College Football Week 4 Predictions

Week 3: 11-8-1
Year to Date: 29-30-1

Was worried for a little bit there. After my first eight picks I was 1-7. I bounced back well to post an even week. There’s still plenty of time to get my record to 55%-60%. We’ll see. I’m going to start including the games that I actually am betting on as well in these picks.

I was very surprised to see Michigan State get manhandled by the Irish. I knew their offense was a bit one dimensional, but I had no idea ND’s defense would suffocate them so much. Of my preseason “sleepers”, only Kansas State remains. Obviously there were other shockers too, most notably  USC losing to Stanford, Pittsburgh pummeling Virginia Tech and even the mini-upset of Florida over Tennessee, which even I didn’t expect.

This week conference play is almost in full swing.

Thursday September 20

BYU @ Boise State (-7.5) 

Boise State just doesn’t lose at home. The team has lost 3 games at home since 1999, and their loss to TCU at home last year was their first regular season home loss since 2001.

We will learn a lot about these two teams on Thursday. Both have losses to respectable (though now one-loss) teams and rather unimpressive wins early on. For Boise, this is one of their last remaining chances at a quality win with MWC play on the horizon. For BYU, they have 6 tough games in a row coming up, so back-to-back losses here would be brutal. Boise playing at home and playing perhaps their last game on national television this season will seek to make a statement. DJ Harper needs to play well for this to happen, and that might be a tall task against this strong Cougar defense. He struggled mightily against MSU (perhaps one of the 5 best defenses in the country) and they won’t win again unless he puts forth a better effort. He was unstoppable against Miami (OH) and I think he keeps the momentum going. BYU will struggle to score on this Boise defense, and Harper and Southwick play solid mistake-free football and take away the win.

Saturday September 22

LSU (-18.5) @ Auburn

Auburn isn’t going to win this one, but they need some sort of moral victory to arise from this. It’s been a disaster of a early season for them, which could have been all the worse if they didn’t beat LA-Monroe in OT last week. After this game they should get some reprise with 5 games in a row against non-ranked teams. There is no reason to think that LSU will be taking Auburn lightly. This is their first game against even decent competition, their first game against an SEC team and their first game on national TV (prime time ESPN). Les will have the troops ready, and LSU will roll. If Clemson can rush for over 300 yards against Auburn, imagine what LSU can do?

Arizona @ Oregon (-24)

This is a tough one. Oregon hasn’t really opened up the playbook all that much this season and haven’t been tested at all. You would imagine they start to open up their full arsenal a little bit against Arizona. On the other hand you have an Arizona team that barely beat Toledo and then came out and pummeled Oklahoma State. Oregon has given up 24.3 points a game against inferior opponents, but the vast majority of that has been late in blowout games. Losing John Boyett could hurt a little against this Arizona team who have some nice pieces in the pass game. I think Arizona just barely keeps this within 24 points. This will be a basketball game score for sure though. A lot of back and forth action.

Clemson @ FSU (-14) 

Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd and the rest of the Clemson offense should keep this game somewhat close

Through three games Florida State has scored 176 points while allowing just 3. What can you gain from that? Not a whole lot. They are certainly an elite two way team, but the quality of opponent has been downright laughable so far. I did think Wake Forest would be a bit more competitive, and that game might be a bit telling. This will probably be the last team both of these teams play a ranked team until their last games of the year (UF @ FSU and Clemson @ SC) and it’s the prime time game of the week on ABC. It’s a statement game if there ever was one. I’m flip-flopping my original vote here. I’m very worried about Clemson’s defense, but I think the offensive firepower they have will keep this close enough. The line going from -13 to -14 helps too. Between Boyd, Ellington, Hopkins and Watkins, Clemson has enough offensively to score, even against this tremendous defense.

Vanderbilt @ Georgia (-16)

My heart says that Vandy can keep this one close, but my head is telling me otherwise. The line has already jumped from -13 to -16, and I’m a bit more reluctant about this. I hope Vandy does play well and provides a little scare. Their offense has the potential to show a little explosion, but they now have a QB contraversy on their hands, and are just too outmatched against Georgia. It’s a home game for the Bulldogs too. I think they roll to an easy win.

Kansas State @ Oklahoma (-14)

Riding the Kansas State bandwagon all the way to its end. Hell, I think they win outright.

