The College Football Handicappers Complete Guide to Week 4
College football handicappers are busy breaking down one of the more difficult weeks of the 2012 college football regular season, as many of the lines being offered are quite perplexing.
The Florida State Seminoles being sent out as double-digit home favorites against the Clemson Tigers in the Week 4 betting odds (courtesy of SBR Forum) is one of those cases considering Dabo Swinney's high-priced road underdogs captured a 35-30 win in last year's meeting.
Let's take a closer look at 10 games from a betting perspective, as I offer up some key information to serve as a guide when you ultimately make your against-the-spread (ATS) picks this weekend.
Brigham Young Cougars vs. Boise State Broncos
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The BYU Cougars will look to bounce back after a disappointing 24-21 loss to the Utah Utes as 3.5-point road favorites last week, as the program travels to play in one of the toughest venues in college football.
Boise State has won both previous meetings in this series, and its offense has averaged more points (41.7) than any other school in the nation since the 2000 campaign.
I believe that the road team's experience will be the difference in this spot, as the Broncos returned the fewest amount of starters nationally this year, while the Cougars are led by senior quarterback Riley Nelson.
It's important to note that Nelson is currently listed as probable with a back injury for this prime-time affair on ESPN.
Current Week 4 Betting Odds: Boise State Broncos -7
LSU Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers
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The visiting LSU Tigers are a high-priced favorite against the Auburn Tigers on Saturday, which is a bit surprising considering the home team has won 12 of the last 13 meetings in this Southeastern Conference series.
Sports bettors will also find that the host has gone 8-3-1 against the spread in the last 12 meetings, but the favorite has covered the last four overall.
Les Miles has beaten the Las Vegas number in seven of his last eight games as a road favorite, which fits nicely with LSU's current 24-game win streak in September contests.
Auburn's Gene Chizik has really missed Cam Newton and his Heisman-winning talents, but it's important to note the head coach has won all three SEC home openers at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
I suggest taking the points, especially with the host going 5-1 ATS in its last six games with conference revenge.
Current Week 4 Betting Odds: LSU Tigers -21
Michigan Wolverines vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
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Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson has certainly had his way with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish over the course of his career, which includes gaining a school record 502 total yards in last year's 35-31 come-from-behind victory as 3.5-point home underdogs.
I'm not sure he can duplicate that effort inside Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, especially against a defense that's holding opponents to 10.0 points per game. Michigan is going to have a hard time scoring 28 fourth-quarter points like it did in last year's meeting considering the host has out-gained its opponents by a 260-103 margin in yards in the first three games.
Many will blindly back the Wolverines due to the underdog covering the last four games in this rivalry, but I'm not sure that's the right course of action.
The Fighting Irish have the opportunity to turn around their bad numbers as home favorites in recent years with their plus-five turnover margin this year. In the same span in 2011, Notre Dame was minus-eight in that category.
Current Week 4 Betting Odds: Notre Dame Fighting Irish -5.5
Arizona Wildcats vs. Oregon Ducks
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The scoreboard operator at Autzen Stadium may have a hard time keeping up with the action Saturday night, as the Arizona Wildcats and Oregon Ducks both open up their Pac-12 conference schedules.
It's a very interesting game to handicap, as the Wildcats have played all three of their games in Tucson, while the Ducks haven't left Eugene in winning their three contests by a 159-73 margin.
Taking the 23 points in this affair may seem attractive, but it's important to note that Arizona has lost nine of its last 10 road openers, while going 2-8 ATS in that situation.
Be careful in backing Rich Rodriguez in this spot.
Current Week 4 Betting Odds: Oregon Ducks -23
Oregon State Beavers vs. UCLA Bruins
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The UCLA Bruins offense is getting tremendous production out of quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Johnathan Franklin, as the program looks to start a season with a 4-0 record for the first time in seven years.
Franklin is a legitimate early-season Heisman Trophy candidate, but the Oregon State Beavers know a thing or two about facing such threats in the backfield. The defense limited Wisconsin's Montee Ball to his fewest amount of yards in 21 games, which led directly to a 10-7 win as six-point home underdogs on Sept. 8.
The Bruins have gone 40-15-4 in this series, while they've also covered eight of the last nine meetings against the spread.
Don't get carried away in backing the host at this type of price considering the Beavers are 6-1 ATS when playing with conference revenge.
Current Week 4 Betting Odds: UCLA Bruins -7.5
Missouri Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
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The South Carolina Gamecocks are looking for their first win ever against the Missouri Tigers, which includes a 38-31 setback as four-point neutral-site favorites in the 2005 Independence Bowl.
Gary Pinkel is guiding his team through the Southeastern Conference gauntlet for the very first time, and the Tigers suffered a 41-20 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs as one-point home underdogs a week ago. The team will now play on the road for the first time in 2012.
The Gamecocks have built up quite the home-field advantage under Steve Spurrier, winning 22 of their last 25 games inside Williams-Brice Stadium.
A very difficult game to handicap, but I believe the road team has the edge in terms of the point spread; the host is 0-2 ATS after two straight covers as a favorite the last two-plus seasons.
Current Week 4 Betting Odds: South Carolina Gamecocks -10
California Golden Bears vs. USC Trojans
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The USC Trojans have a great opportunity to bounce back after dropping a 21-14 decision to the Stanford Cardinal as 9.5-point road favorites last Saturday.
Quarterback Matt Barkley has never lost in this series versus Cal. The Trojans have won eight consecutive meetings overall, with the defense allowing an average of 10 points per game in that span.
Bettors cashed in an easy ticket in backing the Golden Bears last week, with head coach Jeff Tedford improvingto 14-3 ATS when getting six or more points.
Too many mixed signals for my liking, but Saturday's visitors have dropped three consecutive conference openers when playing away from home.
Current Week 4 Betting Odds: USC Trojans -16
Kansas State Wildcats vs. Oklahoma Sooners
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The Oklahoma Sooners are double-digit home favorites against the Kansas State Wildcats, which may cause casual sports bettors to back a ranked underdog in this spot.
I suggest that you think twice about taking that type of approach—Sooners head coach Bob Stoops is a perfect 14-0 versus such opponents at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
If that doesn't convince you, take into account that the program has won all 13 of its Big 12 conference home openers by an average of 22.6 points per game.
Lay it if you play it.
Current Betting Odds: Oklahoma Sooners -14
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Florida Gators
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The Florida Gators have held steady at their current price in the betting market, but the early move in this Southeastern Conference affair is still significant.
After picking up two huge wins away from Gainesville, it's hard for me to imagine that the host Wildcats will snap its five-game spread losing streak when playing at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium after playing back-to-back road games.
Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips is on the hot seat, as the program looks to snap a five-game losing streak against the Las Vegas number in this series.
Current Week 4 Betting Odds: Florida Gators -24
Clemson Tigers vs. Florida State Seminoles
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The Clemson Tigers and Florida State Seminoles will clash in one of the premier matchups of the weekend, though many are surprised about the double-digit point spread that's being offered.
I'm personally going to be playing the total in this ACC affair, as I believe the host will have an easier time stopping one of college football's most explosive offenses inside Doak Campbell Stadium.
Sports bettors will find that the home team is 13-3 ATS in the last 16 meetings in this series, while the OVER has cashed in six of the last eight.
Current Week 4 Betting Odds: Florida State Seminoles -14.5