College Football Week 4 Picks: Predictions for Every Saturday Game

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College Football Week 4 Picks: Predictions for Every Saturday Game
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Can Connor Cook lead Michigan State to a victory over Notre Dame?

Trying to make the Week 4 slate of college football games sound interesting to the common fan is certainly no easy task. Since we’re still a week away from conference play kicking into full gear, this weekend marks a time when many of the top teams in the country will be looking for one last chance to snack on cupcake opponents.

The Pac-12 showdown between No. 5 Stanford and No. 23 Arizona State is the only bout between Top 25 teams that we have to look forward to this week. However, there are still plenty of other intriguing matchups on this week’s card that could turn out to be highly entertaining contests.

Here’s a look at predictions and picks for every Saturday game.

Note: All lines courtesy of; Games involving FCS teams are not included.

Predictions for Saturday’s Top 10 Games...

Michigan State Spartans at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Spread: Notre Dame (-4.5)

Total: 42

Picks: Michigan State (+4.5), Under

Prediction: Michigan State 23, Notre Dame 16

Coming into the season, everyone expected Michigan State’s defense to once again be one of the most dominant units in the nation. So far, the Spartans defenseled by difference-makers such as linebacker Max Bullough, defensive end Shilique Calhoun and cornerback Darqueze Dennardhas been as good as advertised, allowing just 12 points and 177 yards per game.

Early on, though, the offense has not looked nearly as consistent. After two lackluster performances in the first two games of the season, the Spartans finally got the spark they were looking for last week when sophomore quarterback Connor Cook led the team to a 55-17 win over Youngstown State.

I like the way that Cook has energized this offense, and although he lacks much big-game experience, it seems he’s got the confidence and moxie to handle a tough road environment at Notre Dame Stadium.

If the Michigan State defense continues to play at the same shutdown level it has been so far, and if Cook can stand strong against the Irish’s intimidating defensive front seven and avoid any critical mistakes, the Spartans should go into South Bend and pick up a statement win.


Arizona State Sun Devils at Stanford Cardinal

Spread: Stanford (-6.5)

Total: 51.5

Picks: Arizona State (+6.5), Under

Prediction: Stanford 26, Arizona State 21

These two teams haven’t played since 2010, a meeting in which Stanford prevailed 17-13. While I expect this year’s contest to be a bit more high scoring than that game, I also expect it to be just as competitive.

After holding on for a win in the final seconds against Wisconsin in what turned out to be the most controversial ending of Week 3, Arizona State now has some much-needed momentum for this tough road challenge.

The Sun Devils’ backfield duo of QB Taylor Kelly and running back Marion Grice is one of the most underrated tandems in the country, and they should present plenty of challenges for Stanford’s stout defensive front seven.

While the Cardinal will likely get all they can handle from Kelly, Grice and the rest of the Arizona State offense, ultimately, QB Kevin Hogan, who is undefeated as a starter, should be able to make the plays down the stretch to lead Stanford to a close, hard-fought victory.


Auburn Tigers at LSU Tigers

Spread: LSU (-16.5)

Total: 55

Picks: LSU (-16.5), Over

Prediction: LSU 45, Auburn 17

You have to give a lot of credit to first-year Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, who’s doing a great job revitalizing a program that fell into the SEC basement last year. The Tigers have already matched their 2012 win total with a 3-0 start. Unfortunately, though, there’s going to be a big reality check when they step into Death Valley to face an LSU team that has a clear talent advantage at basically every key position.

Though they’re ranked No. 6 in the current AP Poll, the Tigers have been somewhat flying under the radar so far this season, while the media’s been focusing on their two SEC West counterparts, Alabama and Texas A&M.

That will change soon enough, though, because this team clearly has the talent to compete for not just an SEC title, but a national championship as well.

Senior QB Zach Mettenberger has experienced a rebirth under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and he’s looked like a completely different quarterback this season.

Mettenberger and his myriad of playmakers, including explosive game-changing wide receiver Odell Beckham, will be far too much for an overmatched Auburn defense to handle.

Though forecasts are calling for heavy rain in Baton Rouge, I still expect the purple-clad Tigers to put up plenty of points.


