College Football Picks: Week 4 Predictions for Every Game
The 2021 college football season is teetering on the brink of chaos, as my esteemed colleague Adam Kramer opined this past Saturday night.
Several preseason title contenders have already been effectively removed from the College Football Playoff conversation. On a weekly basis, there are multiple top-10 teams raising eyebrows and causing nausea with their lackluster play. And, perhaps most chaotic of all, Michigan and Michigan State have been two of the most consistently impressive teams in the country.
Will things begin to normalize in Week 4, or are we about to jump into the deep end of Upset City?
Before we dive into Week 4 projections, let's take a brief look backward at how well/poorly these projections have been going.
For me, Week 3 was basically a carbon copy of Week 2. Between games involving teams in the AP Top 25 and the five highlighted clashes between unranked teams, I went just 19-8 outright and was 14-12-1 against the spread. Combine that with my similarly mediocre 15-12 record against the spread last week and that's a 29-24-1 record. Assuming standard -110 odds, if I had bet one unit on all 54 of those games, I'd be up a grand total of 2.36 units right now. (But, of course, the games I actually bet on are disproportionately from the loss column.)
Hopefully we can get that winning percentage up to 60 or better this week. This "only slightly better than a coin flip" business isn't much fun for anyone.
Our predictions for each Week 4 game are broken into three sections: Top 25 teams, best games between unranked teams and the rest of the slate. Unless otherwise noted, games are assumed to take place on Saturday.
AP Nos. 25-21
No. 25 Kansas State (3-0) at Oklahoma State (3-0), 7 p.m. ET
Rarely, if ever, do we circle "No. 25 against an unranked opponent" as one of the most intriguing games, but that's the case this week.
Kansas State already has impressive wins over Stanford (by 17) and Nevada (by 21). We're going to need to take the Wildcats seriously as a Big 12 threat if they're able to cruise to victory in Stillwater, too.
Oklahoma State is also looking to improve to 4-0, fresh off a razor-thin road win over Boise State. In fact, all three of Oklahoma State's nonconference wins came right down to the wire, but no one is going to bat an eye at that detail if the Cowboys smoke the Wildcats at home. They would surely jump into next week's AP Top 25 if they can pull that off.
Neither of these teams is much of an aerial threat at the moment. Down to backup quarterback Will Howard, Kansas State had just 61 passing yards in the final 59 minutes of its Week 3 game against Nevada, and it has just one passing touchdown all season. Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders went 6-of-13 for 82 yards in Week 3 against a Boise State defense that allowed 318 yards and four passing touchdowns in a previous loss to UCF.
And if this devolves into a rare ground-and-pound Big 12 battle, advantage Kansas State. The Wildcats have rushed for at least 200 yards and three scores in all three games, and at 1.9 yards per carry, their run defense ranks among the best in the nation.
I have no rooting interest in this game, but I definitely wouldn't be upset if 5'6" Deuce Vaughn becomes more of a household name by racking up at least 100 rushing yards and a score for what would be the sixth consecutive game dating back to last season.
Prediction: Kansas State 31, Oklahoma State 24
No. 24 UCLA (2-1) at Stanford (2-1), 6 p.m. ET
Has our national love affair with UCLA come to an end? Is Stanford way better than we thought in the aftermath of its ugly 24-7 season-opening loss to Kansas State?
The deciding factor in this game may be whether Stanford can establish the run early. The Cardinal never got anything going on the ground against Kansas State, but they had an 87-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter against USC and had a 61-yard run on the third play of the game against Vanderbilt. After that, the entire playbook was open for them to score 40+ in both games.
But UCLA's front seven has held opponents to 2.3 yards per carry and 63.0 rushing yards per game, which likely means a heavy day of work for Stanford QB Tanner McKee. UCLA's foes have thrown the ball more than 50 times per game, so we'll see what McKee can do in his third career start. He'll make things interesting, but it won't quite be enough to top a UCLA team that has scored at least 37 points in each game and can capitalize on a Stanford run defense that has struggled thus far.
Prediction: UCLA 41, Stanford 35
No. 23 Auburn (2-1) vs. Georgia State (1-2), 4 p.m. ET
Though Auburn ultimately fell a little short of pulling off what would have been a huge road win over Penn State on Saturday night, the Tigers did at least prove themselves to be a threat this year. We weren't sure what to make of those blowout wins against over-matched Akron and Alabama State, but it appears Bryan Harsin has this program in a good place in his first year at the helm.
