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College football week 3 predictions and betting picks from across the country from college football handicapper Brett Ciancia

College Football Week 3 Predictions: Best Betting Picks of the Week

Stanford vs. Vanderbilt

Fresh off of a winless 2020 season (3-6 ATS), Vanderbilt lost the opener to an FCS program.  Not only that, but it was sheer domination by East Tennessee State in the 23-3 rout.

Meanwhile, Stanford bounced back after their opening loss by beating a ranked USC team so badly that they fired head coach Clay Helton in early September.  The big change from Week 1 to Week 2?  David Shaw made a quarterback switch, giving former 4-star Tanner McKee the start against USC, and he thrived (16/23 234 yards, 2 TD).

Vanderbilt appears to be on the Kansas tier among the worst in Power 5, while Stanford made huge gains in the second game, altering their season trajectory for the better.

Prediction   Stanford 31, Vanderbilt 17

Pick:  Stanford -12  @ -110

Clemson vs. Georgia Tech

The six-time defending ACC champions opened the season facing a Top 5 UGA team that features arguably the best defense in America.  The game was a 3-3 stalemate, except for a defensive score that shifted the game to UGA.

Moving forward, Clemson still has a path to the Playoff but must remain perfect against a manageable ACC schedule.  Not only do they have to win out, but they have to dominate their opponents on the scoreboard.  They will keep their foot on the gas throughout this game.

It is Geoff Collins’ third season on The Flats and the expectation was for 2021 to be a significant improvement.  That expectation was dampened with an opening loss to non-AQ Northern Illinois.

Clemson has had five straight winning seasons ATS, and they are 28-17 (.622) ATS vs. the ACC since 2016.  More specifically in big-spread games, Clemson is 15-7 (.681) ATS vs. the ACC since 2018 when favored by 20+ points. 

They are also 5-0-1 in the past six against Georgia Tech, and the trends all continue Saturday.

Prediction:  Clemson 49,  Georgia Tech 17

Pick:  Clemson -28  @ -110

Ole Miss vs. Tulane

In Pick Six Previews’ preseason rankings, I placed Ole Miss #22 while the AP Poll had them unranked.  So far, they have proved me right, behind one of the top offenses in America.  Head coach Lane Kiffin is masterful in setting up his players for success, tagging each play with a run or pass option.  Quarterback Matt Corral has picked up where he left off in 2020, when he finished as the #4 passer in Power 5.  His 10.2 yards/attempt matches his 2020 output, and he’s thrown 6 touchdowns with no picks. 

But what makes Ole Miss a legit ranked team this year, is their progress made on defense.  In the offseason, they added the #1 AND #2 junior-college defensive tackles.  The defense flexed their physicality in the opening blowout win over Louisville.

Credit Tulane for covering against Oklahoma, however Oklahoma built a huge lead before easing up late.  Look for Ole Miss to play a complete four-quarter game and make it three straight wins (and covers ATS) to start 2021.

Prediction:  Ole Miss 45,  Tulane 27

Pick:  Ole Miss -14  @ -110

Arizona State vs. BYU

What a week it was for BYU.  Not only did they secure the valuable bid for Power 5 conference membership, but they also snapped the 12-year drought against rival Utah.

Such an emotional week and victory calls for a let-down spot here.  Arizona State is a complete team with a powerful offensive line, running back duo, a stable of blue-chip receivers, and the league’s top quarterback.  They will test the BYU defense on the outsides, and in the vertical pass game more than Utah could last week.

Prediction:   Arizona State 30, BYU 20

Pick:  Arizona State -3  @ -110

Michigan State vs. Miami

Mel Tucker was hired very late in the 2020 coaching carousel, and then the pandemic hit.  There wasn’t the usual coach-change transfer wave.  Instead, that roster movement was double the usual size in 2021, and Michigan State is the perfect case study of the Transfer Portal season.  41 new players are in, and so far the Frankenstein roster has looked excellent.  They dominated the defending Big Ten West champs Northwestern, and then beat FCS Youngstown State by 28.

Coming into 2021, Michigan State running backs had not ran for a touchdown in 10 games.  But in the opener, Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker ran for four himself. 

Meanwhile, Miami is coming off of two physical games to start the season.  First, Alabama demoralized them in the opener, and then Miami had to hold on for a close win over Appalachian State.  Look for a let-down here, and for Michigan State to come in with firepower.

Prediction:   Michigan State 27, Miami 24

Pick:  Michigan State +7  @ -110

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