While the SEC, Big Ten (and possibly Pac-12) have yet to kick off the 2020 college football season — and 16 games have already been canceled or postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including three top-tier games this week — the sport is proceeding Saturday with a handful of key games taking place in Week 3. Included on the slate is a matchup of newly-ranked AP Top 25 teams from the ACC along with two of the nation’s top 10 teams in action.
No. 17 Miami (FL) at No. 18 Louisville is the key primetime matchup, though the day will open with No. 11 Oklahoma State being tested by Tulsa. No. 23 Appalachian State will get a rare opportunity to play a network game when it takes on Marshall midday, and both No. 1 Clemson and No. 7 Notre Dame are in action.
Let’s take a look at the biggest games on the schedule Saturday along with our picks and predictions for what will transpire in those contests. Our CBS Sports college football experts have picked every game both straight up and against the spread, giving you ample opportunity to decide how to make your picks ahead of kickoff.
Odds via William Hill Sportsbook | All times Eastern
Tulsa at No. 11 Oklahoma State (-23) — Noon on ESPN: I’ll give Philip Montgomery’s program this: They don’t give up and could make life difficult for a team that overlooks them. I just don’t know if quarterback Zach Smith and Co. have what it takes to actually win as a massive dog on the road. Could they cover? Maybe. Ranked teams haven’t been amazing against the spread so far in 2020. But I think Oklahoma State shows it’s not in the same tier as Iowa State and other Big 12 teams that struggled in Week 2. Pick: Oklahoma State -23 — Ben Kercheval
South Florida at No. 7 Notre Dame (-25.5) — 2:30 p.m. on USA Network: If there was one thing I took away from Notre Dame’s performance against Duke last week, it’s that, while Kyren Williams looks to be the real deal, this offense just doesn’t seem very explosive. That makes it difficult to trust it as a favorite this large. Nor does it help that safety Kyle Hamilton was banged up during the game, and I can’t be sure how healthy he’ll be for this weekend. Also, while South Florida’s offense didn’t light up the scoreboard last week, it should be noted that three of the team’s four touchdowns were scored in the first half before the reserves were sent out in full-force. So I’ll take the points here. Pick: South Florida (+25.5) — Tom Fornelli
No. 23 Appalachian State (-4) at Marshall — 3:30 p.m. on CBS: Though I’m a big fan of what the defensive-minded Doc Holliday has done at Marshall over his tenure, they’re going up against a potential buzzsaw in an Appalachian State team with an offense that averaged nearly 39 points per game a year ago and returns its star quarterback Zac Thomas. Yes, the Mountaineers did get off to a slow start against Charlotte last week while the Thundering Herd absolutely dominated FCS Eastern Kentucky, but unless there’s some unexpected inactives, Appalachian State brings in the better team. I like this at anything -4 or better for App State but would not go higher considering it is on the road and Marshall is a tough opponent. Pick: Appalachian State -4 — Adam Silverstein
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The Citadel at No. 1 Clemson (-45.5) – 4 p.m. on ACC Network: It’s tough to use last week’s result against USF as a data point for comparison considering where the Bulls are in Year 1 with Jeff Scott and where Clemson with nearly a decade of ACC dominance under Dabo Swinney. But the fact that The Citadel had its option offense rolling in the first half gives me enough belief in the Bulldogs being able to find a way to cover this number. The most important thing to everyone involved in this contest is that no one gets hurt, so look for a very generous approach to clock management in the second half of a 49-6 Clemson win. Pick: The Citadel (+45.5) — Chip Patterson
No. 17 Miami (FL) at No. 18 Louisville (-2.5) — 7:30 p.m. on ABC: So much of Miami’s offseason has been centered around the fact that it has changed up its offense, but this is probably the one game from 2019 when it would gladly take the kind of offensive performance fielded by the last coordinator and quarterback. From a betting perspective, you definitely factor in the revenge for Scott Satterfield and a Louisville defense that doesn’t want to get embarrassed again, particularly on their home turf in primetime. I think Louisville’s offense is more dynamic than that of Miami, but the Hurricanes defense is a step ahead of the Cardinals’ unit, particularly when it comes to playmakers on the defensive line. The tale of the tape is a wash, so I’ll take the dog in what I expect to be a shootout of a game. Pick: Miami (+2.5) — Chip Patterson