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Wilson: My Projected Odds for Every Week 4 College Football Game

Wilson: My Projected Odds for Every Week 4 College Football Game article feature image

Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: University of Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam (5).

Back in July, we weren’t sure if we would have a college football season at all in 2020. So, even though some of the games from the last three weeks haven’t been the best, it’s still exciting to have games to bet each weekend.

And hey, it hasn’t been all bad: We’ve seen flashes of greatness from Miami quarterback D’Eriq King and Jonathan Adams of Arkansas State, to name a few. Week 3 even offered us some fantastic closing games to sweat in Louisiana Tech vs. Southern Miss and N.C. State vs. Wake Forest.

But, let’s be honest: It hasn’t felt like a real college football season. It’s felt more like the NFL preseason.

COVID-19 has affected teams as much, if not more, than expected. Multiple teams have had entire position groups depleted due to positive tests and contact-tracing protocols. This, in turn, has led to the postponement or outright cancellation of games involving Charlotte, Baylor and multiple other programs dealing with life in the pandemic.

But, we’ve paid our dues. And now conference season is upon us as the SEC takes center stage in the Week 4 schedule and the Big Ten prepares to resume on October 24th. Despite Central Florida’s thorough beatdown of Georgia Tech on Saturday, its hard to imaging anything other than the active Power Four conferences (sorry, Pac-12) completing in the College Football Playoff bracket.

Every Sunday, The Action Network publishes updated Power Ratings — including FCS teams — to project point spreads for every game of the following week in anticipation of Sunday’s opening lines.

Look here to identify early betting value when opening lines are released, and follow me in The Action Network App to see when I bet those lines on Sunday afternoon.

Our Week 4 slate not only introduces SEC conference play, but our FCS matchups also begin to dissipate. Here are the projections for Week 4:

Check out our new NCAAF PRO Report, where we highlight factors that provide betting edges — like large wagers, historically profitable betting systems, model projections and expert picks — that when combined with sharp money can powerfully detail the smartest bets on a given slate.

Projected College Football Odds, Week 4

A negative number indicates the home team is favored by that many points; a positive number means the home team is an underdog.

Check out our free NCAAF odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.

Week 4 Notes

  • Backing new head coaches in their first home game has not been profitable in the COVID-19 era. Teams playing their first home game under new regimes in Week 4 include Mississippi State, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Missouri. Out of that group of teams, only the Tigers conducted any Spring practices — and they only had three.
  • East Carolina had zero spring practices, and the Pirates must face a Central Florida team coming off an impressive win over Georgia Tech.
  • Virginia, who also had no spring practices, will face the Duke in the Blue Devils’ third game of the season
  • Florida International did not have any spring practices and start the season with Liberty, who defeated Western Kentucky in Week 3.
  • South Alabama, Memphis, Eastern Kentucky, Iowa State, Arkansas State, Central Arkansas, BYU, Charlotte and Florida State are all coming off a bye week (or COVID-19 disruptions).
  • Florida State head coach Mike Norvell tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and will not coach in the Seminoles’ Week 4 rivalry game against Miami.

Week 4 Situational Spots to Play

  • Campbell will play its third consecutive road opponent at Appalachian State.
  • Central Florida, Tulsa, South Florida, Texas State and Troy are on back-to-back road games
  • Texas A&M may be vanilla against Vanderbilt, as the Aggies travel to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama in Week 5.
  • Florida travels to Ole Miss to take on new head coach Lane Kiffin. Dan Mullen has been one of the most profitable coaches in SEC play.

Terms to Know

Postgame Win Expectancy is a calculation of all variables in a box score that dictate who would win the game if it was played a high number of times. Turnover luck, success rate and yards per play are notable components of this calculation and can influence a single game. But over a large sample, the team that moved the ball better would win more often than not.

There have been plenty of box scores in which a team wins as an underdog, but a negative value is applied to that team’s power rating because the result was fluky rather than systematic.

Coach scheme changes can adjust a power rating quickly. For example, Oregon will undergo a change from Marcus Arroyo’s conservative play-calling to new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s system. Moorhead’s offense features a heavy dose of 11 personnel, west coast spread concepts and modern RPOs.

That offensive philosophy has led to more explosiveness and higher rates of success on standard downs at each of Moorhead’s previous stops at Penn State and Mississippi State. In a situation like this, a power rating can be useful to quickly adjust a team’s forecast for future games. In the case of Mike Leach, an adjustment of totals is coming with an increase in plays per game.

Success Rate and Explosiveness were first defined in Bill Connelly’s Five Factors and are strong indicators for future box scores. While EPA (Expected Points Added) and IsoPPP (Isolated Points Per Play) can be highly variable from season to season, Success Rate is a stable data point for handicappers to use for projections.

Simply put, if a team consistently achieves the desired amount of yards — determined by down and distance — then this is a “play-on” team with your bankroll. Texas A&M ranked 17th in offensive success rate last season and returns 80% of its offensive production for 2020; that combination makes the Aggies a play-on team.

As Week 4 approaches, we’ll be keeping track of all these variables in and out of the box score. Be sure to bookmark our power ratings for the latest update on all FBS and FCS teams playing this fall.

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