College Football Odds, Best Bets: 7 Top Picks for Saturday Night, Including Alabama vs. Vanderbilt, Oklahoma vs. Kansas State
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kansas State Wildcats
- Week 4's college football slate rolls on as we turn our attention to Saturday night's games.
- Our college football crew came through with seven best bets for this kickoff window, including Alabama vs. Vanderbilt, Oklahoma vs. Kansas State and more.
- Read on for full analysis and picks for Saturday night's Week 4 college football slate.
If you're looking to finish Week 4 of college football out strong, you've come to the right place.
Our staff dove into seven different games to provide you with seven best bets (!) to help complete your betting card for Saturday night.
Saturday Night's Week 4 College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Arkansas State vs. Old Dominion
Old Dominion has played three quality opponents in Virginia Tech, East Carolina and Virginia. Its 1-2 overall record doesn’t reflect the quality product the Monarchs are putting on tape.
Quarterback Hayden Wolff, in particular, is playing better than his raw statistics. Wolff’s QBR is just south of 50, yet the sophomore has posted a 5:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and has hit big plays when targeting Ali Jennings III.
Speaking of big plays, Arkansas State gives them up more than any team in the country. In fact, the Red Wolves have surrendered 11 plays of 30-plus yards in the past two weeks alone.
Memphis moved the ball at will, running up 547 total yards and 44 points last week against Butch Jones’ bunch. Caden Prieskorn, Memphis’ tight end, had a career day, hauling in five receptions for 69 yards and a pair of scores.
That’s great news for Zach Kuntz. The Monarch tight end has pro potential and busted out of a slump last week. He should feast on an overmatched ASU secondary.
The Red Wolves' porous defense (128th in explosiveness allowed and 130th in EPA/Play allowed) explains why our projection model rates this game as a strong play, and I would bet it all the way to ODU -6.5.
Pick: Old Dominion -5.5 (Play to -6.5)
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M
After the debacle in College Station two weeks ago against Appalachian State, Texas A&M showed signs of spirit, bouncing back to beat Miami (FL) and covering the closing 6.5-point spread.
Junior quarterback Max Johnson earns his second start of the season at Jerry World after replacing Haynes King in hasty fashion the morning before last week’s game.
Johnson was competent in his inaugural start, going 10-of-20 for 140 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. A pro-style quarterback, Johnson is an excellent on-field decision-maker who will hang in the pocket and make his read progressions while limiting costly mistakes.
While his numbers weren’t great in his first start, Johnson got the win in a critical game, albeit with plenty of help from an excellent Texas A&M defense.
This week, we will continue to see the evolution of the playbook relationship between Jimbo Fisher and his new starting quarterback.
Look for Johnson to get back to his production means from last season, when he averaged 234.6 yards and 2.25 passing touchdowns per contest.
Even though this is the opening weekend of SEC play, Johnson will have a very favorable matchup against an Arkansas secondary that has struggled significantly this season. Through three games, the Razorbacks rank dead last (131st) in FBS passing defense, giving up 352.7 yards per game through the air.
Last week against FCS Missouri State, Arkansas gave up a massive 357 yards through the air.
The Texas A&M game plan will undoubtedly call for exploiting the Arkansas secondary, as each of the Razorbacks' three opponents this season have done with ease.
Things are trending in the right direction for the Aggies with a change at quarterback and a dominant defense that ranks 10th in the nation in scoring defense.
I’m projecting Texas A&M as 5.5-point favorites and subsequently expect Johnson to delve further into the playbook, showcasing the untapped Aggie talent against a struggling Arkansas defense.
Pick: Texas A&M -2 (Play to -3.5)
Marshall vs. Troy
By Cody Goggin
Troy was able to show out on a national stage last week, almost beating Appalachian State in a game that was featured on College GameDay. The Trojans played well enough to win, and it seems like the market has corrected them up while penalizing Marshall for losing to Bowling Green.
If you look at the SP+ post-game win expectancy scores, Troy would have been expected to lose to App State by a margin of 5.9. Marshall, on the other hand, outplayed Bowling Green and would have been expected to win by 9.2 points, but instead fell by three.
In SP+ rankings, Marshall is 62nd overall with the No. 68 defense and No. 57 offense. Across the other sideline, Troy ranks 88th with just the No. 105 offense and No. 67 defense. SP+ projects this to be a 6.6-point Marshall victory.
Marshall has the No. 28 offense in the country by Offensive Success Rate, and is facing a Troy defense that ranks 91st in Defensive Success Rate. Troy’s offense has been brutal this season, ranking 80th in Success Rate and 113th in offensive EPA per play.
Where Marshall should have an advantage will be in the running game.
Troy’s defense is 109th in Success Rate against the run while Marshall has the 39th-best Rushing Success Rate in FBS. The Thundering Herd offense is also 16th in Passing Success Rate, but Troy matches up better through the air, ranking 58th in passing defense.