Missouri @ South Carolina (-10)

This one is a bit tough as well because it might be a battle of backup quarterbacks. James Franklin missed the ASU game and Connor Shaw has a fractured shoulder. Dylan Thompson has looked great for the Gamecocks, but that has been against lesser foes. Corbin Berkstresser leads his Mizzou team to a solid win against ASU. There’s a lot of uncertainty leading into this game, so for now I’m taking the points.

Maryland @ West Virginia (-28)

Maryland is a really poor team. 28 points is quite a lot, but I think WVU will cover. Maryland probably is the worst passing team in the country (besides maybe UMass which is the worst team in the country), and their rush attack is pretty poor too. WVU’s defense isn’t close to being a world beater, but it’s good enough. Geno Smith has  his nose on the Heisman, and WVU won’t be shy about running up the score. The game is nationally televised as well, the first one of the year for the Mountaineers.

Michigan @ Notre Dame (-5.5)

I’ll take the good defense over the potentially explosive offense. ND really impressed me this past weekend against MSU, and they’ll be no less hungry for this one either.

California @ USC (-16)

What USC team shows up this weekend? Are they inspired after a demoralizing loss or are they just eager to get to the off week and coast through this one? It’s a team they should handle easily, but they shouldn’t think that. Cal has a good defense, and if USC’s offensive line can’t play any better, it might be another long night. USC has a severe lack of depth and some questionable toughness which are two things Cal can expose. Cal looked good against OSU, and probably could have/should have won. Zach Maynard and Isi Sofele have enough talent and skill to score against USC. I think this stays relatively close.

UAB @ Ohio State (-37.5)

These stupid out of conference games are almost all but over. I’ll take OSU, I guess…

Virginia @ TCU (-17.5)

Virginia really isn’t any good. An ESPN game at home for TCU has big win written all over it.

Oregon State @ UCLA (-10)

Oregon State has played one game and that was a win against Wisconsin…and who knows what that means. It’s hard to gauge how good they really are at this point. I’m not sure Oregon State’s offense is potent enough to keep up with UCLA’s. I’m going to take the home team here to cover, but I’m very reluctant.

Louisville (-13.5) @ Florida International 

Teddy Bridgewater is really, really, really good

Whatever happened to Louisville on Saturday in the second half is beyond my ability to comprehend. They looked so solid for so long, and then just lost it. Luckily they held on. I think Charlie Strong will refocus their energy, which may be tough considering their opponent. There’s too much at stake for Louisville to not learn from this and play focused football for 4 quarters. I think they’ll give their best effort on the road, even if it’s a game they might be overlooking. Teddy Bridgewater is too talented to assume this game is close. He won’t get any Heisman talk this early because he’s a sophomore in the Big East, but if Louisville keeps winning and he keeps playing like a top 5 QB in the country, he’ll get some love.

Eastern Michigan @ Michigan State (-33)

Michigan State needs to make some gains on offense before they host Ohio State on the 29th, and while EMU won’t provide much resistance, that will be MSU’s focus. Still, I don’t think this MSU offense is explosive enough to drop that many points really on anyone.

South Alabama @ Mississippi State (-34.5)

I don’t know. Seems like too many points.

Miami @ Georgia Tech (-14)

Georgia Tech will be fighting hard all year after that heartbreaking loss to VT. They’ll take no game lightly. They beat Virginia by 36 last week and I expect much of the same this week.

Rutgers @ Arkansas (-6)

If Tyler Wilson plays, Arkansas can and will cover. Since there’s question, and since I think this Rutgers team is actually pretty darn solid, I’m going to take the points for now.

Utah @ Arizona State (-7)

I’m staying on the Utah bandwagon too. Arizona State’s offensive line was mauled against Missouri, and Utah has the players to do the same exact thing. Star Lotulelei and company will be in Taylor Kelly’s face all game long. Jon Hays looked solid against BYU last week even with no help from the run game. The run game should perform a bit better against ASU’s pretty average run defense, especially if Jon White, who claims he is 100%, play. That will open up the passing game all the more. I like Utah to win straight up.

Temple @ Penn State (-8.5)

Temple came close to upsetting PSU last year in Philly, but most of that team has graduated. Temple is really bad this year, as evident by their loss to Maryland. I think Penn State carries momentum forward again and beats the Owls pretty easily.


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