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Friday, 25 September 2015

College Football Week 4 Picks 2015 (September 26th)

It was one special week in College Football in Week 3 filled with headlines as some of the big schools were upset and the results also meant a change in my own Play Off picture.

However, the Play Off at the end of the season does make things a little more interesting to teams that may be upset as one loss teams are still going to have a great chance to make that Play Off from the Power 5 Conferences.

Losing a Conference game, for instance, is not the end of the world in the top Conferences excluding the Big 12 because of the Championship Game at the end of the regular season. The Alabama Crimson Tide showed that last season as their one loss to the Mississippi Rebels didn't prevent them making the Play Offs as they still went on to win the SEC Championship and the Crimson Tide will be looking for history to repeat.

Can a one loss team from one of the other Conferences make it to the Play Offs? I wouldn't exclude it because of the points a team can pick up from winning a Conference, but I would suggest the SEC is perhaps the only Conference that could potentially send a team to the final four Play Off which doesn't win the Championship.

It would take some set of results for that too happen, but if Week 3 is any indication then who knows what the College Football season is yet to give us.


My Play Off Ranking going into Week 4 and then I will get on with the picks for the week:

1) Ohio State Buckeyes- The Buckeyes overcame some really sloppy play to barely beat the Northern Illinois Huskies and there is some similarities with their performances as the ones that then defending Champions Florida State Seminoles produced last season.

2) TCU Horned Frogs- The Defense is all banged up and running the Big 12 schedule is going to be tough, but I have the TCU Horned Frogs just above the Baylor Bears.

3) Florida State Seminoles- An unbeaten ACC Champion will likely oust the one loss USC Trojans who I still make the favourites to win the Pac-12 despite a loss to Stanford last week.

4) LSU Tigers- Picking a winner in the SEC is difficult and many have called the Mississippi Rebels the best team in the nation after winning in Tuscaloosa, but I do like how the LSU Tigers are quietly going about their business.

Looking In- Georgia Bulldogs, Mississippi Rebels, USC Trojans, Michigan State Spartans, Alabama Crimson Tide, Clemson Tigers, Oregon Ducks.


Week 4 Picks
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ Duke Blue Devils Pick: Losing to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will have been a big disappointment to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, but they begin Conference play this week and will be looking for revenge having been beaten by the Duke Blue Devils last season.

The last two seasons have been a special time for Duke who have 19 games in that time, but they are not expected to be a real force in the ACC this time around. They reached the ACC Championship Game in 2013 and only just missed out on a repeat last season, but Duke have lost some considerable talent since and their early season results hasn't exactly encouraged any thoughts more positive than the pre-season.

Duke do see the triple-option Georgia Tech run on a regular basis to know what to expect this weekend but they were heavily pounded on the ground last weekend by Northwestern and I do wonder if the Defensive Line has suffered some physical setbacks. The Blue Devils have played the run well all season, but Georgia Tech excel at moving the chains on the ground, while Justin Thomas is a better passer than Quarter Backs for the Yellow Jackets may expect to be.

I fully expect to see Duke have some success running the ball themselves, but Georgia Tech had their number before last season with 7 straight wins by 21 points per game. They won here in 2013 by over twenty points and Georgia Tech have been a decent road favourite to back even though they failed in that spot last week.

Both teams have bounced back efficiently from straight up losses in recent seasons, but I think Georgia Tech are the right team standing at the end of this one and will cover a spread that has been taken down by the sharps.


New Mexico Lobos @ Wyoming Cowboys Pick: Two teams that are expected to be fighting to avoid the basement in the Mountain West Conference Mountain Division meet in Week 4. It is a big game for the Wyoming Cowboys who are looking for a revenge win over the New Mexico Lobos after hammering them in terms of yards gained last season but still falling into a six point loss on the road.

Despite a couple of games they were expected to lose, New Mexico have managed to run the ball effectively and they should have room to do that against Wyoming in Week 4. Extending the drives on the ground will keep the Cowboys off-balance, while New Mexico are not the sole triple option running Offense of the last few years and will be able to pass against this porous Defense that has allowed 262 yards per game through the air.

