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  • Two home underdogs and one "home" underdog are among our favorite plays in Week 3's action. Make sure to check out all of our best bets before putting your money down on college football this weekend.
By The SI Staff
September 14, 2018

Thanks to an incredibly brutal beat in Florida Atlantic-Air Force, we finished with a 4-4-1 record with our Week 2 best bets, which makes us 8-8-1 on the season. Two home underdogs and one "home" underdog are among our favorite plays in this weekend's action.

SEC

No. 12 LSU (+10) at No. 7 Auburn

The over/under for LSU-Auburn (44.5) suggests a fairly low-scoring game, but the 10-point line seems high if the score is going to stay down. I wouldn’t be shocked if Auburn wins the game but LSU covers the spread. The game could snowball on LSU with a few early turnovers that Auburn capitalizes on. But absent that, this could be a low-scoring slog with both quarterbacks under pressure against excellent front sevens. — Andy Staples

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UTEP at Tennessee (–30.5)

I know. I know. This game is a drab. But you know what turns a lackluster matchup into a suspenseful showdown? Placing your hard-earned cash on it. The Miners haven’t won a football game since November of 2016—a stretch of 14 consecutive losses—and they haven’t covered a spread in eight straight games. The Volunteers put up 59 points last week and at least hung with top-10 West Virginia until the second half. Go with Big Orange. — Ross Dellenger

ACC

Florida State at Syracuse (+3)

Florida State is a slight favorite in its first road game of 2018, against a Syracuse team that's been piling on points so far this season. The Seminoles' slow start—losing big to Virginia Tech and nearly losing to Samford—may not be a fluke, and this team may have a lot to sort out, giving Syracuse and quarterback Eric Dungey, who is finally healthy, a chance to win this one outright. If Dungey plays like he has so far this year—he has 402 yards passing and another 244 rushing—the Orange have a good chance in this one. — Joan Niesen

Georgia Tech (-4) at Pitt

We’ll look back on Week 2 and realize there’s no shame in getting beat by USF on the road. Of the losses these two teams sustained on Saturday, Georgia Tech’s is much less likely to have a hangover effect that lingers into Week 3, unless Yellow Jackets quarterback TaQuon Marshall is especially hampered by the big toe injury he suffered against the Bulls. Pitt mustered only six points against Penn State, and although sloppy conditions played a role, the Panthers don’t have the look of even a mid-tier ACC team. The loss of B-back KirVonte Benson may also be weighing this line down, but Georgia Tech always finds a way to deal with losses in the backfield admirably—Benson himself stepped up last year when Dedrick Mills was kicked off the team. The Jackets can score in bunches, and there’s no evidence Pitt can do that against FBS competition yet. — Eric Single

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Big Ten

No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 15 TCU (+13) at AT&T Stadium

Ohio State’s first real test of the season comes on the road at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, against No. 15 TCU. The Buckeyes currently have the nation’s second-best offense, averaging 650.0 yards per game on 8.13 yards per play, led by Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Dwayne Haskins. On the other side of the ball, Nick Bosa, who leads the country in sack yards (three for 31), and Dre’Mont Jones anchor a dominant pass rush.

But not so fast. Gary Patterson has long cultivated an underdog mentality at TCU and his sixth-ranked defense is especially equipped to handle OSU’s fast and explosive offense. The Buckeyes will have to account for an experienced defensive line led by current Big 12 sack leader Corey Bethley (three in two games). This could cause problems for an untested Ohio State offensive line that has two new starters at left tackle and left guard, plus a center who recently made a position change.

It seems like it will be a close game in the final Saturday of Urban Meyer’s suspension. — Laken Litman

Pac-12

No. 23 Arizona State at San Diego State: SDSU +3 First Half

Underdog plays are 2–0 so far in this Pac-12 space, so let’s roll with another one here.

It’s surprising to see the Herm Edwards experiment off to this successful of a start, but we’re in overreaction territory now with the Sun Devils. San Diego State actually dominated Stanford in the first half in Week 1 despite a 9–7 deficit, then the wheels came off in the second half. Still, this is a defense that somehow contained Bryce Love to 29 yards on just 18 carries (while getting simultaneously torched by JJ Arcega-Whiteside).

A big key behind ASU’s turnaround on defense has been stopping the run. The Sun Devils statistically have the No. 1 ranked rushing defense in the country, as they have allowed 1.07 YPC (65 yards on 61 carries) over their first two games. But now ASU faces Juwan Washington, who has 314 rushing yards and four touchdowns over his first two games. He’s shifty and can break a big run on any play, and he had his way with Stanford’s defensive front earlier in the season. ASU simply hasn’t faced a tailback and a veteran offensive line of SDSU’s caliber, and I think the Aztecs will pound the rock to start the game and keep it close.

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Admittedly, it's a little worrisome that SDSU has to roll with its backup quarterback Ryan Agnew since starter Christian Chapman will miss a few games with a sprained MCL. I’m also not quite sure how the Aztecs will be able to defend N’Keal Harry after watching Arcega-Whiteside become a one-man wrecking crew against them two weeks earlier. But I see ASU’s first road game under Edwards not coming so easily, and trust Rocky Long and his experienced group to send a strong message early on. — Max Meyer

Big 12

Houston at Texas Tech: OVER 69.5 Points

For Texas Tech, the season could hang in the balance before the month of September is done. After getting thrashed by Ole Miss in their season opener, the Red Raiders came back with a 77–0 victory in what amounted to a scrimmage against Lamar.

Part of the Red Raiders’ problem for the better part of the last decade has been their defense. Despite having three players on the All-Big 12 preseason team this season, improvement is paramount to success, because their next three opponents after Houston are Oklahoma State, West Virginia and TCU.

The good news for Texas Tech is it has won seven of the last eight games against Houston. But the Cougars come in after an impressive victory against Arizona and have perhaps the best defensive player in America in Ed Oliver.

But don’t expect much defense in this one. Houston has a dynamic quarterback in D'Eriq King and several explosive weapons for him to work with, so defenses can’t key on one player. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will have the upper hand. Expect your average four-hour marathon with the ball flying all over the yard. — Scooby Axson

Bonus: Group of Five

Houston –1 at Texas Tech

We saw the Cougars, Ed Oliver and D’Eriq King last week with our own eyes. They decimated Arizona, scoring 31 points in the first half alone. This is a tougher matchup on the road, but we like Houston to pull out a high-scoring affair. That’s another thing: While you’re at it, put that $20 check grandma sent you for your birthday on the over. It’s 69.5. These teams should both easily eclipse the 30-point mark. — Ross Dellenger

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