College Football Week 4 Best Bets, Picks, Predictions

With several big games on the horizon, you can find the best bets for College Football Week 4. Hitting on best bets for Virginia-Syracuse, Clemson-Wake Forest, Indiana-Cincinnati, and plenty more.

Week 4 College Football Best Bets & Predictions

As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter @wayne_sports_ where I post all of my bets for college football and the NFL. I do my best to update this article later in the week with the bets I add, but not every bet makes it here. You can also check out my Tallysight profile for all of my picks here.

Record This Season: 33-26-1 (55%)

Virginia Cavaliers at Syracuse Orange

Game Info: Friday, September 23, 7:00 PM EST

Coverage: ESPN

Syracuse escaped last week with one of the most exciting wins of the season against Purdue, and they are riding hot at 3-0. Purdue did an excellent job of limiting Sean Tucker last week as he finished with just 42 yards on 18 carries (2.3 YPC), but Virginia won’t have the same success. Chase Brown ran for 7.3 YPC against Virgina two weeks ago, and they rank just 89th in PFF’s team run defense grades.

While the Purdue defense keyed in on Sean Tucker, Oronde Gadsden II emerged as a big-time threat for the Orange in the passing game. Gadsden finished with six catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the best performance of his young career. Garrett Schrader turned in another excellent performance for Syracuse, and he’s now PFF’s sixth-highest graded quarterback in the country (min. 36 dropbacks).

Meanwhile, Brennan Armstrong has had an awful start to the year after being one of the quarterbacks I had my eyes on over the offseason. Armstrong has completed just 52.5% of his passes with three interceptions and just two touchdowns. In his defense, he has been pressured more than any other passer in the country, but that won’t change against Syracuse who totaled 20 pressures against Aidan O’Connell last week.

O’Connell was able to beat that pressure for several big plays, but Armstrong has a 9.8% turnover-worthy play rate under pressure, the 12th-highest rate in the country of QBs with at least 20 dropbacks. With NFL prospect Garrett Williams set to match up on top Virginia wideout Dontayvion Wicks, Armstrong might have to turn to other options.

Syracuse is 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games while Virginia is 0-4 ATS in their last four games overall. The Cavaliers have also lost four of their last six road games. Virginia narrowly beat Old Dominion last week and got killed by Illinois the week prior – they haven’t impressed me at all thus far. I’m perfectly comfortable laying the points with one of the hottest teams in the country at home.

Best Bet: Syracuse -9.5 (bet to -12.5)

Clemson Tigers at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Game Info: Saturday, September 24, 12:00 PM EST

Coverage: ABC

Clemson is a single-digit favorite against Wake Forest for only the second time in the last 13 years, and in eight of the last nine years the Tigers have been favored by 20+ points. However, this isn’t the same Clemson offense we’re used to seeing, and there are still massive questions about D.J. Uiagalelei despite some strong performances against Furman and Louisiana Tech the past two weeks.

The Wake Forest defense is much-improved this season, and it could actually give Uiagalelei some problems. New defensive coordinator Brad Lambert has paid dividends as the Demon Deacons rank 13th in coverage and seventh in creating havoc. Meanwhile, the Clemson offensive line has had issues protecting Uiagalelei as they rank 64th in PFF’s team pass-blocking grades.

My biggest concern with this game is the one-dimensional nature of the Wake offense. The Deacons are near the bottom of the FBS in rushing success rate, which is concerning against a Clemson defense that ranks 15th in line yards. Sam Hartman will be challenged by a Clemson secondary that ranks ninth in PFF’s team coverage grades.

However, Hartman has now faced Clemson on three separate occasions, and he will know what to expect as a seasoned passer. Offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero will have a plan of attack in this game. Wake Forest has a deep group of receivers that can be deployed in a variety of ways, including potential NFL draft pick A.T. Perry.

Clemson is receiving somewhere around 80% of the public money in this game, but the spread has continued to drop from 8.5 or 9 earlier this week to around 7.5 or 7. I need the full touchdown to make Wake Forest a play at home, but at the time I’m writing this, that’s still widely available.

