Preview and picks for NCAA Football Week 4
The biggest Saturday of the college football season to date is Sept. 23 with six AP Top 25 matchups. Two of them are the most heavily bet games at the leading online sportsbooks with No. 6 Ohio State at No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon.
We're off to a strong start on our college football Top 25 Picks and Opinions, and will add more this week along with some Leans with a big card. This week's Top 25 picks and betting report will be broken into two parts with the three separate Pac 12 matchups featuring Top 25 teams provided separately.
You can follow along and decide if you want to bet on the Picks, Opinions and Leans provided each week, or chip-in at Gambler's World for additional picks and videos of college football games.
I like to dig into stats and have provided information and insight for years looking for match-up edges, along with stats and situational plays that can often be overlooked when evaluating the games and match-ups.
College football strategies and stability ratings
We're also in a stretch from Weeks 3-6 where there is significant adjustments in betting lines and overreaction in the market. That often creates value and opportunities on underdogs if you're willing to take a contrary approach - like Colorado State (+23) last week in their double overtime loss to rival Colorado, 43-35. The Buffaloes have had the biggest adjustment in power ratings and market influence, and it's happening again this week with Colorado-Oregon the most bet game of the week, with twice the handle (2/1) and money bet than the next most bet games, Ohio State at Notre Dame and Florida State at Clemson, according to Caesars Sportsbook and other top online sportsbooks.
Last year's Top 25 matchup Picks went 11-7 ATS, and we'll update the Picks and Opinions each week along with Leans and bonus picks. I'll be providing Picks, Opinions or Leans on every Top 25 matchup each week, and add additional Picks and Opinions on Top 25 games/teams. The Top 25 matchups and teams draw the most media and betting interest, so we'll cover those games each week with added information you can bet on.
All college football 2023 Picks and Opinions through Week 3 are 8-3, including 7-1 ATS on sides.
Top 25 Matchup Picks: 0-1 (total)
Bonus Picks: 1-0
Top 25 Matchup Opinions: 3-0
Top 25 Games Opinions: 3-1
Top 25 Totals Opinions: 1-1
Top 25 Leans: 1-0
Check out more college football Week 4 updates with opening odds and line moves in my coverage in Forbes.
Top 25 Games, Odds and TV Schedule
College football odds from reduced juice sportsbook BetAnySports refresh periodically and are subject to change, including on props and live betting.
No. 1 Georgia (-42.5) vs. UAB | 7:30 p.m. | ESPN2
No. 2 Michigan (-24) vs. Rutgers | 12 p.m.
No. 3 Texas (-14.5) at Baylor | 7:30 p.m. | ABC
No. 4 Florida State (-2) at No. 26 Clemson | 12 p.m. | ABC
No. 5 USC (-34.5) at Arizona State | 10:30 p.m. | FOX
No. 6 Ohio State (-3) at No. 9 Notre Dame | 7:30 p.m. | NBC
No. 7 Penn State (-14.5) vs. No. 24 Iowa | 7:30 p.m. | CBS
No. 8 Washington (-20.5) vs. Cal | 10:30 p.m. | ESPN
No. 10 Oregon (-21) vs. No. 19 Colorado | 3:30 p.m. | ABC
No. 11 Utah (-5.5) vs. No. 22 UCLA | 3:30 p.m. | FOX
No. 12 LSU (-17.5) vs. Arkansas | 7 p.m. | ESPN
No. 13 Alabama (-6.5) vs. No. 15 Ole Miss | 3:30 p.m. | CBS
No. 14 Oregon State (-3) at No. 21 Washington State | 7 p.m. | FOX
No. 16 Oklahoma (-14) at Cincinnati | 12 p.m. | FOX
No. 17 North Carolina (-7.5) at Pitt | 8 p.m. | ACC Network
No. 18 Duke (-21) at UConn | 3:30 p.m. | CBSSN
No. 20 Miami, FL (-23.5) at Temple | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN2
No. 23 Tennessee (-21.5) vs. UTSA | 4 p.m. | SEC Network
No. 25 Florida (-27.5) vs. Charlotte | 7 p.m. | ESPN+/SECN+
Others receiving votes: Clemson 76, Missouri 72, Kansas State 54, TCU 21, Fresno State 17, Kansas 15, Tulane 13, Kentucky 10, Maryland 4, BYU 3, Wisconsin 2, Syracuse 2, Louisville 1, Auburn 1.
Week 4 Top 25 Picks And Matchups
There are six NCAA Football Top 25 matchups between ranked teams in Week 4 on Sat., Sept. 23. Adding analysis on Florida State-Clemson, and the three Pac-12 games and Top 25 matchups will be included in a separate post.
