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College football Week 3 betting guide: Is Texas actually back?

Ever since the days when coach Charlie Strong patrolled the sidelines, college football fans and bettors have prematurely declared that Texas was back.

After a while, it became a running joke as the Longhorns annually disappointed under Strong, Tom Herman and during the start of Steve Sarkisian’s tenure.

But Texas (2-0) might actually be back for real this time.

Led by a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback and fresh off a win at Alabama, the No. 4 Longhorns are 29-point favorites when they host Wyoming (2-0) on Saturday night.

“There was some respect for them beforehand, and it certainly hasn’t dissipated,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said. “They have a lot of talent on that team. Are they a national championship contender? I’d say so at this point.

“I’ve never been a big Sarkisian fan, though. But as I say that, he just got done with beating Nick Saban.”

Texas is tied with Michigan for the third-lowest odds at South Point to win the national championship at 6-1. The Longhorns are 8-1 at Station Casinos, +850 at Circa sportsbook and 10-1 at the Westgate SuperBook after entering the season 16-1.

Last week, Texas strolled into Tuscaloosa as a 7-point underdog and came away with a 34-24 victory to snap the Crimson Tide’s 21-game home winning streak. Quarterback Quinn Ewers finished with 349 yards passing and tossed two of his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Ewers saw his Heisman Trophy odds shortened to 6-1 at Circa and 7-1 at the Westgate.

The Longhorns have a favorable schedule and don’t face a ranked opponent until Oct. 7 against No. 19 Oklahoma.

“The bettors didn’t believe they were back last week because they bet Alabama,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “It was a big win. I’m not sure if it’s a product of Alabama not being that good or Texas being that good right now. But it’s super early in the season. I’ll be curious to see how the bettors back Texas going forward.”

Poke the Buffalo

Not that the betting public needed another reason to back Colorado this week, but they got one anyway.

Colorado State coach Jay Norvell fanned the flames of the in-state rivalry during his coach’s show when he referenced Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders by saying, “I sat down with ESPN today. … I took my hat off, and I took my glasses off. And I said, ‘When I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat and my glasses off.’ That’s what my mother taught me.”

Sanders responded to the comments during practice by telling his team the game was now personal.

The Buffaloes (2-0) are 23-point favorites at the SuperBook, and the total is 61, which Colorado might now try to score on its own.

Rebels underdogs

UNLV’s first two games didn’t provide much insight for bettors.

The Rebels blew out Bryant, a Football Championship Subdivision team, 44-14 as 16½-point favorites in the opener, followed by a cover as 38-point underdogs in a 35-7 loss to second-ranked Michigan.

But this week should provide a more accurate picture of where the Rebels stand under first-year coach Barry Odom. UNLV is a 4½-point underdog against Vanderbilt on Saturday at Allegiant Stadium.

The Rebels have covered seven straight against nonconference opposition, while Vanderbilt is 0-3 against the spread this season.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on X.

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Las Vegas handicapper Bruce Marshall is an analyst at VegasInsider.com. Each week, he provides the Review-Journal with NFL tech notes and trends.