Wilson: My 9 Favorite College Football Bets For Week 4
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Oregon Duck
- College football expert Collin Wilson is back with his nine favorite college football bets for Week 4.
- This week's slate is littered with great betting opportunities throughout the entire day.
The CW9 — my nine picks in this weekly column — went 5-4 in Week 3, moving us to 16-11 on the season.
With conference play starting for all FBS teams, situational spots and hangovers will become more apparent. At this point, every team has played at least three games, so explosiveness and efficiency metrics will become more important and reliable when handicapping a game.
Let’s get to the picks!
Subscribe, unsubscribe, rate, download twice and listen once to The Action Network Colleges Podcast.
All data below as of Thursday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.
Saturday Morning Mimosas
Georgia at Missouri
- Spread: Missouri +14.5
- Over/Under: 64.5
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN
There is plenty to love about Georgia. It has a good chance to win the SEC and a shot at the national title. The Dawgs’ blowout win over South Carolina two weeks ago gave credence to the belief that they can return to the national championship game.
The advanced stats back up that notion, too, as Georgia ranks 13th on offense and second on defense when it comes to explosiveness.
Georgia’s defense to this point has been a little bend-don’t-break, preventing big plays but allowing the opposition to move the ball. Even so, the Bulldogs still rank 21st offensively and fifth defensively in finishing drives (defined as points per attempt past the 40-yard line).
Missouri had a tough time dealing with Purdue’s passing attack, so this early game could provide fireworks.
The Drew Lock-Derek Dooley experiment is off and running at Mizzou, as the Tigers are averaging 6.85 yards per play and rank in the top 20 of plenty of passing metrics.
Considering Georgia’s superb defensive explosiveness numbers, you’d expect the ‘Dogs to have no problem covering the spread — but not so fast.
A deeper look into Georgia’s stats reveals one critical issue — the Bulldogs’ defense is 127th in adjusted sack rate, 105th in completion percentage allowed and 109th in opportunity rate. That must be fixed if they want to be considered a serious title contender.
Missouri should have some success exposing Georgia’s flaws. Lock is 14th nationally in passing efficiency, and the Tigers’ offensive line has been stellar, boasting the seventh-best adjusted sack rate in the nation.
I am taking Missouri in this game, but my eyes will be completely fixated on how many times Lock is pressured.
Play On: Missouri +14.5
Saturday Afternoon Power Hour
Northern Illinois at Florida State
- Spread: Florida State -10
- Over/Under: 45
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPNU
I knew once this number was released I wouldn’t be able to get away from backing the Seminoles. There has been plenty of great content coming out of the local news outlets that cover Florida State football, and the stories about the offensive line are fascinating.
I feel bad for Deondre Francois pic.twitter.com/Tq9xdCb7o0
— Jack McGuire (@JackMacCFB) September 15, 2018
Almost every advance stat I can mention for the Seminoles is ugly, except for ranking ninth in rushing explosiveness. Even though FSU has scored only 10 points against FBS opponents this season, it doesn’t look much better for the visitors this weekend.
Northern Illinois has been dreadful on offense, ranking 126th in efficiency and 128th in explosiveness. If there was ever an offense the Seminoles could take out their frustrations on, it’s this one.
Keep an eye on the Northern Illinois defense, as that unit ranks 11th in adjusted sack rate. The Seminoles have spent plenty of time working on their young offensive line, and with a bit of protection, Deondre Francois and Cam Akers should get this number home.
Play On: Florida State -10
Tulane at Ohio State
- Spread: Ohio State -37
- Over/Under: 69
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: Big Ten Network
TCU exposed Ohio State’s biggest weakness last weekend. The Buckeyes have struggled to defend explosiveness in the early going, and that is a big reason that I’m not too high on Ohio State’s chances to contend this season.
ATTENTION Ohio State Football fans:
You're not going to win the National Championship!
At least according to @_Collin1. He discussed why he's not believing the Buckeye hype on the latest Action Network Colleges Podcast.
— Action Network Colleges (@ActionColleges) September 17, 2018
That might not be a popular opinion, but the numbers back it up. Ohio State ranks 111th in defensive IsoPPP, specifically ranking 130th against passing downs explosiveness. Is it the defensive personnel? Is it defensive coordinator Greg Schiano’s scheme against teams that run tempo?
It could be both, but the offense is going to consistently have to bail out the Buckeyes the remainder of the year.
Tulane is in a good spot here. The Buckeyes are coming off a huge victory and have to worry about a Big Ten East showdown with Penn State in Week 5.
Speaking of explosiveness, the Green Wave are a perfect combination of inefficiency and explosiveness. The Willie Fritz multi-look triple option is tough to prepare for and defend, and big plays can come from nowhere.
Plenty of plays may develop for quarterback Jonathan Banks with Buckeyes defensive lineman Nick Bosa out indefinitely.
— Tulane Football (@GreenWaveFB) September 15, 2018
Tulane ranks seventh overall in explosiveness and can beat you on the ground or through the air. It’s also worth mentioning that Tulane’s special teams have been excellent this year, ranking second overall in S&P+.
Ride the Green Wave, and shop wisely to get as many points as possible when making an investment.
Play On: Tulane +37
Clemson at Georgia Tech
- Spread: Georgia Tech +17
- Over/Under: 52
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ABC
I’ve mentioned previously that Clemson has had plenty of success against the triple option. The Tigers have covered or pushed against Georgia Tech over the last few years and had a warmup game against Georgia Southern in Week 3.