Best Bet: Wake Forest +7.5 (bet to +7)

Texas Longhorns at Texas Tech Red Raiders

Game Info: Saturday, September 24, 3:30 PM EST

Coverage: ESPN

Much has been made of the Texas quarterback situation, but four-star sophomore Hudson Card has been a steadying presence in the wake of the Quinn Ewers injury. Card hasn’t lit up the scoreboard, but he’s completing 66% of his passes and PFF has tracked him with zero turnover-worthy plays on 51 passing attempts.

As Card plays efficient, turnover-free football, the Texas offense can lean on its electric running back tandem. We know Bijan Robinson is a likely future first-round pick in the NFL, but Roschon Johnson has been just as impressive this season and actually has a higher PFF grade as he’s created more yards after contact per run. Texas Tech has the eighth-ranked run defense in the country, but they aren’t ready to face this tandem.

Meanwhile, the Texas Tech offense has had its fair share of issues since Tyler Shough’s injury. Donovan Smith has struggled mightily the past two weeks against stout opponents in Houston and NC State as he’s thrown for five interceptions and taken nine sacks over those two games. It’s difficult to count on him being efficient against top opponents.

The Texas defense has been much better than most expected, particularly against the run where they rank 17th in the FBS per PFF. DeMarvion Overshown is one of the best linebackers in the country in run defense, while the four starting defensive linemen have combined for 14 pressures – those will turn into sacks against Texas Tech.

There’s still an outside chance that Quinn Ewers returns this week, beating his timetable by a wide margin, but I’m expecting Card to be the guy under center. Regardless, Texas Tech has been beat up as it enters its third straight game against an AP Top 25 team, and I’m betting on the Longhorns forcing more turnovers out of the mistake-prone Smith. Texas Tech is headed in the right direction, but they’re not ready to compete with this Texas team.

Best Bet: Texas -6 (bet to -6.5)

Indiana Hoosiers at Cincinnati Bearcats

Game Info: Saturday, September 24, 3:30 PM EST

Coverage: ESPN2

Last week, I faded Indiana as they took on Western Kentucky, and they escaped with a three-point win in overtime. However, Bill Connelly’s postgame win expectancy had Western Kentucky by an expected spread of 10.7 points and Indiana with an 11% win rate. They were very lucky to win as they were outgained in yardage, and the Hilltoppers had numerous opportunities they failed to capitalize on.

Connor Bazalek has been incredibly underwhelming this season despite not facing high-level opposition, and he’s completed just 56.6% of his passes. The run game has been solid, but Cincinnati has one of the best run defenses in the country led by Ivan Pace Jr., PFF’s second-highest-graded run defender at linebacker in the country. The Bearcats can force Indiana to be one-dimensional on offense.

Cincinnati didn’t hit my first half spread for them last week as they started slow for the second straight week, but they outscored Miami (Ohio) 38-7 during the final 48 minutes of game action. The Bearcats have suffered from penalties – they had 10 flags thrown for 99 yards last week – but I expect Luke Fickell to be able to get that under control.

Ben Bryant has been a revelation for Cincinnati at quarterback as he’s completed over 70% of his passes for 863 yards, the 25th-most in the country, and has seven touchdowns to just two interceptions. Last week, both Tyler Scott and Tre Tucker went over 100 yards, and both can challenge Indiana’s secondary that ranks 113th in the country in PFF’s coverage grades.

I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to back Cincinnati again after they lost the turnover battle and had two missed field goals in a frustrating non-cover by one point against Arkansas, and this is a perfect spot to do so. Indiana is just 1-5 ATS in its last six road games, and the Bearcats will be able to take advantage of their deficiencies. SP+ makes this spread 22.2 points, and I’d play it to 19.5.

Best Bet: Cincinnati -16.5 (bet to -19.5)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at North Carolina Tar Heels

Game Info: Saturday, September 24, 3:30 PM EST

Coverage: ABC

Last week, I picked Notre Dame to cover a ten-point spread against Cal. Not only did they not cover, but they had to fight for their lives against a lower-tier Pac-12 team. The start to the Marcus Freeman era has been rocky to say the least, and while it’s not necessarily his fault, it’s difficult to trust his team right now.

