a home loss to this opponent last season.

On that day the Bobcats were the underdog, but they pulled out to a 25-0 lead before holding on for the win and this time around Ohio are a pretty strong favourite. I like the Bobcats in this spot as they look to bounce back from the loss at the Purdue Boilermakers in Week 2 as I do think they can match up well with the Kansas Jayhawks who were beaten by Central Michigan who are not expected to be as strong in the MAC Conference as Ohio.

Peyton Bender was the scheduled starter for the Jayhawks going into the season and he is playing at a decent level for Kansas which should keep them competitive in this game. The Quarter Back has some nice numbers in the first couple of games for Kansas this season, and he should have some success in this one despite the Bobcats playing well in the Secondary and earning plenty of pressure up front.

The pressure will be on Bender if Kansas continue to struggle to run the ball effectively as they have so far. The Jayhawks had difficulty getting the run going against the Central Michigan Defensive Line which is matched by the talent that the Ohio Defensive Line have and that will mean it could come down to how well Bender plays as to how competitive this game can be.

A key to the entire outcome of this game may be how well the Kansas Jayhawks can continue to defend the run after making a strong start there. That may be partly down to a really poor Secondary who have struggled, but in this one it could be important when you consider how much the Bobcats want to run the ball themselves.

Kansas' Defensive Line is a strength of their Defensive unit, but they will be challenged by the Bobcats here considering how well Ohio have been able to run the ball. Nathan Rourke has helped Ohio from the Quarter Back position with some solid gains on the ground, but he has shown that he can throw the ball very well and we may get to see more of that in this one with the problems the Jayhawks have had in the Secondary.

Backing Ohio as a home favourite had not been much fun last season, but they have been a solid team in non-Conference games against the spread. The Bobcats will have seen what their fellow MAC team Central Michigan were able to do against Kansas last week and I think they can prove to be good enough to win this game by around 10-14 points and I will look for them to cover this number.

Oklahoma State Cowboys @ Pittsburgh Panthers Pick: After falling short in a loss to rivals Penn State in Week 2, the Pittsburgh Panthers are trying to pick themselves up by getting ready for a revenge mission with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Last season the Cowboys produced a huge Offensive day to beat the Panthers in Stillwater, but even a team that has lost the experience that Pittsburgh have will know how important it is for them to perform much better in 2017.

Defensive strength in the base of this Pittsburgh team so they will be looking to show that last season was an exception to the level the Panthers will usually produce.

It will be a big challenge for Pittsburgh who are facing an Oklahoma State team who have scored at least 44 points in the two opening games they have played in 2017. The Cowboys have been really balanced on the Offensive side of the ball and they will feel they can move the chains in this one either through the air or on the ground.

Mason Rudolph is expected to be one of the leading Quarter Backs taken in the NFL Draft next April and he has shown why with 8 Touchdown passes thrown and no Interceptions. With the Cowboys showing they can run the ball effectively, and likely to have real success on the ground in this one, Rudolph should be given the time to pick apart a Secondary and a Defensive unit who have returned just four starters on that side of the ball.

Oklahoma State should have success moving the chains throughout the afternoon, but I do like the Panthers with the points because I am expecting them to do the same. One of the concerns has to be that Max Browne is not going to be able to play at Quarter Back for Pittsburgh having been banged up last week in the loss against Penn State, although it does look like Browne will begin.

There is a hope they can protect Browne better than they have through the first two weeks of the season as Pittsburgh have allowed their Quarter Back to be Sacked 8 times, but the game plan is likely to be clear for the Panthers. They will know the Cowboys have a really strong Offensive unit that will look to strike quickly, so Pittsburgh will look to counter by running the ball at their Defensive unit and trying to extend drives to knock their visitors out of their rhythm.

The Cowboys should be able to get after Browne when he drops back and they have played well against the run so far this season. However this is the first big challenge they have and Oklahoma State have to avoid the upset and overlooking Pittsburgh to the big game with the TCU Horned Frogs coming next week.

That could contribute to the Panthers being able to cover with the points they are getting as the sharps have begun to get behind Pittsburgh too. The public are behind Oklahoma State but this spread has come in by a couple of points in favour of the Panthers and the Cowboys are 3-8-2 against the spread in their last thirteen as the road favourite.

The Cowboys Defensive unit have overachieved so far this season, and I will look for the Pittsburgh Panthers to at least stay within the spread. It feels like this could be a close game and Pittsburgh should be able to produce a big effort despite going down to rival Penn State last weekend especially as Pittsburgh have revenge on their minds for a loss to the Cowboys in 2016.