Clemson is only 32nd in IsoPPP (measuring explosiveness), while Georgia Tech is 19th defensively in the same stat. These numbers will change over the season, especially with more snaps for Trevor Lawrence.
Georgia Tech’s new defensive coordinator, Nate Woody, is still installing his scheme but already has the Jackets in the top 20 in terms of defensive IsoPPP.
Clemson is just 86th in the nation at finishing drives so far this season, and there is a stark contrast in time of possession with these teams. If Georgia Tech can limit Clemson’s explosiveness, the Yellow Jackets will get us to the window.
Play On: Georgia Tech +17
North Texas at Liberty
- Spread: Liberty +13.5
- Over/Under: 69.5
- Time: 6 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN3
No one looked better than North Texas in Week 3 as the Mean Green embarrassed Arkansas in Fayetteville. After a program-defining victory over an SEC team, North Texas travels to Lynchburg, Va., to take on Liberty.
The Flames had their game with Norfolk State canceled last Tuesday, which gives them 11 days of preparation and rest for North Texas.
Statistically, this is a good spot to back the Flames. Liberty has been excellent at explosiveness on both sides of the ball, ranking 18th offensively and 14th defensively.
Contrary to what you saw at Arkansas, explosiveness has never been part of North Texas’ game plan, as Mason Fine is one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the nation at moving the chains.
Liberty might expose North Texas with some big plays, as the Mean Green rank 104th in defending rush explosiveness.
The Liberty offensive line ranks 18th in adjusted sack rate against a Mean Green defensive line that ranks just 84th.
Play On: Liberty +13.5
N.C. State at Marshall
- Spread: Marshall +5.5
- Over/Under: 56.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS Sports Network
This game pits two teams that missed Week 3 because of Hurricane Florence.
While Marshall had 10 days to prepare for this game, North Carolina State’s players vacated the campus and traveled all over the place to get out of the storm’s path, so the preparation for this game heavily favors the Herd.
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday is one of the best in the country with extra preparation, as he has won five bowl games as a head coach and boasts a 7-2 ATS record off a bye week since 2012.
Neither one of these teams has much of an advanced stats portfolio since they’ve played only two games, but at the moment N.C. State is 127th in rushing efficiency and 130th in opportunity rate.
The Wolfpack offensive line just isn’t getting a push, leading quarterback Ryan Finley to plenty of throws. Marshall plays stingy pass defense, ranking 13th in defensive completion percentage. There is some rain in the forecast, which can only help the Herd control the line of scrimmage.
Play On: Marshall +5.5
Saturday Night Blackout Chaser
Stanford at Oregon
- Spread: Oregon +2.5
- Over/Under: 55.5
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ABC
Most of the chatter this week has been pro-Stanford as the Cardinal have defeated USC and San Diego State already while Oregon has played the likes of Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State.
That is not exactly murderers’ row for the Ducks, but I think it’s perfect for keeping quarterback Justin Herbert healthy for Stanford (a game he missed last year). My power ratings have Oregon winning this game by a score, and an opener of -1.5 quickly moved to Stanford -2.
Stanford might have had the tougher strength of schedule to this point, but the stats aren’t good. The Cardinal are 120th in offensive success rate, while Oregon’s defense is ninth in success rate. Stanford will continue to rely on the explosive play of Bryce Love and JJ Arcega-Whiteside.
The Trees will continue to aim for targets deep down the field, but expect Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to dial it up a notch on the blitz.
I like the trench advantages by Oregon, the blitz options Leavitt will fire up and the home crowd at Autzen.
Play On: Oregon +2.5
Air Force at Utah State
- Spread: Utah State -10.5
- Over/Under: 63
- Time: 10:15 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN2
This number jumped out at me during my weekly handicapping. Utah State gave Michigan State a challenge in Week 1, while boat racing New Mexico State and Tennessee Tech in its two victories.
Utah State is 3-0 ATS and has covered by almost three scores against the closing number. The Aggies have looked like the class of the Mountain West so far this season.
Air Force has played just two games, including a close loss to Florida Atlantic.
Some of the characteristics of this Air Force team may be a little surprising. The Falcons are tied for fourth in the nation in time of possession, but their defense seems totally new as they rank first defensively against rush efficiency, granted these stats came against Stony Brook and Florida Atlantic.
My power rating puts this game at 7.5, and we will lean on Air Force coming off a bye week. The Falcons are 6-1 since 2014 coming off a bye week.
Play On: Air Force +11.5
Arizona State at Washington
- Spread: Washington -17
- Over/Under: 50
- Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN
There could be a bit of revenge on the minds of Washington as it takes on Arizona State. The Huskies were on track to win the Pac-12 North last season, but a visit to Tempe ruined that dream.
Arizona State must also recover from a tough loss at San Diego State in Week 3. In that game, the Aztecs’ offensive line overpowered the Sun Devils defensive front seven.
Washington’s defense is what should get the Huskies to the window. Arizona State has not proven it can establish a ground game, ranking 106th in efficiency, 124th in opportunity rate and 129th in stuff rate.
The offensive line has not been able to dominate any of its previous opponents. This could put the game squarely on quarterback Manny Wilkins, and that could play into the Huskies’ strongest advanced state.
Play On: Washington -17