College Football

Week 4 College Football Picks

Lotta sneaky games this week. I’m taking a few road dogs, though, so get ready to spam my mentions when they’re all wrong. Lines from vegasinsider.com, as per usual.

USC at #24 Utah (-3)

Last year the Trojans ruined the magic start to the Utes’ season with a 41-24 hammering in Los Angeles. Most of the major contributors from that game are gone, but I’m guessing the Utes haven’t forgotten. This is the part where we baffle anew at how the Trojans can be so star-studded but so woeful. We figured USC’s talent would carry it a little ways in 2016 even if the coaching wasn’t up to snuff (this is the part where I knock the Clay Helton hire) but so far it hasn’t even done that, being utterly demoralized by Alabama and Stanford. The Utes are neither of those teams, but I’ll still take them by a few. Utah 28, USC 24

#12 Georgia at #23 Ole Miss (-7)

There might not be a more deceptive 1-2 record in the country than Ole Miss’, whose two defeats came at the hands of Florida State and Alabama. There might not be a more deceptive 3-0 record in the country than Georgia’s, who got lucky twice to escape Nicholls and Missouri. The matchup here is Georgia’s offense verses Ole Miss’ Land Sharks: Jacob Eason and Nick Chubb have to keep pace with Chad Kelly, and I’m not sure they can. Ole Miss 34, Georgia 24

#11 Wisconsin at #8 Michigan State (-5.5)

Preseason I wrote about how the 2015 Badgers wasted an amazing defense with a punchless offense. The 2016 Badgers appear to have doubled down on that M.O., pairing a 7th-ranked defense with a 77th-ranked offense (per S&P+). Meanwhile, after sleepwalking through a win over Furman, Sparty channeled some Mark Dantonio meanness in week two, jumping out to a 36-7 lead over Notre Dame and fending off a late upset bid. I like Michigan State in a slobberknocker at home. Michigan State 17, Wisconsin 12

#19 Florida at #14 Tennessee (-6.5)

The Vols have been playing with fire in upset bids from Appalachian State and Ohio, and in a blowout win over Virginia Tech that the box score reveals should have been a lot closer. They can’t keep playing sloppy offense and benefitting from ridiculous turnover luck, and the Gators have a defense capable of making them pay for any mistakes. Another close one, but Florida extends its winning streak over Tennessee. Florida 17, Tennessee 10

#20 Nebraska at Northwestern (+7.5)

Nebraska needs this one. A sloppy showing (or worse, a loss) takes all the wind from a feel-good win over Oregon out of its sails. On the other side of the ball a Northwestern team that did not start the season the way it hoped can put those bad vibes behind them by opening conference play with a win. Nebraska has really gelled in year two under Mike Riley, finally looking like a team that knows who and what it is. I expect they put together a complete (if not altogether flashy) showing in Evanston. Nebraska 28, Northwestern 14

Oklahoma State at #16 Baylor (-8)

Oklahoma State may be one-dimensional but they’re still explosive as ever with Mason Rudolph and James Washington being possibly the most electric pair in the country. They aren’t really playing defense, but neither is Baylor, so expect 💥💥💥💥. Oklahoma State 56, Baylor 50

#7 Stanford at UCLA (+1)

Despite Stanford being the visitor, the pressure is all on UCLA to prove it can hang with the big boys. Josh Rosen had a big day against the Cardinal last year even in a blowout loss, but I’m not convinced the Bruins’ new pro-style system is playing to his strengths. Meanwhile the Cardinal can stick their formula of “play great defense and let Christian McCaffrey crank off a few big plays.” Stanford 30, UCLA 20

#17 Arkansas vs. #10 Texas A&M (-6) (Arlington, TX)

I’ve been waiting for the year when Arkansas would look in September how it looks in November. While I’m not ready to put the NOVEMBERT tag on them quite yet, they certainly look better put together through three games than they have in recent seasons. The Hogs aren’t really stopping the run, but the Aggs aren’t really running. Can Austin Allen overcome a vicious pass rush? Logic says no, but my gut says yes. Razorbacks by a tusk. Arkansas 34, Texas A&M 30

And don’t sleep on this one: #13 Florida State at South Florida (+5)

I figured the ‘Noles got their wakeup call after week one, but I was wrong. Lamar Jackson made Florida State look silly, and FSU visits another dynamic playmaker at quarterback: Quinton Flowers, who looks a heck of a lot like Jackson on the field but gets way less fanfare because he’s in the AAC. I’m not confident the Bulls’ 68th-ranked defense can slow down the ‘Noles enough to pull out the upset, but this one could be sneaky fun if FSU suffers from Louisville hangover. Florida State 42, South Florida 38

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