The Six Pack: Iowa-Iowa State, Clemson-Syracuse among best college football picks in Week 3

I don't know who has had it worse to start the season, The Six Pack or Tennessee. Sure, the Vols have opened the year with home losses to Georgia State and BYU, but The Six Pack went 1-5 last week. That was a follow-up to a 2-4 performance on the season.

We're entering Week 3 staring at 3-9 and trying to dig ourselves out of one hell of a hole.

But you know what? We will dig out of that hole. It won't be easy, but it will get done, because we #TrustTheProcess around these parts, and it's always darkest before the dawn. Plus, you know, even if we keep getting picks wrong, you can always fade us and get rich. You win either way!

Games of the Week

Iowa State (+3) vs. No. 19 Iowa: There are no games between ranked opponents this week, but I probably would have included this as a Game of the Week even if it were. This is one of my favorite rivalries in college football, even though it doesn't get much attention outside of Iowa. Rare is the occasion these two play with much fanfare, but ESPN's Gameday is coming to town on Saturday.

All of which is great, but has no impact on what The Six Pack thinks about the game. Generally, when it comes to rivalry games like this one, I gravitate toward the dog and try to convince myself with reasons to go against it. I can't find enough here. I know the Cyclones didn't look great in their opener against Northern Iowa, but I try not to take too much from openers. If anything, I see this as a team that's coming off a bye and had the extra week to prepare for hosting their in-state rival. I don't know if the Cyclones win, but I think this will be a fun, close game, and it's hard to pass up the home team getting points. Iowa 24, Iowa State 23

Syracuse (+28) vs. No. 1 Clemson: Clemson and Syracuse have not shared the ACC for long, but while Clemson has a 5-1 advantage over its new division mates as ACC foes, three of those five games have been quite close. Last year, Syracuse nearly knocked off the Tigers in Death Valley, but Clemson prevailed 27-23. The year before, Syracuse beat Clemson in The Dome Formerly Known As Carrier 27-24. The 2015 affair in Syracuse was a 37-27 Tigers win. Now, because Syracuse got waxed on the road by Maryland last week, this is suddenly a four-touchdown spread? With Syracuse at home?

Sure, I'll take four touchdowns! Clemson is an absolute juggernaut, but this line is an overreaction to Syracuse looking bad in its first two games of the season, but Syracuse was in the odd position of opening its season with consecutive road games. Also, as amazing as Clemson is, it doesn't perform all that well as a huge favorite. Since Dabo Swinney took over, the Tigers have been favored by 20 points or more in 40 (40!) games. They're 14-26 ATS in those games, and that includes a mark of 1-5 ATS when favored by 20 or more on the road. I don't think Syracuse is going to win this game, but it deserves far more respect than this spread is giving it. Clemson 38, Syracuse 20

Lock of the Week

Illinois (-7) vs. Eastern Michigan: Illinois has been a favorite amongst at least one heavy-hitter in Vegas the first two weeks of the season, but they're only 1-1 ATS after falling behind UConn 13-0 last week before coming back. I like them in this spot, however. Eastern Michigan has been one of the tougher teams to deal with in the MAC in recent seasons, but this will be the team's third consecutive road game to start the season. Illinois has some injuries its dealing with in the secondary that could be a problem, and stud running back Reggie Corbin's status is still up in the air, though I believe he plays. Besides, if there's one area the Illini offense has shown depth, it's at running back. Plus, the Illinois defense has been tough to start the season. Sure, it's been against Akron and UConn, but the Illini defense ranks third in my Chaos Rate metric thanks in large part to USC transfer Oluwole Betiku. In two games with the Illini, the former five-star recruit has five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Both of those totals lead the nation, and I think he along with the rest of a disruptive unit make life too uncomfortable for Eastern Michigan on Saturday. Illinois 31, Eastern Michigan 14

Underdog of the Week

Arizona State (+14.5) at No. 18 Michigan State: The Spartans offense looked better last week than it did at any point in 2018, and that's a good sign for it going forward this season. The problem is that I'm not ready to trust the Spartans as a two-touchdown favorite against many other Power Five programs right now, particularly one who has looked as salty on defense as this Arizona State unit. The Sun Devils have allowed two touchdowns through two games, and only 3.69 yards per play. That ranks 13th nationally, just two spots behind Michigan State at 3.66. In other words, this will not be a high-scoring game (the total is 42!), and it's hard to pass up two touchdowns in what should be a low-scoring affair. Michigan State 20, Arizona State 10

Under of the Week

NC State at West Virginia (Under 45.5): As I write this, there's been quite a bit of sharp action on West Virginia. Sharp action I'm not willing to support. I do like a play on the total because, while West Virginia's defense has been fine (46th in yards per play, and 48th in Chaos Rate), it's offense has been horrific. The Mountaineers have managed 20 points through two games while averaging 3.72 yards per play (127th nationally), and they've done this against James Madison and a Missouri team that lost to Wyoming. I don't see a lot of points being scored in Morgantown on Saturday. NC State 27, West Virginia 14

MAC Slobberknocker of the Week

Akron (+3) at Central Michigan: Who wants to watch some early season MAC football with me? Neither of these teams is very good. ESPN's SP+ rankings have Central Michigan ranked No. 124 while Akron is at No. 128. It's hard to argue with this assessment, but based on what I've seen, I think Akron's Kato Nelson brings a level of explosiveness to the Zips offense that Central Michigan lacks. He struggled in the team's opener against Illinois but threw for 359 yards and two scores against UAB last week. He's part of the reason Akron has five plays of at least 30 yards on offense while Central Michigan has none. So, in what should be a closely contested dogfight for the ages, I'll take the Zips and the points. Akron 24, Central Michigan 21

SportsLine Pick of the Week

No. 5 Oklahoma at UCLA: The Sooners head back to The Rose Bowl for the first time since their semifinal loss to Georgia, but this week's opponent shouldn't provide as much of a challenge. Oklahoma enters the game as a 21.5-point favorite with the total set at 73.5. I have a strong play for this game, but it's only available to SportsLine subscribers on my SportsLine page.

Last Week

Season

Games of the Week

0-2

2-2

Lock of the Week

0-1

0-2

Overall Record

1-5

3-9

Units

-4.5

-6.9

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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