Utah Utes at BYU Cougars

Spread: BYU (-7)

Total: 61

Picks: BYU (-7), Over

Prediction: BYU 41, Utah 30

Utah has won four out of the past five meetings in the “Holy War” rivalry. But this year’s matchup appears to clearly favor the home-standing Cougars.

I watched the majority of BYU’s 40-21 mauling of Texas back in Week 2, and I came away extremely impressed with QB Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams, who absolutely lit up the Longhorns.

Hill, Williams and the dangerous receiver duo of Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo should cause plenty of trouble for a Utes defense, which just allowed 51 points in a loss to Oregon State last week.

If Hill can continue to make the same types of plays with both his arms and legs that he did against Texas, the Cougars should break their three-game losing streak to the Utes and pick up a big win in front of what should be an electric crowd in Provo.


Tennessee Volunteers at Florida Gators

Spread: Florida (-16.5)

Total: 47

Prediction: Florida (-16.5), Under

Picks: Florida 31, Tennessee 13

I absolutely love Florida’s defense this year. As far as overall talent is concerned, there are few other units in the country that can compare to the Gators. What I certainly don’t love, however, is the type of play I’ve seen from QB Jeff Driskel so far this season, especially his poor performance in a loss to Miami in Week 2.

For the past two weeks, Driskel has been hearing all the rumblings from the Gator faithful who have been questioning whether or not he’s capable of leading the offense to success. The big question now is: How will he respond against Tennessee?

I expect the former blue-chip recruit to finally step up and play up to his potential against the rival Volunteers and put together one of the best performances of his career, as he leads the Gators to a big bounce-back win at home.


North Carolina Tar Heels at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Spread: Georgia Tech (-6.5)

Total: 59.5

Picks: North Carolina (+6.5), Over

Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, North Carolina 34

Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense has looked unstoppable in the team’s first two games. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 54 points and 356 rushing yards per game behind the strong play of QB Vad Lee, who has accounted for eight touchdowns.

This week, Lee and the Yellow Jackets should once again do plenty of damage to a North Carolina defense that currently ranks 91st nationally in rushing defense, allowing an average of 193 yards on the ground per game.

Still, QB Bryn Renner, wide receiver Quinshad Davis and tight end Eric Ebron should be able to do enough to keep the Tar Heels in this game, even if their defense struggles.

Ultimately, this game could turn into a shootout between Georgia Tech’s powerful ground game and North Carolina’s passing attack. While I think the Yellow Jackets will ultimately prevail at home, the Tar Heels could make this game very interesting, especially if Renner gets hot as the game goes on.


Utah State Aggies at USC Trojans

Spread: USC (-6.5)

Total: 49.5

Picks: Utah State (+6.5), Over

Prediction: USC 31, Utah State 27

If Chuckie Keeton switched sides and suited up for the Trojans, this game would be an absolute rout by USC. But Keeton is the great equalizer for Utah State.

The dynamic dual-threat quarterback is a gifted natural playmaker, who has totaled over 1,100 yards of offense and accounted for 13 touchdowns in his first three games.

Though the Trojans defense is loaded with plenty of talent, including standouts such as defensive tackle Leonard Williams, linebacker Morgan Breslin and safety Dion Bailey, the unit will have its hands full trying to contain Keeton.

If things break right for the Aggies early and they manage to dampen the mood of the L.A. Coliseum crowd in the first half, they should be able to settle in and turn this into a competitive game.

Though USC should find a way to prevail it home, it wouldn’t be surprising if Keeton and the Aggies gave Lane Kiffin and the Trojans a sizable scare.


Kansas State Wildcats at Texas Longhorns

Spread: Texas (-5.5)

Total: 58

Picks: Texas (-5.5), Over

Prediction: Texas 38, Kansas State 28

The Texas defense has gotten embarrassed in consecutive weeks, giving up 1,128 yards and 84 points to BYU and Ole Miss.

Though it’s tough to trust the Longhorns right now, considering what a mess their defense is, I expect them to at least show a little more pride in this week’s game against a Kansas State team, which has yet to face a team that has the overall athleticism that Texas has.

