NCAA College Football Week 3: Best Underdog Picks

NCAA College Football Week 3: Best Underdog Picks

Just like that we’ve already played two full weeks of college football. It’s too early to draw any conclusions, but the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs look a step ahead of the rest this season.

In the upset of the weekend, well, a meaningful upset, the Oregon Ducks went into Columbus and pulled off an improbable upset over the Ohio State Buckeyes as a 14.5-point underdog.

Oregon were the aggressors, and they were able to take advantage of mistakes by CJ Stroud. Put Justin Fields at quarterback and Ohio State isn’t losing by a score of 35-28. Fields at least gets that game into overtime.

Stroud missed wide open receivers early on 3rd down to kill a couple of drives. He had an open receiver striding into the end zone on a deep pattern down 35-28 in the 4th quarter as well, just to name a few miscues. Let’s not let the defense off the hook, they looked paper thin and allowed Oregon to dictate the game.

If that’s the effort they bring to the Michigan game, they’re going to get punched in the mouth for the first time since 2011 when the Wolverines won 40-34. The Buckeyes are still the better team, but neither of their first two games showed a promising defense.

The biggest upset of the weekend was Jacksonville State beating Florida State straight up. Jacksonville State were 27-point underdogs and won in walkoff fashion on the final play of the game.

On a prayer, Jacksonville State scored with no time on the clock to defeat the Seminoles, 20-17. This was a week after FSU brought the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to overtime. No team should be taking any opponent lightly, and that’s what transpired on Saturday at the Doak.

In another upset news of Week 2, the Iowa Hawkeyes laughed in the face of oddsmakers that thought this was going to be the year for Iowa State. Iowa went into Ames and beat the Cyclones as underdogs, 27-17. They’re a top-5 team going into Week 3 as a result of that impressive effort.

Let’s try to find where the upsets are going to happen in Week 3. Maybe the Florida Gators over the Crimson Tide? I can’t see that happening, but crazier things have happened. Florida needs to have Anthony Richardson at quarterback. He is dealing with a hamstring injury going into the weekend. Head below for our free upset predictions for Week 3 of the college football schedule.

Michigan State Spartans vs. Miami Hurricanes (No. 24)

Date and Time: September 18, 12:00 p.m. EST

The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Michigan State +6.5 (-105) +200 Over 56 (-110)
Miami -6.5 (-115) -240 Under 56 (-108)

Mel Tucker is off to a good start with the Michigan State Spartans in 2021. Michigan State heads into Miami with two wins after beating Northwestern, 38-21, and Youngstown State, 42-14. I know it’s only Youngstown State, but going on the road to beat Northwestern was an impressive win.

Kenny Walker went crazy on the ground against Northern for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns on 11.5 yards per carry. Then it was quarterback Payton Thorne that came up big with 280 yards and 4 touchdowns. Thorne received a confidence boost going into Miami week with that performance. So far the most impressive aspect of Thorne has been his ability to avoid the big mistake.

Thorne has been taking care of the football, and it looks like Michigan State has a quarterback for the first time in a while. In his first season as the starter for the Spartans, Thorne looked prepared to go into Miami for battle against a mediocre Hurricanes squad.

Miami goes into Week 3 with a record of 1-1 following a 44-13 loss against Alabama in the season opener, and then a 25-23 win against Appalachian State this past weekend. Appalachian State is a good Sun Belt team, but they aren’t even regarded as the favorite to win the conference.

The Hurricanes need to get themselves together for Michigan State. D’Eriq King hasn’t been the difference maker that fans were hoping for over the first two games. He passed for 200 yards with no touchdowns on 20 of 33 passing against the Mountaineers.

I will give him a break with his 179 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions against a defense like Alabama, but King didn’t do much versus Appalachian State either. Mel Tucker has his defense flying around with Thorne showing good command of the offense. I wouldn’t want to lay 6.5 points in this spot.

Michigan State Spartans vs. Miami Hurricanes Betting Trends:

Michigan State

  • 16-4 overall in their previous 20 games in Week 3
  • 5-12-1 ATS in their previous 18 games
  • 3-10 ATS in their previous 13 games as an underdog
  • OVER is 5-0 in their previous five games
  • OVER is 7-1 in their previous eight games in September


  • 1-4 ATS in their previous five games
  • 1-7 ATS in their previous eight games versus the Big Ten
  • 1-4 ATS in their previous five games as an underdog
  • 1-6 ATS in their previous seven non-conference games
  • 0-5 ATS in their previous five games at Miami
Michigan State vs. Miami Pick

Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (No. 5)

Date and Time: September 18, 3:30 p.m. EST

The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Kent State +22.5 (-108) OFF Over 54 (-110)
Iowa -22.5 (-112) OFF Under 54 (-110)

The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off a big win over Iowa State on the road in Ames, 27-17. They won as underdogs, which we highlighted as a potential upset win last week. It wasn’t much for an upset, but the oddsmakers had Iowa as 4 to 4.5-point underdogs. The Hawkeyes must change gears and get ready for a MAC team in the Kent State Golden Flashes.

