We have seven ranked teams across five games in this week’s College Football picks. The headline act is the Southwest Classic at 3.30pm EDT while #12 Notre Dame and #18 Wisconsin put their undefeated starts on the line in Chicago at noon.
Look below to find our College Football Picks for the five best games of this week’s schedule!
#12 Notre Dame v #18 Wisconsin – 12pm EDT
The 3-0 #12 ranked Fighting Irish and the 2-0 #18 ranked Badgers face off in Soldier Field for the Jack Coan revenge game. Coan transferred from Wisconsin to Notre Dame in the off-season, with the Badgers preferring the upside of Graham Mertz. While they are 2-0, Wisconsin may be regretting their decision as Mertz is averaging just 163 yards per game and is yet to throw a touchdown, while giving away two interceptions.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 22, 2021
His poor play has resulted in Wisconsin turning to the run-game, evidenced by the fact they have had 113 rush attempts compared to just 54 pass attempts through the first two games. That is a clear area that the Fighting Irish need to focus on and considering they just kept Purdue to 57 rushing yards on 25 carries in their best win so far this season, they seem well equipped to do so. Especially when you add in the fact that Wisconsin has scored a touchdown in just one of their four red zone drives this season while Notre Dame has one of the best red zone defenses in the country, allowing just five touchdowns from 12 red zone trips.
That sort of defense is needed given how young and raw the Notre Dame offensive line has been this season, allowing Coan to get sacked 14 times through their first three games. Despite this, the former Badger, now Fighting Irish QB is averaging 276 yards per game and has thrown eight touchdowns compared to two interceptions. He has shown an explosive arm that has given the Fighting Irish ability to stretch defenses out and find receivers with on-point deep balls. Given that Brian Kelly is 14-8 v Big Ten opponents and the Fighting Irish are getting close to a touchdown in the spread, Notre Dame seems like a good bet here.
College Football Pick: Notre Dame +6.5 (-114)
#7 Texas A&M v #16 Arkansas – 3.30pm EDT
AT&T Stadium plays host to the Southwest Classic yet again. Texas A&M and Askansas face off as ranked teams for the first time in what seems like forever, highlighting how well they have both returned this year. Texas A&M is doing it with defense, ranking first for scoring and passing through their first three games, while Arkansas is averaging over 40 points per game and has the 12th best rushing attack in the country.
While the Razorbacks have been dominant on the ground so far this year, putting up 6.1 yards per carry, they have needed to as KJ Jefferson has looked shaky through three games. Weeks 1 & 2 saw him combine for just 266 yards while throwing one touchdown and two interceptions. He may have found some form against Georgia Southern last week, going 13/23 for 366 yards and three touchdowns, showing that he has the ability to be a difference maker – after all he is leading an offense that has scored at least 38 points in each of their games, including putting up 40 on a gritty Texas defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Aggies have their second string QB Zach Calzada starting once again. Calzada has had a tough go at it so far this season – he started with an interception with his only attempt in Week 1, only managed to score 10 points while completing just 47% of his passes in Week 2 before getting sacked three times in Week 3, albeit while throwing for 275 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. He seems to be finding his feet and the defense has definitely helped him out, but they shouldn’t be laying points to a dynamic Arkansas football team.
The Razorbacks are also only allowing 16 points per game and have a defense that is led by NFL prospect Jalen Catalon at safety. Through three games he has 28 tackles, three pass deflections and two interceptions, as well as being agile and physical enough to disrupt the running game of opponents. Given Arkansas are flowing on both sides of the ball, are getting points in the spread and seven of the last nine matchups between the sides held at AT&T Stadium have been decided by less than a score, the Razorbacks are the play.
College Football Pick: Arkansas +4.5 (-112)
Colorado State @ #5 Iowa – 3.30 EDT
We have been massive on Iowa this season, loving their Week 1 win over Indiana and then backing them to upset Iowa State in Week 2. They now come off an easy kill over Kent State last week, where they won 30-7, and get to stay at home for the week, hosting the Rams. Colorado State is just 1-2 on the season but last week’s performance presents a very interesting formline. They beat Toledo 22-6 a week after Toledo stuck within three points of Notre Dame, who are ranked #12 and still undefeated.
