College Football Week 4, NFL Week 3 Free Picks

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Michigan State vs. Notre Dame, 3:30PM ET, Saturday
There’s tremendous value in the Spartans on Saturday. Granted, their defense hasn’t been tested yet but they rank fifth nationally with an average of 126.7 passing yards against. Perhaps most importantly is that sophomore Connor Cook emerged last week from a crowded quarterback competition by throwing for four first-half touchdowns and 202 yards against Youngstown State. Running back Jeremy Langford has also scored four touchdowns on the season and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, so MSU should generate plenty of offense this weekend. The Spartans are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight trips to South Bend, while the road team is 11-2 against the number in the last 13 meetings between these two teams. Granted, Notre Dame is seeking its 10th consecutive win in South Bend but the Irish looked vulnerable on the road last week versus Purdue. This is a field goal game either way and if you like the Spartans, jump on them now. The line has already moved down to 4.5 after opening at 6.

Arizona State vs. Stanford, 7:00PM ET, Saturday
The Sun Devils are coming off of what many would deem as a “gift” win over Wisconsin after the officiating crew blew the end of last Saturday’s game. But ASU will gladly take the victory and will look towards Saturday, which coach Todd Graham says “is a great opportunity for us to take a step forward as a program.” Stanford won’t be easy to overcome. The Cardinal is 8-2 at home against ranked opponents since 2009 and boasts a defense that returned eight starters from a unit that statistically was the best in the Pac-12 last season. That said, the Sun Devils are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games overall and the coaching staff knows what a win over the Cardinal could do for the program. The line has already been bet down two full points in this one – you can expect ASU’s best effort.

Falcons vs. Dolphins, 4:05PM ET, Sunday
The Falcons have been absolutely ravaged by injuries in the early going. It was revealed following the team’s Week 1 loss to the Saints that Roddy White suffered a high-ankle sprain in preseason, and just this past week Steven Jackson (thigh), Sean Weatherspoon (foot), and Kroy Biermann (Achilles) all fell victim to serious injuries. Atlanta was already having issues running the ball so without Jackson in the starting lineup, the feat could become impossible. Losing Weatherspoon and Biermann also force DC Mike Nolan to play with inexperienced players at crucial spots defensively, and this was already a unit that struggles to generate pressure. On the other side, the Dolphins have been impressive while winning both of their games on the road. Ryan Tannehill has looked sharp in the early going and finally got on the same page as receiver Mike Wallace, who had a big game in Indy last week. With the public jumping on the underdog Falcons, the Dolphins are a value at under a field goal. Miami goes to 3-0.

Buccaneers vs. Patriots, 1:00PM ET, Sunday
The Bucs have been a mess both on and off the field thus far. They scored a combined 31 points in their first two games and there have been reports questioning Josh Freeman’s leadership and whether or not coach Greg Schiano is a fit. That said, in both of their games they squandered leads with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. While the unit has failed to close out games in the final minutes the past two weeks, the Bucs wouldn’t have been in either contest had it not been for Bill Sheridan’s defense. Tampa will play a New England team on Sunday that had issues moving the ball last week against Rex Ryan’s Jets. Tom Brady was visibly frustrated with his young receiving corps during the game and without Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, there’s reason to believe that the Pats could continue to struggle offensively. New England opened as a 9.5-point favorite but the spread has already been bet down a full point. The Bucs have a ton of issues but their defense should give them a chance on Sunday.

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College Football Week 3 Picks & Predictions

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Texas A&M, 3:30PM ET
The most anticipated matchup of Week 3 will take place at Kyle Field in College Station today. One thing that has made Nick Saban so successful is his ability to get his team focused on one game at a time. But you know he and the Crimson Tide have circled this date since Johnny Manziel and A&M rolled into Tuscaloosa and upset ‘Bama a year ago. The Aggies are just 1-4 all-time at home against top-ranked teams and since the start of the 2008 season, the Tide are 41-0 when it has fewer turnovers than its opponent. Look for ‘Bama to limit its mistakes, keep the ball on the ground (they’re 51-0 when rushing for at least 140 yards) and generate pressure on Manziel. If they can stay disciplined defensively and maintain good gap responsibility, they should get their revenge.

Tennessee vs. No. 2 Oregon, 3:30PM ET
Butch Jones tried to ratchet up the tempo this week in practice in order to get his players ready for what they’ll see today in Eugene. But Oregon is too fast, too athletic and too skilled on the perimeter for an overmatched Tennessee squad. The Ducks are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games overall, 4-1 ATS in their last five home games, and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS win. The Vols, meanwhile, are 0-4 against the number in their last four games versus the Pac-12 and 0-7-1 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS win. Look for Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas to run wild on a gassed Tennessee defense in the second half.