And get ready for another blowout victory. Georgia State lost by 33 to Army and by 42 to North Carolina, each of whom rushed for more than 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Panthers. Auburn—which is averaging a nation-best 7.8 yards per carry thus far this season—is going to have some fun in this one.
Prediction: Auburn 52, Georgia State 10
No. 22 Fresno State (3-1) vs. UNLV (0-3), 10 p.m. ET (Friday night)
Fresno State's Jake Haener is making a compelling case for Heisman consideration, averaging 366 passing yards and 3.25 total touchdowns per game. UNLV has been held below 100 passing yards and below 100 rushing yards in each of its past two games. Even if you're a little worried about the apparent hip injury Haener suffered late in the comeback win over UCLA, don't overthink this one.
Prediction: Fresno State 45, UNLV 10
No. 21 North Carolina (2-1) at Georgia Tech (1-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
North Carolina just allowed 553 passing yards against Virginia, but the Tar Heels still won by 20 because Sam Howell did his usual Heisman-caliber thing, racking up more than 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards with five total touchdowns for a second successive week.
Georgia Tech's defense is better than UVA's. The Yellow Jackets have held each of their first three opponents below 140 passing yards and below 170 rushing yards. Here's something I didn't expect to say before the season: Shutting down North Carolina's offense is going to be a lot harder than stifling Clemson's. And I am far from convinced that GT has a good enough passing game to keep pace with the Heels.
Prediction: North Carolina 39, Georgia Tech 21
AP Nos. 20-16
No. 20 Michigan State (3-0) vs. Nebraska (2-2), 7 p.m. ET
We poked a lot of fun at Nebraska after that season-opening loss to Illinois. But if we could take out the 15-minute stretch in which all hell broke loose for a 28-0 run by the Illini, the Cornhuskers would look like a solid team. They easily handled both Fordham and Buffalo, and they gave Oklahoma a run for its money in Norman.
Translation: They could absolutely waltz into East Lansing and come away with their first win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 22 Oregon in September 2016.
Here's the problem, though. Nebraska's run defense has been just OK thus far, while the Spartans' ground game has been excellent. And Michigan State just proved it can cause problems for a dual-threat guy like Adrian Martinez by holding D'Eriq King to seven rushing yards with two lost fumbles and two interceptions.
It might be a close one, but I like Michigan State to improve to 4-0. (And in the "it's never too early to think about" department, I also like Michigan State to enter the showdown with Michigan with a 7-0 record by winning upcoming games against Western Kentucky, Rutgers and Indiana.)
Prediction: Michigan State 31, Nebraska 20
No. 19 Michigan (3-0) vs. Rutgers (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last fall, these teams were both 1-3 when they played a triple-overtime game in which it felt like neither side wanted to win.
Ten months later, one of these teams is going to enter October with a 4-0 record.
For both sides, the schedule hasn't been anything close to daunting. But Michigan has rushed for at least 335 yards and three touchdowns in each of its three victories while Rutgers has held each of its first three opponents to 261 total yards or fewer.
For the time being, Michigan's play seems more legitimate than that of Rutgers, as the Wolverines have also been outstanding on defense. But that perception might largely be a product of so many consecutive years of watching the Scarlet Knights struggle. If they win this game in the Big House, though, there's a good chance they'll vault into the AP Top 25 for the first time since November 2012.
I don't see it happening, though. If Rutgers couldn't even manage 200 yards of total offense in the win at Syracuse, it's hard to believe this team will be able to keep pace with Blake Corum, Hassan Haskins and the Michigan rushing attack.
Prediction: Michigan 38, Rutgers 17
No. 18 Wisconsin (1-1) vs. No. 12 Notre Dame (3-0), Noon ET (in Chicago, IL)
See No. 12 Notre Dame for prediction.
No. 17 Coastal Carolina (3-0) vs. Massachusetts (0-3), 1 p.m. ET
The Massachusetts defense is just plain terrible, having allowed 51 points to Pittsburgh, 45 to Boston College and 42 to Eastern Michigan—the latter of which was the most pathetic, as Eastern Michigan didn't even have 100 yards of total offense the previous week against Wisconsin. Coastal Carolina's offense is averaging better than 500 total yards per game, so this one is very likely going to get ugly.
