Week 4 college football picks and predictions from Adam Burke


Week 4 best bets for Southern Miss vs. Arkansas State, Minnesota vs. Northwestern

After a really slow start to the season, we’ve got some real bangers in Week 4. It’s almost like going to a concert where the band plays a bunch of new songs that nobody has ever heard at the start of the set, but then cranks it up to 11 and plays all the good tracks off their first album one after another.


But, sometimes, you also want to hear the deep cuts. While there are a lot of extremely exciting and enticing matchups this weekend, maybe the better betting opportunities will be in the games with less fanfare. The sportsbooks definitely pay more attention to the games with heavy handles and sometimes that can create some line value elsewhere. There are a few games on my radar for this weekend that are definitely deep cuts.

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Here are my favorite picks for Week 4:

(odds as of September 21, 1:00 p.m. PT)

Southern Miss Golden Eagles (-7, 49) at Arkansas State Red Wolves

Maybe Southern Miss is downright awful, but the Golden Eagles have played a pretty brutal schedule to this point. Southern Miss heads on the road for the Sun Belt opener against a really terrible Arkansas State crew and this is the first winnable FBS game for them. They’ve played Florida State and Tulane among FBS foes and Alcorn State from the FCS ranks. Even with a horrible Braves team on the schedule, the Golden Eagles have played the 47th-ranked schedule per Jeff Sagarin thus far.

Their strength of schedule will take a hit this week by playing the Red Wolves, who rank 157th for Sagarin. I think Southern Miss is a talented team. I don’t think the same about the Red Wolves, who beat up on a Stony Brook team that is among the worst in Division I. Southern Miss QB Billy Wiles is a former Clemson recruit who should add stability to the position after the Golden Eagles used several different QBs, and even RB Frank Gore Jr., at the spot last year.

If Arkansas State goes back to J.T. Shrout, I probably like this bet even more, as he missed Week 3 due to injury. Head coach Butch Jones said “whichever QB has the best week of practice will start”. I like the Golden Eagles to look like the team that I think they should.

Pick: Southern Miss -7 (would play to -8)

Minnesota Golden Gophers (-12, 39.5) at Northwestern Wildcats

The Wildcats haven’t been terribly impressive this season, which was to be expected with what happened prior to the season with Pat Fitzgerald and some coaching turnover. Interim head coach David Braun is doing the best he can and the Wildcats actually played six good defensive quarters in a row before Duke got the best of them last week.

Duke appears to be a really good team. I don’t think that Minnesota is. The Gophers were unimpressive against Nebraska to open the year and struggled to pass the ball again against Eastern Michigan and North Carolina. Maybe they’ll find some rushing success against Northwestern, but Riley Leonard did a lot of the damage with 13 carries for 97 yards last week. Minnesota doesn’t have a mobile QB and Athan Kaliakmanis has a 1/3 TD/INT ratio with a 51.1% completion percentage. For all the running potency Minnesota has, they’ve only scored three rushing touchdowns and four offensive TDs overall.

With a spread of 12 and a total under 40, I like getting a two-score head start with points likely to be at a premium. Some of the market sits at 11, which I still think is okay, but I wouldn’t go lower than that.

Pick: Northwestern +12 (would play to +11)

Buffalo Bulls at Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (-9, 59)

Defense has been optional for the Bulls this season and they’ve progressively gotten worse, going from 38 points against Wisconsin to 40 points against Fordham to 55 points last week in the loss to Liberty. Fordham actually racked up 459 yards and ran 79 offensive plays in that Week 2 game.

Louisiana has played a weak schedule, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have generated a lot of big plays. They’re averaging six yards per carry on offense and have ripped off chunk plays of 59, 80, and 62 yards, including the 80-yard scamper by QB Zeon Chriss. They’ve also had 13 yards per reception, including several explosive gains. Nine different receivers have a catch of at least 21 yards.

While Buffalo’s defense has been a raging tire fire, QB Cole Snyder has played well, completing nearly 65% of his passes with a 9/2 TD/INT ratio. By virtue of being down a lot in games, the Bulls have had to chuck it around the yard and that looks to be the case again here. I wouldn’t expect them to slow down the Louisiana offense based on what we’ve seen so far and they should get theirs as well. 

It will be quite hot, which could slow both defenses down in the second half of this one as well, so I’m thinking we get points early and often. The 59 at DraftKings is the high point in the market at time of writing, so you can find 58.5s out there.

Pick: Over 59 (would play at 59 or lower)