Fearless Rick's 2017 College Football Picks - Week 3 early games

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WEEK 3 NCAA Football Picks

All times Eastern

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Week 2 results (ATS)
Coin: 3-11; Rick: 4-10

Cumulative: Coin: 11-23; Rick: 18-16

Thursday, September 14

8:00 pm New Mexico at Boise State (-16 1/2, 57 1/2) - This is a significant Mountain West conference game because the Lobos were 9-4 last season, culminating in a 23-20 victory over UTSA in the New Mexico Bowl. They're 1-1 this year after losing to New Mexico State, 30-28.

Last season, the Broncos whipped New Mexico, 49-21, en route to a 10-3 season. Boise comes off a triple OT loss at Washington State, which does not bode well for their defense. The thinking is that this year's result will be closer with a solid returning class for the Lobos.

Coin Flip: New Mexico

Prediction: Broncos 34 Lobos 30

Friday, September 15

7:00 pm Illinois at #22 South Florida (-17 1/2, 54 1/2) - The Bulls got an extra week off with their September 9 game at UConn canceled, so they've had two weeks to prepare and are 2-0 heading into this meeting with the Illini, also 2-0.

South Florida was 11-2 (losses to Florida State and Temple) last year and again appears to be the class of the American Athletic conference.

Illinois was just 3-9 last season, but already has chalked up a pair of wins over Ball State and Western Kentucky (20-7), and may have a solid enough defense to keep this one close. Being that the Illini are from the Big Ten, a huge upset is not out of the question.

Coin Flip: Illinois

Prediction: Fighting Illini 26 Bulls 23

10:00 pm Arizona (-20 1/2, 60 1/2) at UTEP - The Wildcats were uncompetitive in the PAC-12 last season (1-8), their lone conference win coming in the final game of the season, a shocking, 56-35 win over rival Arizona State. Last week's loss to Houston, 19-16, sets them up for a rebound over the Miners, who have already been blasted twice: 56-7 at Oklahoma, and 31-14 vs. Rice.

UTEP's defense is among the worst in college football, so even the so-so Wildcats should be able to put up a huge number.

Coin Flip: Arizona

Prediction: Wildcats 48 Miners 13

Saturday, September 16

12:00 pm #25 UCLA (-3 1/2, 74 1/2) at Memphis - Of interest is why this line is so small. Supposedly, the Tigers have an offense capable of gashing the Bruins, as did Texas A&M in week one, though UCLA prevailed via a spectacular comeback, 45-44.

Last week, the Tigers' game with UCF was cancelled due to hurricane Irma, so they've had two weeks to prepare, while the Bruins were busy dusting off Hawaii, 56-23. Expect one of the higher scores of the weekend, but UCLA seems to be gaining recognition as an offensive powerhouse. Memphis likely won't be able to keep up.

Coin Flip: UCLA

Prediction: Bruins 56 Tigers 38

12:00 pm #9 Oklahoma State (-13 1/2, 66) at Pittsburgh - Tough spot for the Panthers as they come off a loss last week at Penn State, 33-14, and now have to face another ranked team in the Cowboys. On the upside, the game is at Pitt, but the downside is that they lost to the Cowboys in a similar spot last season, 45-38, on the road.

Pitt is not as good as their 2016 team which went 8-5, and the Cowboys are likely a little better than last season's 10-3 unit. Oklahoma State is 2-0, 9th in scoring (51.5 ppg) and ready to roll into Iron City with a vengeance.

Coin Flip: Oklahoma State

Prediction: Cowboys 41 Panthers 20

12:00 pm Air Force at #7 Michigan (-25, 54) - Air Force leads the nation in scoring (62 ppg) and rushing yards (473), but that's only after one game, a 62-0 slaughter of VMI. Last year's squad was special, going 10-3, winning the armed forces trophy and topping Boise State in their regular season finale, 27-20, before pasting South Alabama, 45-21, in the Arizona Bowl.

Michigan had a great start with their 33-17 win over Florida, but they were not outstanding, beating Cincinnati, 36-14 last week. They'll have limited time to score the football with the Falcons controlling the clock with their awesome ground game, so any miscues will be magnified. A 25-point win is not in the cards at the Big House this weekend and a huge upset could occur.

Coin Flip: Michigan

Prediction: Wolverines 30 Falcons 27

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