College football heads into Week 3 trying to deal with the effects of Hurricane Irma. The Miami-Florida State showdown has already been postponed until Oct. 7, and the Tennessee-Florida clash could be affected as well.
Covers checks in on the opening lines with Dave Mason, brand manager for offshore sportsbook BetOnline.ag.
No. 2 Clemson Tigers at No. 14 Louisville Cardinals (+3)
Defending national champion Clemson (2-0 SU and ATS) held off Auburn on Saturday with a 14-6 victory as a 6-point home chalk. That came after a 56-3 Week 1 bashing of Kent State as a 38-point favorite at home.
Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson has helped the Cardinals’ offense put up a lot of points the first two weeks. Louisville edged Purdue 35-28 laying a hefty 25.5 points in Week 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, then topped North Carolina 47-35 Saturday to narrowly cover as an 11.5-point fave.
“We are expecting this to be the biggest bet game of the weekend,” Mason said. “After opening Clemson -3, the number quickly moved to -4 before settling back to Louisville plus a field goal. Jackson’s high-powered offense will be put to the test against a Clemson defense that has yet to give up a touchdown.”
No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers at No. 25 Florida Gators (-7)
This SEC contest, set for 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, is still in play, but could end up moving from Gainesville, depending on how the hurricane plays out over the next couple of days. Or it could join Miami-Florida State in getting postponed.
Tennessee is out of the gate at 2-0 SU, but has failed to cash in either game. The Vols opened with a 42-41 double-overtime victory against Georgia Tech as a 4-point favorite at a quasi-neutral site, the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. On Saturday, Tennessee dumped Indiana State 42-7, but fell short of covering the 37.5-point spread at home.
Florida’s Week 2 game at home against Northern Colorado was canceled due to Irma. The Gators (0-1 SU and ATS) opened the season at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, losing to Michigan 33-17 as a 4.5-point underdog.
“Early bettors hit Tennessee right from the get-go, quickly moving Florida from 7-point favorites to -5,” Mason said. “Even though they are coming off a bye (due to the cancellation), the Gators’ disappointing Week 1 loss to Michigan is still fresh on the bettors’ minds.”
Texas Longhorns at Southern California Trojans (-16.5)
Southern Cal had much less trouble with Stanford in Week 2 than it had with Western Michigan in Week 1, yet won both games by 18 points. The Trojans (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) rolled past Stanford 42-24 Saturday giving 3.5 points at home.
Texas suffered a stunning 51-41 home loss to Maryland as an 18-point chalk in Week 1. The Longhorns (1-1 SU and ATS) found the perfect remedy in Mountain West foe San Jose State, rumbling to a 56-0 win as a 25.5-point home favorite behind backup QB Sam Ehlinger. Starter Shane Buechele is still recovering from a bruised throwing shoulder suffered in the loss to the Terrapins.
“USC was one of the biggest Week 2 winners for the house,” Mason said, while noting the elephant in the room for this 8:30 p.m. ET Week 3 matchup. “Though there are still questions on who will be under center for the Longhorns, just 30 percent of the early bettors are on the Trojans.”
No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers at Brigham Young Cougars (+13.5)
Wisconsin (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) wasn’t exactly impressive in Week 2 against Florida Atlantic, but it was enough to get the job done. The Badgers won 31-14, falling miles short as a 34.5-point chalk, and now they’ll face a team from Utah for the second time in three weeks, albeit this time on the road. Wisconsin drubbed Utah State in Week 1.
Brigham Young (1-2 SU) hasn’t cashed this season, even in its opener against Portland State – an unimpressive 20-6 victory laying 35 points at home. The Cougars followed with a 27-0 loss to LSU as a 15-point pup in New Orleans and a 19-13 home setback to Utah getting 4.5 points Saturday.
“Top-10 Wisconsin opened as 13.5-point road favorites against a BYU team scoring just 11 points per game,” Mason said. “I’m very surprised that 77 percent of the early bettors took BYU and the points, especially considering the Cougars’ 0-3 ATS record. I expect that to change and am confident we will be BYU fans come kickoff.”
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.