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Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 4 Picks

Nelson Spruce

Nelson Spruce

Week four of the college football season is upon us and I put together another week although I was disappointed with the two losses in the FCS vs. FBS realm. I'm pretty sure it's a sign of true degeneracy when you are yelling at your TV or computer for an FCS team that is clearly outmatched to hold on or perform better in their matchup. Last week I pointed out that I'd like to learn a little more about Charlotte and Temple, and boy did we. The 49ers are not ready for primetime while the Owls just might be. These two teams play next Friday in a game that I will be attending. 

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Record: 17-12 (6-4 last week)

Boise State (2-1) at Virginia (1-2) (Friday)

Virginia welcomes Boise State to Charlottesville for a Friday night tilt. The Broncos enter this one without starting quarterback Ryan Finley, who broke his ankle vs. Idaho State. The Cavaliers nearly knocked off Notre Dame in week 2 and also nearly let one slip away against FCS opponent William and Mary in a 35-29 win. Virginia's received good quarterbacking from Matt Johns, who is taking over for Greyson Lambert (transferred to Georgia). The offense will get T.J. Thorpe at full strength and the UNC transfer is going to add another dimension to things. Boise's defense has shut down three rushing attacks although two teams don't commit to the run as much as UVA does. Boise's offense hasn't overwhelmed anyone of the FBS variety. The Cavaliers have covered seven of their last 11 non-conference games and 10 of their last 17 at home. The Broncs are an okay ATS team having split their last 12 road games against the spread. SELECTION: Virginia +3

Missouri (3-0) at Kentucky (2-1)

Kentucky is coming off a rough outing where the Wildcats lost to Florida 14-9 at home. Missouri, meanwhile, had its own troubles at home with UConn in a 9-6 victory. For the second straight week, the Tigers managed under 300 yards of offense.  They got the victory by virtue of a good defense that has held every opponent under 300 yards. UK's offense has put up better numbers, although the level of opponent hasn't been the best. South Carolina didn't put up much resistance in week 2. Last year these two played a 20-10 game in Missouri. September's been a good month for unders for both teams as Missouri is 2-8 O-U in its last 10 while Kentucky is 2-7 O-U. SELECTION: Under 44

Arkansas State (1-2) at Toledo (2-0)

Toledo is 2-0 after a second straight Power 5 win over Iowa State. The Rockets are getting a lot of publicity for their start as they host Arkansas State on Saturday. The Red Wolves are 1-2, but have the talent to make things interesting in this one. Toledo's defense has allowed around 500 yards per game in both of its contests and could struggle with Fredi Knighten and Michael Gordon. These two teams played in a bowl game back on Jan. 4 with Toledo winning 63-44. We could see that many points in this one. The Rockets are 41-21 O-U since 1992. SELECTION: Over 60

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Vanderbilt (1-2) at Ole Miss (3-0)

Ole Miss is flying high after a huge 43-37 win at Alabama. Now the Rebels welcome woeful Vanderbilt to town for the Commodores' first road game of the season. The Commodores have been pretty awful offensively this season scoring just 26 points in two home games against FBS opponents. They'll find it hard to score on the Rebels, who have forced 10 turnovers. Ole Miss has been rolling offensively, putting up 192 points in three games. Chad Kelly is putting up solid stats for a potential Heisman campaign. Money is streaming in on Vanderbilt, because of course people think that Ole Miss will start slow. That's probably true so I don't recommend any first half wagers, but in the end Ole Miss is the better team and the Rebels will pull this out. The Rebs have covered in 11 of their last 16 home games. Last year at home Vandy lost this game 41-3. We expect a similar score, but wait and maybe more line movement will help you out. SELECTION: Ole Miss -24.5

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FIU (2-1) at Louisiana Tech (1-2)

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Last year, I was on FAU whenever I could and it worked out well. This year, we're transferring over to FIU, which already has a road win over UCF. The Panthers have a very good defense that has held down two of their last three opponents. Louisiana Tech is coming off a pair of tough road losses and will be hungry to get back on the winning side. Jeff Driskel and Kenneth Dixon have been a solid pair on offense. FIU's offense is inconsistent, but the Panthers might be able to find some things that work against the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech has played just 11 home games the last three seasons and have covered five. Playing a hunch here and going with the road team. SELECTION: FIU +14.5

Rice (2-1) at Baylor (2-0)

