CFB Week 3: Big Ten Big Games and Best Bets

*All lines courtesy of FanDuel

Tulsa @ Ohio State (-24.5)

This week, Columbus has been a fire storm of controversy after the Buckeyes suffered their first regular season loss of head coach Ryan Day’s career last Saturday against an Oregon Ducks team who were two touchdown underdogs. The defense struggled to get stops, and when they did, the offense sputtered late. The Buckeyes put up 600 yards of offense, which translated into only 28 points, and their defense struggled to stop the same outside runs.

It some ways, the game was reminiscent of the non-conference home loss to Virginia Tech in 2014. The Buckeyes just couldn’t get their footing and played from behind all game. However, the Buckeyes righted the ship that year and won the first ever College Football Playoff. Can Defensive Coordinator Kerry Coombs mold this inexperienced defense into shape over the next month? They will need a better pass rush, but it won’t matter against Tulsa. Ryan Day will ensure that CJ Stroud has the offense rolling through the air, and the ground game should follow. It’s a big number, but lay the points as OSU shows up to make a statement.

Michigan State @ Miami (FL) (-6.5)

Head coach Mel Tucker has the Spartans rolling early in his second season. However, this is by far their biggest test. Heading down to the south Florida heat will challenge Michigan State far more than Northwestern and Youngstown State did. After starting the season ranked #14, Miami was bludgeoned by Alabama in Week 1. It will be interesting to see whether MSU utilizes some of the same defenses that Bama used to corral King. The experience of Miami QB D’Eriq King — who has seemingly been playing college football for a decade — should help the Canes, as Coach Tucker will try to draw upon the schemes of his former Tide staff. Miami has been fairly stout against the run, which is where MSU has thrived, so take the Canes… but lay the points, this is a one-score game.

Cincinnati @ Indiana (+3.5)

Even though Indiana struggled out of the gate against Iowa, this is game is still a critical data point on the Cincinnati resume. The Bearcats have looked very impressive in the early going this season and now have a chance to display that progress on a Power Five stage. Notre Dame may be on deck for Cincinnati, but Indiana is now. UC QB Desmond Ridder and RB Jerome Ford have led an explosive offensive attack that can gobble up yards both through the air and on the ground. For the Bearcats to win, they will need to continue their dominance against a proud Tom Allen defense that was wounded against Iowa and will be eager to send a message. The wild card is Hoosier QB Michael Penix Jr. He was lights out in 2020 before he tore an ACL, but this season he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and this Bearcats D has forced a turnover in 21 of their last 22 games. Lay the points in this one. Cincy should win by a touchdown.

Purdue @ Notre Dame (-7.5)

It’s been two consecutive weeks of close games for the Fighting Irish: an overtime win against Florida State in Week 1 and a comeback thriller against Toledo in Week 2. The defense has failed to impress so far this season, and while senior transfer QB Jack Coan has been serviceable — especially when he led a game-winning drive against Toledo — it doesn’t appear that he can carry the offense in a shootout with a high-powered team. Purdue has been slinging the ball all over the yard in their two wins with Junior QB Jack Plummer leading the way. The offense has looked impressive, but the loss of RB Zander Horvath in the blowout win against UConn could prove to be the difference. With a fully loaded backfield, Purdue would’ve probably stayed within a touchdown, but that’s not the case. Lay the points, but don’t bet the farm on it.

Auburn @ Penn State (-6.5)

With a 7:30 PM eastern time kick, Happy Valley will be one of the most intimidating road environments in college football on Saturday night. Beaver Stadium will be sporting their famous “Whiteout,” which leads to host of communication problems for the visiting team and a huge emotional rush for the Nittany Lions. With a big road win against Wisconsin to open the season, Penn State has already been tested… and they’ve come up aces.

QB Sean Clifford will be the key. Can he continue to take care of the ball while still creating the big play, or will the Tigers’ defense turn him into the pumpkin he was last year when he threw nine interceptions in as many games? Auburn QB Bo Nix has been the bellwether for the Tigers throughout his career. As he goes, so go the Tigers. Auburn hasn’t been tested at all through their two games. Akron and Alabama State provided little resistance for the Tigers. Penn State will provide much more. The Nittany Lions are battle tested, and this is a game James Franklin needs to win. It will be close so take the points, but Penn State pulls it out.

Written by Bobby Carpenter

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