Here’s where I’m looking on the Week 4 card for college football.
3-Unit Play on 9/23
BYU has been rolling to begin the season, already 3-0 against the PAC-12, with two outright wins as an underdog. In their opener, BYU was up 14-3 at halftime against Arizona, covering the first half before Arizona finished the game with a backdoor cover. Since then, the Cougars have been an even better first half team, leading Utah 16-7 at the break and Arizona State 21-7 going into the locker room (both games as dogs).
Now the Cougars face their worst competition yet in a late night Saturday home game, and I don’t think they’ll play with their food in this situation. In Week 3, South Florida played a home game against FCS competition, and while it won, the Bulls failed to cover. The previous week, USF did somehow cover against Florida, but they were at home, and the Gators had a lookahead spot to Alabama. But dig into the box score, and you’ll see the Bulls got dominated early before Florida let off the gas — the Gators were up 35-3 at halftime. Back in the season opener, the only other time USF has played on the road, it got dominated at NC State. The Wolfpack won the game 45-0, and were up 24-0 at the break.
This one has all the ingredients for BYU to get off to a blazing start, so I’m backing this one as my largest play of the week.
2-Unit Play on 9/23
Thinking about last week’s UConn fade still makes me want to puke. Army was the right side, and we lost a backdoor cover for the ages — Army -33.5 led Scott VanPelt’s bad beats segment, and rightfully so. Army was up 42-0 at halftime, doubling the first half spread and cashing the over on its team total. UConn had no shot. But somehow, Army let up and UConn stumbled into 21 points in the second half — after 10 scoreless quarters against FBS competition.
This week I refuse to let that happen. Do I think Wyoming covers 30 for the game? Yes. But I prefer the 17 for the first half to avoid another back door. The Cowboys have had fantastic showings in their last two weeks, leading Northern Illinois 28-10 at the half and then smashing Ball State 31-0 in the first half, both eventual wins. As for UConn, well we know what they are.
2-Unit Play on 9/21
We saw the 2.5-point spread come down a little bit here, and now show some value on the Cardinals on the moneyline at this point. FSU is probably the sharp side of this game at home, but at some point we just need to admit that the Seminoles are straight up bad. Yes, getting this game as a near pick’em screams value if you saw it before the season kicked off, but FSU has been a disaster since then.
The Noles had a terrific cover in an emotional primetime home opener against Notre Dame. Since then, not only have we learned the Irish are nothing special this season, but we’ve seen FSU fall on its face twice. Sure, Jacksonville State was a bit of a letdown spot, but the Noles lost outright as a 20-point home favorite! Then we saw a classic “buy low” spot on FSU, with it being bet all the way down to a 4.5-point dog at Wake Forest. The Noles lost by 21 and were never in the game.
Meanwhile, Louisville is off to a pretty solid start to the season. The Cardinals were smashed in the opener on a neutral field, but the 19-point loss to Matt Corral and Ole Miss is looking better by the day. The Rebels are looking very legit in the SEC.
Since then, Louisville took care of business against EKU, and then upset UCF as a touchdown dog. The only red flag I can find here is that this will be the first true road game for the Cards, who played Ole Miss at a neutral site. This team has lost six in a row on the road, but in some tough spots along the way.
We’re getting great value on the much better team here, which I can’t ignore, regardless of where the game is played. Last season ended for the Cards with a 45-21 win over the Wake team that FSU just got smoked by. And when the Noles and Cards met up in 2020, Louisville landed a dominant 48-16 win. I’m not overthinking this one.
2-Unit Play on 9/24
I needed the week to think about this one, and was honestly leaning Arkansas — which killed me as an under six wins bettor. But after digging through the schedules and the paths both teams have taken to get here, this is the ultimate buy-low spot on Texas A&M, and I’m taking it.
It also happens to be a sell high spot on the Razorbacks. There’s no disputing how good they’ve been, but we forget that miracle cover against Rice also showed us their floor — in position to lose that game. The Hogs have taken care of business in the two scheduled wins, so it’s really only been one big home win over Texas that all the hype comes from. Again, an impressive win, but just one game.
Meanwhile, the Aggies have been nothing close to what we expected. This was supposed to be a top-10 team all season, with the potential to threaten for a College Football Playoff spot. Somehow it gets lost that this team has still essentially accomplished everything its supposed to have by now — 3-0 and 2-1 ATS. Texas A&M blew out the two games it was supposed to, covering both. But the game that the spotlight was on, the Aggies barely held on to beat Colorado on the road in an ugly 10-7 game.
The Aggies also lost their QB mid-game in Boulder, which caused a lot of issues. Since then, Zach Calzada has looked like a much better option at the QB position. The Aggies are a much tougher defense than anything Arkansas has seen during its early season success. This is a neutral field game at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, and I think both of these teams return to closer to what we expected of them before the season on the big national stage.
1.5-Unit Play on 9/24
The Wolfpack is 1-2 to the over this season, with the lone over thanks to running up the score on lowly Furman. NC State has surrendered a combined seven points in two home games, and stayed well under in the only game against legitimate competition — a 24-10 loss to Mississippi State that had a total of 55.5.
Clemson’s struggles seem to be entirely on the offensive side of the ball. With the loss of Trevor Lawrence and many of his skill position players, the Tigers have scored a combined 17 points in their only two true tests. This team is an easy 3-0 to the under without anything close to a sweat, and I think Clemson is the team that really dictates this total.
The Tigers are still very much for real on defense, and will give the Wolfpack a ton of trouble offensively. I don’t at all trust the Clemson offenses to do their job offensively, keeping this one under without a sweat.
1.5-Unit Play on 9/24
Just like the previous game, these two teams are a combined 1-5 to the over, with Colorado State cashing the lone over ticket. And just like the previous game, I think Iowa is the team that dictates the points in this game.
The Rams went over in an embarrassing Week 1 loss to far inferior competition, but have stayed under in the past two games by a combined 37.5 points. The Hawkeyes have stayed under in all three games by 8.5 points per game, thanks to their spectacular defense — allowing a measly 10 points per game. This team is all about pounding the rock and preserving the lead rather than trying to run up the score, which works perfectly for these unders to continue to cash. Iowa probably gets into the 30’s here, but we likely don’t see enough from Colorado State to get there.
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