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College Football Week 3 Predictions and Best Bets

by Kyle Wood/ September 14, 2023 at 2:46 p.m.

No. 7 Penn State has not budged from its preseason position despite outscoring its opponents by 79 points through two weeks. An upcoming road game against Illinois could be an opportunity for the Nittany Lions to begin inching upward as they begin Big Ten play.

Non-conference play continues for No. 20 North Carolina this weekend versus Minnesota, which received a handful of Top 25 votes in the latest AP Top 25 Poll. The Tar Heels, who began the season strong with a win over South Carolina, needed two overtimes to put away Appalachian State last Saturday.

Those two matchups get the spotlight as we head into Week 3.

No. 7 Penn State vs. Illinois

Spread: Penn State -14.5 (-110) | Illinois +14.5 (-110)

Moneyline: PSU (-800) | ILL (+450)

Total: 48.5 – Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Game Info: Saturday, Sep. 16 | 12 p.m. ET | Fox

Location: Memorial Stadium | Champaign, IL

BEST BET: Penn State -14.5 (-105)

This is not the same Illini defense that allowed an FBS-best 12.3 points per game in 2022. Illinois (1–1) came back to beat Toledo in its opener, 30-28, but not without allowing over 400 yards of offense. The following week Kansas racked up over 500 yards in a 34-23 triumph. Now Illinois draws Penn State (2–0), one of seven teams in the country averaging better than 50 points per game.

Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar looked sharp in his first two career starts. Hes completed over 78% of his passes and has yet to throw an interception. The offense rolled in a 38-15 win over West Virginia and a 63-7 decimation of Delaware. Running backs Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton are both over 100 yards rushing on the year and receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith has 10 catches for nearly 200 yards and two scores.

The Illini are not on the same level offensively. Transfer quarterback Luke Altmeyer has thrown three interceptions and been sacked eight times already. Hes established a connection with Isaiah Williams, the teams top returning receiver, but no other pass-catcher has double-digit catches or 75 yards.

Altmeyer is a threat to take off and run, which he showed against the Jayhawks with two rushing touchdowns. Penn State allowed Mountaineers quarterback Garrett Greene to run for over 70 yards and a score two weeks ago, so Altmeyers mobility is something to watch for.

The Nittany Lions (2–0) have won seven straight overall and four in a row against conference opponents. They are 6–0–1 against the spread during their current win streak and 8–1–1 over their last 10. Illinois lost twice at Memorial Stadium last season, both times as a favorite. Look for Penn State to begin Big Ten play with a statement win on the road over a team it was upset by in 2021.

Minnesota vs. No. 20 North Carolina

Spread: Minnesota +7.5 (-110) | North Carolina -7.5 (-110)

Moneyline: MINN (+220) | UNC (-300)

Total: 51.5 – Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Game Info: Saturday, Sep. 16 | 3:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

Location: Kenan Stadium | Chapel Hill, NC

BEST BET: Under 51.5 (-110)

The Tar Heels could have scored a more convincing win over Appalachian State last week. North Carolina, an 18-point home favorite, edged out the Mountaineers 40-34 in double overtime. Up next is a visit from the Golden Gophers, who boast a top-10 defense nationally and are one of three units allowing less than 100 passing yards per game.

Of course, some of Minnesotas success on that side of the ball has to do with its schedule. Visits from Nebraska (a 13-10 win) and Eastern Michigan (a 25-6 victory) challenged the secondary less than Heisman candidate Drake Maye will. Still, the Golden Gophers have allowed just one offensive touchdown, picked off four passes and have seven sacks so far.

Maye presents a unique challenge, even coming off a game that saw him throw for just over 200 yards and zero touchdowns. A projected top draft pick, Maye was one eight quarterbacks who threw for over 4,000 yards in 2022. His numbers to start the year have not been as gaudy as UNC is without transfer receiver Devontez Walker, who was denied immediate eligibility by the NCAA. Thats forced Kobe Paysour and J.J. Jones to step up.

The Tar Heels have leaned heavily on their rushing attack, which ranks ninth in yards per game. They ran for over 300 yards against Appalachian State as Omarion Hampton exploded for 234 yards and three scores. Hes fifth in the country in rushing yards and tied for second in rushing touchdowns. Minnesota has not defended the run as well as the pass, so Hampton could be heavily involved in the game plan once again.

The Golden Gophers offense is not as dynamic as its opponents. Quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis is completing less than 60% of his passes and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Minnesotas rushing attack has led the way as running backs Darius Taylor and Sean Tyler ran all over EMU last week.

The over hit last time out for UNC, but not without the help of two overtime periods, and the under cashed the week before. As for the Golden Gophers, the under has hit in both of their games and this will be their highest game total since last October. Conversely, this is the lowest over/under in a Tar Heels game since 2019. Even if UNC rolls, Minnesota will slow the game down and its offense isnt set up to go blow-for-blow in a high-scoring shootout.

College Football Betting Record: 4-2

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