Week 2 of the college football season provided fireworks and impactful upsets, but Week 3 is set to bring things down a bit. There isn't a single contest between two ranked opponents, and only a handful of nonconference games boast a single-digit spread.
Not to say that there aren't games worthy of your attention. A lot of teams are kicking off conference play -- especially in the SEC -- and there are plenty of games that bettors should have their eyes on if they are looking for value. Duke is looking to keep its momentum rolling as a heavy favorite against Northwestern, while Troy and James Madison square off as two of the strongest non-power conference squads.
Finding value can take many forms. Of course, everyone wants to identify the underdog that has a really good chance of pulling off an upset. There's plenty of value in favorites, though -- especially those that have a good shot at laying on points and covering a massive spread against an overmatched opponent. Certain over/under plays even have more upside as bettors look for a strong guarantee.
Even though Week 3 might not be that exciting on paper, there are some value plays that bettors should know about. Here are five such games.
All times Eastern | Odds via SportsLine Consensus.
No. 21 Duke vs. Northwestern
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. | Where: Wallace Wade Stadium -- Durham, North Carolina
Northwestern might very well be the worst power conference team in the entire nation. The Wildcats scored seven points against Rutgers in their season opener. They did bounce back with a 31-point win against UTEP last week, but Duke is an entirely different animal. This is a Blue Devils team that beat Clemson by 21 points -- the very same Clemson that has seven ACC titles in the past eight years. If Duke can beat Clemson by three touchdowns, then logic follows that it should do the same against an overmatched Northwestern team. Pick: Duke -18.5 (-110)
No. 25 Iowa vs. Western Michigan
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. | Where: Kinnick Stadium -- Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa unders might become a weekly feature in this picks column. Iowa's defense hasn't allowed an opponent to score 30 points since Oct. 22, 2022. In fact, opponents eclipsed 20 points against Iowa just three times last season. Two of those teams were Ohio State and Michigan. Western Michigan isn't going to score against Iowa. It's safe to assume Iowa will have to put up at least 30 for this game to hit the over and smart money says that won't happen. Pick: Under 42.5 (-110)
No. 6 Ohio State vs. Western Kentucky
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. | Where: Ohio Stadium -- Columbus, Ohio
Everyone knows about Ohio State's offense. The Buckeyes have finished among the top two teams nationally in scoring each of the last two seasons. They boast a deep running back room and the nation's best wide receiver tandem in Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. But Ohio State isn't the only reason to slam the over. Western Kentucky is averaging 46.5 points per game -- better than Ohio State's 29 -- and Hilltoppers quarterback Austin Reed has the potential to give most opposing defenses fits. These two offenses should easily combine for at least 60 points in some way or another. Pick: Over 64 (-110)
Troy vs. James Madison
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. | Where: Veterans Memorial Stadium -- Troy, Alabama
This is a deep cut for the bettor that really wants to impress their friends. James Madison, just two years removed from playing at the FCS level, is 10-3 through its first 13 games as an FBS program. The Dukes are fresh off a win against a power conference team in Virginia and, on paper, match up really well against Troy. JMU boasts a top-30 rushing offense (214 yards per game) with five touchdowns on the ground, while Troy is giving up 125.5 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, Troy's passing game hasn't shown that it can take advantage of a relatively weak James Madison secondary. The Trojans may not be able to lean on the run game since James Madison's defense is allowing just 40 rushing yards per contest. The Dukes should keep rolling in this game, and the money line provides some decent value Pick: James Madison ML (+121)
Houston vs. TCU
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. | Where: TDECU Stadium -- Houston, Texas
Houston got off to a great start with an impressive win against UTSA, and if the Cougars delivered against Rice, this pick might go the other way. But that didn't happen. In fact, not only did Houston -- as a 7-point favorite -- lose to Rice, it lost to Rice in double overtime while allowing a whopping 43 points. This is the same Rice team that scored 10 against Texas in Week 1 and averaged just 25.2 points per game in 2022. TCU should be able to have its way with this Houston defense. The Horned Frogs' defense should be able to get at least a couple stops to keep the spread in its favor. Pick: TCU -7.5 (-110)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 3, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned more than $2,500 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.