College football Week 4: Top 25 betting guide
Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

College football Week 4: Top 25 betting guide

This week we are getting a deeper dip into conference play and thus some Top 25 matchups between familiar foes. For a lot of teams, it is time to show that what we have seen early is not a mirage ... I am looking at you Tennessee and Minnesota.

We still have a few major mismatches at the top of the rankings with SEC heavyweights getting through a couple of more light "practices" before their seasons start in earnest. I hate those games but at least visitors like Kent State are getting paid. 

After a very good week for the Pac-12 last week, we might see a thinning of the herd out West. The top teams should all win, but you never know. It is not like Washington is a sure thing and Washington State won in Madison so they are not going to fold against the Ducks. 

All in all, I like this slate minus a few obvious mismatches.

Week 4 Top 25 Betting Preview

Kent State Golden Flashes at Georgia Bulldogs
Spread: Georgia -44.5
Total: 61.5

Kent State has played Washington, Oklahoma, and now Georgia. That is as tough a schedule as anyone in the country. They have not been competitive but this team will recover in the MAC. Georgia has given up 1 TD in 3 games but I am just as impressed with their offense this season. There is not a single phase of the game where they do not have the advantage.

The Dawgs were -53 against Samford a couple of weeks ago. They are 2-1 ATS and capable of covering very big numbers but they can also be a gentle giant. There is no rationale for backing Kent State other than at some point UGA taking its foot off the gas.

Score Prediction: Georgia 52 - Kent State 7
This forecast is barely a cover. There are definitely better values out there. 

Maryland Terrapins at Michigan Wolverines
Spread: Michigan -17
Total: 64.5

This might not feel like a true test for Michigan but both of these teams are 3-0 so at least that's something. Maryland is one of the better passing teams in the Big Ten and at the very least is capable of playing the catchup ball that is expected. Michigan has been dominant against very light competition but now we get a chance to see how they compare to at least the middle of the conference. This team looks just as good, though different, than they did last season when they made the playoffs. 

Michigan won by 41 last season when these teams met in November. The Terps were able to move the ball but couldn't stop the Michigan offense. It was an interesting dynamic to a game that got out of hand quickly. That game was lined at -16 so this one at -17 is pretty easy to make, especially with Michigan more dynamic this season. 

Score Prediction: Michigan 38 - Maryland 24
I like the Terps to keep this one in play for longer and a garbage TD just might get the cover. Michigan might be just a little too comfortable right now. 

Baylor Bears at Iowa State Cyclones
Spread: Iowa State -2.5
Total: 45.5

Baylor took advantage of a soft landing spot last week, beating Texas State at home off their loss to BYU. Now they are on the road again and underdogs again at Iowa State. Having seen Oklahoma and Texas it is clear this year's Bears are not at that level but they are not that far behind. Meanwhile, Iowa State is loving their under-the-radar 3-0 start. That includes a win over rival Iowa as this team is as high variance as it gets in the Big 12 right now. They play good defense but the offense is still trying to figure itself out. 

Making Iowa State a small home favorite makes sense. The Cyclones are a quality program but I think it creates a buying opportunity. We get a chance to buy low with the Bears while perhaps buying high on ISU. I am not seeing the Cyclones at -6.5 on a neutral field, do you?

Score Prediction: Baylor 27 - Iowa State 24
I like the upset potential here but taking the points works too. 

Central Michigan Chippewas at Penn State Nittany Lions
Spread: Penn State -27.5
Total: 62.5

After a promising game to start the season against Oklahoma State, Central Michigan has not shown us much. They are well coached though so I generally give them the benefit of the doubt. They scored 44 points against the Cowboys. Penn State is 3-0 SUATS and their greatest challenge this week may be complacency off the big win at Auburn. I love their running game with freshman RB Nick Singleton,. He gives them a home-run hitter. 

This is a big number and while I do not think PSU will be challenged I do worry about them shutting things down a little too early, just to play it safe before Big Ten plays starts for real. CMU will keep coming and could easily get the cover through the backdoor.

Score Prediction: Penn State 45 - Central Michigan 20
I see some value with the visitors but this is not a target game for me at this number. 

