College Football Best Bets: Week 4 (2021)

Sep 23, 2021 - 5:36 PM

We could not wait to get after some college football picks this week after last week’s resounding success. We are looking to carry the momentum from a 4-0 week that saw our three favorites cover by a combined 61.5 points. 

Each week the narrative surrounding specific teams and conferences seems to change drastically. This week, many are wondering if UNC is the best team in the ACC after Clemson struggled. Also, the Big Ten is being called a wide-open race, given Ohio State’s defensive issues and teams like Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State being better than most had predicted. In addition, Florida’s near upset of Alabama potentially provided a glimmer of hope to the rest of the national title contenders that this year’s Nick Saban team is not invincible.

Will these perceptions impact any of our picks this week?  

Here are my top four plays for Week 4 in college football.

Best Bets for Week 4: College Football

(Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Last Season: 35-22 (+9.5 units)
YTD: 10-4 (+5.0 units)

Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin: O/U 46.5

The highly anticipated game between Notre Dame and Wisconsin at Lambeau Field last year never came to fruition because of the impact COVID-19 had on schedules throughout the country. However, it did not deprive us of a meeting between these two heavyweights from Soldier Field, where ESPN’s College Gameday will set up this week. While last year’s game would have been thrilling, it does not have the intriguing storyline that this year’s matchup has, with former Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan now running the show for Notre Dame.

Coan has had mixed results to start his Notre Dame career, and his inconsistency showed most in last week’s game against Purdue. Coan missed several open receivers, especially on deep throws, but hit on some, like the 62-yard third-quarter touchdown pass to Avery Davis. However, the biggest liability for Notre Dame entering this game is the offensive line, which many thought would be a strength coming into this year. They started their third different left tackle against Purdue, and the line as a whole has not paved too many rushing lanes so far. Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree have combined for 283 yards on 71 combined carries, but the yards per carry average looks much worse if you take away Williams’ 51-yard touchdown run last week.

The Badgers had a week off to prepare for this Notre Dame offense, and specifically how they will spoil Coan’s first game against his former team. Wisconsin’s offense ranks tenth in the country in rushing yards per game, and Notre Dame’s defense just held Purdue to 2.3 yards per carry. While the Boilermakers’ offense is inferior to that of Wisconsin’s, it was an offense that had averaged 39.5 points coming into the game.

There should be some tough sledding in this one, with each defense built to limit the opposition’s big plays. As a result, the best value play for this noon kickoff is the under in what should be a low-scoring game.


UCLA (-5.5) at Stanford

The UCLA Bruins will have to turn the page quickly after an excruciating loss last week to Fresno State. UCLA scored a go-ahead touchdown to make it 37-33 with 54 seconds left but then allowed the Bulldogs to march 75 yards in six plays to score the eventual game-winning touchdown with 14 seconds left. Not all losses are created equal, and we look for a hangover effect heading into their conference road opener against Stanford.

In the last two games, UCLA’s pass defense has been torched for 785 yards, which is an issue heading into a matchup with Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee. McKee has done a great job of taking care of the football with five touchdowns to no interceptions, and head coach David Shaw trusts McKee more as his attempts have increased each week. This is the Cardinal’s home opener, and they will be fired up to upset their second conference rival of the season.


Tennessee at Florida: First Half Spread (-10.5)

While head coach Dan Mullen likely did not preach the concept of a moral victory after his team’s 31-29 loss to Alabama, he had to love the effort he got from his guys last Saturday. Perhaps the most impressive part was that Florida’s two-quarterback system was down to one as Anthony Richardson was unavailable with a hamstring injury. Mullen hopes to have Richardson available this week but knows he can rely on Emory Jones if needed.

While the Gators are not on upset alert, we envision them struggling to start this game against the Volunteers. Their game against Alabama was very physical, with Florida alone calling 43 running plays. Tennessee has had the much easier schedule (though they lost outright to Pittsburgh) in advance of this week and will look like the more fresh and spry team for the game’s first 30 minutes.

PICK: TENNESSEE +10.5 First Half Spread

Indiana (-9) at Western Kentucky

This is our third consecutive pick where we expect a letdown of sorts to ensue. Indiana had a golden opportunity to beat a top-ten at home last week but squandered a 14-0 lead against Cincinnati in a game they eventually lost by two touchdowns. Many are still waiting for the Michael Penix Jr. we saw last year to come back and light it up for the Hoosiers, but the quarterback still looks severely impacted by the torn ACL he suffered. Penix Jr. has completed just 48.3% of his passes thus far and has turned the ball over too often with six interceptions to go with just four touchdowns.

Western Kentucky finished over .500 (4-3) in C-USA last year and added needed reinforcements at tight end and on the offensive line. Their offense already looks much improved from last season, as they have averaged 47 PPG thus far. They fought back from a 35-14 fourth-quarter deficit against Army and eventually lost 38-35. However, they can use that momentum to inspire them in a rare home game with a visit from a Big Ten team.

PICK: Western Kentucky +9

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

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