If Massachusetts covers the five-touchdown spread, it'll be because the Minutemen manage to score four or five times against a Chanticleers defense that hasn't been anything special in its own right. (Bet the over, not the spread.)
Prediction: Coastal Carolina 56, Massachusetts 27
No. 16 Arkansas (3-0) vs. No. 7 Texas A&M (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET (in Arlington, TX)
See No. 7 Texas A&M for prediction.
AP Nos. 15-11
No. 15 BYU (3-0) vs. South Florida (1-2), 10:15 p.m. ET
As objectively hilarious as it would be for BYU to win back-to-back games against ranked Pac-12 teams before losing to one of the worst teams in the AAC, that's not going to happen. USF's defense was ripped to shreds by Florida's tandem of mobile quarterbacks, and BYU's Jaren Hall will make sure that trend continues. And the Cougars defense is too good to let the Bulls keep pace.
Prediction: BYU 38, South Florida 13
No. 14 Iowa State (2-1) at Baylor (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Baylor racked up more rushing yards than the total number of yards its defense allowed in each of its first three games. This would be a much more impressive feat if the Bears' first three opponents weren't Texas State, Texas Southern and Kansas, or if they had at least won that opener against Texas State by a more impressive margin than 29-20.
Baylor might be good, though. We simply don't know yet. The Bears certainly put a hurting on the Jayhawks in Week 3. And it's not like Iowa State got out to a great start to the season, barely defeating Northern Iowa before losing at home to Iowa.
The one thing the Cyclones have consistently done well, though, is defend the run, holding each of their first three foes below 1.8 yards per carry. Baylor will fare better than that, but it won't come anywhere close to the 323 rushing yards per game it has averaged thus far. Without that dominance on the ground, the Bears will fall short of pulling off the upset. However, it's going to be a much closer game than anyone would have guessed one month ago.
Prediction: Iowa State 27, Baylor 24
No. 13 Ole Miss (3-0) idle
No. 12 Notre Dame (3-0) vs. No. 18 Wisconsin (1-1), Noon ET (in Chicago, IL)
It was nice of Notre Dame to win a game that didn't come right down to the wire for a change, but the Fighting Irish certainly didn't blow out Purdue. Twice in the fourth quarter, the Boilermakers had the ball trailing by seven, and they ended up out-gaining Notre Dame by a slim margin.
The Irish defense kept big plays to a minimum, though, which was a major problem in their first two games. And the offense capitalized on a few big plays of their own with touchdowns of 39, 51 and 62 yards.
Can they do something similar against an excellent Wisconsin defense that did have a couple of substantial lapses in the second half of its Week 1 loss to Penn State? Or will the Badgers—who know more about Jack Coan than any other team in the country—clamp down enough on D for a marquee neutral-site victory?
Notre Dame fans are going to think I hate them (I don't) because I also picked Purdue to win last week, but I like Wisconsin relatively big in this one.
The Badgers were one of my four preseason picks to reach the College Football Playoff, and I still think there's an outside shot they get there. They had 29 first downs and possessed the ball for nearly 43 minutes in a game where they beat Penn State in just about every way except for on the scoreboard. And they held Eastern Michigan to a grand total of three first downs in their most recent game. They'll shut down the Notre Dame offense, and their run game—even against a solid Fighting Irish front seven—will set the pace for an impressive W.
Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Notre Dame 16
No. 11 Florida (2-1) vs. Tennessee (2-1), 7 p.m. ET
It's always a little weird when we feel an increasing amount of confidence in a team following a loss, but that's a clear takeaway from Florida's 31-29 nail-biter against No. 1 Alabama. The Gators out-gained the Crimson Tide by more than 100 yards, but they couldn't quite claw out of that early 21-3 hole. Maybe things would have been different if Anthony Richardson (hamstring) had been able to play.
Up next for the Gators is a home game against unranked Tennessee, which hasn't been much of a problem in recent years. And by "recent," we're talking a few decades, as Florida has won 13 consecutive games in which Tennessee was unranked. The Gators have also won 14 of the past 15 overall against the Volunteers, which lost at home to Pitt in their only game against legitimate competition this season.
This could be an intriguing, high-scoring affair, but Florida will get a few more defensive stops than Tennessee will.