Kent State is coming off a rout of the Virginia Military Institute, 60-10. They came to life after struggling in a 41-10 loss to open the season. That was a tough matchup against the Texas A&M Aggies. The defense gave up 41 points, but forcing Haynes King into 3 interceptions was an accomplishment.

The Golden Flashes have gone from being one of the worst teams in the country to a competitive MAC team. They scored a whopping 49.8 points and 606.5 yards per game to lead in the FBS last season. Dustin Crum is back at the controls for Kent State, and while he struggled against Texas A&M, they weren’t coming off a huge win.

Iowa is coming off a big win last week against Iowa State as an underdog. How focused are they going to be for Kent State? The Hawkeyes can set up their base defense and still give Crum and Kent State issues, but it’s a lot of points to cover for a team that could be going through the motions in Week 3. Kent State got some confidence back last week, and while VMI isn’t anything compared to Iowa, the Golden Flashes might catch Iowa in the perfect spot.

Iowa might be the biggest public play on the board, but this could be a moment for the Hawyekes where they aren’t completely prepared. That’s not a smart thing to do versus a Kent State offense that can move the ball. Their defense hasn’t been in bad form either despite allowing 41 points to the Aggies.

Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Betting Trends:

Kent State

  • 8-3 ATS in their previous 11 games
  • 8-2 overall in their previous ten games
  • 6-1 ATS in their previous seven games after a win
  • 5-1 ATS in their previous six games versus a team with a winning record
  • 6-2 ATS in their previous eight games as an underdog


  • 8-0 overall in their previous eight games
  • 7-1 ATS in their previous eight games
  • 5-1 ATS in their previous six games as a favorite
  • 8-2 ATS in their previous ten non-conference games
  • 2-6 ATS in their previous eight games versus the MAC
Kent State vs. Iowa Pick

Stanford Cardinal vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

Date and Time: September 18, 8:00 p.m. EST

The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Stanford -11 (-107) -450 Over 50 (-105)
Vanderbilt +11 (-113) +360 Under 50 (-115)

The Stanford Cardinal head to Tennessee looking to move to 2-1 on the season following a 42-28 win over the USC Trojans. The overrated Trojans lost, which I don’t think is breaking news.

Clay Helton should have been gone two years ago, but it’s never too late to fire a bad head coach. It’s not like USC doesn’t get talent to go to their school. USC hasn’t had an impactful head coach since Pete Carroll. Go and find the next Carroll because Helton isn’t it.

Stanford was coming off a 24-7 loss on the road against Kansas State to open the season. The Cardinal didn’t look good at all, but USC provided a nice opportunity to get some confidence back. Stanford’s leading rusher, Austin Jones, was held to 25 yards on 2.8 yards per carry.

Quarterback Tanner McKee passed for 118 yards with a touchdown and no interception. Kansas State did a standout job against the Stanford offense. Apparently USC didn’t use the same blueprint.

Vanderbilt are coming off a 24-21 win versus Colorado State on the road. Ken Seals passed for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Re’Mahn Davis gained 77 yards on 4.5 yards per carry. The Commodores looked horrible in the season opener with a 23-3 loss versus East Tennessee State.

The Commodores aren’t the best team, but they’re better than we saw in Week 1 in that loss. They were able to get their feet back underneath them versus Colorado State. Conversely, I don’t believe Stanford is as good as advertised on Saturday.

This is another case of the public likely lining up to hammer Stanford. It’s possible of course, but I can’t see them going into Vanderbilt entirely focused after such a commanding win over USC. The line looks a bit like a trap for a reason. It’s probably an ugly game with Stanford just wanting to get out of Tennessee with a win.

Stanford Cardinal vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Betting Trends:


  • 4-1 ATS in their previous five games
  • 5-0 overall in their previous five games on the road
  • 1-6 ATS in their previous seven games in September
  • 1-6 ATS in their previous seven non-conference games
  • 1-7-1 ATS in their previous nine games after scoring 40 points


  • 1-11 overall in their previous 12 games
  • 0-6 overall in their previous six games at Vanderbilt
  • 12-4 ATS in their previous 16 games in Week 3
  • UNDER is 4-1 in their previous five games
  • UNDER is 8-1 in their previous nine games after a win
Stanford vs. Vanderbilt Pick
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Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of TheSportsGeek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at TheSportsGeek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, and horse racing. Prior to writing for TheSportsGeek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily only at TheSportsGeek.

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