With 3 as a key number, I would like to grab this number before it moves up to 3.5. I wouldn’t bet this all the way to 4, even though I do believe that Marshall is the better team here.
Pick: Marshall -3 (Play to -3.5)
UNLV vs. Utah State
Well for one, UNLV is the fourth-best team in the nation against the spread this year, covering by an average of 14.3 points.
Meanwhile, Utah State is the worst team in the country against the number, losing all three of its matchups by an average of 20.3 points.
But let’s not forget, this is a UNLV program that finished 2-16 straight up over the last two seasons. Marcus Arroyo sits at the helm, and he’s infamous for handcuffing Justin Herbert in his time with Oregon. Maybe we need to pump the brakes a little bit.
I played UNLV over 4 and Utah State under 7 regular season wins this season, so you would naturally think I’m backing the Rebels here.
But this line has just ballooned out of control given the recent results of these two programs.
UNLV has been rolling, but the thought of it being favored on the road in its first Mountain West game is too aggressive. UNLV’s defense hasn’t faced an explosive offense like the Aggies, and the secondary will likely be exposed.
This is one of the best “buy-low/sell-high” games I can remember.
Utah State is the better team on paper, and the offense will gel against a lackluster Rebel defense. Maverik Stadium will be rocking, as the Aggies will start out conference play 1-0.
Pick: Utah State +3 (Play to pick'em)
Vanderbilt vs. Alabama
I will be completely honest with everyone: I hate the board this week. Hate it. I don’t see many edges anywhere, and so with that, we’re going to roll with the hot hand.
Many of you might remember the historic run Alabama 1H spread went on several years back.
Well, don’t look now, but it appears that Alabama 1Q might be the new Alabama 1H.
The Crimson Tide have jumped on lesser opponents so far, absolutely dominating ULM and Utah State from the jump.
Depending on the line you got, they might have covered against Texas as well. So far, the Tide have outscored their opponents, 55-3, in the first quarter.
Vanderbilt might be taking small steps forward as a program under Clark Lea, but it’s still a cellar dweller in the SEC.
I expect Alabama to treat it as such this week.
Pick: Alabama 1Q -11 (Play to -13.5)
Charlotte vs. South Carolina
However, the 49ers might not be the doormat you may assume with Chris Reynolds back under center.
The super senior absolutely torched Georgia State last week for over 400 yards passing and five touchdowns en route to a major upset as 20-point underdogs.
Yes, the same Georgia State team that outgained SC, 311-306, in Columbia in Week 1.
The 49ers were completely dysfunctional in the absence of Reynolds, who missed the second half of the season-opener and the following two games with an injury.
From a point-spread perspective, he’s one of the most important players in the country based on the relative drop-off to his replacement.
Additionally, SC has been absolutely ravished by injuries, especially on defense, with the following list of injuries to Week 1 starters:
- LT Jaylen Nichols
- DT Alex Huntley
- MLB Stone Blanton
- CB Cam Smith
- CB Darius Rush
- S RJ Roderick
- S Devonni Reed
Head coach Shane Beamer stated all are questionable, but I assume he'll take a very cautious approach with most since SC has South Carolina State on deck prior to a brutal schedule the rest of the way.
In addition to those listed above, SC has already lost starting outside linebacker Jordan Strachan and middle linebacker Mohamed Kaba to season-ending injuries.
Meanwhile, a couple of key depth pieces in the secondary have also dealt with injuries.
In total, SC could be without eight of its 11 defensive starters from its opening week depth chart. The back end is particularly in rough shape, which could spell trouble against a very potent passing attack with Reynolds back in the mix.
I like the 49ers catching over three touchdowns.
Pick: Charlotte +22.5
Kansas State vs. Oklahoma
I love this buy-low spot for the visiting Wildcats. Kansas State is a far better football team than what it showed last week in a really disappointing home loss to Tulane.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma has spent all week hearing everyone tell it how great it is after the beatdown of Nebraska in Lincoln.
The reality is these teams are far more evenly matched than the 13-point spread suggests.
Deuce Vaughn should be back to full strength after missing a good chunk of the second half last week due to cramps. If there’s an area to attack the Sooners' defense, it’s on the ground, where Oklahoma checks in outside the top 100 in Line Yards.
On the other side of the ball, Kansas State has the bodies and size up front to limit Oklahoma’s running game without needing to jam the box, and it should also be able to generate some pressure on Dillon Gabriel.
Look for Chris Klieman’s team to come out flying around out of the gates after last week’s debacle. I expect a hard-fought, competitive game between two teams that both have aspirations of a Big 12 title.
Kansas State has a path to an outright victory, but at minimum, it will be able to do enough to hang inside this 13-point number.