Northern Illinois Huskies @ Nebraska Cornhuskers Pick: Mike Riley was not happy with his Nebraska Cornhuskers team for playing so poorly in the first half against the Oregon Ducks in Week 2 before seeing their comeback end a little short. Riley has said that his team have missed a big opportunity in winning a huge road game in Oregon and so it is up to Nebraska to try and get back to winning ways ahead of the start of their Big Ten Conference play in Week 4.

The early season numbers are not always important for teams because of the scheduling being the way it is as some teams do place games against overmatched opposition on their season list. That can make it hard to know exactly what to expect and I think the Northern Illinois Huskies Defensive unit is going to be tested far more than they have been so far this season.

The Huskies Secondary is a good one though and deserves respect, although they won't have faced an NFL calibre Quarter Back like Tanner Lee. It has been a tough start for the Nebraska Quarter Back with Lee guilty of too many Interceptions, while his Offensive Line could have helped him a lot more than they have.

Bigger expectations were had for the Offensive Line but that has shown up in the way they have been able to run the ball rather than protected the Quarter Back. They are going up a Northern Illinois Defensive Line that has played well to this point, but this is the biggest challenge they would have faced and I would expect the Cornhuskers to be able to create holes for their Backs.

Running the ball effectively would help slow down the pass rush that Lee has to see and give Nebraska the chance to have a successful Offensive day from the outset rather than when they are chasing the game as they were in Week 2.

The key to this spread is going to come down to whether the Cornhuskers can begin to turn around their Defensive performances through the first couple of weeks. A change in Co-Ordinator has not helped the six returning starters find their groove in the new system and you would have to think that the Huskies can have some success when they do have the ball in the hands of their Offense.

Rod Carey uses a system which will keep making the Huskies an Offensive powerhouse despite the five returning starters they have. That should give this Cornhuskers Defense a few problems of their own during the course of this game, but I would expect Nebraska to begin to wear down Northern Illinois with the superior talent they should have on both sides of the ball.

Northern Illinois have been really good as the road underdog under Carey's guidance, but I think Nebraska come out with something to prove after narrowly losing at Oregon. I will be looking for the Cornhuskers to find their way to a win by closer to three Touchdowns and that will be enough to cover this point spread.

UCLA Bruins @ Memphis Tigers Pick: This is absolutely a square pick and one that I have toyed with putting on the bench before finally deciding to take the UCLA Bruins to beat the Memphis Tigers on the road.

Everyone wants to back 'Chosen Rosen', Josh Rosen, who has led a powerful UCLA Offense to back to back wins and has produced 9 Touchdowns since the end of the first half in Week 1. The Bruins have already made big headlines when coming back from a ridiculous deficit to beat the Texas A&M Aggies in Week 1 and last week they were much more dominant.

Rosen has been the focal point for the UCLA Offense and he won't have too many people questioning why this Quarter Back is considered one of the top Draft prospects for the NFL next April. He is facing a Memphis Secondary which has some talent in it, but I do think Rosen is going to have another big statistical game and his performance and that side of the ball is not going to be the reason why the layers are offering such a small spread.

On the other side of the ball UCLA are going to be missing some key Defensive players through injury and suspension and they simply haven't played that well Defensively. Now they face a Memphis team who are expected to have one of the better Offenses in the American Athletic Conference and that all begins with Riley Ferguson at Quarter Back who threw for over 3600 yards last season when replacing Paxton Lynch.

Ferguson's presence means UCLA have to pay attention to the Quarter Back even if the Tigers are likely to go the same way as the two previous teams that UCLA have played. Namely they are going to run the ball down their throat.

The Bruins have not been able to slow down the run at all this season and Memphis have three talented Running Backs who should be able to take advantage. That is why this is a square pick because Memphis have every chance of controlling the clock and limiting the time Rosen spends on the field to do his own thing, and that should mean Memphis have a chance for the upset.

However the lack of playing time due to a game being cancelled in Week 2 means Memphis could be a little undercooked to take on an opponent as good as the UCLA Bruins. I think the Defensive unit could struggle to stop Rosen having his way and at some point the Tigers may end up making a mistake as they try and stay with the UCLA Bruins in what could be a fascinating game.

UCLA do have a big game at Stanford on deck, but I am going with them to keep the momentum behind them in a win by around a Touchdown on Saturday. The Defensive unit will have to step up at some point to stop the Memphis run, but I will look for the lack of playing time to maybe affect the Tigers at a key moment to allow UCLA to cover.

Central Michigan Chippewas @ Syracuse Orange Pick: There are some serious expectations with the Syracuse Orange this season having returned so many starters on both sides of the ball, but the loss to Middle Tennessee in Week 2 was a really disappointing one. Now they face a tough test in the Central Michigan Chippewas who have beaten one Power 5 team already this season and look plenty talented themselves.

