Three straight winning weeks for the Betting Stuff column are now in the books. Will the pressure be too much for the column or can Mike Calabrese continue his winning ways? One thing is for certain, there’s college football on Saturday and he has a handful of picks to make it interesting. 

Last Week: 4-3, +1.15 Units

Season Record: 14-4, +11.8 Units

It seemed like we were steaming toward another huge week before the wheels fell off the Troy-Liberty over and Georgia State got dump-trucked by a suddenly resurgent North Carolina offense. But you can’t go broke taking small profits, so I’m riding the tailwinds of that 4-3 week and fearlessly predicting at least 1 major upset in Week 3. As a note, through 2 weeks of the college football season, more ranked opponents have lost than in any season. Not in the last decade, or the modern era, in all of recorded history we’ve never seen so many ranked teams fall. And I’m predicting we see more of that in Week 3.

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Fresno State ML+345 at UCLA

If I told you in August that UCLA was a mortal lock at home against Fresno State, would you have bet your house on it? Absolutely not. UCLA has one significant win to its name, a thorough beatdown of LSU in Pasadena. But here’s the thing: Is LSU any good? Are we sure they’re closer to the 2019 version of the Bayou Bengals than the 2020 version? Because if they’re more like an 8-4 team and not the world beaters we saw with Joe Brady calling the offensive shots for Joe Burrow, then valuing UCLA’s win this highly is only setting the Bruins up for a letdown. Enter Fresno State.

This Bulldogs team nearly upset Oregon in Eugene 2 weeks ago and has the goods on offense. Jake Haener has piloted this Fresno offense to new heights. Pat Hill’s former team is averaging 44 points and 528 total yards per game. They’re deep at running back and have explosive playmakers at wide receiver (hello, Jalen Cropper.) 

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say the real reason I’m swinging for the fences here is DTR, Dorian Thompson-Robinsin. The long-time Bruin starter is a streaky player. Capable of leading the Bruins to furious comebacks and turning the ball over in head-scratching ways. Despite taking too many sacks against LSU, he made big plays happen when it mattered most and didn’t get in the way of a renewed running game. But if the Bruins fall behind and he’s forced to win this game for UCLA, I love Fresno’s chances. Pro Football Focus has rated DTR as the nation’s 124th-best QB through 3 weeks. I’ll bet against him and a nonexistent home-field advantage any day. 

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Cincinnati-4 at Indiana

I’m not in the “I told you so” game because it’s not actionable for gamblers at this very moment, but I was down on IU in a big way coming into the season. They only beat 1 team with a winning record in 2020 (Wisconsin 4-3) and were relying on a quarterback rushed back from an ACL injury. So far it’s clear that Michael Penix Jr. is not the same QB who put the offense on his back last year. He can’t push the ball down the field and struggled (4.3 ypa) against Idaho last week. Cincinnati is no Idaho, to put it lightly. 

The Bearcats’ defense has 3 potential first-round draft picks littered across its starting 11. Myjai Sanders has been a terror off the edge, Sauce Gardner is locking down top receivers and Coby Bryant has the rare size (6-1, 200 pounds) that can intimidate college wide receivers. Indiana will be lucky to score 21 points. 

Offensively, I’ve come around on Desmond Ridder. Once a liability, the veteran dual-threat has made life difficult for opposing defensive coordinators by utilizing the RPO. And given their wealth of talent on defense and in their own backfield, he just needs to be good for this team to be great. According to Pro Football Focus, he is just that, ranking 34th nationally. I trust in Ridder and a Cincy runaway. I’ll be taking them on the alternate line -9.5 (+200) as well. 

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Kent State at Iowa-22 

I’ve seen this movie before. Kent State traveled to Texas A&M and couldn’t move the ball against an elite defense, failing to cover the spread in the end. Iowa will completely clamp down on the Golden Flash passing attack, and the Hawkeyes’ bread and butter offensively is KSU’s weakness. Tyler Goodson will flirt with 200 yards on the ground here. Kent State could barely hold Virginia Military Institute below 150 yards on the ground. They’re a sieve on defense. 

Dating to last season, Iowa is 8-2 against the spread, making them the 3rd-most profitable team in the country. Bet the Hawkeyes, wave at the children’s hospital after the first quarter right alongside the Kinnick crowd, and have yourself a wonderful Saturday. 

Tulane-Ole Miss Over 76.5 

An old SEC rivalry renewed, so to speak. Can Tulane spark the upset outright? Given their performance against Oklahoma in Norman, absolutely. But I’d rather bank on a competitive shootout between an offensive mastermind (Lane Kiffin) and an emerging Group of 5 superstar (QB Michael Pratt). 

This will also serve as a reminder that while Ole Miss has improved defensively, they’re not a lockdown defense by any stretch. What they are is a previously horrific defense that is now average (55th in scoring | 57th in total defense). Under Kiffin, “over” has paid out 59% of the time, exceeding the closing total by an average of a touchdown. I’ll ride that trend. 

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Mississippi State-Memphis Over 64

Sticking with the Magnolia State, I like “over” in the Bulldogs-Tigers tussle on Beale Street. Memphis is an over-bettor’s dream. They just won 55-50 over Arkansas State, a team playing musical chairs at quarterback. Memphis is the same dynamic offense we’ve come to expect in the past 7 years. This time it’s Seth Henigan, Brandon Thomas and Calvin Austin III leading the charge. Their Big 3 is good enough to crack 30 points against this Mississippi State defense playing on the road for the first time this year. 

Will Rogers has been so-so thus far, which is why facing the Memphis defense is just what the doctor ordered. This Memphis team just allowed Arkansas State’s QBs to throw for 582 yards. I foresee a huge day for the Hail State passing attack, and a game played in the upper 70s. 

Bonus EA Sports NCAA Football ’14 Simulation

Through 2 weeks of the sims, we’re batting .500. So I’m willing to go back to the well one more time. This go-around of the ancient EA Sports video game, with updated rosters, is calling for a bloodbath in Norman, Oklahoma. 

Just as he did last week against FCS cannon fodder (WCU), Spencer Rattler lit up the downtrodden Nebraska defense. He connected on 30-of-41 pass attempts for 421 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Sooners rolled to a 55-20 victory, easily covering the 22.5 point spread. 

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