Clemson Tigers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Spread: Clemson -7.5
Total: 55.5

In a down 2021 for Clemson, they still beat the Demon Deacons by 21 at home (Wake Forest was great last season). That is just one result but it has a lot to do with why we are seeing the Tigers favored on the road even though there are still questions about the offense. That and the fact that Wake Forest only beat Liberty by a point last week. Were they looking ahead to this game? Maybe. They can be better than what we have seen so far. 

The number is key and I am leaning to the home side. Clemson might be missing two of its elite defensive linemen and if you cannot pressure the Wake Forest QB, the Demon Deacons are going to keep coming on offense. They might score more against Clemson than any opponent this season. That is not going to be 52 points but it will keep the pressure on. 

Score Prediction: Clemson 30 - Wake Forest 28.
I really want to call the upset here (famous last words). Take the points though and maybe have a little fun in-game too. 

Florida Gators at Tennessee Volunteers
Spread: Tennessee -10.5
Total: 62.5

Florida got the big home win in Week 1 against Utah but since then they have not impressed, losing to Kentucky and then barely beating South Florida. They are underdogs on the road but they are going to be dangerous in that role all season thanks to quarterback Anthony Richardson. Tennessee is still undefeated but this is their first SEC test of the season. The offense has looked really good and as long as they stay efficient and explosive they should have a good season.

The last time Tennessee was favored in this matchup was 2016, which was also the last time they beat the Gators. I think it is easy to make the Vols the favorite at home but 10 points is a lot, especially when I am not sure they have advantages at coach or QB. Florida is mercurial though. 

Score Prediction: Tennessee 30 - Florida 24
I never want to get too excited about road underdogs but this number looks way too rich. I would not be surprised to see Florida win. 

Texas Longhorns at Texas Tech Red Raiders
Spread: Texas -6.5
Total: 59.5

Texas took a little while to get going against UTSA, but still they wound up winning with ease against a solid team. It was somewhat impressive because it looked like a game they probably would have lost a couple of years ago. There is no doubt they are the more talented team, but we have heard that for years. Texas Tech is 2-1 also but their win was a bit of a no-show against NC State last week. They are flinging the ball around per usual but that is going to be tougher against Texas. 

Texas is still playing with their backup QB but the offense is finding its footing and they have the best running back in the country in Bijan Robinson. This is a nice number on the road because they do not have to dominate. 

Score Prediction:  Texas 38 - Texas Tech 20
This is a great teaser spot where you can bring them down to basically an ML winner. There is good value under a TD for sure too.

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Michigan State Spartans
Spread: Minnesota -3
Total: 50.5

Minnesota is not the ranked team in this matchup, they are 3-0 though. With a super-experienced quarterback, they are not likely to make many mistakes on the road. They might be 3-0 SUATS but they have not been tested at all. This is also their first road game of the season. Michigan State was looking very good until they got thumped at Washington last week. The performance was a massive thud that sent them down the rankings but this game will better determine where they belong in the pecking order in the Big Ten.

I was surprised that the visitors are favored on the road in this spot and I am not buying it. That would mean Minnesota is decidedly the better team and I am not sure how the markets are getting there. Michigan State is a very good value at home. 

Score Prediction: Michigan State 27 - Minnesota 24
Take Sparty whatever way you want, plus the points, on the ML, maybe both. 

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Miami Hurricanes
Spread: Miami -25.5
Total: 52.5

Miami is looking for a bounce back at home against Middle Tennessee. They did not look good last week in a loss to Texas A&M, especially on offense, which was disappointing because they had the better quarterback. This game should feel nice and easy for the Hurricanes. The Blue Raiders are 2-1 SUATS, but not looking very good overall. Their offense is ranked in the 100s in a lot of categories and they got dominated by James Madison in their opener (JMU is just making the jump to FBS this season). That lack of physicality is going to really hurt them in this spot.

This is a big number but if JMU can beat MTU 44-7 there is every reason to think the Hurricanes can win by a large margin too. Last week sapped some of the life out of Miami but they can build themselves back up quickly.

Score Prediction: Miami 49 - Middle Tennessee 7
This is a classic bet it and forget it kind of game. Miami is the side. 

Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Ole Miss Rebels
Spread: Ole Miss -21.5
Total: 65.5

Tulsa is actually first in the nation in passing yards per game this season. However, their overall results have been less than stellar with just one cover in three games. When they have competed well over the last few seasons it has been because of defense, not offense. That makes this one a little interesting because Ole Miss is one of the strongest offensive teams in the nation, thanks to a balanced attack. They just shut out Georgia Tech so they are flashing some defensive chops too. It is hard to pick at the Rebels right now. 

This is a big line and that hook could very easily come into play. Tulsa can throw the ball so I am a little nervous about needing the Rebels to win by so much. I do think they can dominate though.

Score Prediction: Ole Miss 45 - Tulsa 20
I feel pretty good about Ole Miss but I am probably taking a pass on this spot. 

Oregon Ducks at Washington State Cougars
Spread: Oregon -6.5
Total: 57.5

When Oregon got whacked by Georgia we knew they weren't that bad, or at least we thought, they can't be that bad, right? Since then we have seen them look a lot better, especially last week when they handled BYU with ease. This is their first conference game though and Pullman is a tough place to play. Wazzu can be pretty tough too. They are 3-0 and probably not getting enough credit for their win in Madison. Even though the Badgers are down, they do not usually lose at home. WSU is a threat to be in the hunt in the PAC 12.

Oregon is the flashier team for sure but they are still figuring stuff out so I am looking to fade them on the road. The Ducks probably get the win but look for this game to stay close throughout.

Score Prediction: Oregon 35 - Washington State 30
Hoping to get the full 7 at some point. This is another great teaser spot. 

Northern Illinois Huskies at Kentucky Wildcats
Spread: Kentucky -23.5
Total: 53.5

This one should be fun because the DNA of both programs is similar. Both want to be physical and run the football. Kentucky has better players for it though and has been impressive in a 3-0 start to the season. They may not blow out weaker competition all the time but they have been winning with ease. Northern Illinois faced an SEC team last week too, losing at home to Vanderbilt. They have been a disappointment so far this season. I had high hopes for them too. 

Kentucky is one of those teams I love as an underdog but not so much as a favorite. Sometimes their offense just gets a little too clunky. They want to win with ease but that is not always about scoring a ton.

Score Prediction: Kentucky 38 - Northern Illinois 16
I love UK but don't like this line. Look for other better-value spots. 

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M Aggies
Spread: Texas A&M -1.5
Total: 48.5

This is a great game for figuring out the pecking order in the SEC West. Arkansas is 3-0 but was a little sleepy in their last game against an FCS opponent. They have already banked an SEC win though and looked sharp against Cincinnati to start the season. Texas A&M has a lot to prove, even though they handled Miami in their last game. They are definitely not settled at QB but their defense can be good enough to win against a lot of opponents.

This game is not in College Station. That helps Arkansas a little though I do worry about the Hogs and some injuries against a talented team. The Aggies probably get the win and cover, but I have low confidence in them.

Score Prediction: Texas A&M 27 - Arkansas 24
This one might be worth betting more in-game. Look for a way to get Arkansas at more than 3

Vanderbilt Commodores at Alabama Crimson Tide
Spread: Alabama -40.5
Total: 58.5

Vanderbilt might be improved this season but there is still a massive gap between them and the top programs in the SEC. That is also still a maybe, I like the 3-1 record but they lost by 20 to Wake Forest. Alabama might not be as automatic as they have been in the past (see the Texas game) but they are not going to stumble in a matchup like this. They might have some weaknesses but you still need major talent to exploit them. 

This is a massive number but that would be the only reason not to play it. It is going back a ways but the Commodores have not scored the last 2 times they played Alabama and might not again here. 

Score Prediction: Alabama 52 - Vanderbilt 7
A classic spot where almost any line can feel reasonable. 

Connecticut Huskies at NC State Wolfpack
Spread: NC State -38.5
Total: 49.5 

Sadly we are getting another massive mismatch in this one. Connecticut will improve under head coach Jim Mora but they are not there yet. The Huskies' only win was against an FCS team and last week they lost 59-0 at Michigan. NC State might not be as good as Big Blue but they are not far off. There is still a really good chance they are the best team in the ACC this season. I like the Wolfpack a lot.

This is a very big number for NC State. The only reason to worry though is that they are at Clemson next week and thus might take their foot off the gas.

Score Prediction:  NC State 45 - Connecticut 10
I am not really looking to back either side here even though this game will never be close. 

Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio State Buckeyes
Spread: Ohio State -18.5
Total: 56.5

The Badgers were supposed to be undefeated for this game, giving them a chance to make a statement on the road. Now they are just expected to be fodder for the Buckeyes like the rest of the Big Ten. It is hard to see them any differently. Ohio State has been a little slower out of the game this season but it all appears to be there. With a better defense, they do not have to score in the 50s to win by a lot. 

These teams do not meet every year but OSU has owned the Badgers of late, 8 straight wins. This spread is larger than any of those other games, but I think it is well justified. Wisconsin is pretty one-dimensional (even for them) this season and their defense is not where it has been in the past. 

Score Prediction:  Ohio State 41 - Wisconsin 20
I am hoping the brand of Wisconsin brings this down a little but Ohio State at home is the side.

Kansas State Wildcats at Oklahoma Sooners
Spread: Oklahoma -12.5
Total: 53.5

This game looks terrible after last week. Oklahoma was looking great, beating up Nebraska with ease while Kansas State lost at home to Tulane. That doesn't help their Big 12 sleeper status while Oklahoma looks a little different, though just as good as they did under their old coach, who shall not be named. The Sooners are a team that can beat you in a lot of different ways this season. Kansas State has been kryptonite for them in the past though. 

I like this line and the home side a lot. Oklahoma, with their balance, should be able to beat K-State by a TD per half. The Wildcats are probably not as bad as they looked last week but it is hard to have much confidence in them. They are limited. 

Score Prediction: Oklahoma 41 - Kansas State 21
I am not normally so favorite happy but this is a great spot for OU.

USC Trojans at Oregon State Beavers
Spread: USC -5.5
Total: 70.5

Well, this should be a fun one. For starters, both teams are 3-0 SUATS. That might not be a surprise for the Trojans but the Beavers have looked really good too. If they beat USC for the second year in a row, they just might lose their coach to a bigger program. USC has one of the best offenses in the country though so it is not going to be easy. These teams actually have a common opponent this season in Fresno State. Oregon State won by 3, USC by 28. 

This one is all about which side you believe in. If you are not holding back on USC hype then you hammer this one with the Trojans. If you think that the Beavers have something cooking then it is hard to get off the home underdog. I am all in on the Trojans until proven otherwise. 

Score Prediction:  USC 45 - Oregon State 21
I like the Beavers' story but they are not going to enjoy this chapter of it.

Wyoming Cowboys at BYU Cougars
Spread: BYU -22.5
Total: 49.5

Wyoming is fascinating this season. They looked terrible in their opening loss but have won 3 straight since including beating a very solid Air Force team last week. Their level is hard to gauge right now. As for BYU, things were going great until they weren't. They beat Baylor but then did not look very competitive against Oregon. I would have thought it would be the other way around. The Cougars have to bounce back this week. 

As impressive as Wyoming was last week against AF I am not sure what to make of it. Even off the loss I feel like we know more about BYU. The question is how much do we like it? They are not really elite. 

Score Prediction: BYU 33 - Wyoming 20
The Cowboys seem to be building as the season progresses, whereas BYU just had a setback. 

Utah Utes at Arizona State Sun Devils
Spread: Utah -14.5
Total: 53.5

Arizona State is in shambles right now. Not only are they off a loss but they have fired the coach and the program is nosediving. Meanwhile, Utah is getting back to being the team we thought they were before they lost to Florida in their opener. I am curious to see how Arizona State responds but it might not be very good.

The Utes are the last team you want to see if you are in the state that ASU is in. The only advantage they have is the location of the game. Look for a Utah rout. 

Score Prediction:  Utah 49 - Arizona State 10
I think this is one of the best values out there.

Stanford Cardinal at Washington Huskies
Spread: Washington -14
Total: 64.5

OK, Washington now is your chance to keep building. I loved what I saw from the Huskies as they beat up Michigan State last week. Now they have to keep it going. Stanford was off last week so they have had some time to recover from losing to USC. I am not hopeful that they have righted the program the way they have at Washington. 

I think this line is a little inflated but I am still on the UW side of this one. Stanford generally competes well but they struggle to make big plays. Just a few of those are the separation that Washington needs.

Score Prediction: Washington 38 - Stanford 16
I might tease this one down a little but the Huskies are definitely the play.

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