Sometimes, college football makes you wonder why you'd ever bother betting on it in the first place. Take Kentucky against No. 9 Florida a week ago, for example. The on upset alerts nearly came to fruition before collapsing. And depending on when you bit on the spread, Florida may have "pushed" you right into a canyon of bad beats.
But you know what you do? You get right back up on that horse and take some road dogs.
Each week, I'll give you the top five upset alert games based on matchups, injuries/suspensions and other factors. But in the spirit of the upset, I generally avoid games where lines are within a touchdown, though there will be some exceptions. Similarly, I'll only go with moneyline picks when the payout is around 2:1 -- maybe a little less, definitely when it's more.
Finally, I like to go on the record with my picks by keeping tabs. The scoring system is exactly the same as it is for our weekly expert picks with season-long tallies against the spread (ATS), straight-up (SU) and moneyline picks (ML).
Important disclaimer: "upset" is defined first and foremost by the point spread or moneyline, not rankings.
Week 3 results
No. 22 Washington at BYU
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET | Where: Provo, Utah | Line: Washington -6.5
Why it's listed: BYU has been a dog in every game and is 2-1. Maybe this is the game in which the good fortune dries up -- let's be honest, the Cougars stole one at Tennessee and got three picks the following week vs. a freshman QB making his first road start -- but the defense is sound and Zach Wilson, the "Mormon Manziel," gives them a shot to win.
BYU's key to the game: Hang around. That's worked so far. Give credit where it's due, the Cougars have played better down the stretch than either Tennessee or USC. They'll need that late-game surge again and Wilson to make a couple of special plays.
Washington's key to the game: Defensive discipline is going to be paramount for the Huskies. We know they're good statistically, especially against the pass, but Wilson puts a lot of stress on a defense the longer he's given time to throw. Meanwhile, Washington has eight sacks through three games.
Pick: At this point, who am I to count out the Cougars? They play hard and never back down from a challenge. But coming out on the right side of back-to-back overtime games ends this week. ATS: BYU, SU: Washington
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET | Where: Fort Worth, Texas | Line: TCU -9.5
Why it's listed: TCU has won the last seven in this rivalry, but folks, you don't just play for the Iron Skillet and expect it to be easy. SMU has quietly been solid and TCU has some kinks to work out offensively, especially at quarterback. If SMU finds offense early, this one could get interesting.
SMU's key to the game: Can Shane Buechele break the curse against Gary Patterson? He's 0-2 vs. TCU from his time at Texas. The numbers? Not great: 37-of-83 passing for 472 yards (5.7 YPA), a touchdown and a pick. But, there's an argument to be made that Texas was far more limited offensively than what SMU brings this year.
TCU's key to the game: That the Frogs are averaging just 5.55 yards per play is a bit concerning. That receiver Jalen Reagor has not been a bigger part of the offense is a lot more concerning. But if the run game is what's doing it for you, don't fix it, I guess.
Pick: Gary Patterson is a defensive wizard, and that'll be enough to win. A much-improved SMU makes it interesting, but Frogs running back Darius Anderson grinds it out. ATS: SMU, SU: TCU
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET | Where: Columbia, Missouri | Moneyline: Missouri -350, South Carolina +280
Why it's listed: I'd normally fade a freshman quarterback making his first road start, but South Carolina's Ryan Hilinski looked special against Alabama. And how much do we really know about Missouri? The Tigers' two wins are against West Virginia and Southeast Missouri State.
South Carolina's key to the game: Obviously, after talking up Hilinski, he can't go on the road and lay an egg by throwing multiple picks. He needs to keep it humming because offense is going to have to win this one.
Missouri's key to the game: The Tigers' pass rush has been formidable in its past two wins with three sacks apiece. They'll need to continue getting to the quarterback at the same clip here.
Pick: No risk-it, no biscuit. Hilinski can sling it, and the Gamecocks should actually feel better about themselves after the loss to Bama. South Carolina +280
Oklahoma State at No. 12 Texas
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET | Where: Austin, Texas | Line: Texas -5.5
Why it's listed: I'm breaking the touchdown spread rule to remind you that Oklahoma State has won seven of its last nine against Texas. That includes the last five in Austin. Mike Gundy just has Texas' number and the Pokes come to Austin with a formidable QB-RB-WR trio (Spencer Sanders, Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace). If LSU's offense gave Texas fits, Oklahoma State's is likely to as well.
Oklahoma State's key to the game: How does the defensive line hold up? Oregon State and Tulsa, two teams far worse than Texas, have had some success against this front. Texas may get stronger up front as this one wears on.
Texas' key to the game: Will Sam Ehlinger still be this efficient? He has 11 passing touchdowns and zero picks through three games. He also went 10 straight games without a pick last season. Texas will need that efficiency if it gets into a shootout and there's little room for error.
Pick: Oklahoma State will score and may even jump out to a lead against the Longhorns, but I question whether they'll be able to hold off the Texas in the second half. ATS: Oklahoma State, SU: Texas
Colorado at No. 24 Arizona State
When: Saturday, 10 p.m. ET | Where: Tempe, Arizona | MoneyLine: Arizona State -300, Colorado +250
Why it's listed: The Sun Devils have allowed just one touchdown in each of their first three games ... but are also only scoring 19.7 points per game. As the season goes on and numbers level out, I'd be less concerned about rising defensive numbers and more so if the offense will catch up.
Colorado's key to the game: You don't have to think too hard on this one. Wide receiver Laviska Shenault is the best player on the field and tore up Arizona State last season with four total touchdowns. Sportsline has the total hovering around 50, and if any player is going to bang the over, it's him.
Arizona State's key to the game: Running back Eno Benjamin is getting his touches, but he's been more of a threat receiving than rushing. Maybe that changes against the Buffs, who have been prone to giving up yards to big-time playmakers out of the backfield.
Pick: Shenault is a matchup nightmare, and if you're going to take a risk, coach Mel Tucker getting the defense re-tuned isn't a bad one for the payout. Colorado +250