Week 4 features a pair of neutral site matchups between teams ranked in the AP Top 25.
No. 12 Notre Dame and No. 18 Wisconsin meet at Soldier Field in Chicago for the Big Noon Kickoff game, and No. 16 Arkansas and No. 7 Texas A&M meet at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, at 3:30 p.m. ET. Those games are part of another fun slate of college football action.
SN’s Bill Bender is still trying to dig out of the hole in our weekly picks against the spread. With the record number of upsets through the first three weeks, that has not been easy.
- Straight up: 44-11 (17-3 in Week 3)
- Against the spread: 23-32 (10-10 in Week 3)
- Upsets: 3-1 (1-1 in Week 3)
With that in mind, a look at this week’s picks:
Week 4 picks against the spread
Friday, Sept. 24
- UNLV at No. 22 Fresno State (-31.5) (10 p.m, ESPN2)
Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener led an upset against UCLA last week, and he averages 366 passing yards per game. It’s the third straight 30-plus point underdog spread for the Rebels, and they are 1-1 ATS the last two weeks.
Pick: Fresno State wins 41-14 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
Saturday, Sept. 25
- No. 2 Georgia (-34.5) at Vanderbilt (12 p.m., SEC Network)
The Bulldogs are 30-plus favorites for the second straight week in an SEC East game, and they will win the game behind a solid rushing attack and efficient play from J.T. Daniels. Georgia has won the last three meetings in Nashville by an average of 24 points per game. If the Commodores can score double digits, then they will cover.
Pick: Georgia wins 42-9 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- No. 18 Wisconsin (-5.5) vs. No. 12 Notre Dame (12 p.m., FOX)
It’s the Jack Coan revenge game. The Wisconsin transfer will take on his old team, and the Irish need to find a more-consistent running game against a stingy Badgers’ run defense (33.0 ypg.). That said, this is the kind of statement game the Irish need. Brian Kelly is 14-8 against Big Ten opponents.
Pick: Notre Dame wins 24-23 in an UPSET.
- UMass at No. 17 Coastal Carolina (-35.5) (1 p.m., ESPN+)
We have whiffed on Coastal Carolina picks the last two weeks, and it’s not going to be easy with yet another 30-point spread. UMass has put up 28 points each of the last two weeks and covered in both of those games. Do we get another cover here?
Pick: Coastal Carolina wins 52-20 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Colorado State at No. 5 Iowa (-22.5) (3:30 p.m., FS1)
Iowa’s methodical offense can make for some nail-biting covers, but that defense will cause problems for the Rams, who complete just 55.7 percent of their passes as a team. Kirk Ferentz might open it up a little more with Spencer Petras in this game, too. Iowa improves to 4-0 ATS with another big win.
Pick: Iowa wins 35-10 and COVERS the spread.
- No. 7 Texas A&M (-5.5) vs. No. 16 Arkansas (3:30 p.m., CBS)
The Razorbacks’ rushing attack features five players who have at least 100 yards rushing, and K.J. Jefferson is developing into a dual-threat star. Texas A&M is trying to make it 10 in a row against their SEC West rivals. This should live up to expectations.
Pick: Texas A&M wins 31-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- No. 14 Iowa State (-6.5) at Baylor (3:30 p.m, FOX)
The Bears are off to a 3-0 start under second-year coach Dave Aranda with the help of a three-headed rushing attack that averages 328.5 yards per game and an improved defense. Iowa State had its get-right game last week. The Bears have won six of the last seven meetings in Waco. The temptation to pick the upset is there, but the Cyclones get out with the victory.
Pick: Iowa State wins 28-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- No. 9 Clemson (-10.5) at N.C. State (3:30 p.m. ESPN)
Clemson stock is down, especially after a goal-line stand was needed to finish off Georgia Tech. The Tigers still have a nasty defense, and D.J. Uiagalelei settles in with a few big plays in the passing game on the road. Clemson has won the last eight meetings in the series.
Pick: Clemson wins 28-16 and COVERS the spread.
- Rutgers at No. 19 Michigan (-18.5) (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Michigan won a 48-42 triple-overtime thriller at Rutgers last season. Both teams are 3-0 S/U and 3-0 ATS to start the season. The Wolverines have won three home meetings against the Scarlet Knights by an average of 35.3 points per game. It comes down to how much Rutgers can slow down Michigan’s rushing attack, which ranks fifth in the nation at 339 yards per game. If Noah Vedral can avoid costly turnovers, then Rutgers will make it interesting.
