College football best bets for Week 4 from Matt Youmans

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College football best bets for Week 4

Catch Matt Youmans every weekday on VSiN Tonight (M-F, 9 p.m.-12 a.m. ET), where the final hour on Friday is the Circa Football Invitational Contest Show (11 p.m.-12 a.m. ET).

 

College Football Odds | College Football Betting Splits | Week 4 Hub

ALABAMA (-6) over Ole Miss

When his team was rolling, Alabama coach Nick Saban would spew negativity to counteract the media hype. With his team struggling, Saban is displaying a more positive attitude in an attempt to help his players tune out the negativity.

Critics are taking aim at Saban and the Crimson Tide during a time of low tide. Alabama’s home loss to Texas was followed by a poor performance in a 17-3 win at South Florida, which had a shot to win in the fourth quarter as a 34-point underdog. Saban the psychologist is not tearing anything down, however, and has been boosting his players’ confidence.

Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin took a few shots at the Tide and his former boss this week, setting the stage for the Rebels’ visit to Tuscaloosa on Saturday afternoon.

Alabama’s demise is an overreaction. No, this Tide team is not a playoff contender, but the defense (allowing 14.7 ppg) is fine and the offense should be OK. The two quarterbacks who played in the South Florida fiasco — Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson — are on the bench this week as Saban goes back to Jalen Milroe, whose dual-threat ability gives the team the best chance to win.

Ole Miss, suddenly a hot team with the betting public, is probably not the team to further embarrass and expose Saban. The Rebels recently hit the road to face Tulane, which played its backup quarterback, and were locked in a tie game entering the fourth quarter.

Alabama has issues that go beyond the quarterback position, where Saban was fortunate to have four consecutive NFL starters (Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones and Bryce Young) for the previous six seasons. But it’s not going to be surprising if Milroe cuts down on his mistakes and plays well enough to put a rare smile on Saban.

I have talked myself into buying on bad news and buying low with the Tide laying a touchdown now that Circa Sports has moved the line to 6.

Pick: Alabama -6

I turned things around a little by going 4-0 last Saturday and want to trend in the same direction, so here are nine more plays for Week 4 (home team in CAPS):

PITTSBURGH (+7.5) over North Carolina

This appears to be an offensive mismatch with Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye getting the upper hand on Pitt’s Phil Jurkovec, who has completed 46.7% of his passes and was terrible in the past two games. But buy on bad news again with the Panthers and coach Pat Narduzzi, who will have his defense ready for the challenge. Similar to the Steelers on Monday, the Pittsburgh defense will stand up in a night game. (Must get +7 to play)

CINCINNATI (+14) over Oklahoma

Emory Jones is putting up impressive numbers for the Bearcats, passing for 735 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 144 yards and three touchdowns. Cincinnati should have enough on both sides of the ball to hang with the Sooners, who blew out two bad teams (Arkansas State and Tulsa) yet needed a late rally to beat SMU. (Must get +14 to play)

UCLA (+6) over UTAH

With veteran quarterback Cameron Rising expected to return from offseason knee surgery, the line has been moving in Utah’s direction to as high as -6. The Utes have been hit by several key injuries, leaving their offense to look ragged. The Bruins are a different story due to freshman sensation Dante Moore, who has seven touchdown passes in limited playing time, and Ball State transfer running back Carson Steele. UCLA is on the rise, and coach Chip Kelly will cut Moore loose to make plays with a chance to steal a win in Salt Lake City. (Must get +5 to play)

STANFORD (+13) over Arizona

After the Cardinal took a blowout loss at USC and got upset by Sacramento State, nobody is running to the window to bet this ugly underdog. But this could be a live home ‘dog. Stanford’s Troy Taylor will coach up his young team. Ashton Daniels is a quarterback with some potential, but the Cardinal’s hopes here will ride with running backs Casey Filkins and E.J. Smith. The Wildcats are too unreliable to lay a big number on the road. (Must get +13 to play, and look for 14)

California (+20.5) over WASHINGTON

It’s easy to like everything about the Huskies, starting with coach Kalen DeBoer and quarterback Michael Penix, the nation’s leader in passing yards with 1,332. Still, if there’s a coach in the Pac-12 who knows how to slow opposing offenses it’s Justin Wilcox, Cal’s defensive wizard. Washington won each of the teams’ past two meetings by exactly seven points. Wilcox is best in the ‘dog role, and the Golden Bears’ offense has improved enough to hang with the Huskies. (Must get +20 to play, and look for 21)

WASHINGTON STATE (+3) over Oregon State

The Cougars are averaging 49.7 points with Cam Ward completing 72% of his passes. Washington State crushed Colorado State on the road and whipped Wisconsin. The Beavers have been similarly strong, led by running back Damien Martinez and a veteran defense. My fear factor is more about Martinez running wild and less about quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who has dipped to 62% completions and threw two interceptions last week against San Diego State. I made this line Washington State -2.5, and Circa Sports oddsmaker Richie Baccellieri said he made the Cougars -1.5. The market disagrees and is much higher on Oregon State, so we’ll see who has it right. (Play at Pick or better)

MIDDLE TENNESSEE (-3) over Colorado State

A week after playing in the most-watched college game of the season, and blowing a late lead in a double-overtime loss at Colorado, the Rams take a trip to Murfreesboro, Tenn. This is an obvious emotional flat spot for Colorado State, which was a 14-point home favorite in a 34-19 loss to the Blue Raiders last year. It’s a good spot to back Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill, who also beat Miami as a 25-point dog last year. I bet this -2 early in the week, assuming the Rams left it all on the field in Boulder. (Must get -3 to play)

NOTRE DAME (+3.5) over Ohio State

Sam Hartman should be the difference in this game. The Wake Forest transfer is a major quarterback upgrade for the Fighting Irish. Hartman has completed 71% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s supported by Audric Estime, the nation’s leading rusher with 521 yards (8.3 per carry). The Buckeyes have an abundance of playmakers, but their offensive prowess is probably overrated at this point after bullying three weak opponents. The atmosphere in South Bend will be a lot to handle for young Ohio State quarterbacks Kyle McCord and Devin Brown. There are plenty of sharp bettors on both sides of this game, but I like the Irish, who have won six of their last seven as home ‘dogs. (Must get +3 to play)

New Mexico State (+3) over HAWAII

The late-night kickoff in Honolulu is a tricky spot for the Aggies, who are off of a rivalry win at New Mexico, but the home favorite has been unimpressive. Hawaii’s Timmy Chang is the inferior coach in the matchup with Jerry Kill. New Mexico State, a 45-26 winner against the Warriors last year, also has the better quarterback in Diego Pavia. (Must get +3 to play)