Prediction: Florida 45, Tennessee 28
AP Nos. 10-6
No. 10. Ohio State (2-1) vs. Akron (1-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
In two games against FBS opponents (Auburn and Temple), Akron allowed 9.0 yards per play and 105 total points. And this isn't a new phenomenon for the Zips, who ranked bottom 10 in the nation in points allowed per game in each of the last two seasons. Both quarterback C.J. Stroud (484 passing yards in Week 2) and running back TreVeyon Henderson (277 rushing yards in Week 3) should have big days in a Buckeyes blowout.
Prediction: Ohio State 63, Akron 14
No. 9 Clemson (2-1) at North Carolina State (2-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
There has been much justified wringing of hands over the ineffectiveness of Clemson's offense. In two games against FBS foes (Georgia and Georgia Tech), the Tigers have scored two touchdowns and have only had two gains of more than 17 yards. For a team that averaged better than 6.0 yards per play in 11 of 12 games last season, the power outage has been alarming.
But goodness gracious, how about this Clemson defense? The only touchdown scored against the Tigers thus far this season was a pick-six. Opponents have managed just 3.2 yards per carry and 4.1 yards per play against them. And in NC State's Week 2 loss to Mississippi State—a team that has allowed 34 points to Louisiana Tech and 31 points to Memphis—the Wolfpack were held to 10 points while managing just 32 yards on 25 carries.
While I'm not anticipating a shutout, Clemson's defense will pave the way for another low-scoring victory. Get ready for that to be a trend in what is already shaping up to be an ugly year for the ACC.
Prediction: Clemson 27, NC State 13
No. 8 Cincinnati (3-0) idle
No. 7 Texas A&M (3-0) vs. No. 16 Arkansas (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET (in Arlington, TX)
Something about Arlington almost always makes this game awesome. Texas A&M and Arkansas have squared off in AT&T Stadium eight times dating back to 2010, and seven of those contests were decided by seven points or fewer.
With both of these teams looking like legitimate early candidates to win the SEC's West Division, we're all expecting/hoping for fourth-quarter theatrics in yet another gem between the Aggies and Razorbacks.
The big question for this game is: Will either quarterback be able to do, well, anything?
Texas A&M has allowed just 232 passing yards. Not 232 yards per game, mind you. That's 232 total passing yards by Kent State, Colorado and New Mexico with four interceptions and no touchdowns. While Arkansas' secondary hasn't been quite that ridiculously good, the Hogs are sitting at a very impressive 142.0 passing yards allowed per game with a 50.0 completion percentage, one touchdown and three interceptions.
And the quarterbacks aren't exactly Heisman candidates. Both A&M's Zach Calzada and Arkansas' KJ Jefferson looked good in big Week 3 wins against overmatched Group of Five teams, but their mediocre Week 2 play against Colorado and Texas, respectively, is probably a better indicator of how things will go against these much, much better secondaries.
Forced to choose a side in a game that feels destined to come down to one huge play in the final two minutes, give me the Razorbacks. They've been more potent and less mistake-prone on offense, and I think the Aggies are going to get a taste of their own Kellen Mond-flavored medicine from the past few years when the opposing quarterback picks up a few deflating third-down conversions with his legs.
Prediction: Arkansas 27, Texas A&M 24
No. 6 Penn State (3-0) vs. Villanova (FCS), Noon ET
Villanova is one of the better FCS programs, but with two wins over ranked foes already under its belt, Penn State is staking its claim as a serious threat to win the College Football Playoff.
The Nittany Lions have been particularly outstanding on defense. They have yet to allow a single passing touchdown, and they have only relented one play of 30 or more yards—tied for the best mark in the nation. We shall see if the D is good enough to win road games against Iowa and Ohio State next month, but it will be more than enough to cruise to a home victory over Villanova.
Prediction: Penn State 42, Villanova 9
AP Nos. 5-1
No. 5 Iowa (3-0) vs. Colorado State (1-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
After understandably struggling on offense against the defenses of Indiana and Iowa State (combined total of 3.84 yards per play), I expected Iowa to flex its offensive muscles at home against Kent State. Tyler Goodson (22 carries, 153 yards, 3 touchdowns) had a career day, but that 30-7 victory still left something to be desired.
It's a good thing this Hawkeyes defense is ridiculously good, though, because that will pay dividends against a Colorado State team that has been held below 24 points in every game this season. Iowa's defense has scored as many touchdowns as it has allowed (three of each), and I'm not sure Vegas can set the under low enough to scare me away here.
