Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
After an upset-filled Week 2, there was a little less chaos (other than that Hail Mary in Boone) in Week 3 of the college football season. It was also a rare good weekend for the Pac-12 with both Washington and Oregon scoring non-conference wins over higher-ranked opponents.
But now it’s time to turn the page to Week 4 with conference play beginning for most teams throughout the country. There are three ranked vs. ranked matchups on tap as well as five different ranked teams going on the road to face unranked conference opponents.
When the schedule lays out like that, there are usually a few upsets on the horizon.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
No. 5 Clemson at No. 21 Wake Forest
Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: Clemson -7.5 | Total: 55.5
One of the biggest questions entering the season was Clemson’s offense. That unit was a huge issue for the Tigers in 2021 as their streak of ACC titles came to an end. Through three games against lackluster competition (Georgia Tech, Furman and Louisiana Tech), it’s unclear if DJ Uiagalelei and company have really taken much of a step forward. Uiagalelei has been solid enough at QB to hold off freshman Cade Klubnik and the receiver group is still inconsistent, but running back Will Shipley has been excellent.
The Clemson defense is still one of the nation’s best, but it could face a challenge from the passing attack of Wake Forest. After being sidelined due to a blood clot, Sam Hartman is back at quarterback for the Demon Deacons, who are off to a 3-0 start just like Clemson. Last week, Wake was nearly upset at home by Liberty. Liberty scored with 1:11 left in regulation and tried to go ahead with a two-point conversion. That try failed and Wake Forest held on for a one-point win. Dave Clawson’s team will have to be much sharper to get a win over Clemson, which has won 13 consecutive matchups with the Demon Deacons.
Nick Bromberg: Wake Forest +7.5, Sam Cooper: Clemson -7.5
No. 20 Florida at No. 11 Tennessee
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: UT -10.5 | Total: 62.5
Florida started off the Billy Napier on a high note by upsetting Utah at home. Anthony Richardson looked like a Heisman contender with his performance that night, but it has been a mixed bag for the Gators since then. In Week 2, Florida lost at home to Kentucky with Richardson throwing two ugly interceptions. UF got back in the win column last week by barely squeaking past USF in another lackluster outing from Richardson. Can Richardson play like he did in Week 1 in Florida’s first road game of the season?
While Florida is 2-1 on the year, Tennessee is off to a 3-0 start in its second season under Josh Heupel. The Vols smacked both Ball State and Akron, with an impressive road win over Pittsburgh in between. Hendon Hooker has continued his stellar play at quarterback and he’ll need to keep that up with a challenging stretch of SEC games upcoming. Tennessee has lost 16 of its last 17 meetings with Florida and would love to beat the Gators in convincing fashion to kick off SEC play.
Nick: Florida +10.5, Sam: Florida +10.5
No. 15 Oregon at Washington State
Time: 4 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: Oregon -6.5 | Total: 56.5
What a difference a few weeks makes. Back in Week 1, Oregon was embarrassed by Georgia 49-3 in Dan Lanning’s first game as head coach. Almost nobody expected the Ducks to pull off the upset that day, but the lack of competitiveness against the defending national champions was striking. Since then, Oregon has regrouped in impressive fashion. The Ducks beat up an FCS team in Week 2 before blowing out then-No. 12 BYU at home last week, 41-20. Bo Nix had five combined TDs in the win. Can the Ducks replicate that kind of effort in their Pac-12 opener in Pullman?
Washington State is off to a 3-0 start in its first season with Jake Dickert as the program’s full-time head coach. Dickert held down the interim role for much of last year and has the Cougars playing well to start 2022. Included in that undefeated start is a road upset over Wisconsin. That preceded a blowout home win over Colorado State last week. In the win over CSU, Cameron Ward threw for 299 yards and four touchdowns. Ward, a transfer from Incarnate Word, has looked shaky at times this season but seems to be getting his feet underneath him in his transition to the highest level of college football. The Ducks will present another big challenge.
