College Football Picks Week 3: Washington State at Houston
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The college football season has started with a bang thanks to some great early-season matchups. Week 1 was Oregon at Auburn and in Week 2 we had Texas A&M at Clemson and LSU at Texas to watch. This week? Not so much. In fact, it’s the first weekend without a ranked matchup since Week 7 of 2017. That doesn’t mean we won’t get fireworks. As ESPN’s Chris Fallica points out, that week seven ranked teams lost outright, five last as favorites, and three of those five lost as 16-point (or more) favorites.
One ranked team that will be on the road Saturday is Washington State. Per VegasInsider, the No. 20 Washington State Cougars opened as 8-point favorites as they travel all the way to the gulf to visit the Houston Cougars. Houston is getting up to 9.5 points at William Hill as of Friday morning.
Now let’s look at college football picks for Week 3’s Friday night matchup between Washington State and Houston.
College Football Picks Week 3 – Washington State at Houston +8.5, O/U 73.5
Air Raid Reunion Means High Total
The total opened at 75.5 points in what will be a late-night Air Raid Reunion for two head coaches, Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen. Leach and Holgorsen are very familiar with each other. Holgorsen was a receiver at a small college called Iowa Wesleyan in the 90, and his offensive coordinator was none other than Mike Leach — a Pepperdine law school graduate-turned offensive football genius.
See, the Air Raid had its genesis at tiny Iowa Wesleyan, where Mike Leach and Hall Mumme took concepts from BYU head coach LaVell Edward and introduced a new system that would eventually change the game of college football forever. The Air Raid has undergone changes and metamorphoses as analysts turn into coordinators and coordinators turn into head coaches, tailoring the Air Raid along the way. Air Raid disciples like Holgorsen are spread across the college football landscape. Another of Leach’s disciples, Kliff Kingbury, introduced the Air Raid to the NFL just last week.
Holgorsen coached under Leach at Texas Tech. Holgorsen would find himself a Big 12 coaching job but not before the Texas Tech administration ousted Leach from West Texas, so this will be the first meeting for the two. Ironically, both coaches find themselves meeting up in Houston after departing from their first head coaching jobs, not because of any lack of winning, but because they each butted heads with their previous administration.
We’ll see two different versions of the Air Raid Friday night. Holgorsen’s offense incorporates the run game more than Leach’s, making Houston one of the better running attacks in the country. Houston is averaging 238 yards on the ground through their first two games. In their opener against Oklahoma they rushed for 241 yards. That should set up well considering Washington State’s defense gave up over 200 yards rushing to an FCS opponent last week.
Houston is Washington State’s first real test after trouncing New Mexico State and Northern Colorado. Anthony Gordon, who takes over for Gardner Minshew as Washington State’s starting QB, has thrown nine touchdowns and one interception in his first two starts.
My College Football Picks Week 3 — Washington State at Houston
Because Washington State looks vulnerable against the run and because Houston has already been tested against Oklahoma, I like Houston to cover the spread at home. It’s becoming clear how good Gardner Minshew truly was for Washington State last season now that he’s performing in the NFL. Gordon has great stats thus far but so would any quarterback playing New Mexico and Northern Colorado under Mike Leach. I’m also leaning towards the under here because of Holgorsen’s desire to establish the run. Houston is not as fast-paced under Holgorsen as they have been in recent years. I’m not sure the totals are accounting for those changes just yet.
My College Football Picks: Houston +9.5; Under 73.5 (use our FanDuel Sportsbook promo code to get these odds)
For more general betting tips, check out our college football picks betting guide.
Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images