Ari Wasserman, David Ubben and Seth Emerson previewed the biggest games of Week 3 of the college football season on the Until Saturday podcast. The trio discussed the games and made picks against the spread for Georgia-South Carolina, Florida–Tennessee, Michigan State–Washington and more.
Below is an edited, abridged version of their discussion on more than 10 Week 3 games. The full episode includes discussion on Penn State (-14.5) at Illinois, Pitt at West Virginia (-2.5), LSU (-9.5) at Mississippi State, Kansas State (-3.5) at Missouri, Colorado State at Colorado (-23.5) and more.
You can listen to the full episode here.
South Carolina at Georgia (-27.5)
Wasserman: We’ll start with Georgia-South Carolina, because I’m excited to watch it. Seth, is there any grab ass potential here?
Emerson: The game that South Carolina fans are kind of hanging their hat on here is the 2019 game when they came (to Athens) and pulled off the upset (20-17). They’ve been here since then; 2021 was not close (a 40-13 Georgia win), but this South Carolina team is probably better than their 2019 team and, this is going to sound sacrilege, we’re not sure yet that this Georgia team is better than its 2019 team, which otherwise was unbeaten in the regular season and whose only other loss was to Joe Burrow and company in the SEC Championship. So there’s always a chance.
I think there’s going to be a big road atmosphere. Twenty-eight points, I guess 27.5 or wherever you find a line, may seem like a high number until you say Georgia wins this game 45-14 or 38-7, something like that, which is in line with what their first two wins were. And they were kind of playing a little grab ass in those games, especially in the first quarter before they just kind of said, ‘Oh, okay, all right, here we go.’ So yeah, I would lay the points.
Ubben: I don’t think South Carolina is going to be able to score more than 10 or 14. I have concerns about their ability to block anything, but I think I’m also very skeptical that Georgia’s just going to sort of wake up and score 40. I like the points here. I could see it being more like a 31-10 type of situation where Georgia’s never really threatened. But man, South Carolina is competent and we don’t know that Georgia’s a beast yet. So 27.5, that’s that’s a lot of points. So give me South Carolina and the points in this one.
Wasserman: Are we sure that South Carolina is going to score points in this game?
Ubben: They’ll score some, Ari, they’re not going to get shut out. I have a lot of questions about their ability to block, but they have too much talent offensively to just not be able to score a point. But I will say they’ve been allergic to Georgia’s physicality the last couple years. It’s been rough.
Wasserman: I think that South Carolina last year pulled one of the most impressive games of the year with what they did at Tennessee. And I think there’s this notion or thought process that they’re going to be able to keep this close on the road. And I even kind of fell for that thought process when I submitted the picks that we made on the website this week. The more I think about this game and hearing people talk about it, I think that Georgia is just going to steamroll them and I think that it’ll be good for the SEC. I think it’ll be good to kind of see whether or not we’re dealing with a team in Georgia that is actually equipped to potentially win three in a row.
Tennessee (-6.5) at Florida
Wasserman: With what we’ve seen out of Florida this year, it kind of makes me feel like this should kind of be an easy win for Tennessee. I was kind of surprised to see that the spread was not as high as I would have anticipated. But I think this is the Joe Milton Bowl here to see if this guy can play. What’s your take on this?
Ubben: I didn’t really believe in the Florida-Tennessee voodoo before I moved here (Tennessee). But having paid attention to it, Tennessee seems to save its worst performance of the season for Florida, like every year. They almost kind of did it last year, with apologies to South Carolina. They just never really looked sharp. They haven’t won in The Swamp since 2003. I think that’s something that is not lost on the current roster.
That’s what makes me nervous that we haven’t seen how good Tennessee is or isn’t yet. They’ve looked kind of sloppy in the first half against Virginia, Austin Peay. They didn’t look great. But I also don’t take much of anything away from when you play an FCS opponent.
It comes down to can Joe Milton make enough plays to get them over the hump here?
I feel like people have not caught on yet to the fact that Florida might be bad, bad, like real bad. We’ve kind of talked about on the show, but I think you see the UF and the Gator logo, and I think people get hypnotized a little bit.