Nick: Washington State +6.5, Sam: Oregon -6.5
No. 10 Arkansas vs. No. 23 Texas A&M
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: TAMU -2.5 | Total: 48.5
After opening up the season with wins over Cincinnati and South Carolina, Arkansas thought it would get a respite with Missouri State visiting Fayetteville last weekend. Instead, the Razorbacks had to fight for 60 minutes to avoid a massive upset. Arkansas actually trailed 27-17 early in the fourth quarter but managed to score the game’s final 21 points to escape with a 38-27 victory. Expect Sam Pittman’s team to come out with much more focus when it goes up against Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Texas A&M, meanwhile, managed to bounce back after its disappointing Week 2 home loss to Appalachian State. The Aggies made a change at quarterback and got a 17-9 win over No. 13 Miami. Even with the QB change from Haynes King to Max Johnson, the offense did not look very good. A muffed Miami punt allowed A&M to jump out to a first-quarter lead that it would not relinquish as the defense kept the Hurricanes out of the end zone. Arkansas’ defense has been a bit leaky in the early going, so maybe the Aggies will be able to find some more success this week.
Nick: Arkansas +2.5, Sam: Arkansas +2.5
No. 7 USC at Oregon State
Time: 9:30 p.m. | TV: Pac-12 | Line: USC -6.5 | Total: 70.5
USC will have its most significant test of the Lincoln Riley era so far when it goes up to Corvallis to face an underrated Oregon State team. Through three games, the hype about USC has been justified as Caleb Williams has been tearing up defenses during the Trojans’ 3-0 start. In those three games, USC has scored a combined 152 points while the defense has forced a whopping 10 turnovers.
The turnovers have been huge for USC’s defense, which has given up plenty of yards but has been strong in the red zone. On the other side, Oregon State has one of the best red zone offenses in the country. The Beavers, who are 3-0 with wins over Boise State and Fresno State, have scored a touchdown on 12 of their 14 trips to the red zone. OSU has steadily improved during Jonathan Smith’s tenure as head coach. If the Beavers can pull off the upset here, it would be just their third win over a ranked opponent since 2013.
Nick: USC -6.5, Sam: Oregon State +6.5
Head-to-head ATS: Nick: 8-7, Sam: 6-9
Week 4 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 2-1, Overall: 6-3)
Nevada at Air Force (-24): The Falcons got upset on the road in Week 3 at Wyoming while Nevada lost to Iowa in a game that took eight hours because of lightning delays. Both of those games hit the under easily and I think that’s a good recipe again here. Air Force is going to use a lot of clock and Nevada is in the first stages of a massive rebuilding process. Pick: Under 45.5
Kansas State at No. 6 Oklahoma (-13.5): The Wildcats’ offense has been very bad. The Wildcats’ defense has been very good. That was very apparent in KSU’s 17-14 Week 3 loss to Tulane. I don’t trust Adrian Martinez to figure anything out against Oklahoma’s defense but I also trust the Kansas State defense to keep OU’s offense way more in check than Nebraska’s did. Pick: Under 53.5
No. 7 USC (-6.5) at Oregon State: I’ve already sided with the Trojans and am confident in that pick. But I’m not sure it’s a boat race as I think Oregon State has enough up front to slow down USC’s offense somewhat. And I don’t think the USC defense is going to keep up its turnover pace. This total seems way too high and designed for bettors enamored with USC’s box scores over the first three weeks. Pick: Under 70.5
Sam Cooper (Last week: 2-1, Overall: 8-1)
Maryland at No. 4 Michigan: I don't think Jim Harbaugh is going to take his foot off the gas pedal in J.J. McCarthy's first career Big Ten start. Michigan has dominated Maryland in recent years and the Terps have been terrible against the number in conference play. Pick: Michigan -16.5
UCLA (-21.5) at Colorado: UCLA should play with more focus after nearly losing to a good South Alabama team at home last week, while Colorado is one of the worst teams in the country. UCLA rolls. Pick: UCLA -21.5
Indiana at Cincinnati (-16.5): I think Indiana is due for a blowout loss while Cincinnati is starting to hit its stride with a lot of new personnel seeing increased playing time. Pick: Cincinnati -16.5
For other Week 4 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
For Week 4 picks from Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger, subscribe to the College Football Enquirer.