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College Football Picks: Predicting Every Game in Week 4

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The Week 4 edition of picking every game on the college football schedule is highlighted by a some surprisingly impactful games in the SEC as both Mississippi State (at Georgia) and Vanderbilt (vs. Alabama) find themselves in key early-season showdowns. Elsewhere, there are two key East vs. West games in the Big Ten as upstart Purdue hosts Michigan and Penn State travels to Iowa. Here is every game on the Week 4 slate:

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Thursday, Sept. 21

Temple at South Florida

Temple is a soft 2–1, with a three-point win over Villanova, an eight-point win over UMass and a 33-point loss to Notre Dame. South Florida is 3–0 after a dominating win over Illinois on Friday night. The Bulls have run 279 offensive plays, more than any team in the nation that has played three games. South Florida 44, Temple 17

Friday, Sept. 22

Virginia at Boise State

Virginia rolled up 626 total yards — the most by the Cavs since November 2010 — in a 38–18 win over UConn. That was a much-needed step in the right direction after the home loss to Indiana the week before. This week, UVa hits the road for the first time this season. Boise State 28, Virginia 21

Utah at Arizona

Arizona has feasted on inferior opponents, totaling more than 500 yards and 60 points in wins over Northern Arizona and UTEP and managing only 371 yards and 16 points in a loss to Houston. Utah, this week’s opponent, is far more similar to Houston (probably even better) than to Northern Arizona and UTEP. Utah 33, Arizona 21

Saturday, Sept. 23

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Dallas)

Neither coach has a very high approval rating among his respective fan base at this point of the season. But keep in mind that neither team has played an SEC game, and nothing provides a quicker cure than a fast start in league play. Despite its struggles, A&M has the talent to be a factor in the West. Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 24

Army at Tulane

Army has completed four passes and thrown for 36 yards in three games. That’s hard to do — even for an option team. Tulane is due for a breakout performance after a close loss at Navy and a blowout loss at Oklahoma. Tulane 28, Army 21

Kent State at Louisville

Kent State has scored three points in two games against FBS competition — three vs. Clemson and zero vs. Marshall. This will not go well for the Golden Flashes. Louisville 51, Kent State 0

UMass at Tennessee

UMass is the only four-loss team in the nation, but all four of the losses have come by 10 points or fewer. That stat will change after this trip to Knoxville. Tennessee 37, UMass 13

NC State at Florida State

NC State whiffed on its first attempt to make a statement nationally, losing in Week 1 to South Carolina. The Wolfpack dive into league play with the always-difficult trip to Tallahassee. One big advantage for NC State: It will be FSU’s first game since Sept. 2 and the first start for true freshman QB James Blackman. Florida State 24, NC State 20

Texas Tech at Houston

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury entered the 2017 season on the hottest of hot seats, but the Red Raiders are off to a solid 2–0 start that includes a more-impressive-than-most-realize 56–10 win over FCS power Eastern Washington and a 52–45 victory over Arizona State. One thing is for sure: The Raiders are proving they can score points without Pat Mahomes at quarterback. Texas Tech 34, Houston 30

UNLV at Ohio State

Ohio State rebounded from its disappointing loss to Oklahoma with a workmanlike win over an overmatched Army team. The Buckeyes will have an enormous talent advantage once again this weekend. Ohio State 47, UNLV 17

West Virginia at Kansas

It’s been a brutal two-game stretch for Kansas, which has lost to Central Michigan and Ohio by a combined score of 87–57. In those two games, the Jayhawks allowed averages of 8.2 yards per play (Central Michigan) and 7.0 (Ohio). Good luck stopping teams in the Big 12. West Virginia 55, Kansas 21

Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech

Pittsburgh was humbled at home by Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Panthers were torched for 676 total yards, 572 of which came in the air. This week, Pitt’s opponent will do most of its work on the ground. Expect another poor defensive effort from the Panthers. Georgia Tech 37, Pittsburgh 20

New Mexico at Tulsa

Tulsa is the only team in the nation with more than 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards passing. The Golden Hurricane are piling up these gaudy stats despite losing a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and one 1,000-yard rusher. Tulsa 44, New Mexico 30

