Predicting the winner of every Week 3 college football game, from Clemson-Louisville to Buffalo-Colgate

It could be a tight game in Louisville on Saturday night.

Below are picks and projections using 2017 S&P+ projections. See the bottom of the post for more detail about these.

The spread (listed in parentheses) is shown next to S&P+’s pick for each game. When S&P+ predicts a push (a tie with Vegas, basically), I’m listing the pick on the side that S&P+ would’ve picked, if teams could score in decimals.

This document breaks games (and S&P+’s season performance to date) out into their decimal glory. S&P+ is performing at an unsustainably awesome rate at the moment. Maybe this is the week regression and mean meet.

Ranked vs. ranked

Louisville v Purdue
  • No. 3 Clemson 29 (-3), No. 14 Louisville 26 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 24 Florida 30 (-4.5), No. 23 Tennessee 22 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBS)

The Clemson-Louisville pick, broken out to one decimal: Clemson 29.0, Louisville 25.5. So the Tigers ever so slightly get the Vegas nod.

Other ranked teams in action

NCAA Football: Alabama A&M at Vanderbilt

No spread picks for FBS vs. FCS games, which typically don’t have lines at every book.

  • No. 1 Alabama 43, Colorado State (+28.5) 15 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 2 Oklahoma 45, Tulane (+33.5) 16 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, PPV)
  • No. 4 USC 37, Texas (+16.5) 26 (Saturday, 8:30 PM ET, Fox)
  • No. 5 Penn State 44, Georgia State (+37.5) 10 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, BTN)
  • No. 6 Washington 44, Fresno State (+33.5) 14 (Saturday, 9:30 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • No. 7 Michigan (-24) 43, Air Force 15 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, BTN)
  • No. 8 Ohio State (-30.5) 44, Army 11 (Saturday, 4:30 PM ET, Fox)
  • No. 9 Oklahoma State 40, Pittsburgh (+12.5) 30 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 10 Wisconsin (-16) 32, BYU 15 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 12 LSU (-8.5) 34, Mississippi State 24 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 13 Georgia 45, Samford 9 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, SECN)
  • No. 15 Auburn 48, Mercer 6 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, SECN)
  • No. 16 Virginia Tech 37, East Carolina (+23.5) 17 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • No. 18 Kansas State 29, Vanderbilt (+4) 29 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 19 Stanford (-9) 35, San Diego State 22 (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • No. 20 TCU 40, SMU (+18) 22 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 21 Washington State 37, Oregon State (+21) 24 (Saturday, 5:30 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • No. 22 South Florida 36, Illinois (+17.5) 24 (Friday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 25 UCLA 33, Memphis (+3) 32 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ABC)

Only three of the 19 games here have spreads in single digits. Most likely loss in the bunch: Kansas State, which faces a super-active Vanderbilt defense in a tossup game in Nashville.

Power 5 vs. Power 5

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Baylor
  • Baylor (+13) 30, Duke 30 (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET, ACCN)
  • Notre Dame (-13) 31, Boston College 17 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN)
  • Missouri (-7) 40, Purdue 28 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, SECN)
  • South Carolina 31, Kentucky (+6.5) 26 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, SECN)
  • Texas Tech 39, Arizona State (+7.5) 36 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, FSN affiliates)
  • Ole Miss (-4.5) 38, California 31 (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN)

A reminder:

