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Week 4 College Football Picks: Challenge the Athlon Sports Experts


The college football season is off to a roaring start, and the competition off the field is almost as heated as the action on it.

The Athlon Sports College Football Experts Club gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.

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Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior editor Rob Doster:

Florida State at South Florida

The Noles come in smarting from a devastating loss to Louisville that exposed all kinds of weaknesses on both sides of the ball. Normally, a date with South Florida would be a chance to heal quickly, but Willie Taggart's team has roared out of the gate with three blowouts. This could be tougher than expected for FSU.

Doster's pick: Florida State 34-27

Georgia at Ole Miss

The Rebels are the first team in a decade to blow two 21-point leads in the same season — and it's only Week 4. Clearly, no lead is safe for Ole Miss, and Georgia is already showing a knack for great escapes. If the Dawgs can keep it close, quarterback Jacob Eason could work a little more 11th-hour magic.

Doster’s pick: Georgia 24-23

Kent State at Alabama

Kent State coach Paul Haynes has to be wondering why Bama is on the schedule in a season when his job is hanging by a thread. The Tide should be able to name the score in this glorified scrimmage.

Doster’s pick: Alabama 52-7

Wisconsin at Michigan State

The Badgers got a needed wakeup call from Georgia State, who took the Badgers deep into the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Michigan State built a big lead and then hung on for dear life to beat Notre Dame in South Bend. One of those nailbiters is clearly more impressive than the other.

Doster’s pick: Michigan State 21-17

East Carolina at Virginia Tech

The Hokies bounced back nicely from their humbling loss in the Battle at Bristol, dominating Boston College in all three phases in a 49–0 win and looking like a threat to win the ACC Coastal. The Pirates are coming off a disappointing loss to South Carolina.  

Doster's pick: Virginia Tech 27-17

Pittsburgh at North Carolina

This is an intriguing battle of 2–1 teams that have shown plenty of explosiveness but little in the way of defense. Both teams are surrendering more than 400 yards per game, but Pitt's vulnerability to the pass could prove its undoing against Tar Heel quarterback Nathan Peterman.

Doster’s pick: North Carolina 38-35

Florida at Tennessee

Vols fans have had this one circled since Sept. 26 of last year, when Tennessee surrendered the go-ahead touchdown on 4th-and-14 in a 28–27 loss to the Gators in Gainesville that pushed Florida’s winning streak in the series to 11. Should that number reach 12, expect the heat on coach Butch Jones to begin to build.  Florida has looked like the more complete team thus far, although the Gators suffered a serious blow when quarterback Luke Del Rio went down with a knee injury against North Texas. 

Doster's pick: Tennessee 24-23

Duke at Notre Dame

Two 1–2 teams meet in South Bend in what is a must-win for Brian Kelly's Irish, who have suffered defensive meltdowns in losses to Texas and Michigan State. Duke should provide a nice tonic for coordinator Brian VanGorder's unit; the Devils struggled to muster any offense in losses to Northwestern and Wake Forest. 

Doster's pick: Notre Dame 27-14

Mississippi State at Massachusetts

The Bulldogs have rebounded nicely from an opening upset loss to South Alabama, beating South Carolina and taking LSU to the wire. Dan Mullen and crew should take care of business in this unusual road trip to UMass, which is improved but lacks the offensive firepower to beat an SEC opponent. 

Doster's pick: Mississippi State 31–10

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Penn State at Michigan

The Wolverines fell behind early against upstart Colorado but kept their composure and coasted to a 45–28 win. It was a display of poise that Penn State has yet to show in the James Franklin era. Look for Michigan to grab control of this one early on, although Lions quarterback Trace McSorley is leading an offense that can score quickly and gives Penn State a puncher's chance. 

Doster's pick: Michigan 38–24

Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky

The Commodores held a high-powered Western Kentucky offense to 14 points a year ago; only Alabama, which allowed only 10 points in a 38–10 victory in Week 2, has had better success against Jeff Brohm's explosive offense since the start of last season. But Vanderbilt's offensive deficiencies could haunt the Dores in what is a must-win for coach Derek Mason.

Doster's pick: Western Kentucky 24–17

Colorado at Oregon

The Ducks suffered a gut punch in Lincoln, losing to Nebraska 35–32 and showing the kind of defensive shortcomings that could haunt them in the Pac-12. Colorado is on the ascent in Mike MacIntyre's fourth season and has the firepower to match the Ducks score for score. Look for a shootout in Eugene.  

Doster's pick: Oregon 45–42

LSU at Auburn

A pair of flawed teams featuring coaches who are starting to feel the heat will hook up on the Plains. LSU's quarterback switch to Danny Etling paid off against Mississippi State, although this team will only go as far as Leonard Fournette can carry it. Fournette should find room to run against an Auburn defense that is allowing 400-plus yards per game. 

Doster’s pick: LSU 23–20

Oklahoma State at Baylor

Baylor is one of only two unbeatens left standing in a suddenly downtrodden Big 12, although only a controversial ending against Central Michigan prevents the Cowboys from making this a battle of unbeatens. Both teams have scored 133 points in their first three games, but the Bears appear to have the better defense.

Doster's pick: Baylor 42–31

South Carolina at Kentucky

The stoppable force meets the movable object in this one. South Carolina has shown little offensive punch, while Kentucky has shown little resistance to opposing offenses. Wildcats running back Boom Williams has been a bright spot for UK and could give the Cats an edge at home. 

Doster's pick: Kentucky 21–17

Stanford at UCLA

The Cardinal have been their typical selves — methodical, workmanlike, ruthless. In a battle of awards candidates, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey appears to have the better supporting cast than UCLA's Josh Rosen, although Rosen refuses to be intimidated by any opponent and could keep this one close.

Doster’s pick: Stanford 24–17

Louisville at Marshall

Suddenly, Bobby Petrino's Cardinals look like an unstoppable playoff juggernaut. They boast the leading Heisman contender in dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson, who keys an offense that is posting staggering numbers: 65 points and 679 yards per game. If they so desired, the Cardinals could probably hang a hundred on Marshall, which just allowed 65 points to Akron.

Doster’s pick: Louisville 63–28

Texas A&M at Arkansas

One of the week's more intriguing matchups features two 3–0 teams that could use an early SEC West statement win. Trevor Knight has been just what the doctor ordered at quarterback for the Aggies thus far, although he'll need to improve his accuracy against a tough Hogs defense. These two played an overtime thriller last year, and a similar game could be in the offing. 

Doster's pick: Texas A&M 21–20

California at Arizona State

Arizona State is 3–0, but the Devils are living on the edge, and it could finally catch up with them against an inspired group of Bears coming off a thrilling 50–43 win over Texas. Cal quarterback Davis Webb has looked at times like the best quarterback in the Pac-12, and he could prove the difference in this one. 

Fox’s pick: California 35–31

Washington at Arizona

These teams seem to be going in opposite directions. Arizona is 2–1 but struggled to put away Grambling in Week 2. Washington has looked like one of the most complete teams in the nation, although a weak schedule has played a role. Chris Petersen's team should have little trouble in Tucson.

Doster's pick: Washington 38–17

Last Week: 15-5