Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021



This is not an easy contest, my friends. And yet, here we stand, two weeks into this underdog business, and our quartet of college football wizards stands at 12-12 in picking underdogs to win straight up. This is what is called making money, if you bet on the money line.

Will this continue? There have been a decent number of upsets to date, as teams adjust to immediate transfer eligibility and super seniors making rosters as fluid as ever. We’ll do our best to spot them ahead of time so you can put some coin on the money line.

As a reminder, this is how the contest works: Each panelist selects three underdogs to win. If they do, said panelist gets as many points as the team was an underdog. Here are the standings entering Week 3:

PLACE NAME RECORD POINTS
1 Zac Al-Khateeb 4-2 18
2 Bill Bender 3-3 15
3 Mike DeCourcy 3-3 13.5
4 Bill Trocchi 2-4 10

MORE: Week 3 picks against the spread | Ten candidates to replace Clay Helton | Florida’s key to an upset

Bill Bender, college football lead writer

No. 15 Virginia Tech (+2.5) at West Virginia

I like the momentum Justin Fuente has built in the early season with creating turnovers and stopping the run. Braxton Burmeister will have to do more in the passing game for the Hokies to win the Black Diamond Trophy. I’m glad this rivalry is back on the schedule as Virginia Tech improves to 3-0.

Michigan State (+6.5) at No. 24 Miami

This is one of those under-the-radar non-conference games in which Mark Dantonio used to thrive. Mel Tucker is building the Spartans back toward respectability with a strong running game around Kenneth Walker III and a smart quarterback in Payton Thorne. If this were a second-tier bowl game, that line would be smaller.

Louisville (+7.5) vs. UCF

The Knights are a legit Group of 5 buster capable of winning this game on the road. But it’s still a Power 5 team with a talented quarterback in Malik Cunningham they are up against. Louisville has playmakers on the perimeter, too, and this game feels like one of those toss-up shootouts where the over (67.5) seems easy to hit, too.

Mike DeCourcy, senior writer

Purdue (+7.5) at No. 12 Notre Dame

Through winning their first two games, the Irish have not done enough to scare me off the chance to add more than a touchdown to my burgeoning total. The Irish barely beat lovesick Florida State and then needed to hold off Toledo’s feisty Rockets. The Boilers aren’t going to hang any banners for defeating a Connecticut team that might as well give up the sport, but they’ve got a proficient offense that ought to be able to trade touchdowns with the Irish long enough to have a chance to pull out a victory.

No. 22 Auburn (+4.5) at No. 10 Penn State

The Nittany Lions are off to the sort of start that ought to unleash a furious Saturday night atmosphere at Beaver Stadium. But let’s not pretend they never lose such games. In fact, they lose them all the time. Penn State’s record for what it calls “White Out” games — home games in which the audience wears white clothing and shakes white pom-poms — is only 8-8. Auburn should be scared of that?

MORE: Betting trends to know for Auburn-Penn State

No. 11 Florida (+14.5) vs. No. 1 Alabama

It’s hard to resist the opportunity to score this big. The Tide’s trip to Gainesville will tell us so much about whether the College Football Playoff invitational will be an actual party or another Alabama coronation. If the Tide can roll into The Swamp and pull off a comfortable victory, it’ll be another dull January. But if Florida can defend its home turf, there’ll be hope that others can contend for the trophy that Nick Saban has reason to believe is his perpetual property.

Bill Trocchi, senior editor

Michigan State (+6.5) at No. 24 Miami

Just missed on my Appalachian State pick over Miami last week. The Canes eked out a 25-23 win, but no one really noticed because during the game a cat fell from the upper deck in the stadium and was caught by fans holding out an American flag. Yes, that happened.

No. 15 Virginia Tech (+2.5) at West Virginia

The wrong team is favored here. I mean, I know those casinos don’t really build themselves out in Vegas, but they make mistakes sometimes, right? Maybe? Gimme the Hokies.

Arkansas State (+16.5) at Washington

Taking my shot here to get out of last place. Arkansas State doesn’t have much of a defense, giving up 55 points to Memphis. But you really don’t need much of a defense to beat Washington these days. Afternoon game, two deflating losses on the UW ledger, Sun Belt opponent. Husky Stadium will be quiet — and ripe for another upset.

Zac Al-Khateeb, content producer

Michigan State (+5.5) at No. 24 Miami

Miami opened its season with an embarrassing loss to No. 1 Alabama, 44-13, and nearly suffered an even more embarrassing defeat the following week, squeaking by App State 25-23. The Spartans enter this game averaging 40 points per contest, including a convincing 38-21 win over conference foe Northwestern. D’Eriq King can take advantage of the Spartans’ defense, which allows 352 yards per game. But look for the team that has played better overall to come out the victor.

No. 15 Virginia Tech (+2.5) over West Virginia

Virginia Tech enters this game with the marquee win of the two programs, claiming a victory over then-No. 10 North Carolina. The Hokies then took care of business the following week, beating Middle Tennessee 35-14. Give credit to Neal Brown’s team for overcoming a Week 1 loss to Maryland to demolish Long Island 66-0, but the Hokies are considerably better than the (looks up LIU’s nickname) Sharks. Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister, who leads the Hokies in passing and rushing yards, will have a good game in the upset.

No. 22 Auburn (+4.5) over No. 10 Penn State

Can first-year coach Bryan Harsin force Auburn into the College Football Playoff discussion? The nation’s top scoring offense (61.0 points per game) and scoring defense (5.0 points per game) will certainly try against No. 10 Penn State. Granted, the Tigers don’t have quite the list of victims (Akron, Alabama State) as the Nittany Lions, who beat then-12th-ranked Wisconsin to open the season. This is Auburn’s first real test of the year, but look for quarterback Bo Nix and running backs Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter to lead the Tigers to the upset win in Happy Valley.





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