NCAA Week 3 Picks - Early Games

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NCAA Week 3 Early Games

All times Eastern

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Week 2 Results: Rick 11-7; Coin: 7-11
Cumulative: Rick: 20-16-2; 16-20-2

Thursday, September 16

8:00 pm Ohio at Louisiana (-20, 54 1/2) (ESPN) - Maybe you attended one of these schools, which is why you plan on watching the game. Otherwise, this looks like a real dud for the cable giant.

The Rain' Cajuns got pounded by Texas in week one, 38-18, but they recovered in week two with a 27-24 win over Nicholls. They struggled a bit, but they're 20-point favorites.

0-2 Ohio lost to Syracuse and Duquesne. Most people didn't even know Duquesne has a football team. They're called the Dukes. Who knew? All snark aside, Louisiana should win this by 30.

Coin Flip: Louisiana

Prediction: Ragin' Cajuns 48 Bobcats 13


Friday, September 17

7:30 pm UCF (-7 1/2, 69) at Louisville (ESPN) - After getting bounced by Ole Miss, 43-24, the Cardinals came back an tore up poor little Eastern Kentucky, 30-3. Bear in mind that Louisville was 4-7 last season.

UCF is now 2-0 after wins over Boise State (36-31) and Bethune-Cookman (63-14). Last week's game was an opportunity to get some of the bench-warmers into the action. It worked. But, UCF has been developing a strong winning tradition and just the idea that they would schedule Boise State to open their season says plenty.

The Cardinals are not very deep. UCF is the class of the up-and-coming American Athletic conference. They should cruise.

Coin Flip: UCF

Prediction: Knights 42 Cardinals 21


9:00 pm Maryland (-8, 59 1/2) at Illinois - The Terrapins find themselves at 2-0 for the first time since 2019. That year they won just one more game and ended up 3-9. Remember, they're in the Big 10 now. Somewhat it still doesn't seem right, but they have a big shot in this contest with Taulia Tagovailoa at QB. Perhaps you've heard of his big brother, Tua.

The Terms topped West Virginia, 30-24, to open the season and last week walloped Howard, 62-0. The Terms may be salivating over a visit to 1-2 Illinois, especially after the Illini lost to UTSA, normally a pushover, and then got blown out, 42-14, at Virginia last week.

The last time Illinois had a winning record or a full season was 2011. They beat UCLA, 20-14, in the Fight Hunger Bowl, to end up 7-6. This doesn't stack up well for the home team.

Coin Flip: Illinois

Prediction: Terrapins 45 Fighting Illini 21


Saturday, September 18

12:00 pm Nebraska at #3 Oklahoma (-22, 61 1/2) (FOX) - The Cornhuskers are not getting any love from the oddsmakers. They are more than three touchdown underdogs and for good reason. They lost their opening game to Illinois. Let me repeat: they lost their opening game to Illinois. That's not good.

There may be hope in that they spent the next two weeks winning back-to-back games, something they've been unable to do for two years. The topped Fordham, 52-7, and took down Buffalo, 28-3. The win over the Bulls is encouraging, but Oklahoma is a thoroughbred. Those teams they beat are plow pullers by comparison.

2-0 Oklahoma got a bit of a scare in their opener with Tulane, in a 40-35 win. Their 76-0 win last week over Western Carolina was just for show. These two haven't met since 2010. Oklahoma won at home, 23-20. Times have changed, and while the Sooners vie for a spot in the National Championship Playoffs every year, Nebraska struggles in the Big Ten just to stay relevant. It would be nice if this rivalry was better, but it's not.

Coin Flip: Nebraska

Prediction: Sooners 45 Cornhuskers 14


12:00 pm #8 Cincinnati (-3, 50 1/2) at Indiana (ESPN) - After an ugly loss to Illinois opening week, the Hoosiers bounced back with a 56-14 victory over Idaho, the good news being Michal Penix Jr.'s two touchdown passes in the beginning of the game, as Indiana built a coming 35-0 lead. After going 11 for 16 for 68 yards, Penix sat out the rest of the game.

He'll be ready to go against the Bearcats, a key meeting for both clubs. 2-0 Cincinnati is off to a torrid start, scoring huge wins over Miami (49-14) and Murray State (42-7) to open the season. They're ranked #8 nationally and face their first serious opponent in the Hoosiers.

Oddsmakers seem to think this will be a close game and they could be right. Cincinnati's last three games in 2020 were a 36-33 win at UCF, a 27-24 win over Tulsa, and a 24-21 loss to Georgia in the Peach Bowl, all quality opponents.

Coin Flip: Cincinnati

Prediction: Bearcats 28 Hoosiers 22



12:00 pm #15 Virginia Tech at West Virginia (-2 1/2, 50 1/2) - It's still a challenge to gauge how good teams are at this point of the season, but the Hokies could be stellar. Tech topped North Carolina in the opener, and the Tar Heels did the Hokies a favor by beating Georgia State, 59-17, last week, confirming that NC is still a quality squad.

The Mountaineers are even more difficult to assess. They lost their opener at Maryland, 30-24, and last week whipped LIU, 66-0. This being a huge in-state rivalry, it is still a non-conference game, but could be one of the weekend's most entertaining. Considering that WaVa is giving less than three points at home, Tech gets the slight nod.

Coin Flip: West Virginia

Prediction: Hokies 24 Mountaineers 21


12:00 pm Michigan State at #24 Miami (-6 1/2, 54 1/2) (ABC) - Stunning Northwestern opening weekend, the Spartans followed up with a no-doubt, 42-14, victory over Youngstown State last week. Michigan State could be a legitimate threat in the Big Ten. We'll know more after this important meeting with the Hurricanes.

Miami was slaughtered by Alabama, 44-13, then eked out a 25-23 win over a solid Appalachian State last week. Taking nothing away from Miami, they often come up short against quality opposition. They lost three of four to ranked teams last season. This one will be close and the Spartan have a chance for the upset in a high-scoring affair.

Coin Flip: Michigan State

Prediction: Spartans 38 Hurricanes 31


2:30 pm Purdue at #12 Notre Dame (-7, 58 1/2) (NBC) - Living on the edge so far this season, the Fighting Irish are 2-0 despite winning, 41-38 in overtime to Florida State and last week rallying to beat Toledo, 32-29. The defense has been anything but steady, while the offense seems good enough to compete at a high level.

Purdue comes to South Bend at 2-0, with wins over Oregon State (30-21) and a 49-0 whitewash of overmatched UConn. Purdue's offense can light it up and the defense may be better than advertised, spelling trouble for the Irish.

Coin Flip: Purdue

Prediction: Boilermakers 35 Fighting Irish 27


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