Of course the first option for the Lobos will be to run the ball effectively and they should be able to do that. Craig Bohl's Wyoming are a little inexperienced and that has shown up in the first three weeks of the season on both sides of the ball.

The New Mexico Lobos have played the run effectively by holding teams to 3.4 yards per carry in their first three games and they have also brought an effective pass rush that could hurt this Offensive Line. Wyoming have struggled in pass protection, although the altitude they play in can be an advantage if they are running the ball effectively to gas the opponent's Defense.

Unfortunately I think that might happen to them this week and New Mexico are 1-0-1 against the spread when favoured on the road in Bob Davie's time as Head Coach. On the other hand, Wyoming were 1-3 against the spread as the home underdog last season and are facing a Lobos team that has gone 10-5-1 against the spread when coming in off a loss over the last two seasons.


Oklahoma State Cowboys @ Texas Longhorns Pick: The Texas Longhorns covered against the California Golden Bears last week by scoring 20 unanswered Fourth Quarter points, but I think they are perhaps being over-rated going into Week 4. There is no doubting that Jerrod Heard has given them a spark on the Offensive side of the ball, but Defensively the Longhorns haven't looked right in the first three weeks.

Now they begin Big 12 play against teams that have the kind of Offensive output that will really take advantage of the Defensive problems Texas have experienced and that is why I like the Oklahoma State Cowboys to win on the road and cover the spread.

The Cowboys are going to be able to run the ball effectively in this game and that should only make things that much easier for Mason Randolph at Quarter Back. With Oklahoma State in third and short, Randolph should have his way against a Defense that has struggled for an effective pass rush and give up over 270 yards per game through the air.

As I mentioned, Heard has sparked Texas, but this is arguably the best Defense he has faced and will also be under more pressure from the Cowboys pass rush who should win the battles against the Offensive Line. Unlike his counterpart, Heard might not have an established running game to help him here, although he is capable of doing that himself, and that means the Quarter Back will be under some pressure to help keep the Longhorns in this one.

It does feel Texas might have exerted quite a lot of effort in trying to come back against California last week in the Fourth Quarter, an effort that hurts more when it comes up short. They are 2-3 against the spread as the home underdog under Charlie Strong and the home team has lost the last six in the series by 18 points per game.


Tennessee Volunteers @ Florida Gators Pick: It seems the sharps are very much backing the Tennessee Volunteers to end their long losing run of 10 games to the Florida Gators. That has seen the spread shrink, while the public are also favouring the Volunteers to get it done this week, but I think the value has now shifted onto the home team.

While neither team has really pulled up any trees with what they have been able to with the ball in their hands, I think the Florida Gators Defense is legit and will be able to make enough plays to give their team the chance to win.

The feeling is that the Florida Gators will be able to run the ball more effectively of the two teams and that will give Will Grier every chance of making enough plays at Quarter Back to win this game.

Florida have the better pass rush as well as the better Defensive Line, one that is giving up just 2 yards per rush so far this season. Tennessee have been able to run the ball, but they might not have the same room as they have had in their first three games and the Gators are maybe a little more battle hardened having come through a tough one against Kentucky last week.

Home field is another advantage for Florida and they have won the last ten games in the series by 14 points per game and I like the Gators to cover as the underdog.


Appalachian State Mountaineers @ Old Dominion Monarchs Pick: The Appalachian State Mountaineers might be the best team in the Sun Belt Conference and they are coming off a bye so should be well prepared to take on the Old Dominion Monarchs.

Some might look at the 31 point loss to Clemson as some sort of yardstick to beat the Mountaineers with, but they were only outgained by 94 yards in that game and I like them to bounce back after the bye.

