What college football games appear to be the best bets and the best picks against the spread going into Week 4?
Results So Far ATS: 26-14-1
It’s a rough week for marquee games, but it’s a week of bulk. There’s a whole lot to choose from even if there isn’t an Alabama vs. Florida on the board.
The other-team-has-guys-too call worked twice, going with the dog on Oregon against Ohio State a few weeks ago and Florida over Alabama last week. There isn’t anything like that in Week 4, but to throw the big game on here, just because …
Click on each game for the preview
LINE Wisconsin -6
ATS PICK Wisconsin
I wanted this at Wisconsin -5.5, but it jumped to 6 when I started this, so fine … don’t change your first answer.
We all know how this game is going to go.
Notre Dame shouldn’t be able to run a lick on the Badger defensive front, and the leaky Irish line might get QB Jack Coan killed. Even so, Coan will hit a few downfield plays, and Badger QB Graham Mertz will keep this interesting by missing a few key reads in the face of pressure from the Irish defensive front.
Wisconsin will hold the ball for 41 minutes – because that’s what it does – and it’ll seem like it’s dominating this game even though the score is close. In Chicago at Soldier Field, the rested Badgers should win this – have the Irish shown you anything so far? – but …
It’s this easy. Do you think Wisconsin will turn the ball over two or more times. If you do, then ignore this and take the Irish. If you don’t, then this should be a strong Badger win.
LINE Missouri -1.5
ATS PICK Missouri
I know I’m supposed to sell you on these being the 10 best college football picks and all of that, and that should mean that we don’t take any chances here. It’s the advice I give that drives people nuts – sometimes you stay away if you don’t quite know what you’re getting with a team.
That was Auburn last week with Penn State.
This week, we don’t quite know what we’re getting with Boston College, but I’m ignoring that because I’ll be mad if I don’t go with this and my instincts turn out to be right.
BC has been fine, but so far it played Colgate, UMass, and Temple, and now it’s without starting QB Phil Jurkovec. Missouri hasn’t been amazing, but if a miserable UMass offense can put up 28 on the Eagles, and if they can only beat Temple 28-3, I’m taking my chances that the SEC team with the terrific backfield can just get a win.
LINE Michigan State -5
ATS PICK Michigan State
Let’s keep this going.
I’m not a believer in superstition, but the 8 spot here has been a rock over the years. This season, it’s keeping the No. 8 chain going – it’s like the Turnover Chain, but cool.
I had Appalachian State covering against Miami, then last week it was Michigan State over the Canes, and this week I’ll go with MSU just in case this team is for real.
To be warned, though, my belief system that all performances over the Hurricanes this year have been overblown – see what I did there? – including Alabama’s victory in the opener, and certainly Michigan State beating Northwestern doesn’t appear to be any big whoop.
However, Nebraska might be playing just well enough to lose this respectfully. Even so, it’s only five, the Spartans have been air tight on defense so far, and it’s Nebraska, so 1) there will be penalties, 2) there will be turnovers, and 3) the defense will ball out only to give up third down conversions by the bucket.
LINE Louisville -2
ATS PICK Louisville
There’s something very trappy about this.
Louisville just beat a strong UCF team in a thriller, and Florida State beat itself in losses to Notre Dame, Jacksonville State, and Wake Forest.
Louisville has a dynamic offense that seems to be hitting its stride at just the right time, and Florida State is playing like it just wants all the sad to be over already.
The Noles can’t seem to ever convert a third down try, they’re getting hit with a gajillion penalties, they can’t do anything right in the red zone, there hasn’t been a turnover the offense hasn’t enjoyed giving away, and for what seems like the 14th year in a row, there’s nothing happening on the O line.
This seems like a trap. If it is, so be it. Ha ha you win, betting gods.
Louisville is only giving away 2. Until Florida State shows you something, go with it.
Speaking with sticking with the momentum …
LINE Duke -16
ATS PICK Duke
No real analysis here … it’s Kansas.
Until proven otherwise, the cash machine that is the Jayhawk fade has put America so far ahead that one misfire – when it inevitably happens – will finally bring sweet relief to this wild ride that doesn’t slow down.
I am still steadfast in my belief that the over on the Kansas win total of 1 is the second-best call of the year behind the over on the Stanford win total of 4.
I still believe that Duke could absolutely screw this up with one of its fabulous mega-turnover performance art performances. The team invented new ways to lose in whatever that was against Charlotte.
Kansas is still a Power Five program with a great new head coach and enough playmakers to get hot for one wild day – the guys coming out of that tunnel are on scholarship, too – and I wouldn’t take Duke giving away 16 points to a potted plant, but …
It’s Kansas. The show goes on.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 5: Kentucky at South Carolina
LINE Kentucky -5
ATS PICK Kentucky
I’m guessing the world didn’t like Kentucky’s horrible close-call 28-23 performance against Chattanooga.
I actually like South Carolina more than anyone else seems to. The defensive line isn’t all that bad, Zeb Noland has been serviceable at quarterback, and eventually when all the parts are healthy and fully functioning, that Gamecock stable of running backs is going to be a thing.
At some point, this team is going to rise up and pull off a shocker against someone. But not this week.
Always blow off whatever happens – good or bad – against the FCS team.
Kentucky is trying to be all hip with this concept of an interesting offense, and it worked in the first two games. The passing attack ripped through ULM, the running game rolled through Missouri, and last week was the mental break.
The offense struggled against Chattanooga, there were eight penalties, three turnovers, and a lackluster effort overall coming off Mizzou and with the SEC kicking in full force starting now.
But South Carolina isn’t there quite yet.
