Spread Options: College football picks against the spread for Week 4

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My picks were terrible in Week 1 but I’m getting into a nice groove as the season progresses.

I went 4-2 last week and very well could have gone 6-0 if it wasn’t for a garbage time pick-six by Wyoming and a scoop-and-score touchdown mistakenly blown dead by the officials in the Boise State vs. Oklahoma State game. Still, I won’t complain about any winning week.

Looking ahead to Week 4, there are a lot of really interesting matchups on the board at BetMGM. These are my favorites.

Last week: 4-2

Overall: 10-11-1

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

No. 12 Notre Dame vs. No. 18 Wisconsin

Time: Noon | TV: Fox | Line: Wisconsin -6.5 | Total: 46.5

This point spread feels a little too big, but some of my concerns about Notre Dame are pushing me away from taking the underdog here. Instead, I’m on the total.

I’m expecting a low-scoring game. Notre Dame’s rush defense has not been good and the run game is the strength of the Wisconsin offense. The Badgers, though, don’t have the game-breaking backs they have had in years past like Jonathan Taylor and Melvin Gordon.

The lack of explosive playmakers extends beyond running back, too. UW has just three plays of 20-plus yards in its two games this season. The Badgers have 113 rushing attempts and QB Graham Mertz looked shaky against Penn State. I expect Wisconsin to try to bully its way down the field with long drives.

Pick: Under 46.5


Time: Noon | TV: FS1 | Line: TCU -9.5 | Total: 65.5

SMU has the offensive talent to play a close game with TCU, a team that allowed Cal to put up 8.2 yards per play a few weeks ago. Yes, I know SMU needed a last-second touchdown pass to beat Louisiana Tech last weekend when it was an 11-point favorite. I expect the Mustangs to be much more focused against an in-state rival.

TCU has a stud at running back in Zach Evans and has had two weeks to prepare for SMU’s offense. I still think this is too many points for a TCU program that has routinely failed to cover the spread as a home favorite. In its last 30 games as a home favorite, TCU is just 9-20-1 ATS. Under Sonny Dykes, SMU is 8-5 as an underdog with five outright wins. Three of those wins came when the Mustangs were an underdog of more than a touchdown.

Pick: SMU +9.5

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 03: SMU Mustangs wide receiver Danny Gray (#5) and teammates including running back Tyler Lavine (#31), wide receiver Reggie Roberson, Jr. (#8), and offensive lineman Beau Morris (#78) celebrate after Gray scored a touchdown during the college football game between the SMU Mustangs and Memphis Tigers on October 3, 2020, at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, TX.  (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SMU is a 9.5-point underdog on the road against TCU on Saturday. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Illinois at Purdue

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: BTN | Line: Purdue -11 | Total: 53

Purdue has the worst rushing offense in the Big Ten and could be without two of its top receivers on Saturday against Illinois. David Bell, one of the best players in the Big Ten, is in concussion protocol after taking a big hit against Notre Dame. His backup, Mershawn Rice, is out with a foot injury. Those are big setbacks for an offense that is already pretty one-dimensional. On top of that, Purdue is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games as a home favorite. I think Illinois can keep it close.

Pick: Illinois +11

Buffalo at Old Dominion

Time: 6 p.m. | TV: ESPN+ | Line: Buffalo -13.5 | Total: 51.5

After tough games against Nebraska and No. 16 Coastal Carolina, I think Buffalo is ready to beat up on a weaker opponent. Step right up, Old Dominion.

The Bulls nearly upset Coastal last week. UB lost just 28-25 and put up 262 rushing yards in the process. Buffalo is going to be able to run all over the Monarchs, who didn’t play in 2020 and are in Year 1 under Ricky Rahne. ODU has had some decent success running the ball but cannot throw at all. In all, the ODU offense is averaging just 4.71 yards per play, tied for No. 113 nationally.

Pick: Buffalo -13.5

No. 25 Kansas State at Oklahoma State

Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN+ | Line: OSU -6 | Total: 46

Oklahoma State keeps finding ways to win ugly games. In last week’s road win over Boise State, the Cowboys relied on a heavy ground attack and had Spencer Sanders throw the ball just 13 times. It’s not what we’re used to seeing with a Mike Gundy offense. And playing that style plays into Kansas State’s hands, in my opinion.

K-State is going to play a similar brand of football, and can do it just as well. With Skylar Thompson hurt and Will Howard playing QB, the Wildcats are also going to run the ball. Howard will be part of that rushing attack, as will Deuce Vaughn.

This feels like it’s going to be a really close game, and I like Kansas State getting points. Under Chris Klieman, the Wildcats are 11-6 ATS as an underdog.

Pick: Kansas State +6

MANHATTAN, KS - SEPTEMBER 18:  Running back Deuce Vaughn #22 of the Kansas State Wildcats celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the second half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn has 371 yards and five touchdowns through three games. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Indiana at Western Kentucky

Time: 8 p.m. | TV: CBSSN | Line: IU -9.5 | Total: 63.5

Indiana has to be feeling dejected after the way it performed last week against Cincinnati. The Hoosiers were the better team early, but let that game slip away with turnovers and ill-timed penalties. Now, IU has to turn around and go on the road for a night game against a team with one of the most explosive offenses in the country. That’s a tough ask.

In the offseason, Western Kentucky added the offensive coordinator, quarterback and top receiver from Houston Baptist. HBU played three FBS teams in 2020 and put up huge numbers. So far, that has carried over to WKU, who had 587 yards in a win over UT Martin and 477 yards in a three-point loss at Army.

WKU is coming off a bye and has a chance to pull off an upset here — especially if this turns into a shootout. Indiana QB Michael Penix has thrown six interceptions already this year.

Pick: Western Kentucky +9.5

California at Washington

Time: 9:30 p.m. | TV: Pac-12 | Line: UW -7.5 | Total: 46

Washington’s offense was terrible early in the year, but it actually felt like the Huskies got into a bit of a rhythm in the second half against Michigan. They only scored 10 points, but they managed to move the ball into UM territory on four straight possessions. That carried over into last week’s 52-3 victory over Arkansas State.

Washington should be able to put some points up on a Cal defense allowing 448.3 yards per game and more than six yards per play. Cal has a veteran quarterback in Chase Garbers who should be able to put some drives together as well.

Pick: Over 46

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