No. 19 Washington vs. Illinois, 6:00PM ET
This game has become more interesting in the past two weeks. Washington turn heads by crushing Boise State in Week 1 and Illinois surprised the masses by routing a previously underrated Cincinnati team 45-17 last Saturday. While quarterbacks Keith Price and Nathan Scheelhaase will receive all of the attention tonight, keep an eye on Huskies junior middle linebacker and defensive leader John Timu (13 tackles vs. Boise), and the duo of Jonathan Brown and Mason Monheim for the Illini. The under is 5-1 in Illinois’ last six neutral-site games and 4-0 in the Huskies’ last four games in September. While defense won’t dominate this game, the combined score should fall under the total.

No. 21 Notre Dame vs. Purdue, 8:00PM ET
The Fighting Irish have won five straight games against the Boilermakers but two of those contests were decided on Notre Dame’s final drive. The Irish have new players on both sides of the ball that are growing on the job, which is part of the reason why their defense allowed 411 yards per game over their first two contests. Quarterback Tommy Rees is still trying to find his rhythm as a passer too, so look for this game to be somewhat tight. The underdog is 6-2 against the spread in the last eight meetings between these two teams and the Irish are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.

Fade Material: College Football Championship Week Predictions

Louisiana State University head coach Les Miles looks on ahead of his team’s NCAA football game against Western Kentucky in Baton Rouge, Louisiana November 12, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

By God, I had a winning week last Saturday.

After what seemed like a good 62 months of solid .500 efforts, I won three of four last Saturday as Oregon, Wisconsin and South Carolina all covered. (Georgia Tech was my main loss as they struggled to keep up with Georgia.) That puts my season record at 29-21-2 against the spread this year and with this being the final week, it looks like I’ll finish above .500 on the season. FANTASTIC.

Georgia @ LSU, 4:00PM ET
Like most morons with an opinion, I think the Tigers will handle the Bulldogs rather easily in the SEC title game today. Aaron Murray has had a fantastic season for Georgia but LSU’s defense makes quarterbacks of all talent levels look silly. And while the Dawgs’ defense has been solid, I think the Tigers will eventually wear down Georgia in the second half. Usually LSU is a bad bet as a double-digit favorite but the Tigers are on a mission this year. They’ve easily been the best team in the nation.

Virginia Tech @ Clemson, 8:00PM ET
For weeks I waited for Clemson to have one of its Clemson-like games and choke on applesauce. But following their back-to-back wins against Maryland and North Carolina in mid-October I said you know what? The Tigers are for real. Stop waiting for them to crash and burn because it’s not going to happen. The very next week they crapped themselves in a lousy 31-17 effort versus Georgia Tech as I ate massive amounts of dirty, dirty crow. The Tigers haven’t been the same since that loss to the Yellow Jackets and the Hokies haven’t been the same since they lost to Clemson 23-3 earlier in the year. VA Tech hasn’t lost since that October 1 game against the Tigers and I don’t expect Frank Beamer’s squad to lose tonight either.

No. 10 Oklahoma @ No. 3 Oklahoma State, 8:00PM ET
I really, really like Oklahoma State. I think the Cowboys are extremely fun to watch and Brandon Weeden gives me hope that at 29, I can still quarterback a BCS team to a major bowl as soon as I get around to it. Do you feel a “but” coming on? Because it is. BUT, the Cowboys haven’t beaten the Sooners in nine years. For whatever reason, OK State has a complex when it comes to Oklahoma and I like getting the hook. It makes me feel secure, like health insurance. (Although my health insurance company loves to bend me over so hopefully the Sooners won’t do the same.)

Michigan State @ Wisconsin, 8:17PM ET
Talk about a lack of respect for the Spartans: Wisconsin is a 9.5-point favorite in this game? Michigan State might not have the same talent offensively but the Spartan defense should keep this game close throughout. I was one of the people who said the Badgers would roll against the Spartans back in October but MSU showed something that night. Whether you thought the Spartans’ Hail Mary should have counted or not, Sparty proved that it could hang with the Badgers. Granted, that game was in East Lansing but MSU has a habit of playing well when nobody expects them to win.

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Fade Material: College Football Week 13 Predictions

University of Oregon running back LaMichael James (R) celebrates his touchdown run against Louisiana State University with tight end David Paulson (L) and offensive linesman Carson York in the first half of their NCAA football game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

While Michigan covered easily and Cal made for a nice underdog pick at Stanford, Oklahoma and Oregon both lost outright which gave me a 2-2 record for Week 12. That puts me at 26-20-2 on the season with just two weeks remaining until Bowl season starts. Maybe the college football gods will humor me with a victory this weekend…

…ha! That’s rich.

