Top College Football Picks For Week 4

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 10:36 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 23, 2015 10:36 PM UTC

For the most part, Week 4 of the college football season is the last of non-conference play. The Big Ten, for example, begins in-conference play next week. Here are three games I highly recommend in Week 4 with college football odds from BetOnline.

Boise State vs. Virginia
The Broncos are 2.5-point favorites on the college football odds for Friday's game. This is not just the first-ever meeting between Boise State and Virginia but also Boise's first-ever game in that state. Kudos to Virginia, which likely has the toughest non-conference schedule in the land as the Cavaliers already have lost to ranked UCLA and Notre Dame. UVa is the only program in the nation that plays three nationally ranked opponents this month from the Associated Press' preseason poll. Boise State fell out of the poll following a last-minute 35-24 loss at a very good BYU team on Sept. 12. Last Friday, Boise State bombed Idaho State 52-0 but lost starting quarterback Ryan Finley to a broken ankle. He's going to  miss about eight weeks. I'm not sure that's a huge deal because Finley had thrown for only 485 yards with one score and four picks. Coach Bryan Harsin hasn't said who will start in Finley's spot. He expects sophomore Tommy Stuart and true freshman Brett Rypien to both play. Stuart, a JuCo transfer, took over for Finley vs. Idaho State and was 9-for-13 for 69 yards and a touchdown with three sacks. The Broncos are still going to be a run-based team and Virginia ranks only 85th against the run. The Cavs aren't that good against the pass, either, though. They rank 99th in allowing 261.3 yards per game. UVa nearly lost to FCS school William & Mary last week -- Coach Mike London might have been fired immediately had that happened. But it might have been a bit of a sandwich game off the loss to Notre Dame and ahead of this one. London will be fired at the end of the season, mark that down.

College Football Pick: Boise State. Remember -- Notre Dame beat Virginia with an inexperienced backup QB. BSU is 5-2 ATS in its past seven non-conference games. The Cavs are just 2-9-1 ATS in their past 12 after a win.

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Mississippi State vs. Auburn
The Tigers are 2.5-point favorites as well on the college football odds at BetOnline. I have to eat some crow on Auburn thus far. I thought it would win the SEC West but that doesn't look likely right now. It should have lost two weeks ago at home to FCS school Jacksonville State and was totally outclassed last week in a 45-21 defeat at LSU. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson has been a disaster this season so Coach Gus Malzahn is turning to redshirt freshman Sean White against the Bulldogs. Through three games, Johnson had thrown six interceptions and lost a fumble. Johnson had completed 60 percent of his passes -- down from 73 percent his first two years in a mop-up role behind Nick Marshall. White has yet to take a collegiate snap. White was a touted prospect, a past MVP of the Under Armour All-American game and the top performer at the Elite 11 quarterback competition. The Tigers thus would appear to have a major mismatch at the position as Mississippi State has perhaps the SEC's best quarterback in Dak Prescott. But Auburn has more talent everywhere else and will play with desperation -- rallying around White. I also believe that Will Muschamp's defense will start to improve. The former Florida head coach was given one of the nation's largest contracts for an assistant but that defense ranks just 104th in the nation in total D and 92nd in scoring. To be fair, many of those Johnson turnovers put the defense in a bad spot. So the Tigers will just ask White to manage the game most likely.

College Football Pick: Auburn. MSU is 1-4 ATS in its past five on the road in college football picks. The home team has covered five of the past seven meetings.

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USC vs. Arizona State
The Trojans are 5.5-point favorites on college football odds. I most definitely did not see Southern Cal's 41-31 home loss to Stanford coming last week. it was USC's third loss in the past 16 games as a double-digit favorite. The Cardinal aren't exactly an offensive powerhouse and lost at Northwestern to open the season. But they put up 474 yards and 26 first downs against the Trojans. Kevin Hogan was as good as Heisman Trophy candidate Cody Kessler. The only way Kessler wins that now is if USC wins out and he puts up big numbers. And I don't think USC can afford to lose another game and get to the Pac-12 Championship Game -- not with how good UCLA looks thus far in the South Division. Plus the Trojans still have to go to Oregon. A loss here, and Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian might be in some trouble, especially after his drunken escapades at a pep rally on the eve of the season. Hard to know if Arizona State is any good. The Sun Devils were blasted in Houston by Texas A&M to open the season but have followed with so-so wins over Cal Poly and New Mexico. Arizona State ranks ninth in the nation in passing yards allowed, but you have to consider the competition. Texas A&M put up 425 total yards on this defense and USC has a better QB than the Aggies do. Last year, ASU beat USC 38-34. The Sun Devils scored three touchdowns in the final 3:53, with QB Mike Bercovici hitting Jaelen Strong on a 46-yard Hail Mary on the final play. Expect another shootout here.

College Football Pick: Southern Cal because it will be playing with desperation. The Trojans are 5-1 ATS in their past six following an ATS loss. ASU is 0-5 ATS in its past five overall.

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