Baylor had the week off entering this contest with Rice on Saturday. The Bears have put up 122 points in two games while allowing 52 to SMU and Lamar. The numbers look great offensively, but the competition hasn't been great. Rice possesses some offensive firepower, but the Owls will struggle defensively. The Owls gave up 42 points to Texas and 24 to North Texas. Driphus Jackson leads a Rice team that has scored 28 points or more in each of its three games. Baylor has played 18 overs in its last 28 games including nine of 14 at home. The Bears' opponent has gone over in 11 of the last 15 road games including both this season. SELECTION: Over 75

Ohio (3-0) at Minnesota (2-1)

Last week I hit the under in the Minnesota game and it paid off handsomely, as the Golden Gophers won 10-7 at home over Kent State. Now it's the second straight MAC opponent for them as Ohio comes to town. The Bobcats have played impressively on defense especially in week two when they held Marshall to 10 points and 241 yards of offense. Minny has managed just 50 points this season and has struggled with turnovers. Ohio's offense won't be able to get much going on this Big Ten defense that held TCU to just 23 points. Minnesota has three unders in three games this season and 10 of its last 16 home contests. Ohio has played 11 unders in its last 13 games as an underdog. SELECTION: Under 47

Marshall (1-2) at Kent State (2-1)

The other side of that Minnesota contest last week was Kent State, whose anemic offense comes home to host Marshall. Kent State has scored just 10 points against FBS opponents managing under 250 yards in each tilt. The good thing for the Golden Flashes is how well they are playing on defense. While they did give up 52 points to Illinois in week one, it didn't help that they had four turnovers and frequent short fields to defend. Marshall's offense is still working on some things. The Thundering Herd will play two quarterbacks in this one and that's going to make things difficult. Devon Johnson is steady at RB, but the passing attack needs work. Kent State has gone under in six of its last eight games against teams with a winning record. SELECTION: Under 50.5

Northern Illinois (2-1) at Boston College (2-1)

The Eagles play their second straight FBS opponent as they host Northern Illinois. It's hard to get a read on Boston College with wins over Maine and Howard on the docket already. BC did hold Florida State to just 217 yards of offense last Friday night. We also don't know about NIU's defense. The Huskies struggled with UNLV and Murray State before holding the Buckeyes to 298 yards of total offense. Northern Illinois is capable of scoring, but a trip to Chestnut Hill will make things tough. The Eagles don't have Darius Wade for this one so the offense will have a new signal-caller. NIU has been an underdog nine times the last three seasons with six of those games going under the total. SELECTION: Under 47

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Nicholls State (0-2) at Colorado (2-1)

This is a mismatch of sorts on Saturday as Nicholls State has lost 20 straight games. This year the Colonels fell 47-0 to ULM and 20-10 to Incarnate Word. They have played 17 freshmen in their first two games including several in the secondary. That's a bad set up to face the Buffaloes, who love to sling it around and figure to find wide receiver Nelson Spruce early and often. Nicholls has lost five straight FBS games getting outscored 311-33. The only concern here is that Colorado hosts Oregon next Saturday, but even its second and third teams should be able to score here. SELECTION: Colorado -45


- It's a classic matchup of a good defense against a good offense as Wake Forest hosts Indiana. The Demon Deacons are 2-1 with wins over Elon and Army. Wake Forest has been very good on the defensive side, but has not played anyone as good as Indiana. The Hoosiers have three wins over mediocre teams for the most part excluding Western Kentucky. It's their first road game of the season as well. IU has made each of those teams look good offensively. I really thought about the under in this one as well as Wake Forest, but couldn't make either official. Ohio State comes to Bloomington next Saturday so focus could be an issue as well. 

- It is a matchup of two of the worst Power 5 schools as Rutgers takes on Kansas. It is week two of Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood's suspension as well as wide receiver Leonte Carroo, who is the Scarlet Knights' best offensive player. The Jayhawks are horrendous, but had two weeks to prepare for this one. This game will go one of two ways... Rutgers blows out the awful Jayhawks or the Scarlet Knights' misery continues and Kansas comes away with a rare victory. I almost lean to KU in this one, but really who can bet on either team.

- Vegas has thwarted one of my favorite spot plays for Saturday. Old Dominion is coming off the biggest home game in school history and now Appalachian State is coming to town. The Monarchs' offense couldn't get anything going in the 38-14 loss to NC State and now have to play a Mountaineers team that is coming off a bye after a loss at Clemson. Appy State has a potent offense to go with a decent defense. I was hoping to get a number where I could fade Old Dominion, which won't be focused in this spot, but unfortunately it's at a number I don't feel comfortable playing on the road.

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.