Georgia @ Georgia Tech, 12:00PM ET
I fully expect the Bulldogs to have a hangover after clinching a SEC title berth last weekend in their highly impressive 19-10 romp over Kentucky. (/end sarcasm.) The Yellow Jackets are 4-1 against the spread in their last five non-conference games and 5-2 ATS in their last seven versus the SEC. The Dawgs, meanwhile, are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games versus a team with a winning record and 1-4 ATS in their last five non-conference games. I like GA Tech to hang with its in-state rivals today, if not win outright.

Oregon State @ Oregon, 3:30PM ET
Following their loss last Saturday to USC, the Ducks really only have one chance to reach the national title game: Blow out their next two opponents and hope like hell the top teams fall. Oregon State would seem like a massive value at +28 but Oregon is angry. This one could get real ugly, real fast and Chip Kelly isn’t going to stop lighting up the scoreboard if he gets a chance.

Penn State @ Wisconsin, 3:30PM ET
Even though they won last Saturday in Illinois, the Badgers’ 28-17 victory over the Illini certainly wasn’t impressive. Thus, I like them to “bounce back” against a Penn State team this weekend that simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower to match the likes of Montee Ball and Russell Wilson. The favorite is 6-0 against the spread in the last six meetings between these two teams while the home squad is 4-1 against the number in the last five meetings.

Clemson @ South Carolina, 7:45PM ET
The Tigers have turned the ball over 11 times in their last three games and the Gamecocks have a very opportunistic defense. That sounds like a recipe for disaster for Clemson, which is just 1-4 against the number in its last five games against South Carolina. I’m not a big fan of laying the points with the Gamecocks, who have a habit of making things more interesting than they need to be. That said, Clemson certainly doesn’t look like a team right now that deserves to be playing in the ACC title game.

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Fade Material: College Football Week 11 Predictions

Penn State University head coach Joe Paterno looks toward the scoreboard during his team’s game against the University of Illinois in their NCAA football game in Champaign, Illinois October 3, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)

Technically I went 2-2 last Saturday but I did produce this gem, which was worth another win in my eyes:

My 2-2 effort last week puts me at 21-13-2 ATS for the season. Again, chances are two of these four picks will be winners while two will be losers. Soooo, have fun with that.

My two winners? Iowa (+4) and UCLA (+8.5). My two losers? Alabama (-4.5) and Texas A&M (+14).

My latest .500 week puts me at 23-15-2 on the season and once again, if you can figure out which two picks will hit and which two won’t, you’ll have a 4-0 Saturday. It’s like a game. A twisted, nauseating game.

Nebraska @ Penn State, 12:00PM ET
One of two things are going to happen this week at University Park. Either Penn State is going to play the most inspired football of the season or the Jerry Sandusky/Joe Paterno fiasco is going to bury them. I’m banking on the latter, which is why I’m riding the brutal-against-the-spread Huskers this week. Nebraska will be fired up and while Penn State may show plenty of emotion at the start, I think they’ll run out of steam eventually.

Michigan @ Illinois, 3:30PM ET
I’m going right back to the well in picking against Michigan. Outside of trouncing Northwestern, the Wolverines have played poorly in two of their three road games this season. While Illinois is going backwards, this is a good opportunity for the Illini to snap their current three-game losing streak. They also seem to play Michigan tough, which is supported by their 4-1 record against the spread in the last five games these two teams have met.

Louisiana Tech @ Ole Miss, 7:30PM ET
I’m choking on chalk this week but I really love this matchup. Some bettors will look at this game and all they’ll see is the WAC vs. the SEC, and the fact that Ole Miss is getting points at home. But in some respects, this is the Bulldogs’ season. They take down a SEC opponent on the road and regardless of whether or not they catch Nevada, their season will be a success. As for the Rebels, will their hearts even be in this one? They’ve been terrible all year and now they have a non-conference game that means absolutely nothing to them. Even though LA Tech is favored, I like the Dogs in an “upset.”

Hawaii @ Nevada, 10:15PM ET
I’m choking on chalk this week. Hawaii has had issues coming to the mainland, as evidence of its embarrassing 40-20 loss to UNLV in Week 3. UNLV is one of the worst teams in college football this season and it steamrolled a Warrior team that was a 17-point favorite. Nevada is 4-1 against the spread in its last five home games against Hawaii and the home squad is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings between these two teams. I hate that the line is a full point and a half above the key number of 14 but I like the Wolf Pack anyway.

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