I think Tennessee takes care of business and scores enough. I don’t think it’s going to look pretty. I don’t think it’s going to be a cakewalk. I don’t think Tennessee probably plays that well. And I’m still not sure that it’s going to matter. Give me Tennessee here and I will lay the points.
Emerson: This is such a fascinating game to me because of the implications for the loser. If Florida loses, the Billy Napier heat, which seems very early, but this is Florida, it goes higher. If Tennessee loses, then the implications are big for the division, maybe even national picture. I’ve had a theory, not a prediction, but a theory for a while that Tennessee beats Georgia in Knoxville, but Georgia still wins the division because the Vols would drop two games and Georgia didn’t have another loseable game on its schedule. But after seeing the rest of the SEC the first two weeks, I’m not sure there are two other losses on Tennessee’s schedule. So if Tennessee loses here, then there are and we’re almost already at Georgia or bust for the SEC playoff picture. But if Tennessee wins, they just kind of hold serve and everyone in Gainesville is now going crazy.
I’ll take Tennessee to win here and cover. I say Tennessee, after a down week against Austin Peay, got some stuff on film. They see what they need to tweak and they will.
Wasserman: I think that the only way that this game is kept close is if Tennessee kind of messes around on offense. I don’t know that Florida is going to be in a state where they can throw the ball over the field. I also am with you, Dave. I am on high alert for Florida being very bad.
So I am going to lay the points here with Tennessee. I don’t see a close game where they don’t cover, but if they don’t, then I’m on high alert for Tennessee, maybe not being exactly where we think they should be a year after the one they put together last year.
Washington (-16.5) at Michigan State
Wasserman: Washington does kind of seem like one of those teams that if they are humming and manage not to lose and they keep that sexy offense going, people like offense, people like offense in the debate, the committee likes offense. Being able to score the way that they do with Michael Penix Jr. and maybe one of the best receiver corps in the country, I think that this is an interesting game. Obviously Michigan State’s had a rough week. Last year I thought that Michigan State was going to be able to keep it close and if I remember correctly, Washington blew them off the field. Now they’re going on the road to East Lansing. I don’t know that anything will be different in this one.
Ubben: I think in general, I’m with you on this. I just think Washington is very, very good. The Boise State game left an impression on me.
Michigan State, I need someone to explain to me what the case is for why they would slow down this offense. I don’t see it. They haven’t given up a pass longer than 10 yards yet this year, but that changes. They haven’t played anybody with a pulse yet. This ain’t Central Michigan. Washington rolls. I like them to cover here.
Washington’s good and good teams take care of bad teams. Michigan State is not a good team and they’re in a weird place. I’d be curious to hear the locker room dynamics. I don’t think that roster was like ‘Oh, our coach is being done wrong here.’ I think that roster is like ‘What is happening?’ I don’t think you’re going to have this sort of circle the wagons mentality. And so I think it’s going to be a weird week and I think that shows up on the field as well. So give me Washington.
Emerson: You say that as if there’s much precedent for this exact situation. There isn’t. But when something off the field like this happens, it’s either a rallying effect for the team it or distraction effect. And I’m with David. I’ll go with distraction considering the circumstances. Also, Michael Penix and Washington are really good.
Locks of the Week
Ubben: Buffalo lost to rebooting Wisconsin and then lost to Fordham. People are sleeping on Liberty. Give me Liberty -3.5 at home. Kaidon Salter is a good player. He got kicked out of Tennessee and has looked pretty spunky. He’s not Grayson McCall, but Jamey Chadwell has got himself a quarterback so this might be a Liberty win by three touchdowns.
Emerson: My lock is Ole Miss covering 18.5 against Georgia Tech, which will get me in trouble with some people around Atlanta, but I think that’s a low number. I don’t know that Ole Miss is this great team that is about to win the West. This strikes me as a 21-, 24-point game.
Wasserman: I think that Florida State is going to absolutely roll this weekend. I don’t know why they’re only 26-point favorites. They’re playing Boston College and I think Boston College is in for a long season. They lost to Northern Illinois in the first game of the season and then had to escape Holy Cross last week. It’s a weird line to me.
(Photo of Graham Mertz: James Gilbert / Getty Images)