Idaho at South Alabama

Expectations were high for Idaho in its final season in the FBS ranks. But so far the Vandals are 1–2 with a win over Sacramento State and losses to UNLV and Western Michigan. South Alabama is also looking for its first win against an FBS foe. Idaho 30, South Alabama 27

Old Dominion at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech scored 34 points in the third quarter of its 64–17 win over East Carolina — and none came on defense or special teams. The Hokies should put up a big number again on Saturday. Virginia Tech 44, Old Dominion 17

Ohio at Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan (2–0) hasn’t been undefeated this deep into September since 1989, when the Jim Harkema-lead Hurons started the season with a 5–0–1 record. Eastern Michigan 30, Ohio 27

UCF at Maryland

These two teams have played a combined three games. So far so good for both, but we really don’t much about either team yet. Maryland owns by far the best win, beating Texas 51–41 in Austin. Maryland 38, UCF 35

Alabama at Vanderbilt

The Commodores are riding high after Saturday night’s 14–7 win over Kansas State in Nashville — the first of four straight games against nationally ranked teams. Alabama will present an enormous challenge, specifically for a Vanderbilt offense that has surprisingly struggled to run the ball in 2017. Alabama 24, Vanderbilt 10

Boston College at Clemson

Boston College’s usually reliable defense was shredded on Saturday, giving up 515 rushing yards to Notre Dame in a 49–20 loss in Chestnut Hill. Clemson has two of the most impressive wins of the season, at home vs. Auburn in Week 1 and at Louisville in Week 3. Clemson 44, Boston College 13

Cincinnati at Navy

If you’ve watched any of the Showtime series “A Season with Navy Football,” it’s clear that Ken Niumatalolo does not like it when QB Zach Abey turns the ball over. Navy 27, Cincinnati 23

Duke at North Carolina

Duke hits the “road” for the first time this season, making the short trip to Chapel Hill after rolling past NC Central, Northwestern and Baylor with surprising ease. The Blue Devils have won three of the past five in the series but previously lost 21 of 22 to the Heels. Duke 34, North Carolina 30

Georgia Southern at Indiana

Georgia Southern has not played since losing at home to New Hampshire in Week 2. Indiana has not played since winning at Virginia in Week 2. Advantage Indiana. Indiana 44, Georgia Southern 13

Louisiana Tech at South Carolina

In all three of South Carolina’s games this season, the winning team had fewer total yards than the losing team. The Gamecocks hope to outgain and outscore Louisiana Tech on Saturday. South Carolina 33, Louisiana Tech 23

Miami (Ohio) at Central Michigan

Miami, the preseason favorite in the MAC East, is 0–2 against FBS opponents, with a five-point loss to Marshall and a four-point loss to Cincinnati. This week, the RedHawks dive into league play with a trip to Central Michigan. The Chips are 2–1, with wins over Rhode Island and Kansas and a loss to Syracuse. Central Michigan 30, Miami (Ohio) 27

Rutgers at Nebraska

Last week in this space, I said — in reference to Northern Illinois’ trip to Lincoln — “This is a game Mike Riley cannot afford to lose.” Well, the Huskers lost. This week? It’s a game he really cannot afford to lose. Nebraska 24, Rutgers 13

TCU at Oklahoma State

TCU and Oklahoma State have each cruised to 3–0 starts with a few quality wins sprinkled in (TCU won at Arkansas and Oklahoma State dominated Pittsburgh on the road). Oklahoma State appears to have the better team, but TCU looks like it has regained some of its swagger. This should be fun. Oklahoma State 38, TCU 34

Toledo at Miami (Fla.)

Miami remains the only FBS team in the nation that has yet to face another FBS opponent. The Hurricanes are 1–0 with a 41–13 win over Bethune-Cookman in Week 1. Toledo, meanwhile, already has three wins, including a road win at Nevada and a 54–51 thriller over Tulsa that featured 1,227 yards of offense. Miami 37, Toledo 33

USC at California

California is one of the surprise teams in 2017, off to a 3–0 start — with wins over two Power 5 opponents — in Justin Wilcox’s first season. USC has yet to establish any consistency, but we know that the Trojans have as high of a ceiling as almost any team in the nation. USC 30, California 27

Wake Forest at Appalachian State

Wake Forest has scored 16 touchdowns in three games after scoring a total of 29 during the entire 2016 season. In 2014, Dave Clawson’s first season, the Deacons scored 14 touchdowns. Wake Forest 30, Appalachian State 14