Prediction: Iowa 24, Colorado State 6
No. 4 Oklahoma (3-0) vs. West Virginia (2-1), 7:30 p.m. ET
It sure doesn't feel like Oklahoma is 3-0. The Sooners barely won their season opener against Tulane, and at no point were they clearly superior to Nebraska during the 23-16 home victory this past weekend.
In recent years, we've grown accustomed to Oklahoma having one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. Watching the Sooners score 23 points and not have a single gain of more than 23 yards against Nebraska was downright bizarre.
Meanwhile, West Virginia had an 80-yard touchdown run and a 29-yard touchdown pass within its first four offensive snaps in a win over then-No. 15 Virginia Tech this past weekend, so things could get interesting this weekend in Norman.
Oklahoma is 8-0 in this series since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12, though, and four of the past five games were decided by at least 20 points. Oklahoma has also scored at least 44 points in six consecutive games against West Virginia. If that trend continues, the Sooners will open Big 12 play with the type of statement win that puts them right back in the thick of the College Football Playoff conversation.
Prediction: Oklahoma 38, West Virginia 23
No. 3 Oregon (3-0) vs. Arizona (0-3), 10:30 p.m. ET
Following a Week 3 home loss to FCS school Northern Arizona, Arizona's losing streak is up to a staggering 15 games. The Wildcats have a long way to go before they break Northwestern's dubious FBS record of 34 consecutive losses, though it's virtually impossible to imagine that streak coming to an end this week at Oregon.
One week removed from that colossal road win over Ohio State, the Ducks effortlessly took care of business against Stony Brook for a 48-7 victory. They might not score quite that often against an Arizona defense that has been relatively decent, but look for the Ducks defense to suck the life out of an already lifeless Wildcats offense.
Prediction: Oregon 41, Arizona 7
No. 2 Georgia (3-0) at Vanderbilt (1-2), Noon ET
Georgia has made very quick work of its last two opponents. By around the midpoint of the third quarter, the Bulldogs were up 49-0 on UAB and 40-6 on South Carolina. And against a Vanderbilt defense that has allowed at least 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards in each of its games against FBS competition, expect more of the same.
Here's a fun fact about this "rivalry": When ranked No. 14 or better, Georgia is 24-0 against Vanderbilt, and 23 of those wins were by double digits. (The lone exception was a 20-13 game in 1983.) However, Georgia has never beaten Vanderbilt by more than 45 points, for what it's worth.
Prediction: Georgia 45, Vanderbilt 10
No. 1 Alabama (3-0) vs. Southern Miss (1-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
Less than 15 minutes into Saturday's showdown with Florida, it felt like Alabama was cementing its status as the heavy favorite to win it all for a second consecutive season. The Crimson Tide were up 21-3. Bryce Young was 12-of-16 for 138 yards and three touchdowns (plus two passes that resulted in defensive pass interference). Everything was coming up Bama.
After scoring touchdowns on each of their first three possessions, though, the Crimson Tide were out-gained 375-159 and just barely survived when the Gators called one of the worst would-be-game-tying two-point attempts you'll ever see. It was over the course of those final three quarters that the "Maybe no one is great this year" narratives began taking form.
Let's pre-emptively pour one out for Southern Miss, though, because things tend to get ugly when Alabama schedules a non-Power Five opponent for a Week 4 or Week 5 game directly after its first significant test.
Two years ago, the Crimson Tide beat Southern Miss 49-7 the week after a road game against South Carolina. In 2018, they smoked Louisiana 56-14 right after facing a ranked Texas A&M. In 2016, the close call against Ole Miss was immediately followed by a 48-0 win over Kent State. You get the idea. And in two games this season against FBS teams (Troy and South Alabama), Southern Miss has scored just one offensive touchdown.
Prediction: Alabama 52, Southern Miss 3
Best Unranked Clashes
I usually try to limit this section to five games and list them in chronological order. However, this always seems to be the point in the season when it feels like 35-40 teams deserve to be ranked. Give it another three weeks and it'll feel more like only 15 teams are worthy of the honor, but we're broadening our horizons a bit in hopes of capturing all of the "Wait, Are They Good This Year?" teams facing respectable Week 4 opponents.
Games are ranked in ascending order of how badly I want to watch them.
