USC, UNC, BC, JMU All Represent Great Value

With Thursday and Friday college football action in Week 4, it’s starting to really feel like fall. Now, we take a look at the college football picks and predictions for the Saturday slate, including what lines moved the most from the early value that you could’ve found this week.

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Week 4 college football picks and predictions

USC (-5.5) vs. Oregon State

Finding a sweet spot, this game has hovered right around -5 or -5.5 for USC since it moved off a touchdown on Sunday. Finding a game like this, that is actually more like USC favored by eight or 10 is best practice for early-game models and those continuing to monitor all week long. USC is coming into their own as a team at the right time. Heading to Corvalis is certainly a feat this season, but for many reasons, there is a chance this game showcases the Trojans’ dominance over the Pac-12 North this season.

Caleb Williams is averaging 10.2 yards per pass attempt while still completing over 74% of his throws. He’s without an interception, though that will be tested against a vaunted Oregon State secondary.

Take their like opponent, however, in Fresno State. Sure, Fresno State QB Jake Haener was lost with an injury during their matchup with USC, but even before the injury, the Trojans completely overmatched the Bulldogs. Oregon State, on the other hand, needed last-minute heroics to withstand the Mountain West foe.

That is all interesting fodder, and as the numbers jump around a bit, grabbing a USC team that should at least be a touchdown favorite at a mere five points should net you profits at the end of the day.

Prediction: USC 35, Oregon State 27

Notre Dame vs. North Carolina (-2)

When we first wrote this game up, it was a pick ’em. Now, however, savvy bettors took the North Carolina Tar Heels, and that line has moved up to two points in favor of Drake Maye and Co. As Maye continues to carve his own path in the North Carolina record books, the rushing attack from UNC should pay dividends, even at -2 for the Heels.

Notre Dame’s rushing defense was gashed by Marshall, and they’re currently allowing the Power Five’s 12th-most rushing yards per game on defense. The Fighting Irish may have the name brand and the national luster, but the Tar Heels have the firepower on offense to push the ball down the field against this defense. It was an easy straight-up call to grab UNC, and it’s still a good decision at -2.

Prediction: North Carolina 28, Notre Dame 21

Boston College (+17.5) vs. Florida State

Even with a healthy Jordan Travis, this number feels rather absurd considering the recent success by Boston College in Tallahassee. Look, as “bad” as Boston College may be this season, FSU has gotten to 3-0 with some luck and some major big-play moments. They have won their last two games by a combined five points. Sure, the Seminoles are the better Garnet and Gold this year, but grabbing this line now, at 17.5 points, is a wise decision.

Since Jimbo Fisher left Florida State, Boston College is just 1-3 against the Noles. However, that one victory was by a whopping 32 points, and their three losses have come by a combined 11. BC plays tough, has the athletes, and hangs with FSU before ultimately succumbing to the talent gap. It’s a closer game than the books started. Buy the recently-hiked-up numbers now before it goes back down.

Prediction: Florida State 26, Boston College 20

James Madison (+7) vs. Appalachian State

The JMU Dukes are heading into their most anticipated game as a member of the FBS on the heels of a bye week to get healthy and game plan against an App State team sitting at 2-1 and fresh off the weekend’s most exhilarating finish.

Chase Brice has been nothing short of phenomenal this season for the Mountaineers, throwing for nine touchdowns and 773 yards through three games. As a team, the App State backfield is also averaging 263.3 yards per game and has scored 10 rushing touchdowns, making them a near double-digit favorite to open.

However, this JMU defense is playing otherworldly through their first two games, allowing just 21 total rushing yards and 310 passing yards in their first two contests. Sure, it was against Middle Tennessee State and Norfolk State, but the fact remains: JMU is handling its business against teams you’d expect it to, and even exceeding expectations. They’ll be tested against App State, who better not come in riding their Hail Mary high from last week.

As such, this line has actually moved from App State (-9) to officially App State (-7) now in most books. Getting those extra two points would’ve been key, but with the way they’re playing right now, confidence in the Dukes to at least cover is at an all-time high.

Prediction: James Madison 30, App State 28

Utah vs. Arizona State (+15.5)

The Utah Utes certainly have the upper hand against Arizona State in Week 4. They did even before Arizona State fired head coach Herm Edwards. And they certainly do afterward. Not that we knew Edwards was going to be fired when these lines first came out, but the writing was on the wall and his seat was as hot as Scott Frost’s was just a week ago. That being said, the Utes are clearly the better team from top to bottom, having a professional-like structure compared to ASU’s bedlam.

Cameron Rising was dominant against what was considered a talented secondary from San Diego State last week. The Utes are a relatively healthy bunch and have the proper infrastructure to dictate the pace, grind out scoring drives, and keep the Sun Devils out of the end zone.

This line has climbed north of two touchdowns, however, and that’s getting a little rich for a Pac-12 matchup that still has talent across the board on both teams. Utah is better. Utah wins. But it’s not a blowout like Nebraska vs. Oklahoma. Arizona State fights for themselves and the remaining coaching staff, pulling together to prove it was just Herm and not them.

Prediction: Utah 34, Arizona State 24

Line movers from Week 4

  • Michigan (-20) open; Michigan (-17) on Friday vs. Maryland
  • Penn State (-24) open; Penn State (-28) on Friday vs. Central Michigan
  • Cincinnati (-11) open; Cincinnati (-17) on Friday vs. Indiana
  • Michigan State (-1) open; Minnesota (-2.5) on Friday vs. Michigan State
  • Western Kentucky (-26) open; WKU (-31) on Friday vs. FIU
  • San Diego State (-1) open; Toledo (-3) on Friday vs. San Diego State

These games moved in favor of bettors one way or another from their opening. Most notably, bettors aren’t as bullish on Michigan against Maryland, though they should be.

Both Michigan State vs. Minnesota and San Diego State vs. Toledo flipped their bill and changed favorites, essentially securing you a win at any value if you were able to grab either Minnesota or Toledo if they come out victorious like they are favored to do now.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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