Appalachian State should be able to run the ball very effectively against this Old Dominion team that have been outgained in two of their three games and are giving up 5 yards per carry. The Mountaineers might not have to throw the ball that much if they can get close to the 5.7 yards per game they have churned out so far this season, but being kept in third and short means there are options for them and it will be tough for the Monarchs to get off the field.

More impressive from the Mountaineers has to be the way they played the run against Clemson in a game they only gave up 392 total yards to a Power 5 Conference team. They limited the Tigers to 3.2 yards per carry and will feel they can slow down Old Dominion just enough to force them to throw from third and long situations.

That is where the Appalachian State pass rush can begin to take over the game against a team that doesn't like to throw the ball that much. My one concern for the Mountaineers is that they haven't been a road favourite before, but they did win their last three road games last season by 21 points per game and I like them to get through this difficult looking test.


ULM Warhawks @ Alabama Crimson Tide Pick: You are going to hear a lot about the ULM Warhawks last visit to Tuscaloosa when they stunned the Alabama Crimson Tide by winning outright despite being set as 24 points underdogs back in 2007.

There is no doubting that the Alabama team are much improved since then and I have little doubt they win this game- however, backing the ULM Warhawks with the huge spread looks the way to go.

Some will think Alabama are going to be a 'pissed off' squad after the home loss to the Mississippi Rebels last week, but this is the meat in an Ole Miss and Georgia sandwich for the Crimson Tide and the spot is one where Nick Saban could easily pull his starters by the Third Quarter.

That makes the backdoor cover very much a part of this game, while it has to be noted that Alabama are 3-9 against the spread when playing non-Power 5 teams at home over the last four years. They are 1-6 against the spread in those games which have come between two SEC games as this one is and it just looks a lot of points for the Crimson Tide to cover when I am not sure their focus hasn't already turned to the Georgia Bulldogs.


TCU Horned Frogs @ Texas Tech Red Raiders Pick: The Big 12 Conference kicks off with the kind of game that underlines what the Conference is about, namely lots of high-scoring and competitive games.

One True Champion is the motto of the Conference, but it is so tough for that to occur in the current format without a Championship Game and the Big 12 organisers have to consider a change in that regards.

For now the fans get to enjoy a huge Conference game as Kliff Kingsbury looks for the second win in a row against a team that perhaps embarrassed his Texas Tech team last season. Kingsbury was clearly unimpressed with comments coming out of the Arkansas Razorbacks camp this off-season and Texas Tech avenged their home loss to them by beating on the road.

Last season the TCU Horned Frogs tagged the Red Raiders with 82 points in a blowout home win and Kingsbury has to try and get a big emotional effort out of his team for the second week in a row. That is tough, but Texas Tech face a banged up Defense that is missing 7 of the projected starters from pre-season.

You have to think this Texas Tech Offense will produce their numbers, especially at home, when facing a banged up Defense but the little things that can make the difference are the TCU pass rush which can create pressure. The Horned Frogs have also played the run pretty well for much of the season, although the Texas Tech Offense have excelled in that regards, but there is enough to think they can be slowed down somewhat.

It is not so easy to see that when the TCU Horned Frogs have the ball themselves as they should be able to do what they want on the ground against a team that is giving up 5.7 yards per carry. Trevone Boykin and the passing Offense will also give the Texas Tech Red Raiders the toughest test they have faced all season and being able to do that off play-action or third and short situations should see TCU have the edge in the game.

Texas Tech are an impressive home underdog since Kliff Kingsbury came in as Head Coach, but I think they might struggle to pick themselves emotionally for a second week in a row. They wanted the win in Arkansas badly and now have another big game and it can be hard to back that up so I will be backing TCU Horned Frogs to cover.


Akron Zips @ ULL Rajin' Cajuns Pick: The Louisiana Rajin' Cajuns are coming out of a bye and I expect they are going to be too much for the Akron Zips who might easily be looking ahead to their game against State rivals Ohio next week. Akron have lost 7 in a row to Ohio and that game could easily be considered the more important one compared with this one against the Rajin' Cajuns especially as the game against the Bobcats is a Divisional one too.