Drew Pyne got the start last week, and he came out as PFF’s worst-graded quarterback with at least 30 dropbacks. North Carolina’s secondary has been a weakness – they rank 115th in pass defense EPA. However, Pyne can’t complete passes downfield, and the UNC defense returns Myles Murphy this week to a unit that ranks eighth in PFF’s pass-rushing grades.

While Pyne has struggled mightily, Drake Maye has been tremendous this season. He has over 900 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and just one interception, and he ranks fourth among all FBS quarterbacks in passer rating (min. 30 dropbacks). Josh Downs, North Carolina’s top receiver, is set to return this week, making the Tar Heels even more difficult to defend against.

Notre Dame’s defense is the best unit in this game, but it’s difficult to know how inspired they will be with the way things have gone recently. The return of tackle Spencer Rolland will help against future NFL pass-rusher Isaiah Foskey, and Downs will help as an underneath outlet for when Maye inevitably faces pressure.

The collapse of the Fighting Irish has been surprising and unexpected, but we have to change our outlook on this team now. UNC is coming off a bye week, and Mack Brown should have his guys fired up for revenge against Notre Dame, who they have lost two straight games to. Above all else, I’m betting on the way these two programs are trending, as they are moving in opposite directions.

Best Bet: UNC -1.5 (bet to -3)

James Madison Dukes at Appalachian State Mountaineers

Game Info: Saturday, September 24, 3:30 PM EST

Coverage: ESPN+

Appalachian State must feel like it has played a full season of football at this point. After a wild shootout against UNC that saw them score a whopping 40 points in a comeback effort in the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers went on the road and had a massive upset of Texas A&M. Last week, they played Troy as 14-point favorites, and needed a last-second hail mary to pull out the win.

That’s an exhausting start to a season, and they are primed for a letdown spot. Meanwhile, James Madison has coasted to wins over Middle Tennessee and Norfolk State by a combined margin of 93 points prior to their bye week last week. They’re playing well in all facets of the game and are well rested for a big-time showdown against a ranked opponent.

Todd Centeio has been the story of the season for the Dukes as he’s PFF’s highest-graded passer in the FBS. Centeio has eight big-time throws to no turnover-worthy plays through two games, and he ranks sixth in the FBS in passer rating (min. 36 dropbacks). App State’s secondary ranks 115th in passing success rate allowed and 88th in EPA per pass allowed, so Centeio should find success.

The biggest concern for this game is that Chase Brice, who has had an excellent season with 7.8 yards per attempt and nine touchdowns to one interception, could put James Madison’s defense in a bind. The Dukes only returned four starters from last year on defense, and the App State run game has also been elite.

However, I’m picking this spot primarily due to the massive let down on the horizon for App State. They will undoubtedly be a popular public side again this week, but I’m fading the public here and trusting what I’ve seen from the Dukes. James Madison will be fired up for the opportunity to make a statement in their first Sun Belt game, and I believe they can win outright if things bounce their way.

Best Bet: James Madison +7.5 (play to +6.5)

Ole Miss Rebels vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Game Info: Saturday, September 24, 4:00 PM EST

Coverage: SECN

I almost made Ole Miss -17 a best bet against Georgia Tech last week, and they covered comfortably. Lane Kiffin has no problem leaving his starting offense in the game despite a wide margin on the scoreboard, and that makes them a good bet to cover big spreads in general. That’s especially true as Kiffin spoke to his desire to continue tuning up aspects of his team.

Jaxson Dart’s performance hasn’t been anything to write home about thus far in his first year at Ole Miss, but he overcame a rocky start against Troy with seven big-time throws to just two turnover-worthy plays over the last two games, per PFF. Most impressively, Dart’s yards per attempt has been over 12 each of the last two weeks.

Tulsa ranks 80th in the country in run defense EPA this year, and they’ve faced three non-prolific offenses in Jacksonville State, Northern Illinois, and Wyoming. Zach Evans, a future NFL running back, has run for 6.5 YPC in his first year at Ole Miss, and he had 134 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia Tech last week.