10. Liberty (3-0) at Syracuse (2-1), 8 p.m. ET (Friday): Last October, it was a 38-17 Liberty win at Syracuse that first piqued our interest in the Flames as a legitimate threat to run the table. And that wasn't even a particularly good game for Liberty quarterback Malik Willis (182 passing yards, 58 rushing yards, two touchdowns). This is his biggest chance to shine prior to the Nov. 6 showdown with Ole Miss. Prediction: Liberty 35, Syracuse 17
9. Marshall (2-1) at Appalachian State (2-1), 7:30 p.m. ET (Thursday): Marshall just suffered a brutal 42-38 loss to East Carolina in which the Thundering Herd were outscored 21-0 in the final eight minutes. And now they need to try to get right against Appalachian State—a team they defeated 17-7 last season, but also a team that darn near won at Miami in Week 2. The Mountaineers are favored at home, but Marshall's Grant Wells (371 pass yards per game) will make this one interesting. Prediction: Appalachian State 27, Marshall 24
8. Oregon State (2-1) at USC (2-1), 10:30 p.m. ET: I'm not expecting this to be a close game, but I'm very interested to see if Kedon Slovis or Jaxson Dart takes the bulk of the snaps at quarterback for USC. If it's the true freshman who wins the job, one has to wonder how many more weeks it will be until Slovis lands in the transfer portal. Sure would be comical if he ends up taking over at UGA in 2022, assuming former USC transfer JT Daniels leaves for the NFL after this season. Prediction: USC 38, Oregon State 21
7. Missouri (2-1) at Boston College (3-0), Noon ET: If you listen closely, you can almost hear the oddsmakers shrugging their shoulders at this game. BC opened as a one-point favorite, but now Missouri by a field goal seems to be the consensus. Such is life when trying to figure out what to expect from an Eagles team that has won its first three games by a combined 93 points, albeit without facing anyone even remotely worth mentioning. Boston College also lost quarterback Phil Jurkovec to a possibly season-ending hand injury in Week 2, which adds another "Who the heck knows?" to the equation. But if Boston College wins this one and takes a 4-0 record into next week's game against Clemson, buckle up for some fun. Prediction: Missouri 31, Boston College 27
6. Texas Tech (3-0) at Texas (2-1), Noon ET: Tyler Shough's first two games at Texas Tech were rather shockingly unproductive, but the former Oregon transfer exploded for 399 yards and four touchdowns in a Week 3 rout of FIU. And unlike the first two games in which it seemed like he was only targeting Erik Ezukanma, he spread the ball all around the offense in that one. The Red Raiders will have a great chance in this one if he has a repeat performance, but Texas will have a little bit too much Bijan Robinson in the end. Prediction: Texas 35, Texas Tech 31
5. Kentucky (3-0) at South Carolina (2-1), 7 p.m. ET: To everyone's surprise, Kentucky struggled in a five-point win over Chattanooga in Week 3. Although, if the Wildcats got caught peeking ahead to their upcoming gauntlet (at SC, vs. FLA, vs. LSU, at UGA) and simply took the Mocs for granted, it's hard to blame them. They'll be re-focused and ready to stuff the Gamecocks run this week to improve to 4-0. Prediction: Kentucky 27, South Carolina 14
4. UTSA (3-0) at Memphis (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET: Got to love any game in which one team is guaranteed to improve to 4-0. Memphis' freshman QB-RB tandem of Seth Henigan and Brandon Thomas is already having one heck of a season. But UTSA has a darn fine running back of its own in Sincere McCormick, and its defense has held back-to-back opponents below 200 total yards. Hard to imagine the Roadrunners could do that to this Memphis offense, but they will officially be on "Undefeated Season Watch" if they manage to win this road game. Prediction: Memphis 34, UTSA 27
