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2023 College Football Week 3 Sleeper Picks

By Hank Blaine

If we are being honest, Week 3 is not great around college football in terms of marquee matchups as no game features a pair of ranked teams. But that doesn’t mean there’s no value out there. Here are three underdogs we like. All games are Saturday.

Top 2023 College Football Week 3 Games to Bet

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Ohio Bobcats

Iowa State comes off a rivalry game loss to Iowa last week and now visits MAC school Ohio in what is almost certainly a trap game. Cyclones QB Rocco Becht was 23-for-44 passing for 203 yards, one touchdown and one interception during the 20-13 loss versus Iowa. Prior to the game, Becht had never attempted more than 13 passes in any collegiate contest. Iowa State’s offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack in back-to-back games for the first time since 2012. The Cyclones are one of seven teams nationally to not allow a sack this season. Iowa State’s defensive unit is allowing just 4.2 yards per play. The defense owns a streak of 17 consecutive games holding its opponent to fewer than 400 yards of total offense, the nation’s longest streak. Sophomore cornerback is tied for the national lead with three picks and is the only Big 12 player with a defensive touchdown this season. It’s a homecoming of sorts for ISU coach Matt Campbell, who grew up in Massillon, Ohio, about 155 miles northeast of Athens.

Ohio is good enough to win the MAC after reaching the title game last year. The Bobcats are averaging only 19 points on 153.7 rushing yards and 195.53 passing yards per game. In the air, quarterback Kurtis Rourke is 26-for39 for 278 yards while fellow QB quarterback CJ Harris has 25 completions for 248 yards. Rourke missed the season opener injured. He was the 2022 MAC Offensive Player of the Year. The Bobcats are 0-6 against the Cyclones. The two teams last met in Ames on Sept. 17, 2022, where Ohio fell 43-10. Iowa State made the trip to Athens one time: Sept. 22, 2001.

2023 College Football Week 3 Pick: Ohio

TCU Horned Frogs vs. Houston Cougars

  • When: Saturday, September 16th, 2023. 6:00pm EST
  • Where: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenview, NC
  • College Football Odds: TCU (-7.5) // Houston (+7.5))

It’s the Big 12 debut for Houston. It and TCU have competed together in three different leagues: the Southwest Conference (1976-95), Conference USA (2001-04) and Big 12 Conference (2023-present). UH was 13-7 vs. TCU as co-Southwest Conference members. Houston has dropped eight straight in the series (1993-present) with the last matchup coming in a 2007 Texas Bowl which featured quarterbacks Case Keenum and Andy Dalton. Houston is looking for its fifth consecutive victory in conference debuts. The Big 12 is the seventh league in which Houston has competed. Houston wide receiver Samuel Brown leads the Big 12 in receptions (15), receptions per game (7.5), receiving yards (244) and receiving yards per game (122.0). Brown’s 244 receiving yards are the most for a Cougar through the first two games in the last 20 years.

TCU Coach Sonny Dykes and Houston Coach Dana Holgorsen worked together for seven seasons (2000-06) as assistant coaches under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. TCU is 14-0 under Dykes when ahead or even in turnover margin. Dykes is 3-2 as a head coach against Houston. He was 2-1 versus the Cougars while at SMU and 1-1 during his time at Louisiana Tech. TCU has scored at least 40 points in its opening two games for just the sixth time in program history, joining the 2018, 2004, 2000, 1984 and 1930 teams. Despite being listed as a sophomore, quarterback Chandler Morris is older than former TCU signal caller and now Los Angeles Charger Max Duggan. Morris totaled 326 yards (263 passing, 63 rushing) and three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in last week’s win over Nicholls.

2023 College Football Week 3 Pick: Houston

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricanes

  • When: Saturday, September 16th, 2023. 3:30pm EST
  • Where: Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK
  • College Football Odds: Oklahoma (-7) // Tulsa (+7)

Very rare for Oklahoma to visit Little Brother Tulsa so this is huge for the Golden Hurricane. The schools haven’t met overall since 2015. The Sooners own a 20-7-1 series lead and are 7-3 against the Golden Hurricane in Tulsa. OU is 73-10 (.880) in September games since the start of the 1999 season, which was Bob Stoops’ first as head coach. After ranking 49th nationally last season in third-down conversion percentage (.405) and 87th in third-down conversion percentage defense (.409), OU is off to a stellar start in both categories in 2023. The Sooners have converted 18 of their 28 third downs through two games, good for the nation’s third-best percentage (.643). Defensively, the Sooners rank sixth in scoring defense (5.5 ppg), 32nd in yards per play allowed (4.5) and 35th in total defense (287.5 ypg). OU has allowed just two scores (one touchdown) through two games.

Tulsa, which is in its first year under the direction of former OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, is 1-1. After a 42-7 season-opening home win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Golden Hurricane lost 43-10 at No. 8 Washington on Saturday. TU gained 318 yards against the Huskies and gave up 563. Tulsa’s last win against OU came in 1996 in Norman (31-24). Tulsa has used three quarterbacks in the first two games due to game injuries and it’s not clear who might start here. Braylon Braxton started the season as the opener, was replaced by Cardell Williams after suffering an injury in the first half vs. UAB. Williams started the second game at Washington and late in the 2nd quarter was sidelined with an injury, thus giving Roman Fuller the reins. Williams and Fuller have combined to complete 68.7% of their passes (33-48) for 398 yards and 5 TDs in their two appearances this year. Saturday’s game is sold-out. It’s the third sellout since Tulsa’s HA Chapman Stadium was renovated in 2008. It’s the ninth time in school history that Tulsa has faced ranked opponents in back-to-back games.

2023 College Football Week 3 Pick: Tulsa

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READ MORE: 2023 College Football Week 3 Odds, Overview & Picks