No. 4 Florida State at No. 26 Clemson | 12:00 p.m. ET on ABC
Line: Florida State -2 and Total 55.5
This just misses being a Top 25 matchup with Clemson No. 26 after starting the season in the top 10. But Clemson has bounced back off their opening week loss to Duke, and dominated a pair of opponents with their suffocating defense. Florida State QB Jordan Travis is dealing with an arm injury, and Clemson would have been favored in this matchup at the start of the season. Florida State was so impressive in the second half in beating LSU to start the season, but last week in high winds and a lookahead spot, they held on to beat Boston College 31-29 as a 27'-point favorite with BC taking 18 penalties. This line has dipped slighly, but Clemson is 93-8 outright since head coach Dabo Swinney took over the program in 2008, and 61-2 SU at home the last 10 years. The Tigers are also 17-2 SU in Death Valley against undefeated foes, including 14-0 since 2015 (Playbook). Clemson has won 7-straight over FSU, and Clemson's highly-touted QB Cade Klubnik gets his chance to shine in the ACC showdown of top teams.
No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 13 Alabama
Line: Alabama -6.5 and Total 55.5
Opinion: Ole Miss
This line has dipped below 7 and we'll reduce our rating with Ole Miss also banged up on defense and wide receivers. But Mississippi has a significant experience edge and also has the superior QB in Jaxson Dart, who has led the Rebels to a 3-0 SU/ATS start including scoring 37 and 48 points vs FBS foes. Last week Dart passed for 251 yards and rushed for 135 with three total touchdowns in a 25-point win over Georgia Tech. The Mississippi defense allowed more than 470 yards which is a concern, but former Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding is now DC at Ole Miss and should get a better game plan and performance against the Crimson Tide, who have allowed five QB sacks each of the last two games. Have you watched 'Bama's offense with their clueless quarterbacks? Bro Jalen Milroe takes over this week and the rest of the season according to coach Saban. Milroe tossed 2 INT's and completed just 51% of his passes in a home loss to Texas two weeks ago. Sure, Alabama is 9-2 SU/ATS under coach Saban when the 'Tide are coming off consecutive double-digit ATS losses. Those mostly meaningless trends don't apply to this matchup. Full value may be long gone, but 'Bama has not looked right and we're not betting on the bounce back yet.
No. 6 Ohio State at No. 9 Notre Dame
Line: Ohio State -3 and Total 55.5
Pick: Notre Dame
Notre Dame has a sizable edge at quarterback with transfer Sam Hartman playing at a high level during the Irish's 4-0 start. Notre Dame's offense has averaged 46 points per game and 1.3 yards per play (YPPL) better than average, and the Irish's defense is 1.2 YPPL better than average. Ohio State could pay the price here with their softer early schedule as 30-point favorites in three contests, and not sharp at all in the opener at Indiana (23-3). But the Buckeye's have been even better rating 1.6 yards per play (YPPL) better than average on offense (with QB McCord in the game) and 2.0 YPPL better than average on defense. Plenty of top talent and recruits on the Buckeyes, but hidden value with the Irish special teams, and Notre Dame also has a strong defensive line to attack a not-so-stout Ohio State offensive line.
No. 24 Iowa at No. 7 Penn State
Line: Penn State -14.5 and Total 40
Wow, what a low total with a greater than 2 TD favorite. "White Out" night game in Happy Valley, and Penn State QB Drew Allar is most capable of handling Iowa's defensive pressure. The Nittany Lions did benefit from five Illinois turnovers last week in a 30-13 win, but Iowa won't give such gifts.
Bonus College Football Picks and Opinions
Pick: Arkansas (+17.5) at No. No. 12 LSU
Opinion: Rutgers (+24) at No. 2 Michigan
Opinion: BYU (+9.5) at Kansas
Arkansas outgained BYU last week 424-281 but lost at home 38-31 as a 9-point favorite. That sets up some sweet value on the 'Hogs if experienced duel-threat quarterback KJ Jefferson protects the ball and lets the balanced Arkansas offense play to their potential. The Razorback's offense has not been sharp with top RB Raheim Sanders injured in week 1 and ARK playing without last year's top 2 receivers. But the 'Hogs defense has been solid allowing just 262 yards per game at 4.4 yards per play (YPPL) vs better than average offenses. LSU rolled over Mississippi State last week 41-14 and the defense looks better after the second half collapse against Florida State in the opener. LSU also won this matchup last year just 13-10 with QB Jayden Daniels only passing for 86 yards and Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson did not play. LSU is still winless ATS in nine conference openers when favored by 13 or more points, and the tax is too much for recent results and projections.
Rutgers defense is allowing just 10 points per game and just 3.8 yards per play - same at Michigan, who won their Big Ten home games by 17 PPG last season. Rutgers is 3-0 SU/ATS vs three FBS opponents that rate stronger than Michigan's opponents in a 3-0 SU but 0-3 ATS start. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh returns to the sidelines following a 3-game suspension.
Check back by Saturday morning for any additions, updates, analysis and information you can bet on.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapperand loves college football. He's been handicapping and betting college football for more than two decades and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. FairwayJay chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairwayJay here at OSGA.com and on X (Twitter) @FairwayJay for more sports and betting insights.