Welcome to Spot Week!
Week 3 of the college football season has all sorts of spots in play. There are bounce-back spots for teams that unexpectedly lost in Week 2, let down spots for the programs that pulled those upsets and even a few look ahead spots.
The most obvious spots on the board feature teams that were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons in Week 2. I'm talking about Nebraska, Iowa, Notre Dame and a few others.
Texas A&M also belongs in that category, but I'll get to that game in a bit. There has been a lot of important roster news involving the Aggies' home clash with Miami over the last 24 hours.
A majority of the plays on my Week 3 card involve some sort of spot play. but there are a few plays that are just matchup based.
Week 3 CFB Picks
Overall Record: 8-15-1
Oklahoma at Nebraska (Noon ET, Fox)
Nebraska First Half Spread (+7)
Oklahoma Full Game Spread (-11)
Follow my logic here.
Nebraska needs to come out on Saturday with some type of positive response to the Scott Frost firing.
Mickey Joseph is the interim head coach and there seems to be some optimism around the Huskers' matchup with their old Big 12 rival, Oklahoma.
Nebraska hung with Oklahoma in Norman last year in one of Frost's many one-score losses as head coach.
The revitalized Nebraska team shows a ton of fight in the first half to stay within a score of the Sooners, but like Oklahoma's Week 2 game, the Sooners have too much talent to be stuck in a battle with Nebraska.
Oklahoma scored seven points in the first half against Kent State before exploding for a 24-point third quarter. A similar situation could unfold in Lincoln.
The Sooners have too much talent to be held down for an entire game and I think that eventually shows and the emotional wave Nebraska has been on comes crashing down.
Old Dominion at Virginia (-8.5) (2 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
Virginia had one of the most disappointing performances of Week 2.
The Cavaliers scored three points on the road at Illinois. They need a bounce-back performance to reset before ACC play.
Old Dominion was the Friday night darling of Week 1 for its win over Virginia Tech, but then it went on the road and lost to East Carolina by 18 points.
Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong could tear apart an Old Dominion defense that conceded 432 yards per game. Virginia has allowed 70 fewer yards per game and its offense put up 94 more total yards per contest compared to the Monarchs.
California at Notre Dame (-11) (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
It's time for Notre Dame to get off the mat.
Notre Dame started 0-2 and any talk about the Fighting Irish this week has been negative.
The Fighting Irish should destroy a California team that only beat UNLV by six points last week.
I'm sure Cal has a nice football team, but this play is all about the response Notre Dame has to show after losing to Marshall at home.
Not only are the Irish in a bounce-back spot, but they need to avoid a look-ahead spot with North Carolina and BYU ahead on the schedule.
Notre Dame absolutely needs a double-digit win to restore confidence before the schedule gets tougher.
Nevada at Iowa (7:30 p.m. ET, BTN)
Iowa First Half Spread (-13)
I don't hate myself for thinking Iowa can score 14, or maybe even 21, points in one half.
The Hawkeyes have heard every critique of their offense after posting 14 points in their first two games.
Nevada just lost at home to Incarnate Word, a game in which it conceded 55 points. There are holes in the Nevada defense for the Hawkeyes to exploit.
I don't think Iowa can cover a 24-point spread, but I do think it will come out motivated to prove some critics wrong with a strong first half.
UTSA (+12.5) at Texas (8 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network)
UTSA First Half Spread (+7)
UTSA First Half Moneyline (+280)
UTSA is in a prime position to make Texas sweat for four quarters.
The Roadrunners have been through two tough overtime clashes with Houston and Army and will show no fear going into Austin.
Texas is in the biggest letdown spot of the weekend. The Longhorns were praised for playing well against Alabama, even when Quinn Ewers went down with an injury.
Hudson Card's quarterback play was not exactly inspiring in the second half and that is what leads me to UTSA in the first half.
Card was 14-for-22 with 158 yards and he was sacked on three occasions. He was also banged up in the second half against Alabama.
Frank Harris should lead UTSA into Austin with no fear and the Roadrunners can catch Texas off guard in the first half before the Longhorns wake up.
I should also note the extra motivation UTSA carries into this game. The Roadrunners will use the fact that no one is talking about them this week as motivation to shock the fans in Austin.
Miami at Texas A&M (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The news of Max Johnson starting at quarterback for Texas A&M shifted my opinion on this game.
Texas A&M should have a more competent offense in place for Miami's visit to College Station.
Miami will be without its top receiver, but it still has plenty of talent on its offense, led by quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.
The total is set low because of Texas A&M's defense, but if Chase Brice can lead App State to 17 points, Van Dyke can do the same with a more talented Hurricanes roster.
I'm not going to sit here and say a high-scoring game breaks out, but with more competency on A&M's side and Miami pushing back throughout the game, I can see 45-50 points.
Cincinnati (-22) vs. Miami (Ohio) (Noon ET, ESPNU)
Cincinnati is listed as the road team, but this game is being played inside the Cincinnati Bengals stadium, so no trip into MAC land for the Bearcats.
Cincinnati won each of the last three meetings with Miami (Ohio) by at least 21 points. The Bearcats put up 63 points on Kennesaw State in Week 2 and played a decent game on the road at Arkansas in Week 1.
Miami has not beaten Cincinnati since 2005. Nine of Cincinnati's 15 wins in that span have been by 20 or more points.
Buffalo at Coastal Carolina (-14) (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
This is a fade of Buffalo.
Buffalo lost to Holy Cross at home last week and it fell by 21 points on the road at Maryland in Week 1.
Coastal Carolina is averaging 14 more points per game and the rushing defense could be key here. The Chanticleers have given up 60 yards fewer per game on the ground than the Bulls.
Rutgers at Temple (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
I know, this is a gross play.
Rutgers' offense is not as bad as I thought it was. The Scarlet Knights have a few playmakers that could put a 30, or 40, spot on the Temple defense.
Rutgers will score a majority of the points in this game and it helps that the Scarlet Knights come in with confidence after posting 66 on Wagner.
Vanderbilt (+115) at Northern Illinois (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
I don't care what you think about Vanderbilt.
A team with SEC athletes should be able to beat any Group of Five team.
Vanderbilt's offense has not been bad. The Commodores scored 63 and 42 in wins over Hawaii and Elon and they posted 25 points in a loss to Wake Forest.
Northern Illinois has not impressed with a close win over Eastern Illinois and a road loss to Tulsa. I think the Huskies get overrun by SEC talent in their home stadium.
Kansas at Houston (4 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Kansas posted a 50-point total in each of the last two weeks.
Houston had two overtime clashes in which all teams eclipsed the 30-point mark.
Kansas can run with Houston for at least a half. Neither defense has been great against a FBS foe, so 60 points seems easy to hit.
Mississippi State (-2.5) at LSU (6 p.m. ET, ESPN)
If this game took place in October or November, I may have leaned LSU.
Mississippi State won games against Memphis and Arizona and already beat a power five foe on the road in Arizona last week.
LSU looked average at best against Florida State and we learned nothing from its win over Southern. The Tigers are still a work in progress, while the Bulldogs have experience, an identity and were already tested twice this season.