Over the past three years, Mack Brown’s teams have failed to respond when the pressure’s on and their backs are up against the wall. However, I expect the Longhorns to finally rise up to the challenge this week at home and pick up a win that they desperately need.


Arkansas Razorbacks at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Spread: Rutgers (-1.5)

Total: 44

Picks: Arkansas (+1.5), Over

Prediction: Arkansas 26, Rutgers 20

These two teams have five wins between them, but none of those victories can be considered impressive. At this point in the season, we still don’t know just how good either of these teams really is.

Both teams will likely be looking to pound the ball with their running back duos and rely on their defense to come up with big stops. Ultimately, this game will likely come down to which rushing tandem is more effective, Arkansas’ Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, or Rutgers’ Paul James and Savon Huggins.

Both squads have strong defensive lines, so neither duo will have an easy time finding space to create big, explosive runs.

Though it’s always tough to trust a Bret Bielema-coached team on the road, I expect the Arkansas defense to do enough to contain Rutgers QB Gary Nova and pick up a big revenge win.


West Virginia Mountaineers at Maryland Terrapins

Spread: Maryland (-5)

Total: 53

Picks: Maryland (-5), Under

Prediction: Maryland 28, West Virginia 20

West Virginia has won the past seven meetings between these two teams. But there’s a good chance that streak will come to an end this year.

Mountaineers freshman QB Ford Childress looked pretty good in his first career start last week, throwing for 359 yards and three touchdowns. But that was at home against a Georgia State team that is undoubtedly the weakest program on the FBS level.

The circumstances will be much different this week on the road against a Maryland defense that leads the nation with 14 sacks.

Though the Mountaineers’ drastically improved defense should be able to keep them in this game, ultimately, the Terrapins will likely force Childress to make a critical mistake which will swing the game in their favor.

Predictions for the Rest of Saturday’s Action...


FIU Golden Panthers at Louisville Cardinals

Spread: Louisville (-43)

Total: 56.5

Picks: Louisville (-43), Over

Prediction: Louisville 56, FIU 10


San Jose State Spartans at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Spread: Minnesota (-3.5)

Total: 50

Picks: Minnesota (-3.5), Under

Prediction: Minnesota 31, San Jose State 17


Vanderbilt Commodores at UMass Minutemen

Spread: Vanderbilt (-31)

Total: 52

Picks: Vanderbilt (-31), Over

Prediction: Vanderbilt 49, UMass 14


Marshall Thundering Herd at Virginia Tech Hokies

Spread: Virginia Tech (-9.5)

Total: 52

Picks: Marshall (+9.5), Over

Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Marshall 24


Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Florida Atlantic Owls

Spread: Middle Tennessee State (-3.5)

Total: 48

Picks: Florida Atlantic (+4), Under

Prediction: Florida Atlantic 23, Middle Tennessee 21


Western Michigan Broncos at Iowa Hawkeyes

Spread: Iowa (-16.5)

Total: 47.5

Picks: Western Michigan (+16.5), Under

Prediction: Iowa 26, Western Michigan 17


Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Kansas Jayhawks

Spread: Kansas (-10.5)

Total: 50

Picks: Kansas (-10.5), Over

Prediction: Kansas 35, Louisiana Tech 20


Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Army Black Knights

Spread: Wake Forest (-3)

Total: 50

Picks: Wake Forest (-3), Under

Prediction: Wake Forest 27, Army 17


Toledo Rockets at Central Michigan Chippewas

Spread: Toledo (-13)

Total: 56.5

Picks: Toledo (-13), Over

Prediction: Toledo 52, Central Michigan 28


North Texas Mean Green at Georgia Bulldogs

Spread: Georgia (-33)

Total: 66.5

Picks: North Texas (+33), Over

Prediction: Georgia 49, North Texas 21


Pittsburgh Panthers at Duke Blue Devils

Spread: Pittsburgh (-3.5)

Total: 50.5

Picks: Pittsburgh (-3.5), Over

Prediction: Pittsburgh 38, Duke 28


Tulane Green Wave at Syracuse Orange

Spread: Syracuse (-16)