Michigan at Purdue

Michigan’s Big Ten opener looked like a gimme... until Purdue started scoring tons of points under Jeff Brohm. The Boilermakers are averaging 35.7 points per game and have played two Power 5 opponents away from home. Michigan’s outstanding defense will be facing its toughest test. Michigan 27, Purdue 24

ULM at Louisiana

The rivalry that once was known as Northeastern Louisiana vs. Southwestern Louisiana features two teams that are a combined 0–4 against FBS opponents in 2017. Louisiana (known by many as UL Lafayette) has won eight of the last nine in the series. Louisiana 27, ULM 20

Akron at Troy

Akron starts a stretch of four out of five on the road with a difficult trip to Troy. The Trojans haven’t been as prolific as expected on offense in the first part of the season, but Neal Brown’s team is 2–1 and should be in the hunt for the Sun Belt title. Troy 30, Akron 13

Georgia State at Charlotte

It’s been rough for both programs through the first three weeks of the season. They are a combined 0–5, and each team has lost to an FCS school — Georgia State lost to Tennessee State and Charlotte lost to NC A&T. Charlotte 24, Georgia State 17

Nevada at Washington State

Washington State leads the nation in both passes attempted (173) and passes completed (131). That’s not much of a surprise. What is a bit surprising, however, is that the Cougars currently rank third in the Pac-12 in total defense (299.3 ypg). Washington State 47, Nevada 20

Oklahoma at Baylor

For a few years, this was one of the marquee games in the Big 12. Not anymore. Baylor is arguably the nation’s most disappointing team, off to an 0–3 start under new coach Matt Rhule. Oklahoma 44, Baylor 17

UAB at North Texas

UAB won its first game against an FBS opponent since 2014, topping Sun Belt newcomer Coastal Carolina 30­–23 at Legion Field in Birmingham. North Texas led Iowa 14–10 at the half on Saturday but was outscored 17–0 in the final two quarters. North Texas 27, UAB 20

Western Illinois at Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina, in its first season in the FBS ranks, plays only one FCS team in 2017. It’s this weekend. And it’s huge (not really). Western Illinois 27, Coastal Carolina 20

Arkansas State at SMU

SMU jumped out to a 19–7 lead over TCU early in the second quarter and appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough win for third-year coach Chad Morris. Then, TCU’s offense got going. The result was a 56–36 loss for the Mustangs, their sixth straight in the series. Arkansas State is capable of making SMU sweat. SMU 47, Arkansas State 37

Ball State at Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky had at least 400 yards in 30 of the final 32 games of the Jeff Brohm era. The Toppers have failed to hit the 380-yard mark in the first three games of the Mike Sanford era. Ball State 28, Western Kentucky 27

Bowling Green at Middle Tennessee State

This game could hinge on the availability of Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill. The junior missed last week’s game at Minnesota, and the offense sputtered (230 total yards). The guess here is that he’ll play. Middle Tennessee 37, Bowling Green 27

Syracuse at LSU

LSU’s season was derailed by the surprisingly lopsided loss at Mississippi State. The Tigers are 2–1 but don’t look capable of posing any kind of threat in the SEC West. Syracuse should be improved in Dino Babers’ second season, but winning in Baton Rouge — even against a wounded LSU team — is a tall order. LSU 30, Syracuse 20

FAU at Buffalo

Lane Kiffin picked up his first win as the boss at FAU as the Owls shut out Bethune-Cookman 45–0. Now he’s after his first win over an FBS foe. Buffalo is 1–2 but has shown signs of progress. The Bulls lost by 10 at Minnesota and by four at Army before beating Colgate 33–10. FAU 28, Buffalo 24

Mississippi State at Georgia

The CBS crew will be in Nashville for the Vanderbilt-Alabama game, but the most impactful SEC game of the day likely will be in Athens. Mississippi State has been one of the most impressive teams nationally through three games, and Georgia is 3–0 with a win at Notre Dame on its résumé. The Bulldogs (from Starkville) are for real. Mississippi State 28, Georgia 27

San Diego State at Air Force

San Diego State improved to 2–0 against Pac-12 opponents this season with an impressive 20–17 win over Stanford. Rashaad Penny has taken up where Donnel Pumphrey left off, leading the nation with 196.0 yards rushing per game. San Diego State 27, Air Force 17