Davis Brin, the Tulsa quarterback, has been very good thus far with 11 touchdowns to just one interception and 1,206 passing yards, the most in the country. However, Ole Miss is the first SEC defense he’s ever faced in his career, and I trust Kiffin to have his guys ready for the challenge.

Ole Miss is an obvious public side, and I typically enjoy fading the public, but I expect Lane Kiffin to continue his strong record as a big favorite. After last week’s game, Ole Miss is now 8-0 straight up and 6-2 ATS as a double-digit favorite under Kiffin. I’m comfortable backing the Rebels up to the key number of 24 here.

Best Bet: Ole Miss -21 (bet to -23.5)

Oregon Ducks at Washington State Cougars

Game Info: Saturday, September 24, 4:00 PM EST

Coverage: FOX

I was tempted to lay the points with the Ducks last week, but I ended up staying away due to the injuries to running back Byron Cardwell Jr. and linebacker Justin Flowe that kept them out of the game. It didn’t end up mattering as they laid the smack down on a tired BYU team, and they impressed in all three phases of the game.

I expected Dan Lanning, former Georgia defensive coordinator, to bring more physicality to this team as the new head coach, and it’s starting to come to fruition. Oregon held BYU to just 2.5 yards per carry last week as they played excellent team defense and made them a one-dimensional offense. Their pass-rush was relatively mitigated against an elite BYU offensive line, but that won’t be the case this week.

Cameron Ward presents an interesting challenge with his eight touchdowns to three interceptions, but the Cougars have struggled to keep him upright – they rank 117th in PFF’s pass-blocking grades. Ward’s passer rating has dropped from 121.4 to 41.5 under pressure, and he has four turnover-worthy plays in 42 dropbacks.

The Ducks can send waves of pressure at Ward with the likes of Brandon Dorlus, Noah Sewell, and Flowe, who is expected to return this week. Oregon can also play complementary football with a run game that ranks 16th in EPA despite having to face Georgia already this season. The Ducks have an elite offensive line to lean on.

I’m surprised this line is only six points here, and I expect Oregon to be dominant in the trenches on both sides of the ball. While Bo Nix adds some variance to the outcome, I expect the Ducks to rely on their run game and defense to lead them to a dominant win. I love getting their spread under the key number of 7.

Best Bet: Oregon -6 (bet to -7)

Iowa Hawkeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Game Info: Saturday, September 24, 7:00 PM EST

Coverage: FS1

Plug your nose, because this game is going to be ugly. The over/under is currently set at 34.5 points here, and I would lean towards the under on the total. However, with such a low total, I believe there is value in backing the home underdog that is currently catching over a touchdown on the spread.

Iowa finally put up more than seven points in a game last week as they shut out Nevada with a final score of 27-0, but I’m not ready to declare them an offensive juggernaut by any means. Nevada lost as much production as any team in the country, and Spencer Petras still only completed 53.8% of his passes despite the returns of Keagan Johnson and Nico Ragaini, two receivers.

Petras is PFF’s second-worst quarterback in the FBS among passers with at least 80 dropbacks, and this won’t be an easy matchup against a Rutgers defense that has held its opponents to 14 points per game. The Scarlet Knights have the 14th-best busted drive rate in the country per Football Outsiders, meaning Iowa will likely have plenty of drives pick up no yardage.

Meanwhile, Rutgers has weathered the storm of injuries to both Noah Vedral and Gavin Wimsatt, while Evan Simon has taken over as the starter. Simon has outplayed Petras by every metric, and while he’s no electric passer, he’s completed 65.9% of his throws with a strong 136.5 passer rating. Of course, he hasn’t played a defense close to the caliber of Iowa, but he’s at least capable.

These two defenses are both rated top-five in the country per PFF, and I don’t mind taking the under in this game. However, with such a low total in a primetime home game for Rutgers, I can’t help but take the value at +7.5. It’s gross and I don’t recommend watching the game, but I have a hard time seeing how Iowa runs away with this game barring fluky defensive touchdowns.

Best Bet: Rutgers +7.5 (bet to +7)

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. As the United States embarks on an exciting journey towards the legalization of sports betting, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to cover industry news, NFL and NBA odds, and more.

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