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If I Were A Betting Man: Week 3 picks

Nobody does chaos like college football.

From recruiting scandals, playoff arguments, coach poaching and conference realignment, the sport that invented the phrase ‘mythical national championship’ is undeniably captivating. It’s thrilling, ugly, hypocritical, heart-warming and greedy. It’s the Theater of the Absurd, with this week emphasizing more the Absurd than the Theater.

FARRELL: Rejoice! The Big Ten is back

Consider: The masked Nebraska school president leaked the Big Ten’s intention to return to the field unintentionally on a hot mic (and this is the best part) prior to a press conference announcing the school’s contract to conduct national security research for the Department of Defense. The Russians are licking their chops at Nebraska’s first project.

A day later, the White House press secretary, in welcoming back the Big Ten to the football field, read off her notes and ran down the states where players would now ‘have access’ to football. She included Mississippi, and not Michigan, not that Lane Kiffin or Jim Harbaugh would notice something like that.

The President is trying his best to take credit, while the league is trying its best to distance itself from politics with the election looming and the conference full of swing states. Richard Nixon swung the election of a national champion after the Texas-Arkansas game in 1968. The sport has since evolved to the point where Donald Trump is trying to use it to swing an actual election.

So we welcome the Big Ten back with open arms, because our thirst for college football madness is unquenchable. And just think, there are some rumblings that the Pac-12 is going to join the party at some point as well.

Until we get there, let’s focus again on a slate low on drama and high on ACC games. TigerIllustrated’s Cris Ard will represent the Rivals network this week against yours truly, while Rob Cassidy takes a swing for the Rivals recruiting analysts.

Off we go.

Spreads are from Covers.com. All games are on Saturday unless noted and times are ET.

*****

Syracuse (+21.5) at No. 25 Pittsburgh, noon, ACC Network

How did Pitt’s first game go since potential All-American DT Jaylen Twyman opted out of the season? Well, the Panthers held Austin Peay to one rushing yard in 22 attempts during a 55-0 win. Syracuse will exceed that amount (wish I could bet on that), but didn’t generate much against a solid North Carolina defense last week. Let’s close this one out with a shot of Pitt’s best QB ever and some gloriously oversized shoulder pads.

Trocchi’s pick: Pittsburgh, $100

Ard: Pittsburgh

Cassidy: Pittsburgh

*****

South Florida (+26) at No. 7 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., USA Network

Why is Notre Dame being bumped off NBC this Saturday? The U.S. Open, of course, which is hoping and praying ol’ Tiger plays all four days. USA Network gets the nod, which will lead into the game with Chrisley Knows Best and then five straight hours of Chicago P.D. Best storyline in this one? USF offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr., 27, returns to South Bend as USF’s offensive coordinator. The last time the son of an ND coach returned to South Bend with South Florida, Skip Holtz upset the Irish. Not likely to happen this week.

Trocchi’s pick: Notre Dame, $50

Ard: South Florida

Cassidy: South Florida

*****

UCF (-7) at Georgia Tech, 3:30 p.m., ABC

So the oddsmakers are saying the state of Florida’s ‘fourth’ team is going to go on the road and beat Georgia Tech, something Florida State couldn’t do at home (in front a few too many mask-less folks) last week? The Jackets committed 10 penalties, threw two interceptions and failed on two field goal attempts and an extra point. Not a winning formula against a team that is indeed better than Florida State.

Trocchi’s pick: UCF, $100

Ard: Georgia Tech

Cassidy: UCF

*****

No. 17 Miami (+2.5) at No. 18 Louisville, 7:30 p.m., ABC

Easily the game of the weekend. Two productive quarterbacks should be able to put up some points. Best subplot: The Miami's famed turnover chain, which was not unleashed in the Canes’ 31-14 win over UAB last week. Coach Manny Diaz has promised it will be ‘sanitized’ between uses. I would say the sanitation of a turnover chain is the most college football thing ever, but it barely ranks in the top 100 in 2020.

Trocchi’s pick: Louisville, $50

Ard: Louisville

Cassidy: Miami

*****

Wake Forest (+2.5) at NC State, 8 p.m., ACC Network

Ever heard of the Mack Brown Cup? Very few people have, but I’m here to tell you this game has MBC implications. In his first go-around at North Carolina, Brown consistently beat up on in-state rivals in the mid-90’s and liked to claim a ‘state championship’. Now, this made-up contest is tracked between Duke, UNC, Wake Forest and NC State, and while there is no actual physical Mack Brown Cup, Wake Forest celebrated its ‘state championship’ last year with no fewer than 25 billboards state-wide. Once again, college football everyone.

Trocchi’s pick: Wake Forest, $100

Ard: NC State

Cassidy: NC State

Week 3 picks
Syracuse-Pitt USF-ND UCF-Ga. Tech Miami-Louisville Wake-NC State

Trocchi

Pitt

ND

UCF

Louisville

Wake

Ard

Pitt

USF

Ga. Tech

Louisville

NC State

Cassidy

Pitt

USF

UCF

Miami

NC State

SEASON STANDINGS

Trocchi: 2-2, minus-$75

Publishers: 2-2

Analysts: 1-3

When there is a unanimous selection: 0-1