Already, we are entering week four of the college football season and pretty much no one is a fan of the officials. There have been several high-profile missed calls that have made an impact across the landscape of the sport. We also are approaching some big-time conference matchups, which means there are gorgeous spot plays that you will see in this article. There's a method to the madness folks.
Record: 6-10 (3-3 last week)
USC (1-2) at Utah (3-0)
Friday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. ET
It's been an interesting season so far for USC, which has already made a quarterback change to redshirt freshman Sam Darnold. There is no denying the talent level on the Trojans’ offense although I'd like to see Adoree’ Jackson used as more than a decoy. Utah's defense is allowing just 263.7 yards per game. The Utes are relying on quarterback Troy Williams, who has been efficient as a passer. They are running the ball well, which presents a problem for the Trojans (197.7 rushing ypg allowed). It's a little bit of a shorter week for USC, which played at Stanford on Saturday and lost 27-10. USC has covered in just 14 of its last 30 games and two of its last nine as an underdog. I don't think Utah is a good place to figure things out on Friday night. SELECTION: Utah -3
Syracuse (1-2) at UConn (2-1)
Saturday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. ET
This line seems to be way off in both directions. Syracuse hits the road as an underdog after getting thrashed at home by Louisville and South Florida. Now the Orange take on the unimpressive offense that is UConn (331 ypg). The good thing for the Huskies is that their defense is very stout and has done the job when needed to against Maine and Virginia. UConn has not seen a total this high, especially at home, since at least 1992. The Huskies have gone under in 17 of their last 28 games and have covered just seven over that same span. I know things look bad for the Orange although they kept things closer against Louisville than Florida State did. SELECTION: Syracuse +5 and Under 57
Wake Forest (3-0) at Indiana (2-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Wake Forest is undefeated despite fielding a less-than-spectacular offense. The Demon Deacons are passing for just 141 yards per game. They are without signal-caller Kendall Hinton and running back Cade Carney, two key pieces to this offense. Luckily for them, they have faced three equally underwhelming offensive squads in Tulane, Duke and Delaware. You cannot say the same thing about Indiana, which has shown good balance in wins over FIU and Ball State. The Hoosiers have just one turnover while forcing six themselves. Yes, they have Michigan State next week, but the fact that they are coming off a bye week means that focus shouldn't be an issue. Last year IU won in Winston Salem 31-24 as a four-point favorite. With two weeks to prepare, I think they deal the Deacs their first loss. SELECTION: Indiana -7.5
Appalachian State (1-2) at Akron (2-1)
Saturday, Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. ET
What's the mindset of Appalachian State going to be as the Mountaineers hit the road to play Akron? The Mountaineers had nationally ranked Miami at home and they laid a giant egg in a 45-10 loss to the Canes. Even worse, their best RB Marcus Cox is now hurt and his status is in very much in question for Saturday. Now they head to Akron with the Zips flying high after a 65-38 win at Marshall. This is an up-tempo offense that has worked outside of one game at Wisconsin. Quarterback Thomas Woodson is making things happen. I think this is a great spot to play the underdog home team. SELECTION: Akron +5.5
Western Illinois (2-0) at Northern Illinois (0-3)
Saturday, Sept. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET
It's unusual to see a zero in the win column for Northern Illinois this late into the season. But the Huskies lost quarterback Drew Hare and that has hurt their offensive productivity. The bigger issue is a defense that has allowed 17 touchdowns and 516.7 yards per game. The Leathernecks are coming off an early bye week and are ranked 10th in Athlon Sports’ current FCS Power Poll. They are led by Steve McShane on the ground and Sean McGuire under center. This team has a very good defense that should be able to corral Northern Illinois quarterback Ryan Graham. SELECTION: Western Illinois +8.5
UL Lafayette (2-1) at Tulane (1-2)
Saturday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET
New head coach Willie Fritz is trying to do big things with Tulane although it will take some time. The Green Wave can run it, but they are not really putting any pressure on defenses through the air. This is a team that has scored a total of 17 points against FBS opponents and is facing a ULL defense that has held two straight opponents to 100 yards or fewer on the ground. The good thing for the Wave is that their defense is playing strong, forcing six turnovers in their last two games. That should help against Elijah McGuire and the Ragin’ Cajun attack. ULL’s offense has been able to get things done through the air, but this will be the toughest defense the Cajuns have faced yet. Tulane has gone under in eight of its last 14 home games. I think that trend continues. SELECTION: Under 47
— I came really close to playing Vanderbilt. The Commodores are at Western Kentucky on Saturday and are more than a touchdown underdog. The Hilltoppers are a banged-up bunch in certain key areas, but it's not often they get an SEC team at home. Vandy's defense has played poorly, but this unit can shut down WKU’s passing game. The question as always lies with the Commodores’, offense which is Ralph Webb and a whole lot of nothing. WKU lost at Alabama 38-10 and barely knocked off MAC member Miami (Ohio) on the road last week.
— There has been a switch in favorites as money has swung to Kentucky in its SEC East matchup with South Carolina. I'd love to take the Wildcats in this one, as South Carolina is flying high after being dominated yards-wise by ECU. The Gamecocks’ offense doesn't scare a lot of people, but their defense is pretty good. Can the Wildcats play for head coach Mark Stoops and win a game that they are now favored in? They've been a home favorite of three points or fewer just twice in the last three seasons.
— 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.