It’s Week 3 of the college football season and we’re looking at locks of the week. This week, we’re eyeing three big favorites for our college football picks. Are they going to cash for us?
Alabama Crimson Tide at Florida Gators
Odds: Alabama -14½
The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide covered an 18½-point spread in Week 1 against Miami. They are the most reliable thing in college football right now. Nick Saban teams crush the opposition. They live for big early-season SEC road games such as this one. The Alabama offense consistently makes tons of big plays. The defense is a lot better than a highly injured group in 2020 which had to go deep into the depth chart to find healthy linebackers who could suit up. The fact that Alabama was able to give meaningful playing time to so many defensive players last season has given the Crimson Tide a lot more quality depth this year. Alabama had to take its lumps on defense last year, especially against great offenses such as Florida. However, the No. 11 Gators no longer have Kyle Trask at quarterback or Kyle Pitts at tight end. Pitts was a top-five NFL draft pick, and not having him on the roster is a huge loss for the passing attack.
Florida cannot stretch the field with its vertical passing game the way it was able to do last season. The Gators will be much more of a rushing team, and Alabama is usually a lot better in stopping the run. The Crimson Tide gave up 46 points to Florida in last year’s SEC Championship Game. The Tide might still score 52, but they figure to give up far fewer than 46 points. If Alabama plays to its normal standard of expected excellence, the Tide will be at least 20 points better than Florida in this game. Alabama deserves and has earned total trust from bettors with big point spreads. Covering 18½ against Miami was not a problem. Alabama won by 31. It should not be different here, especially with Florida having a quarterback controversy between starter Emory Jones and backup Anthony Richardson. It’s hard to expect the Gators to develop the consistency and potency they will surely need to outscore Alabama in a shootout, so take the Crimson Tide if you bet online.
Pick: Alabama -14½
Nebraska Cornhuskers at Oklahoma Sooners
Odds: Oklahoma -22½
This is a game where another blowout should be expected. One has to realize just how bad Nebraska really is. The Cornhuskers have won two games in a row, but one was against a total cupcake in Fordham and another game was against Buffalo of the Mid-American Conference. Nebraska won those games comfortably, but the Huskers didn’t score 30 points against Buffalo. Not being able to thrive offensively is a huge red flag going into this game against No. 3 Oklahoma, which has averaged 58 points in its first two games.
In order to be competitive against Oklahoma, a team needs a credible and functioning offense which can score in bunches and expose the limitations of the Sooners’ defense. Tulane scored 35 points in Week 1, using a bunch of different formations and pre-snap looks to get Oklahoma defenders out of position. Does Nebraska have that dynamism and cleverness on offense? It’s hard to look at Nebraska’s season-opening loss to Illinois and conclude that the Huskers are anywhere close to ready to beat Oklahoma. Illinois, which defeated Nebraska in late August, has since lost to Texas-San Antonio and were blown out by Virginia (42-14). If Nebraska could not beat Illinois, what does that say about the Huskers’ readiness for an Oklahoma team which is expected to make the College Football Playoff and compete for the national championship? Oklahoma would beat Illinois by 35 or more points. Unless Nebraska dramatically improves in this game, something in the area of a 40-point win for Oklahoma should be expected. The Cornhuskers do not have an offense that can score in big amounts against Oklahoma’s vulnerable defense. That’s why the Sooners should win going away in a renewal of a classic college football rivalry from the old Big Eight Conference.
Pick: Oklahoma -22½
Stanford Cardinal at Vanderbilt Commodores
Odds: Stanford -12½
The Stanford Cardinal looked terrible in Week 1, but tcame alive in Week 2 and took a 29-point lead on the USC Trojans before coasting home for a 42-28 win. The performance was so unexpected that USC fired head coach Clay Helton two days after Stanford tore through the Trojans. Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee was excellent against USC, displaying pinpoint accuracy and great poise in the pocket. He was Stanford’s sole quarterback in Week 2 after sharing snaps with Jack West in the disastrous opener against Kansas State. It seems Stanford head coach David Shaw figured out a thing or two about his offense and how to make it sing. With Stanford’s problems fixed – or at least dramatically improved – it is hard to see how the Cardinal won’t win big at Vanderbilt. The Commodores lost decisively to East Tennessee State in their season opener. They did beat Colorado State in Week 2, but Colorado State lost to South Dakota State in its own opener and seems like a very bad team.
Stanford might not score the 42 points it posted against USC, but with Vanderbilt’s offense looking very weak, the Cardinal still figure to win by a considerable margin — something in the area of 27-10 or 24-6, which would be more than good enough to cover the spread as a road favorite. Vanderbilt is simply to underdeveloped on offense to win this game under first-year head coach Clark Lea, who was formerly the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame and is in the middle of a rebuilding project.