— Cody Hills (@ByCodyHills) September 18, 2021
While that isn’t how football works, it shows that the Rams are capable. However, they haven’t faced a team, or defense, like the Hawkeyes. Iowa ranks fourth for points allowed whilst also giving up less than 280 total yards per game. That is extremely impressive considering they have played two good teams in Indiana and Iowa State through their first three games. The Hawkeyes allow opposing QBs to complete just 54.5% of their passes whilst also recording 10 sacks through three games and come up against a quarterback, Todd Centeio, that could only manage 10/27 and 110 yards last week despite his side winning 22-6.
While laying 23.5 points is scary when the Iowa offense has scored 27, 30 and 34 points so far this season, they also have two games of allowing seven points or less and are one of few teams that would be able to cover in a low-scoring affair.
College Football Pick: Iowa -23.5 (-106)
Bonus College Football Pick: Under 44.5 (-114)
#14 Iowa State @ Baylor – 3.30EDT
After a disappointing home loss to their cross-town rivals, Iowa State had their bounce back game against UNLV last week, winning 48-3. The worry is their previous two performances saw them win by just six points then lose by 10 points and now they have to face a Baylor side, In Waco, that is 3-0 for the season.
The Cyclones are definitely the toughest team that the Bears have had to face so far this season, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t up to the challenge. This is going to be a very intriguing clash as Iowa State’s defense allows the fewest total yards per game in the country, while Baylor’s offense ranks fourth for total yards per game and has over 970 rushing yards through three games. While the Cyclones’ defense is clearly top notch, they may have their handsful in this clash. Abram Smith is averaging 122 yards per game on the ground, not having any less than 118 in a game, while scoring five touchdowns through three games. He is joined by Trestan Ebnar, who is averaging 106 yards per game, and Taye McWilliams, who has only played in two games this year but has put up 156 yards and scored a touchdown in each of those games. This is a completely different beast and given Baylor have won six of their last seven games at home, this may be a tough ask for the #14 team in the country.
The positive is they were able to put up 48 points last week, considering they managed just 16 and 17 points through Weeks 1 and 2 respectively. The issue is Baylor, albeit against much lesser opponents, is ranked fifth for yards allowed per game and is giving up just 11.3 points per contest. Iowa State will be the best offense they have faced, especially with Brock Purdy throwing the ball like he did last week and opening things up for Breece Hall on the ground, but this could be a defensive fizz out and let the Bears keep it close.
College Football Pick: Baylor Bears +6.5 (+108)
West Virginia @ #4 Oklahoma – 7.30EDT
We round out the night with Oklahoma looking to make a statement against West Virginia. While they are the #4 team in the country, the Sooners have seen two of their three games decided by seven points or less. They have had spreads of 20+ points in each of their three games, only covering once, and now are laying just 17.5 points to a West Virginia side whose results flatter them more than they should.
We’re still not over this ridiculous @djgraham_ INT 🤯
Will this end up being the catch of the year?pic.twitter.com/Pg4ClwLGmG
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 20, 2021
The Mountaineers beat a Virginia Tech side that is no longer ranked and were already underdogs in that clash already. The positive for West Virginia is that they are averaging 411 yards and 39 points per game on offense, showing that they have the ability to mix it with Oklahoma, who are supposed to be one of the best offensive units in the country.
While the Sooners’ offense, led by Spencer Rattler, is extremely talented, they have been getting the job done defensively. Both sides are giving up exactly 17 points per game but Oklahoma has a massive 13 sacks through three games, compared to West Virginia’s 10, and ranks equal fifth in that category. That shows that they can get to the quarterback, force the other team off the field and get the ball back in Rattler’s hands, which is always a good thing, despite his rocky start. He will continue to develop as time goes on and a Saturday night showtime game at home is the perfect opportunity for him to show just how far he has come already.
College Football Pick: Oklahoma -17.5 (-105)
*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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