Total: 54.5

Picks: Tulane (+16), Over

Prediction: Syracuse 35, Tulane 24


Ball State Cardinals at Eastern Michigan Eagles

Spread: Ball State (-10.5)

Total: 57.5

Picks: Ball State (-10.5), Over

Prediction: Ball State 38, Eastern Michigan 24


Houston Cougars at Rice Owls

Spread: Houston (-2.5)

Total: 64.5

Picks: Rice (+2.5), Under

Prediction: Rice 31, Houston 27


Purdue Boilermakers at Wisconsin Badgers

Spread: Wisconsin (-24)

Total: 49

Picks: Purdue (+24), Under

Prediction: Wisconsin 30, Purdue 17


Kent State Golden Flashes at Penn State Nittany Lions

Spread: Penn State (-21)

Total: 53.5

Picks: Penn State (-21), Under

Prediction: Penn State 38, Kent State 14


Cincinnati Bearcats at Miami (Ohio) RedHawks

Spread: Cincinnati (-23)

Total: 53

Prediction: Cincinnati (-23), Over

Picks: Cincinnati 42, Miami (Ohio) 14


UL-Monroe Warhawks at Baylor Bears

Spread: Baylor (-29)

Total: 75.5

Picks: Baylor (-29), Over

Prediction: Baylor 56, UL-Monroe 21


Arkansas State Red Wolves at Memphis Tigers

Spread: Arkansas State (-4)

Total: 54.5

Prediction: Memphis (+4), Under

Picks: Memphis 27, Arkansas State 20


UL-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns at Akron Zips

Spread: UL-Lafayette (-6)

Total: 63.5

Picks: UL-Lafayette (-6), Over

Prediction: UL-Lafayette 42, Akron 31


Colorado State Rams at Alabama Crimson Tide

Spread: Alabama (-39)

Total: 51

Prediction: Colorado State (+39), Over

Picks: Alabama 45, Colorado State 14


SMU Mustangs at Texas A&M Aggies

Spread: Texas A&M (-28.5)

Total: 78

Picks: SMU (+28.5), Under

Prediction: Texas A&M 49, SMU 21


Texas State Bobcats at Texas Tech Red Raiders

Spread: Texas Tech (-27.5)

Total: 58.5

Picks: Texas Tech (-27.5), Over

Prediction: Texas Tech 49, Texas State 17


Oregon State Beavers at San Diego State Aztecs

Spread: Oregon State (-8.5)

Total: 53

Picks: San Diego State (+8.5), Over

Prediction: Oregon State 38, San Diego State 34


Troy Trojans at Mississippi State Bulldogs

Spread: Mississippi State (-13.5)

Total: 61

Prediction: Troy (+13.5), Under

PicksMississippi State 30, Troy 21


Michigan Wolverines at Connecticut Huskies

Spread: Michigan (-17.5)

Total: 51

Picks: Michigan (-17.5), Over

Prediction: Michigan 38, Connecticut 16


Missouri Tigers at Indiana Hoosiers

Spread: Missouri (-2.5)

Total: 71

Picks: Indiana (+2.5), Over

Prediction: Indiana 55, Missouri 49


UTSA Roadrunners at UTEP Miners

SpreadUTSA (-2.5)

Total: 61

PicksUTSA (-2.5), Under

PredictionUTSA 30, UTEP 21


Hawaii Warriors at Nevada Wolf Pack

Spread: Nevada (-7.5)

Total: 57.5

Picks: Nevada (-7.5), Over

Prediction: Nevada 38, Hawaii 24


Wyoming Cowboys at Air Force Falcons

Spread: Wyoming (-5)

Total: 66.5

Picks: Wyoming (-5), Over

Prediction: Wyoming 42, Air Force 31


New Mexico State Aggies at UCLA Bruins

Spread: UCLA (-42)

Total: 66.5

Prediction: UCLA (-42), Under

Picks: UCLA 56, New Mexico State 7


Idaho Vandals at Washington State Cougars

Spread: Washington State (-31)

Total: 58.5

Picks: Idaho (+31),  Over

Prediction: Washington State 42, Idaho 21

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