Pick: Michigan wins 34-17 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Georgia State vs. No. 23 Auburn (-26.5) (4 p.m., SECN)
Auburn lost in Happy Valley, but Georgia State offers a chance for a get-well game. The Panthers have suffered blowout losses to Army and North Carolina, and the Tigers should be able to get what they want on offense. Look for a big game from Bo Nix.
Pick: Auburn wins 41-13 and COVERS the spread.
- No. 24 UCLA (-5.5) at Stanford (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The Bruins stayed in the poll after a shootout loss to Fresno State, and Stanford has scored 40-plus points in back-to-back victories after a Week 1 loss to Kansas State. The Cardinal have won seven of the last eight meetings, but the run defense is shaky.
Pick: UCLA wins 31-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Tennessee at No. 11 Florida (-20) (7 p.m., ESPN)
The Vols haven’t won in The Swamp since 2003, and Florida’s offense will present several issues for Josh Heupel. The Gators have won the last three meetings under Dan Mullen by an average of 22 points per game.
Pick: Florida wins 38-20 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Nebraska at No. 20 Michigan State (-3.5) (7 p.m., FS1)
The Spartans continue to roll with Kenneth Walker III and a punishing rushing attack, and Nebraska is coming off another emotional loss against Oklahoma. The Huskers are 9-2 all time against the Spartans, but we’re trusting the better team.
Pick: Michigan State wins 30-20 and COVERS the spread.
- No. 25 Kansas State at Oklahoma State (-6.5) (7 p.m., ESPN+)
This should be a fun game between undefeated Big 12 teams that have survived early-season tests. Four of the last five matchups in Stillwater have been decided by one score, and the Cowboys are 4-1 in those games.
Pick: Oklahoma State wins 27-20 and COVERS the spread.
- Southern Miss at No. 1 Alabama (-44.5) (7:30 p.m., SECN)
Southern Miss averages 8.0 points per game in losses to Troy and South Alabama, so the Crimson Tide will be looking for a shutout after struggling against the run against Florida.
Pick: Alabama wins 54-7 and COVERS the spread.
- West Virginia at No. 4 Oklahoma (-16.5) (7:30 p.m., ABC)
There might be value in the Sooners here. They have failed to cover against Tulane and Nebraska; games in which the spread was more than 20 points. The Mountaineers have played one-score games against Maryland and Virginia Tech, and Ledee Brown could have a big game on the ground. The Sooners have won the last three games in Norman by 20 points or more.
Pick: Oklahoma wins 38-20 and COVERS the spread.
- Akron vs. No. 10 Ohio State (-49.5) (7:30 p.m., BTN)
Games with spreads this high shouldn’t be played. The Zips lost 60-10 to Auburn in Week 1, and Ohio State could match that total in a rare prime-time game against a MAC opponent. The Buckeyes’ defense continues to give up too many big plays, however, and it only takes one or two to get a cover.
Pick: Ohio State wins 52-7 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- Georgia Tech at No. 21 North Carolina (-12.5) (7:30 p.m., ACCN)
The Tar Heels have put together back-to-back 59-point performances after a Week 1 loss, and the Yellow Jackets are coming off a heart-breaking loss to Clemson. Sam Howell keeps the North Carolina offense rolling in a home victory.
Pick: North Carolina wins 38-22 and COVERS the spread.
- Arizona at No. 3 Oregon (-28.5) (10:30 p.m., ESPN)
Arizona averaged 16.3 points per game through three weeks, and the Wildcats struggled with turnovers in a Week 3 loss to Northern Arizona. Oregon can exploit that on both sides, but that half-point hook should be enough for the Wildcats to cover. The Ducks are 0-2 ATS as a favorite this season.
Pick: Oregon wins 38-14 and FAILS TO COVER the spread.
- South Florida at No. 15 BYU (-22.5) (10:15 p.m, ESPN2)
The line has dropped a point from its open, and the Bulls are 1-1 ATS in games where they are 20-plus point underdogs this season. The Cougars just beat three straight Pac-12 opponents and they keep that focus rolling with another blowout.
Pick: BYU wins 42-13 and COVERS the spread.
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