Akron have the capabilities of giving the Rajin' Cajins something to think about as they run the ball effectively, but Louisiana are out of a bye and have to have prepared the Defensive Line for that. The first two games have seen ULL beaten down on the ground, but limiting Akron can at least give them a chance to get their pass rush going against this Offensive Line.

One concern for the Rajin' Cajuns has to be the Defensive Line they are facing- Akron might have one of the stronger Defensive Lines in the nation, let alone the MAC Conference, and they have shown that in their opening games. The Zips are giving up just 2.7 yards per game on the ground although they will be tested by this Rajin' Cajuns rushing Offense that averages almost 7 yards per carry.

I do think the Akron Defense will give them problems up front, but the Secondary hasn't been as effective as the Defensive Line and the looming game with Ohio should take away some of the focus. Coming out of the bye week means Louisiana are well prepared and I like them to cover.


Colorado State Rams @ UTSA Roadrunners Pick: The one big concern in picking the Colorado State Rams is wondering how they can pick themselves up from back to back losses in Overtime. The first was to the Minnesota Golden Gophers but the second was to State rivals the Colorado Buffaloes and it was a game that Colorado State should have won having earned 155 more total yards during the game.

The emotional question mark has to be placed around the Rams, but there are also some questions about the inexperienced UTSA Roadrunners who had just 6 returning starters from last season. However, you can't really judge what they are about this season from their first three games as the Roadrunners scheduled Arizona, Kansas State and Oklahoma State and expectedly lost all three games.

In this game it does look like the Rams will be able to have their way on the Offensive side of the ball and I do expect Colorado State to be in a position to score plenty of points. They should have the capabilities to both run and throw the ball, but turnovers have blighted them with mistakes including Interceptions and Fumbles costing Colorado State a stronger record.

They have the Defensive Line that can limit what UTSA Roadrunners can do on the ground in this one and I like the pass rush to get after Blake Bogenschutz at Quarter Back. The Rams' Secondary have actually played well too and I like the fact that new Head Coaches at this level, who have never coached in the FBS before, have done really well in their first road game.

That is where Mike Bobo of the Colorado State Rams will be this week, while the team are 4-1 against the spread as the road favourite in the last couple of years. The Roadrunners have a big game against Conference and State rivals UTEP next week too and I like the Rams to win this one big.


UCLA Bruins @ Arizona Wildcats Pick: Losing Myles Jack for the season is a big blow for the UCLA Bruins Defense, and a personal one for Jack who looked to be one of the top Draft Picks likely to come out this season. The Arizona Wildcats might be getting back a big Defensive piece in Scooby Wright this week and there are some out there calling for the upset in this Pac-12 South encounter.

UCLA escaped with their unbeaten start to the season last week against the under-rated BYU Cougars, but they are still unbeaten and they have won 3 in a row against the Wildcats. Josh Rosen has played like a Quarter Back with a lot more experience and I think he will be the key to the game because the Wildcats Secondary has struggled in coverage.

Paul Perkins will certainly test the Defensive Line that has played well, but the key is going to be Rosen and whether he is able to make the plays that he has in the first three games.

Without a doubt the biggest question is how the UCLA Defense will play without Myles Jack, but they have been solid so far this season. Losing the inspirational leader in the Linebacker unit is going to be tough to replace, but I like the Bruins to find a way to slow down the Arizona Offense in this one.

I do respect the fact that Arizona have gone 4-0 against the spread as the home underdog since Rich Rodriguez took over the programme, but I think the UCLA Bruins are the better team and can win here.


Hawaii Rainbow Warriors @ Wisconsin Badgers Pick: The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are not really the same team when they come off the island and hit the mainland and this is a big game for them against another tough team from the Big Ten. Hawaii were battered at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes earlier this season and they have a big Conference game on deck at the Boise State Broncos which makes me wonder how much motivation they have here.

