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College Football Group of 5 Parlay: 3 Top Picks for Week 4, Including Old Dominion & More

College Football Group of 5 Parlay: 3 Top Picks for Week 4, Including Old Dominion & More article feature image
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Michael Chang/Getty Images. Pictured: Akron quarterback DJ Irons.

  • As part of Michael Calabrese's favorite Group of 5 parlay, he is targeting three games in college football's Week 4.
  • Akron vs. Liberty, Arkansas State vs. Old Dominion and TCU vs. SMU are the matchups he's eyeing.
  • Read below to find out the G5 parlay for this week.

Each week, to coincide with the release of the “Group of Five Deep Dive” under the Big Bets On Campus podcast banner, I’ll be sharing my Group of Five Parlay of the week.

I promise this is a plug for the Action Network app and not a justification for this column’s rotten luck in Week 3. After losing my upset special from the Group of Five Deep Dive on a Hail Mary in Boone, I was well positioned on my parlay, and I know this because the Action App provides real-time projections.

Here’s where my triple order of overs stood in the second half of their respective games:

  • Maryland-SMU: 70% likelihood of going over with 7:30 remaining in the game
  • UCF-Florida Atlantic: 83% likelihood of going over with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter
  • Fresno State-USC: 80% likelihood of going over at the start of the fourth quarter

All three stayed under. Like cryptocurrency going belly up in a steep drop-off, that was my bankroll on Saturday night.

But I’m back on the wagon this week fading my least favorite defense in all of college football, backing Sonny Dykes in an Iron Skillet reunion in Big D, and banking on a Joe Moorhead moment in Lynchburg.


Reported odds and specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing.

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TCU vs. SMU

Saturday, Sept. 24
12 p.m. ET
ESPNU
TCU -2

Sonny Dykes is headed back to the Hilltop with his new team after serving as SMU’s head coach for four years. His fingerprints are still all over this SMU roster, but the Mustangs aren’t as dynamic as they were last year.

Dykes’ coaching ability aside, there’s been a talent drain on the perimeter, with Rashee Rice representing the only true difference-maker in the SMU receiving corps. Maryland exploited this weakness in the second half of its win last week, limiting Rice to just three receptions on the Mustangs’ final five drives.

I’m counting on Joe Gillespie to find a way to stymie Tanner Mordecai and the passing game in much the same way he did last year as Tulsa’s defensive coordinator. His diverse 3-3-5 defense held Mordecai to 6.5 yards per attempt and picked him off twice.

Tulsa held on for a 34-31 upset as a seven-point underdog. The only other team to frustrate Mordecai like that was Cincinnati and its star-studded secondary.

If TCU can slow the SMU attack, Max Duggan should be able to provide enough through the air for his Horned Frogs to sneak past the Ponies. Duggan got his de facto preseason in with a five-touchdown performance against Tarleton State before a bye week.

I also expect to see Sam Jackson against a vulnerable SMU run defense. Maryland ran for 225 yards, and Taulia Tagovailoa chipped in 50-plus yards. Jackson has already flashed game-breaking speed and could provide a spark in a few strategic situations.

I would play this up to -4 and think we’ll see more movement before kickoff.

Pick: TCU -2


Arkansas State vs. Old Dominion

Saturday, Sept. 24
6 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Old Dominion -5.5

Arkansas State always had the potential to field one of the nation’s worst defenses.

The Red Wolves had a lot to replace from a unit that was absolutely horrific in 2021. They finished 129th in total defense, 124th in scoring, and no team in the country gave up more plays of 30-plus yards than Arkansas State.

After playing an FCS warm-up against Grambling, ASU gave Ohio State a fight in the first half before the Buckeyes scored three third-quarter touchdowns and throttled things down in the fourth.

Purely based on the box scores, it appeared that Arkansas State had taken strides toward mediocrity on defense. But then it played Memphis last week, and the same old defense from 2021 reappeared.

The Tigers scored 44 points, gouged ASU for 547 total yards, didn’t turn the ball over and surrendered just two sacks.

And now comes an Old Dominion team that has faced a challenging opening slate of Virginia Tech, East Carolina and Virginia. The Monarchs upset Virginia Tech and were within a hair of upsetting the Hoos.

What Old Dominion needs is to face a defense that struggles to generate pressure after Hayden Wolff took seven sacks in the past two games. Luckily, Arkansas State does not excel on the edge nor does it blitz a lot.

With time, Wolff and his top two targets, Ali Jennings III and Zack Kuntz, should do major damage in this game. Jennings is one of the best big-play receivers in college football (21 YPR), and Arkansas State has already surrendered 11 pass plays of 30 or more yards in the past two weeks alone and 12 overall for the season (131st).

Old Dominion is battle-tested against far better competition and should be able to stretch its legs offensively against ASU’s turnstile defense.

Pick: Old Dominion -5.5


Akron vs. Liberty

Saturday, Sept. 24
6 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Akron +26.5

Akron has scored six points in the past two weeks. But Liberty isn’t within a country mile of Michigan State or Tennessee’s defense. In fact, Liberty is the exact defense a team wants to face when its looking to rebound.

The Flames give up explosive plays on the ground and through the air, which should be possible with Joe Moorhead calling the shots.

DJ Irons put together a shockingly competent stat line against Tennessee despite the final score, connecting on 32-of-44 passes for 241 yards and zero interceptions. If he can play at that level against a far more forgiving defense, this passing game will be competitive from the opening drive.

But the reason I’m bullish on Akron chipping in 24 or more in this game is Cam Wiley. The sophomore power back carried the Zips in their opening win over St. Francis (PA) but has been bottled up ever since.

But Liberty can’t stop the run, full stop. UAB nearly had two running backs go for 100 yards against it. The Flames’ overall stats don’t tell the whole story because Wake abandoned the run in a high-scoring game with them last week. That has slanted their numbers, but Wiley is absolutely in line for a big game.

Offensively, Liberty is cooking now that they’ve made the switch to Kaidon Salter. The former four-star Tennessee Volunteer was a two-sport athlete with an impressive track and field trophy room that includes hurdles, high jump, long jump and triple jump.

He’s a freak in the Malik Willis mold. While his arm isn’t quite as dynamic, this could a superstar in the making.

But Salter has been ruled out for Saturday with a groin injury, which is tremendous news for Akron backers. With Charlie Brewer already on the shelf, that means Liberty is looking at Jonathan Bennett.

Bennett closed fall camp as the Flames’ QB2, but he was quickly benched after he failed to move the LU offense. In a game that could require 45 points from Liberty to cover, you don’t want to side with a team with quarterback questions.

I would play this side down to Akron +24.5.

Pick: Akron +26.5


College Football Week 4 Group of Five Parlay (+602)

TCU -2

Old Dominion -5.5

Akron +26.5

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