College football Week 3 best underdog bets, picks and predictions: Situational advantages for these 3 underdogs

Aug 26, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; San Jose State Spartans wide receiver Nick Nash (3) celebrates his touchdown scored against the Southern California Trojans with wide receiver Matthew Coleman (15) during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
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Sam Avellone


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Long-time suffering Browns fan born and raised in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area who now resides in SEC country. University of South Carolina alum. Sports handicapper for close to 10 years with a primary focus on NCAAB while enjoying NFL, PGA, NCAAF, NBA, and Soccer. For Sam Avellone media enquiries, please email
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There are not many marquee matchups in Week 3, but that should not deter you from this week’s slate. There are always a few underdogs in appealing situations or matchups every week, and my goal is to help you find them. Last week was disappointing with a 1-2 result, but we are 3-3 on the season and 6-4 if you include the honorable mention picks.

Let’s keep things rolling this week before next week’s massive slate and try to sweep the board, shall we? 

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Best Week 3 Underdog Bets

Odds available at Draftkings Sportsbook at the time of publishing.

Ohio Bobcats +3 (-110) vs Iowa State Cyclones

The Cyclones dominated the Bobcats last season, winning 43-10 behind 268 passing yards and 3 touchdowns from Hunter Dekkers and Xavier Hutchinson’s 9 receptions, 93 yards and a score. However, a lot has changed since that game — specifically in the Iowa State locker room due to the sports-betting scandal that surfaced in the offseason. Rocco Becht will be the Iowa State quarterback instead of Dekkers, which is a downgrade from the production the Cyclones had under center last season. In addition to the loss of Hutchinson to the NFL, the Cyclones will be without last season’s leading rusher in Jirehl Brock as well as tight end Deshawn Hanika — who scored 4 times in 2022 — and a few others.

Oddsmakers seem to believe this will be a much closer matchup this time around and I agree. Ohio’s defense has shown signs of improvement this season while Iowa State’s offense, a unit that has struggled since Brock Purdy’s departure, has seemingly regressed. Despite their win in Week 1, the Cyclones gained just 250 yards against FCS Northern Iowa and followed it up with just 3.9 yards per play and 4.6 yards per pass last week against Iowa. This is not an offense that I am comfortable laying points with, especially on the road against a team loaded with returning talent that figures to be motivated to avenge last season’s blowout. Give me the points with the Bobcats and maybe a money-line sprinkle, too!

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San Jose State Spartans +7.5 (-110) vs Toledo Rockets

Given its early season schedule, it is tough to gauge where San Jose State fits in with the rest of the Group of 5 — which may present some value on the Spartans this week in a matchup against a team of a similar competition level. For what it is worth, San Jose State is 2 spots above Toledo on 247’s Team Talent Composite rankings this season. What we do know is San Jose State has played a better level of competition to this point of the season, losing to 2 top Pac-12 teams while defeating an FCS team similar to the way Toledo beat its FCS opponent last week. The difference is Toledo was more competitive in its matchup against a power five opponent despite the fact that Illinois has not looked near to the level that it did last season and is not on the same tier as Oregon State this season much less USC — a team who many believe are a national title contender.

The cross country journey for San Jose State is rough, but schematically I think the Spartans’ offense can succeed against the Rockets. They have a veteran 6th-year quarterback in Chevan Cordeiro that is now in his second season with the program and has shown an ability to take care of the ball with just 6 interceptions last season and a top 25 turnover-worthy play percentage among qualified quarterbacks per PFF. He plays behind an experienced offensive line and should be able to leverage a very solid rushing attack with running backs Quali Conley and Kairee Robinson. Both of the San Jose State running backs average at least 6 yards per carry and they have combined for 354 yards and 5 touchdowns to this point. Toledo has one of, if not the best secondary at the group of five level, but the Rockets lost a decent amount of production within the front 7, which is an area San Jose State may be able to exploit with its rushing attack. Given Cordeiro’s ball control in his time as a Spartan, I trust him to avoid multiple mistakes against this talented Toledo secondary. Furthermore, I believe San Jose State’s rushing attack will find success and potentially shorten the game while keeping the ball out of DeQuan Finn’s hands – so I am going to take the points with the road team in this non-conference Group of 5 contest and would not be surprised to see the Spartans win outright.  

Colorado State Rams +24 (-110) vs Colorado Buffaloes

While I do not think the Rams are going to win this game outright, this feels like too many points given the situational aspect of this game. The Rams had a rare Week 2 bye, which means they have had 2 weeks to prepare for this game and watch their in-state rival’s film. Meanwhile, Colorado is in quite a look-ahead spot following 2 power conference matchups. The Buffaloes have Pac-12 conference play on deck starting next week in a nationally televised matchup against Oregon followed by what will likely be another nationally televised and potentially primetime matchup against the USC Trojans. 

Shedeur Sanders and the Colorado offense have been dynamite to start the season, but the defense has not been near that level. The Buffaloes rank 87th in opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency and outside the top 75 in points per drive and touchdown rate allowed per BCFToys — so I do not have confidence in them to be able to maintain enough of a lead throughout this game to cover this big of a number. While Colorado State’s offense did not exactly impress anyone in Week 1, Washington State has proven to be a much better defense than Colorado thus far, ranking in the top 30 in opponent-adjusted efficiency with a top 25 rating in unadjusted points per drive and touchdown rate. 

Candidly, I wish head coach Jay Norvell did not add fuel to the fire this week with comments he made about Deion Sanders — but I think this is strictly a Colorado State spot situationally, especially with 24’s popping up at multiple sportsbooks. With an additional week to prepare, look for the Rams to keep this game within the number against a defense that has yielded more than 440 yards per game. 

Honorable Mentions: James Madison Dukes, Houston Cougars

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