3. Wake Forest (3-0) at Virginia (2-1), 7 p.m. ET (Friday): Wake Forest has gotten out to an impressive start with three consecutive wins by at least three touchdowns, including last week's rout of Florida State in which the Demon Deacons forced six turnovers. But how about the early play of Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong? He has thrown for 959 yards and nine touchdowns over his last two games against Illinois and North Carolina, and I like the lefty's chances of having another big game at home on Friday night. Prediction: Virginia 41, Wake Forest 35
2. LSU (2-1) at Mississippi State (2-1), Noon ET: Who's ready for a repeat of that stunning start to SEC play last fall? Neither of these teams runs the ball well and both defenses have done well to defend the run, so it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if Max Johnson and Will Rogers combine for something like 110 pass attempts in this one. And if it plays out that way, I like Mississippi State at home in a four-hour barn-burner. Prediction: Mississippi State 45, LSU 42
1. SMU (3-0) at TCU (2-0), Noon ET: In TCU's most recent game, it rallied from an early 12-0 deficit and a late 26-21 deficit to eke out a two-point win over Cal, thanks in part to not one, not two, but three failed two-point tries by the Golden Bears. And in SMU's most recent game, it escaped with a two-point win over Louisiana Tech on a tipped-and-caught Hail Mary at the buzzer—Tanner Mordecai's 16th touchdown pass in just three games as the starting quarterback. I get why the Big 12 team playing at home is favored by more than a touchdown, but get ready for more last-second drama. Prediction: TCU 38, SMU 35
The Rest of the Slate
Middle Tennessee (1-2) at Charlotte (2-1), 6:30 p.m. ET (Friday): Charlotte 24-21
Boise State (1-2) at Utah State (3-0), Noon ET: Boise State 35-24
Bowling Green (1-2) at Minnesota (2-1), Noon ET: Minnesota 56-14
FIU (1-2) at Central Michigan (1-2), Noon ET: Central Michigan 31-24
Miami-Ohio (1-2) at Army (3-0), Noon ET: Army 38-20
New Hampshire (FCS) at Pittsburgh (2-1), Noon ET: Pitt 49-10
Ohio (0-3) at Northwestern (1-2), Noon ET: Northwestern 27-20
Richmond (FCS) at Virginia Tech (2-1), Noon ET: Virginia Tech 41-17
Wagner (FCS) at Temple (1-2), Noon ET: Temple 41-17
Central Connecticut (FCS) at Miami-Florida (1-2), 12:30 p.m. ET: Miami 49-7
San Jose State (2-1) at Western Michigan (2-1), 2 p.m. ET: San Jose State 27-20
Texas State (1-2) at Eastern Michigan (2-1), 2 p.m. ET: Eastern Michigan 31-21
Toledo (1-2) at Ball State (1-2), 2 p.m. ET: Toledo 34-31
Maine (FCS) at Northern Illinois (1-2), 2:30 p.m. ET: Northern Illinois 38-17
Washington State (1-2) at Utah (1-2), 2:30 p.m. ET: Utah 31-19
Illinois (1-3) at Purdue (2-1), 3:30 p.m. ET: Purdue 34-20
Kent State (1-2) at Maryland (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET: Maryland 49-17
Louisville (2-1) at Florida State (0-3), 3:30 p.m. ET: Louisville 35-27
Towson (FCS) at San Diego State (3-0), 3:30 p.m. ET: San Diego State 38-13
Wyoming (3-0) at Connecticut (0-4), 3:30 p.m. ET: Wyoming 42-14
Kansas (1-2) at Duke (2-1), 4 p.m. ET: Duke 35-17
Arkansas State (1-2) at Tulsa (0-3), 5 p.m. ET: Tulsa 34-21
Buffalo (1-2) at Old Dominion (1-2), 6 p.m. ET: Buffalo 28-13
Charleston Southern (FCS) at East Carolina (1-2), 6 p.m. ET: East Carolina 35-20
Louisiana (2-1) at Georgia Southern (1-2), 6 p.m. ET: Louisiana 35-13
Texas Southern (FCS) at Rice (0-3), 6:30 p.m. ET: Rice 24-21
Navy (0-2) at Houston (2-1), 7 p.m. ET: Houston 41-17
North Texas (1-2) at Louisiana Tech (1-2), 7 p.m. ET: Louisiana Tech 28-23
Florida Atlantic (2-1) at Air Force (2-1), 8 p.m. ET: Air Force 28-27
Hawai'i (1-3) at New Mexico State (1-3), 8 p.m. ET: Hawai'i 38-14
Indiana (1-2) at Western Kentucky (1-1), 8 p.m. ET: Indiana 31-28
Troy (2-1) at Louisiana Monroe (1-1), 8 p.m. ET: Troy 41-10
UAB (2-1) at Tulane (1-2), 8 p.m. ET: Tulane 24-23
New Mexico (2-1) at UTEP (2-1), 9 p.m. ET: UTEP 28-27
California (1-2) at Washington (1-2), 9:30 p.m. ET: Washington 24-17
Colorado (1-2) at Arizona State (2-1), 10:30 p.m. ET: Arizona State 41-23
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
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