Wagner at Western Michigan

I learned something about Wagner football this week. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was the Seahawks’ wide receivers coach from 1994-95. Western Michigan 41, Wagner 10

Auburn at Missouri

Arguably no team had a worse Week 2 than Missouri, which lost at home to Purdue 35–3 one week after losing its SEC opener (also at home) to South Carolina. Barry Odom is regarded as one of the top defensive coordinators in the game, but the Tigers are allowing an SEC-worst 442.7 yards per game. Auburn 33, Missouri 20

FIU at Rice

Two of the worst FBS teams will be on display in Houston. I’ll go with the team that has actually defeated another FBS team. Rice 31, FIU 17

Florida at Kentucky

Florida has won an amazing 30 straight in this series, with the last Kentucky win coming in November 1986 in Lexington. The gap between the two teams this year, however, is not great — as indicated by the point spread (Gators by 3). Kentucky is feeling good about itself after last week’s win in Columbia. Could this be the year? No. Florida 21, Kentucky 17

Penn State at Iowa

Penn State leaves Happy Valley for the first time this season and begins a stretch of four out of six on the road. This trip to Iowa will be by far the biggest challenge to date for James Franklin’s team. The Hawkeyes are 3–0 with wins over Wyoming, at Iowa State and North Texas. It’s not exactly a murderer’s row, but this team is more battle-tested than Penn State. Penn State 34, Iowa 24

UTSA at Texas State

UTSA is emerging as perhaps the best team in Conference USA. The Roadrunners are 2–0 with a nice win at Baylor followed by a dominant victory over FCS foe Southern. This short trip to San Marcos shouldn’t be a problem. UTSA 37, Texas State 17

Utah State at San Jose State

Utah State continues its descent down the college football food chain. The Aggies have lost its two games against FBS foes (Wisconsin and Wake Forest) by a combined score of 105–20. San Jose State 23, Utah State 20

Notre Dame at Michigan State

Michigan State has been solid on both sides of the ball in wins over Bowling Green and Western Michigan. The Spartans are out of the spotlight, and that’s probably when this program does its best work. Notre Dame needs to pick up a big win after letting one slip away against Georgia two weeks ago. Notre Dame 21, Michigan State 20

Southern Illinois at Memphis

Memphis was terrific offensively in its 48–45 win over UCLA. The Tigers, the preseason favorite in the AAC West, have a chance to win a lot of games in 2017. Memphis 47, Southern Illinois 13

UTEP at New Mexico State

It’s just not happening for Sean Kugler at his alma mater. The Miners are 0–3, with lopsided losses to Oklahoma (56–7), Rice (31–14) and Arizona (63–14). There’s no shame in losing to Big 12 and Pac-12 opponents, but this team hasn’t been competitive. New Mexico State 38, UTEP 18

Oregon at Arizona State

Todd Graham’s job status is becoming an issue in Tempe. The Sun Devils are 1–2 after losing consecutive games to San Diego State and Texas Tech. Things are going much better at Oregon, where Willie Taggart and the Ducks are 3–0. Oregon 37, Arizona State 28

Washington at Colorado

This will be a big test for Washington, which has cruised to a 3–0 start. Colorado suffered significant personnel losses on defense, as well as defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt (to Oregon), but the Buffs have yet to give up a touchdown in two games against FBS foes. Washington 24, Colorado 21

Hawaii at Wyoming

It’s been a nightmare season for highly touted Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who is a combined 32-of-64 for 238 yards with zero TDs and three INTs in two games against FBS opponents. He’ll have a fresh start as the Cowboys begin Mountain West action, but there’s no doubt his NFL stock has taken a huge hit. Wyoming 27, Hawaii 24

UCLA at Stanford

Two things were expected out of Stanford this year: Bryce Love would be awesome (he is), and the team would threaten Washington in the Pac-12 North (not likely). It’s been a roller coaster ride for UCLA, highlighted by the amazing comeback over Texas A&M. Stanford 27, UCLA 24

Sunday, Sept. 24

East Carolina at Connecticut

There’s not much to like about either of these programs right now. They are a combined 1–4, with the only win coming by UConn over Holy Cross (in a comeback). UConn 21, ECU 7