College Football Upset Picks for Week 3 (USC and Auburn on Red Alert)

Sep 10, 2022; Fresno, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener (9) throws a
Sep 10, 2022; Fresno, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener (9) throws a / Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Saturday's Week 2 slate gave us a ton of upsets, including several double-digit underdogs going to the window.

Can Week 3 follow it up with even more chaos? There aren't as many high-profile games on the board, but there are plenty of live underdogs to be, so let's waste no time and get to them:

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College Football Week 3 Upset Predictions

Penn State vs. Auburn Prediction and Pick

I'm playing Auburn as a home underdog. I believe that the physicality in the trenches on both sides of the ball will be the crux to the Tigers controlling the game script against an unproven Penn State defense.

The Nittany Lions need to replace seven starters from last season and are under first-year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. The team allowed Purdue to score 31 points in the opening game, the only test they have faced so far, and while this may be a different game script I favor the SEC talent to win out.

On offense, I expect Tank Bigsby and change-of-pace quarterback Robby Ashford (13 rushes for 129 yards in two games) to give the Penn State defensive line fits on the ground and control the tempo.

Meanwhile, the defense should be able to put quarterback Sean Clifford into difficult situations all afternoon. Last season, Auburn was top 10 in the country in tackles for loss and top third in defensive line yards against SEC competition. If Penn State is playing from behind the sticks, Clifford will make mistakes.

With a low total, I'll take the SEC team at home to cover the spread and have a chance to win.

Fresno State vs. USC Prediction and Pick

As mentioned on The Early Reed this week, Fresno State is one of my favorite plays of the Week 3 slate.

USC may have won and covered at Stanford, but it benefitted from five turnovers, including two inside the 10 yard line. Despite all those turnovers, the team only won by 13 points. Against a far more efficient offense, which is led by senior quarterback Jake Haener, I expect Fresno State to match everything the USC offense has to offer.

While the Bulldogs lost to Oregon State last weekend in one of the most thrilling games of the season, underlying metrics show that the Bulldogs were the far superior team to their PAC-12 opponent. Fresno State out gained the Beavers by about 100 yards but were plagued by settling for field goals inside the red zone. On six trips to the red zone, they kicked field goals on four of them, including a missed one (not to mention a missed extra point in the final minute).

I think the Trojans, who lead the country in turnover margin at +8 through two games, run into an efficient offense and struggle to pull away. Give me the Bulldogs in my favorite spot on the Week 3 slate.