Facing a Wisconsin Badgers team that will also begin Conference play next week might look a good spot with that focus perhaps not there. However, the Badgers have bounced back from their opening loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide and they have won two games in a row by wide margins.

The Defensive unit is one of the best in the nation and they should have enough to shut down what the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are going to try and bring. You have to also think Hawaii won't want to give the Boise State Broncos too much video of any tricks they will be saving for next week and I like the Badgers to limit them on that side of the ball.

I don't think anyone out there is going to confuse the Wisconsin Badgers with an Offensive powerhouse, but they will wear down Hawaii and that looming game against Boise State simply cannot be ignored. Hawaii have also done a little too much travelling over the last three weeks which can wear on players mentally and I think Wisconsin will win this and cover.


Georgia Southern Eagles @ Idaho Vandals Pick: The Sun Belt Conference game between the Georgia Southern Eagles and Idaho Vandals looks a mismatch in Week 4 and I like the favourites to come through and win this one big.

The triple option run by the Eagles is tough to prepare for, although Idaho would have seen it last season and perhaps more aware than some teams might be. It might not matter though as the Vandals have given up 6.8 yards per carry this season on the ground and I imagine the Eagles will have their way on the Offensive side of the ball without the need to throw the ball around too much.

Idaho will have some success of their own when they have the ball in their hands, but I expect Georgia Southern will wear down the Defensive Line and start picking up huge gains as the game develops. Playing catch up might not work too well for the Vandals either as they have given the ball away a little too much while the Offensive Line hasn't protected Matt Linehan as they would have liked.

You can't underestimate the Idaho Vandals who showed some improvement last season despite their 1-10 record, but I think the Georgia Southern Eagles have too much from the triple option and pull away on the road.


USC Trojans @ Arizona State Sun Devils Pick: Last week I picked the Stanford Cardinal to keep things close against the USC Trojans, but I couldn't have predicted they would actually knock off the Pac-12 favourites.

This is a must win game for both the Trojans and the Arizona State Sun Devils who have also dropped a game this season with the loser likely out of the race for the College Football Play Offs.

USC will be playing with revenge having somehow lost to the Sun Devils last season despite having a nine point lead and under three minutes to go in that game. It was a Hail Mary pass at the end of that game with no time remaining that helped Arizona State earn the win and you have to think this USC Trojans team will have had something to prove prior to the Stanford loss which gives them double motivation.

It was the Defensive unit that let USC down last week, but I think they are better than their Arizona State counterparts and I fully expect the Trojans to bounce back. Arizona State might be 2-1, but they were beaten easily by the Texas A&M Aggies and haven't looked that good against overmatched opponents, while the USC Trojans are 3-1 against the spread off a straight up loss.

The Trojans are also 12-1 in their last thirteen opening road games and I think they bounce back from the Stanford loss by showing they are still very much in the mix for a Play Off berth at the end of the season. Unless Arizona State have found something special in the last week, they just haven't looked like they are playing well enough to win this game and I think even the cover looks beyond them.

MY PICKS: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - 7.5 Points @ 2.00 Betway (1 Unit)
New Mexico Lobos - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Oklahoma State Cowboys - 3 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Florida Gators + 1.5 Points @ 1.85 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Appalachian State Mountaineers - 8 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
ULM Warhawks + 38 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
TCU Horned Frogs - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
ULL Rajin' Cajuns - 8 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Colorado State Rams - 10 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
UCLA Bruins - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Wisconsin Badgers - 24.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Georgia Southern Eagles - 15.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
USC Trojans - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)


Week 3: 6-4, + 1.57 Units (10 Units Staked, + 15.70% Yield)
Week 25-4-1, + 0.68 Units (10 Units Staked, + 6.80% Yield)
Week 17-6, + 0.48 Units (13 Units Staked, + 3.69% Yield

Season 201518-14-1, + 2.73 Units (33 Units Staked, + 8.27% Yield)
Season 201475-82-2, - 13.39 Units (172 Units Staked, - 7.78% Yield)
Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

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