The Chippewas got the better of the Kansas Jayhawks in Week 2 and that came as the underdog, although this game does mean back to back road games which can be difficult to negotiate. However there is a real confidence that Central Michigan can have a really big season in the MAC and putting another win on the board will have them half way to the six wins to become Bowl eligible.

It won't come easy against a Syracuse team who will be desperate to bounce back from an upset loss here last week. The Orange have so many starters back on both sides of the ball which means they should be familiar with the systems put in place by Dino Babers and they should be able to have their successes in this one.

Eric Dungey has been throwing the ball well enough for Syracuse and he has two solid Receivers which gives the Orange every chance to keep the chains moving in this one. This is a Central Michigan Secondary who have given away plenty of yards through the air through the first two weeks of the season although they have been able to find turnovers to prevent teams from overpowering them on the scoreboard.

I do think Dungey will have a decent game although he will be put under pressure by a solid Chippewas pass rush who who are up against a Syracuse Offensive Line which has been challenged. Running the ball has not been so easy for Syracuse which means Central Michigan should know what is coming in this one, although defending against the pass will be difficult with the way Dungey has been playing at Quarter Back.

Shane Morris has come in from Michigan to lead the way for the Chippewas at Quarter Back and his play is the reason Central Michigan were able to upset Kansas last week. They are facing a Syracuse Defensive unit that returned ten starters from last season and who have played pretty well through the first couple of weeks, although they have not really faced an Offensive of the capabilities of this Central Michigan one.

Morris has been well protected and given the time to move the chains through the air and having their top four Receivers back from last season has also helped their cause. Playing behind an experienced Offensive Line means the Quarter Back has been given the time to find those Receivers, while they have also opened up holes for some solid gains on the ground which gives Central Michigan a chance of the upset for the second week in a row.

I am not sure they are going to actually complete the outright win, but Central Michigan seem to be getting plenty of points in this one. Central Michigan are 5-1 against the spread in games as the road underdog under John Bonamego as Head Coach and I do like the Chippewas with the points to keep this one close behind their strong Offensive outputs.

SMU Mustangs @ TCU Horned Frogs Pick: The biggest factor in this game for the TCU Horned Frogs is overlooking the SMU Mustangs and focusing on a big game with the Oklahoma State Cowboys next week. The rivalry should mean the Horned Frogs are focused on the task at hand as an intriguing battle between Defense and Offense comes into play.

For years the TCU Horned Frogs based their success on how well they could play Defensively and this current team does look strong on that side of the ball. They will be tested in the Big 12 and an early test comes from the Mustangs Offensive unit who have begun the season very well.

It has to be said immediately that putting up a lot of points against the likes of Stephen F Austin and North Texas is nothing like trying to do the same against the Horned Frogs. Raising their game to this level is not going to be an easy task for SMU despite how well they have played and how much confidence they have picked up.

Running the ball against this TCU Defensive Line is going to be very difficult for SMU as TCU showed in a dominant win over the Arkansas Razorbacks in Week 2. That has been the start of the TCU dominance by shutting down the run and then producing a really strong pass rush that has been able to knock teams out of their stride.

While the Mustangs have produced some nice numbers through the air, they now face a Defensive unit that have been able to put immense pressure on the Quarter Backs they have faced. While that has not led to the Interceptions TCU may have wanted, it has seen their Secondary given up less than 100 yards per game through the air and given the Horned Frogs the platform for success.

Kenny Hill is back for a second season with the Horned Frogs at Quarter Back, but he has not really ever reached the potential some believe he had from his first appearance at Quarter Back for the Texas A&M Aggies. Interceptions are still an issue for Hill, but he should have a decent day against a SMU Secondary that have struggled to slow down the pass despite being able to generate an effective pass rush.

The Horned Frogs will be looking to establish the run in this one as that is the base from which Hill can have success. While the Mustang Defensive Line has made a good start to the 2017 season, they have not faced a team like TCU nor have they been behind or in close games when teams can continue to use the ground assault to set up their Offensive play.

That is unlikely to be the case in this one and I expect the Horned Frogs to control both lines of scrimmage which should set them up for a big win. The last four wins for TCU in this old rivalry have come by at least 19 points per game and three of those wins have come by at least 30 points including last season.

TCU were a terrible 0-6 against the spread as the home favourite in the 2016 season and they missed the cover in their first home game this season by a single point. However I think they can show their dominance in this one in a rivalry they have gotten the better of the Mustangs and I will look for at least a three Touchdown difference between them on the day.

The remaining three picks from Week 3 can be found below.

MY PICKS: Ohio Bobcats - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
Pittsburgh Panthers + 11 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Nebraska Cornhuskers - 12.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
UCLA Bruins - 3 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Central Michigan Chippewas + 9.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
TCU Horned Frogs - 20 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Kansas State Wildcats - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers - 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
USC Trojans - 15.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

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