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Beating The Spread: Picking the Top Matchups in College Football’s Week 4

Go Ducks

Welcome to Week 4 of the college football season. Week 3 lived up to the hype, featuring exciting marquee matchups and thrilling upsets. The first of many to note was Ohio State’s explosive victory over TCU in Arlington, TX, as well as BYU’s shocking upset over Wisconsin in Madison. Like always, here are the ten intriguing matchups for the week, as well as predictions if each team covers, or fails to cover the projected spread.

All the Week 4 odds are courtesy of Vegas Insider. 

No. 7 Stanford Cardinal (-2) at No. 20 Oregon Ducks: No one truly knows Oregon’s identity at this point, except for the fact they’ve walloped on three cupcakes (Bowling Green, Portland State, and San Jose State) to start the season. Stanford’s identity, on the other hand, is well-defined with two wins impressive victories over San Diego State and USC.

While the Ducks have the advantage at quarterback with Justin Herbert, the Cardinal hold the edge in overall talent. Running back Bryce Love is the best running back in the nation, and poses a serious threat to Oregon’s ninth-ranked run defense. The same can also be said for wide-out J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who at 6-foot-4, looks to be a mismatch against Oregon’s diminutive cornerbacks. Stanford wins and covers the spread.  

No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs (-14.5) at Missouri Tigers: Missouri’s offense, led by one of the nation’s best passers in QB Drew Lock (1,062 yards, 11 TDs, one INT) should challenge Georgia’s defense. However, the Tigers defense ranks 105th in yards per play allowed (6.5). This doesn’t bode well against Jake Fromm and the rest of the Bulldogs’ skilled players. Georgia wins but fails to cover the spread. 

No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-7) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons: There’s a lot of concerns for Notre Dame this week. For starters, the Irish have failed to score more than 24 points in any of their first three home games against Michigan, Ball State, and Vanderbilt. Secondly, Notre Dame’s opponent, Wake Forest, features an offense which is averaging 530 yards and 36 points per game. Expect Notre Dame to struggle in their first true road game of 2018. Wake Forest wins outright. 

No. 22 Texas A&M Aggies at No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-26): Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies demonstrated tremendous fight against second-ranked Clemson in Week 2; holding the Tigers’ offense to 28 points and 14 first downs. In addition, quarterback Kellen Mond showed outstanding poise in the pocket, throwing for 430 yards and 3 TDs against one of the most feared front-fours in the country. While Mond has a chance to put up similar numbers against the Tide’s secondary, the Aggies’ defense as a whole, doesn’t have the talent to come close to stopping Tua Tagovailoa and the rest of Alabama’s offensive cyborgs. Alabama wins but fails to cover the spread. 

South Carolina Gamecocks (-2) at Vanderbilt Commodores: History has sided with South Carolina in this series recently; having won the last nine matchups. However, both teams head into this week trending in different directions. Vanderbilt gave Notre Dame a late scare in South Bend last week; they’re also playing great defense (19th nationally in yards per play allowed) and have a solid veteran QB in Kyle Shurmur. The Gamecocks, by contrast, inspired very little confidence in their last performance with a 41-17 home loss to Georgia. Vanderbilt wins outright. 

No. 17 TCU Horned Frogs (-3) at Texas Longhorns: Make no mistake, Texas is not officially “back” yet, despite their blowout win over USC last week. Tom Herman’s Longhorns still need work offensively, which proves difficult against TCU. Even in defeat versus Ohio State, the Horned Frogs showed they’re loaded with firepower on both sides of the ball. TCU wins and covers the spread. 

No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (-3) at Iowa Hawkeyes: Following an inexplicable home loss to BYU last week, Paul Chryst’s Badgers have their work cut out for them in Week 4. Kinnick Stadium has turned into a pit of despair for Playoff contenders, just ask Michigan in 2016 and Ohio State and nearly Penn State last season. And while Wisconsin has star RB Jonathan Taylor, Iowa boasts the nation’s No. 3 rushing defense (1.54 yards per carry allowed). Iowa wins outright. 

No. 14 Mississippi State Bulldogs (-9.5) at Kentucky Wildcats: First-year head Joe Moorhead has revitalized Mississippi State’s offense behind QB Nick Fitzgerald and RB Kylin Hill, which is averaging 577.2 yards per game (311.7 on the ground). Further, Montez Sweat (three sacks) and Jeffery Simmons (5.5 TFLs) have bolstered the Bulldogs’ defensive line. In the meantime though, Kentucky is at home and features one of the nation’s productive rushers in Benny Snell. Mississippi State wins but fails to cover the spread. 

Kansas State Wildcats at No. 12 West Virginia Mountaineers (-16): Dana Holgerson has yet to a face defense capable of limiting his offense, and after this week, he’ll still be searching. Kansas State’s defense looked dreadful since they last played an FBS opponent in Week 2 against Mississippi State. Mountaineer QB Will Grier should have a field day. West Virginia wins and covers the spread. 

Texas Tech Red Raiders at No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-14): Oklahoma State is climbing up the polls, and with good reason after a beatdown of formerly ranked Boise State. The Cowboys have won the last nine meetings against the Red Raiders, and as you can imagine, most of them have been shootouts. Expect another one this week. Oklahoma State wins and covers the spread. 

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