FBS vs. FBS

NCAA Football: Gardner Webb at Wyoming
Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
Josh Allen has struggled in his two games against power conference opponents.
  • Boise State (-15.5) 44, New Mexico 24 (Thursday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • Temple (-14.5) 35, Massachusetts 20 (Friday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • Arizona 41, UTEP (+23) 24 (Friday, 10:15 PM ET, ESPN)
  • Virginia (-10.5) 33, Connecticut 18 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • Iowa State (-10) 40, Akron 25 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Ohio 30, Kansas (+8) 24 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • Nebraska 34, Northern Illinois (+13) 22 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • Texas A&M (-23) 41, UL-Lafayette 15 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, SECN)
  • Coastal Carolina (-1) 34, UAB 24 (Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, $CUSA)
  • Wake Forest 31, Utah State (+13.5) 22 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, ACCN)
  • Syracuse (-10.5) 36, Central Michigan 23 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ACCN)
  • Minnesota (-10) 36, Middle Tennessee 23 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
  • North Carolina 33, Old Dominion (+10) 25 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, Stadium)
  • Iowa 34, North Texas (+21.5) 17 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • Marshall 33, Kent State (+14) 22 (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET, $CUSA)
  • Appalachian State (-23) 39, Texas State 15 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Western Michigan 34, Idaho (+20.5) 24 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Western Kentucky (-7) 38, Louisiana Tech 27 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, Stadium)
  • Oregon 37, Wyoming (+14.5) 27 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Southern Miss (-7) 35, UL-Monroe 25 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Toledo (-8.5) 38, Tulsa 28 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Northwestern 37, Bowling Green (+22) 21 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, BTN)
  • Cincinnati (+4.5) 26, Miami-OH 26 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Houston (-22.5) 41, Rice 16 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Troy (-7.5) 34, New Mexico State 26 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Utah 38, San Jose State (+27) 19 (Saturday, 10:00 PM ET, ESPN2)

In his two games against power conference defenses, Wyoming’s Josh Allen has thrown seven interceptions. Luckily, Oregon’s defense has been a P5 in name only over the last couple of seasons.

FBS vs. FCS

NCAA Football: Charlotte at Kansas State
  • West Virginia 54, Delaware State 9 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET)
  • NC State 45, Furman 14 (Saturday, 12:20 PM ET, ACCN)
  • Colorado 45, Northern Colorado 13 (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • Ball State 39, Tennessee Tech 22 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Rutgers 43, Morgan State 8 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
  • Buffalo 31, Colgate 23 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Charlotte 33, NC A&T 27 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, $CUSA)
  • Florida Atlantic 45, Bethune-Cookman 20 (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET, beIN)
  • UTSA 40, Southern U. 18 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET)
  • Nevada 40, Idaho State 20 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, MWC Video)
  • South Alabama 44, Alabama A&M 15 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Arkansas State 48, UAPB 9 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)

The closest projection of the bunch: Brad Lambert’s Charlotte 49ers are only projected to beat Rod Broadway’s NC A&T Aggies by six.


Each year at Football Study Hall, I have posted weekly S&P+ picks as a way of affirming the ratings’ validity. I use my S&P+ system as a complement to most of my analysis, and the picks are a way of showing it generally knows what it’s talking about.

S&P+ tends to hit between 50 (meh) and 54 percent (great) against the spread from year to year. It isn’t always the single best performer, but it holds its own. And beyond picks, it goes deeper than any other set of college football analytics on the market. You can go into granular detail regarding team strengths and weaknesses in a way that no other set of ratings allows. (See the annual team statistical profiles as proof.)

This year, I will be posting the weekly S&P+ picks at SB Nation instead of FSH.

Because I like to experiment, however, I won’t just be posting the official S&P+ picks. Go to this Google doc, and you will find three sets of picks: S&P+, F/+ (combined ratings from S&P+ and Brian Fremeau’s FEI), and what I’m calling an adjusted S&P+ pick, in which I attempt to account for two additional factors: week of play and type of game.

  • Week of play: I’m finding that there are cycles to scoring averages throughout a given season. Week 1 typically falls below the season scoring average, while the final weeks of the season tend to perk up in the scoring department. This adjusted projection will take this into account.
  • Game type: It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the standard deviation of possible results in a game against FCS competition, for instance, is different than that of a conference game. This projection will also adjust for different types of games. This will mean some pretty extreme projections (Arkansas by 63 over FAMU, for example), but we’ll see how it performs.