Again, I like this team – watch out with Troy, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt three winnable games coming up next – but Kentucky will play a much tighter, more focused game this week.
All your asking for is a six-point win against a team that struggled to get by East Carolina and might have a hard time getting to 20.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 4: Iowa State at Baylor
LINE Iowa State -7
ATS PICK Iowa State
What happened to Iowa State?
This was everyone’s Who’s Hot? thing coming into the season after a breakthrough 2020.
Everyone was back, the team was loaded with All-Big 12 stars and a few real NFL prospects, and Matt Campbell was supposedly the hottest head coach on the block.
And then pfffffffffft. All the air came out of the balloon with a clunker of a win against Northern Iowa and an offensive meltdown against Iowa. Yeah, ripping through UNLV was necessary, but whatever. You could do that, too, if you wanted.
Here’s what’s wrong with Iowa State …
Northern Iowa is a weird rivalry thing. That program occasionally applies some mind-meld thing on the other Iowa teams. Iowa State still won.
The Iowa game went exactly like it was supposed to – big brother is just better this year.
Through those two games, one thing got totally lost in all the concerns about the offense …
The defense was still amazing.
The No. 1 defense is college football has given up a grand total of 152 yards on the ground so far with Iowa coming up with a season-high 67.
Yeah, Baylor is fifth in the nation in total D, but Texas State, Texas Southern, and Kansas – that’s who it went against.
The Bears have been getting by with a running game that’s not going to work against the Cyclones, the defense will finally deal with an offense with players who aren’t mediocre at college football, and you’re going to benefit by getting this Iowa State team giving up just seven.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 3: Hawaii at New Mexico State
LINE Hawaii -17
ATS PICK New Mexico State
I hate this pick, Part 1.
I hate it because I know this New Mexico State team. It’s flaky, it’s shown an uncanny ability to rise up and score points when it shouldn’t, and it has a strange way of always letting the world down when picking it one way or the other seems so obvious.
Seriously, who gets rim-rocked by UTEP and then doesn’t get annihilated by San Diego State?
However, this team seemed to figure something out.
It played a few games this spring against FCS teams doing its cash-grab of a “2020” season, and while the results were mixed, it gave the coaching staff a whole lot of time to figure things out.
Fast forward to last week and a 43-35 win over South Carolina State. Yeah, FCS team, whatever, but the Aggies might have found something in QB Dino Maldonado as part of a rotation.
The defense has created multiple turnovers in three of the four games, the O keeps pressing for four quarters, and it’s all just enough to think it can all work with some late points to keep from getting hammered by more than 17 at home.
Meanwhile, Hawaii has to be a tad gassed. It started at UCLA, flew back home and had a fight with Portland State, flew back over to play Oregon, State, flew back and had a tough battle with San Jose State, and now it has to fly back over for this.
The Rainbow Warriors will win, but the 17 seems like too much – again, you’ll have to wait until the end – and …
I’m warning you, though – it’s New Mexico State.
I still hate this pick – this could be 53-3 Hawaii and it wouldn’t be all that shocking – but I’m going with it.
Now for I Hate This Pick, Part 2.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 2: Boise State at Utah State
LINE Boise State -9.5
ATS PICK Utah State
I hate picking against Boise State in Mountain West play, but …
Utah State could win this outright. +300 on the money line isn’t all that awful.
I don’t like to buy into the idea of momentum, and negative energy, and all that other stuff that made me pick Louisville over Florida State earlier, but Boise State suffered a few gut punches.
The loss at UCF to start the season was tough, and the 21-20 heartbreaker to Oklahoma State last week was brutal.
There’s been no rhythm to the season so far in the first year under new head coach Andy Avalos, there’s no running game whatsoever, the defense is getting run over too easily for being Boise State, and now it all might be walking right into a buzzsaw.
Utah State has been fabulous.
New head coach Blake Andersen came in from Arkansas State with a few parts, like QB Logan Bonner. All of a sudden, the program that couldn’t do anything right over the back half of 2019 and through 2020 has been a force.
There’s nothing cheap about this 3-0 start, winning at Washington State and Air Force with a tougher-than-you-might-think North Dakota at home in between.
The offense has been almost perfectly balanced, Bonner has been fantastic, and all of a sudden this is starting to look a little bit like the dynamic 11-2 team of 2018.
I still hate this pick because it’s a default mechanism to always take Boise State, but …
Yeah. Utah State +9.5 at home.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 1: Arizona at Oregon
LINE Oregon -28.5
ATS PICK Oregon
Oregon has an Arizona problem.
At least, it has a problem going to Arizona.
It was on track to go to the College Football Playoff in 2019 – or come really, really close – only to see it all go kablooey at Arizona State.
2018 Arizona wasn’t anything special, but it was able to 44-15 up on the Ducks in Tucson. Last year Oregon was hammered by Iowa State in the Fiesta Bowl, and …
This isn’t in Arizona, and this team Oregon is facing is having a few issues.
New head coach Jedd Fisch has a long building process to go through.
He’s trying to create a defense at a place that hasn’t seen much of one in a long, long time. He doesn’t have the veteran offensive playmakers, the lines aren’t getting the job done, and it’s all a work in progress.
If you’re losing at home to Northern Arizona, things aren’t going well.
The Wildcats are dead last in the nation in third down conversions, here’s no ground game, there’s no downfield passing attack, the quarterback situation is still trying to be figured out …
It’s up to Oregon to be focused.
It should be able to get to the 28.5 points in the first half, but will it take the foot off the gas in the second half with a trip to Stanford coming up?
It’s the Pac-12’s best against the Pac-12’s worst. The line should be much, much bigger, and it might be by the time the ball is kicked off.