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An SEC battle between LSU and Auburn tops Week 3’s national college football betting lines

The Tiger Bowl is essentially an elimination game in the SEC West race, plus a couple Pac-12 showdowns are on tap

NCAA Football: Alabama State at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Last week ATS: 9-8 (3-2 National, 6-6 B1G)

Season ATS: 17-19 (6-6 National, 11-13 B1G)

Last week was a very small step in the right direction for MC&J. Teams from the Palmetto State were the only thing holding up a perfect week nationally, as South Carolina provided a lot less challenge for Georgia than I thought they would, and Clemson couldn’t score enough to cover against Texas A&M. With another five national games on tap this week, some more progress could be made.

National games:

No. 12 LSU v. No. 7 Auburn (-10) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS

After opening up the season with wins over ranked teams, both LSU and Auburn had little trouble feasting on cupcakes last week. Former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow is still trying to find his rhythm with the Tigers, completing less than 50 percent of his passes so far this year. Luckily with the defense LSU has played so far this year, some of the pressure has been taken off Burrow’s shoulders.

The pressure will definitely ramp up for him and the Tigers this weekend, as they’ll travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium, where Auburn hasn’t lost since 2016. Gus Malzahn’s team will look to avoid a repeat of last year’s game, where Auburn fell 27-23 after jumping out to a 20-0 lead on the Tigers.

The last two meetings between these teams have been close, being decided by a total of nine points. This year’s Tiger Bowl won’t be quite as close. Auburn is the more complete team right now, and their defense is going to give Burrow a rude welcoming to SEC play. Jarrett Stidham has plenty of weapons to work with on offense, and will find some holes in a tough LSU defense.

Auburn 30, LSU 17

No. 17 Boise State v. No. 24 Oklahoma State (-2) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN

Saturday’s game in Stillwater could end up being the most entertaining game of the day. The Broncos and Cowboys are each putting up over 600 yards of offense per game so far this year, with Oklahoma State’s 674 leading the nation.

Last week Boise State rang up 818 yards of offense against UConn, which set a school record. Brett Rypien has already thrown for seven touchdowns, and a win over Oklahoma State would put the Broncos in the early driver’s seat for the Group of 5 bid to one of the New Year’s Six bowl games. A win over Oklahoma State would give Boise State their 200th win since the year 2000.

The Cowboys have so far had little problem adjusting to life after Mason Rudolph. One area that fifth-year senior quarter Taylor Cornelius will have to clean up against the Broncos is in the turnover department. Cornelius has thrown three interceptions so far this year, which is something that he can’t afford to do against a tough Boise State defense.

There is no doubt that Stillwater will be rocking on Saturday, but Boise State will be ready for the challenge. The Broncos could also get stronger this week, as defensive tackle David Moa, who started 24 games the past two seasons, could return from injury. But the main reason I think Boise State covers is because I’m still salty that Mike Gundy got rid of his mullet.

Boise State 38, Oklahoma State 31

Houston (-1.5) v. Texas Tech - 4:15 PM EST - FOX

After Tom Herman left Houston following the 2016 season, who would have thought that the Cougars would be better right now than Texas? Last week Houston shut down Khalil Tate and Arizona, beating the Wildcats 45-18. Quarterback D’Eriq King accounted for six touchdowns against Arizona, and more could be on the way against a Texas Tech defense that is notoriously bad.

This very well could be Kliff Kingsbury’s last shot at building something in Lubbock. In his sixth year with the Red Raiders, Kingsbury has posted a 31-34 record, never winning more than eight games in a season. After getting shelled by Ole Miss in the season opener, Texas Tech got back on track last week, beating Louisiana-Monroe 77-0.

I used to be a little more leery of betting against Texas Tech in Lubbock, but they haven’t been as good at home the last two years, losing seven games over that span. The Red Raiders will find some offense at times during the game, but Ed Oliver leads Houston’s defense to some stops which will allow the Cougars to their second straight win over a Power Five school.

Houston 44, Texas Tech 34

No. 22 USC v. Texas (-3) - 8:00 PM EST - FOX

After Ohio State reached the 900 win mark last week, Texas will be looking to join the Buckeyes as the third school to hit that number. To get there, Texas will have to take down a USC team that beat the Longhorns 27-24 in double overtime last year in Los Angeles. Saturday’s game will be the first time since 1966 that USC has visited Austin.

After a successful debut against UNLV, freshman quarterback JT Daniels had a rough go of it last week against Stanford. Not only did Daniels throw two interceptions, but he also suffered a bruised throwing hand against the Cardinal, but all signs point to Daniels being able to play on Saturday.

After getting embarrassed in the season opener against Maryland, the Longhorns struggled to a 28-21 win over Tulsa last week. I learned my lesson after the loss to the Terrapins. If Tim Beck is heavily involved in the offense, then it is wise to stay away from siding with Texas. I’m not crazy about backing a freshman quarterback in Austin, but the Trojans have a lot of experience on defense, which I think could easily sniff out Beck’s terrible play calling. USC sweeps the home-and-home with the Longhorns.

USC 28, Texas 24

No. 10 Washington (-5.5) v. Utah - 10:00 PM EST - ESPN

Pac-12 after dark time! I have a feeling that things are going to get silly in Salt Lake City. Washington rebounded from a loss in the season opener against Auburn with a 45-3 victory over North Dakota last week. Running back Myles Gaskin has been pretty quiet so far this year, and that trend could continue this week against a Utah defense that is allowing just over 80 yards per game on the ground.

If Utah is going to pull the upset of Washington on Saturday night, the Utes are going to need to get more from their running game. Last week Utah mustered just 68 yards on the ground against Northern Illinois in a 17-6 win over the Huskies. That type of effort won’t cut it against Washington.

Much like last week when a ranked Michigan State team traveled to Arizona State, I like an unranked Pac-12 home team against a ranked squad. Even though they haven’t beaten Washington, the Utes have played the Huskies tough the last two years, losing those contests by a combined 10 points. Third time is a charm for Kyle Whittingham’s team.

Utah 24, Washington 21

No. 23 Arizona State (-6) v. San Diego State - 10:30 PM EST - CBS Sports Network

We are all eating a lot of crow for all of the Herm Edwards jokes we made when Arizona State hired him to be their head coach, aren’t we? Last week the Sun Devils gutted out a 16-13 win over Michigan State, and now Arizona State will hit the road for the first time this year.

There are some incredible ties in this matchup. Not only is Herm Edwards’ alma mater San Diego State, but he hired defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales and defensive passing game coordinator Tony White away from Rocky Long’s staff.

At the beginning of this season this game seemed like a prime spot for San Diego State to take down another Power 5 school, but that isn’t the case anymore. The Aztecs will be missing quarterback Christian Chapman, who sprained his MCL in last week’s win over Sacramento State. Ryan Agnew will have his hands full in his first career start, as he’ll have to deal with a swarming Arizona State defense,

Maybe Agnew is more comfortable at quarterback after getting a week of starter’s reps, but I’m not counting on it. The knowledge of what San Diego State’s defense will likely try to throw at them will help quarterback Manny Wilkins and wide receiver N’Keal Harry have another big game. Herm stays perfect in his college football coaching career.

Arizona State 34, San Diego State 20