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Picking the Pac, Week 3: Throwing Shedeur

Buffs battle Rams in FCS-heavy slate

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I leveled my ATS record for the year and scratched out another strong SU picks performance. My biggest lesson learned so far is that Colorado is way ahead of schedule. Close behind is that Cal is better than I expected them to be. The Bears are 2-0 ATS with a strong win over a decent UNT team and a competitive loss to Auburn. Week 3 features lots of FCS match-ups, so a shorter slate of actual picks, so let’s get down to the sweet action.

All betting lines from DraftKings Sportsbook. Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details

San Diego State @ Oregon State, Oregon State -24.5

The Aztecs have plodded their way to 2-1, but the results have not been pretty. The offense has been highly questionable every week and was held to 10 points by a UCLA defense that is rarely dominant. Oregon State will be the best defense they have seen so far. DJU has been steady so far, Damien Martinez is averaging 10 YPC. While it’s fair to point out that SDSU is also the best defense the Beavs have seen, they might not need to come close to their previous point totals to cover.

OSU 38 - SDSU 13

Hawaii @ Oregon, Oregon -38.5

Albany v Hawai’i Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

The Ducks were in real peril last week in Lubbock, trailing in the fourth quarter before sealing the win with a pick-six to squash TTU’s potential winning drive. Playing on the road in Texas is much more challenging than hosting Hawaii. On the other hand, Timmy Chang’s Warriors have put up a real fight every time out, keeping things close against both Stanford and Vanderbilt. Neither of those teams are the Ducks, but the Ducks also haven’t shown that they can play defense against competent opposition. I don’t expect the game to be close, but if I’m going to pick a team to win by 40, I’d like to have more confidence in their ability to keep points off the board.

Oregon 52 - Hawaii 21

Colorado State @ Colorado, Colorado -23

I am still having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that Colorado-Nebraska drew more viewers than Texas-Alabama last week. With the juice that Coach Prime has, I’m a little surprised the public hasn’t pushed the line further in the Buffs’ favor. The Rams lost to Wazzu by a bigger number at home last week. Isn’t the consensus now that Colorado is ahead of WSU in the Pac-12 pecking order? CSU scored two TDs against the Cougar backups after the game was already in hand, so I’m not particularly worried about them taking advantage of a Colorado defense whose best tactic has been “Let Jeff Sims have the ball.” Instead, I see that Cam Ward led Wazzu to 566 yards of offense and could have scored even more without two lost fumbles. Shedeur Sanders has had all of Ward’s explosiveness without the turnover risk. Maybe Colorado is due to come back to Earth. That was my assumption last week, and now I’m thinking it’s more likely that their baseline level is a lot higher than expected.

Colorado 45 - CSU 20

Fresno State @ Arizona State, Fresno State -3

These two teams both experienced significant roster turnover from last year, including at the QB position. Fresno has weathered the transition from Jake Haener to Mikey Keene better than ASU has gone from last year’s committee to Jaden Rashada. The Sun Devils are very much in a rebuilding phase. There is hope to be taken from the defensive performance against Oklahoma State last week, even if the offense was a damp squib. It’s worth noting that Fresno’s 2OT win over Eastern Washington isn’t a significantly more impressive result than a loss to the Pokes. At the bottom line, this one looks like a toss-up to me. I think Fresno is the slightly better team, but they have two close calls already this year and I’m going to pick against them on the road this week.

ASU 27 - Fresno 24

UTEP @ Arizona, Arizona -17.5

NCAA Football: Arizona at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats did not play their best game in Starkville and still took Mississippi St to overtime. Jayden de Laura has enough of a track record that I don’t expect to see another 4 INT performance anytime soon, especially not against a defense that gave up 38 to anemic Northwestern a week ago. The Miners’ only win came against Incarnate Word and they already have a loss to Jacksonville State. If there’s an argument for UTEP, it’s that they defended well against pass-happy UIW and had trouble with Northwestern’s ground game, which will not resemble Arizona’s approach. Even so, I think there’s enough offensive firepower for Arizona to push for a bowl berth and they will need to win this one to stay on that track.

Arizona 41 - UTEP 21