CFB Picks: Week 4

5-4-1 last week, pushing the Texas Tech game. 27 (out of 47) in the confidence point rankings. The parlays and teasers continue to be a disaster, but also a reminder of why I stopped playing them.  I couldn’t narrow it down to 10 this week, so you get two extra picks free of charge, but don’t be afraid to donate on Venmo @mlparlays.

Picks

12* HOUSTON (-6) over Texas Tech

Going in to last week, I thought the Red Raiders might have turned a small corner with their defense and it looked like that may end up being the case as the game with Arizona State went on. They were up 18 points on three separate occasions. Then, the old TT defense was back, they let ASU tie it late in the game and they ended up giving up 500 yards to a team that’s really not that good.

I’m not sure how much we know about the Cougar offense at this point in the post-Greg Ward and Tom Herman era, but we do know that Kyle Allen will dink-and-dunk all over the place against a defense like TT’s. He’s completed a nation’s best of 84.3% of his passes. Pretty good.

What I know for sure is that UH is not gonna be giving up a 50-burger to the Red Raiders. They’ve given up 19 points through two games and have some NFL talent on that side of the ball. I’m just not seeing a path to victory for a Tech team that tends to really struggle away from Lubbock.

11* CHARLOTTE (+3.5) over Georgia State

You may be wondering why anyone would bother even looking at a matchup between two of the five worst teams in the FBS. The answer: it’s true that both of these teams are bad, but one of them is playing at home and that team is getting 3.5 big ones.

I’ll start with Georgia State. They lost at home to Tennessee State as 15-point favorites to start the season. They managed a whopping 10 points in the process. I’m not here to disparage TSU, but it’s a mediocre to slightly above average FCS program. The only other game for the Panthers was a 56-0 loss to Penn State. That’s expected, but that’s all the 49ers have played right now and I’m not sensing a ton of confidence off those two games.

Listen, Charlotte is a hard sell here. They’re not great. However, they did hang around with Eastern Michigan on the road, they at least managed to score (IN THE FIRST QUARTER) on Kansas State, and they were driving to take the lead late on NC A&T last week before a regrettable pick-six ended the rally. And, yeah, I know NC A&T, but the Aggies win 9 or 10 games every year and actually beat Kent State as well last year.

It’s a game of suck, for sure. I wouldn’t watch it if I could, but the 49ers are playing at home and I think they’ve at least had something to feel good about so far this season.

10* SOUTH ALABAMA (-4) over Idaho

I wasn’t alone in thinking Idaho was due for a dropoff this year after the flukiest season of all-time, the real question is how severe it would be. They opened by beating Sac State in what appears to be the most boring football game ever, excluding every NFL game played this season.

And for those who maybe don’t pay attention to the lower levels, you probably heard that UNLV was on the wrong side of the biggest upset ever in Week 1 by losing to Wagner? Well, Week 2 they went to Idaho and SMASHED the Vandals 44-16, piling up 550 yards along the way.

Idaho played better last week at Western Michigan (still lost), but in the words of Bill “Broken Record” Simmons, are we sure they’re good? There’s no real proof to support the Broncos yet.

As for the team I’m actually betting on here, heading into the season I liked USA to make a bowl this year. They were tuned up pretty good by Ole Miss and Oklahoma State the first two weeks, but at least they covered the first one and “hung” with the Pokes just as well as Pitt and Tulsa did, so that’s something?

I guess the concern would be that QB Cole Garvin’s status is up in the air, but I’m not sure it really matters that much. Backup Dallas Davis started 10 games last year and Garvin’s not what anyone would deem close to “irreplaceable”. He didn’t play in the Jags 45-0 win over Alabama A&M last week. But if it’s important to you that he plays, I’ve got good news: he’s looking for a cure.

Jags are locked in.

9* PURDUE-Michigan under 52

I’ve spent a lot of time and effort now talking about lower-tier C-USA and Sun Belt teams and I’ve gotta tell you, I’m gassed.

Luckily, you should probably already know about Michigan’s struggles on offense. They can’t finish drives, they just lost a starting WR, and their QB is still a poor man’s John Navarre. For all the (deserved) hype Jeff Brohm has gotten, Boiler DC Nick Holt might be the real star of the show. Mizzou had to really struggle to even gain 200 yards of total offense. The problem here might be their lack of a pass rush and that allowing the more athletic UM skill players to run free. But of course poor man’s John Navarre still has to throw it, so that’s tricky.

Purdue’s offense has been better than expected given their lack of returning WRs and their makeshift O-Line. However, I could see both of those issues rearing their ugly heads against an elite defense. The Boilers were able to carve up Mizzou with standard runs and a TON of borderline extended handoffs that were considered passes. That won’t work as well against all the speed on the Wolverine D.

8* TEXAS STATE (+14) over UTSA

UTSA is well-coached, really improved since Frank Wilson took over, and they had a nice win over a very bad Baylor team, but now we’re making them two touchdown favorites on the road all of a sudden?

TSU has their own little youth movement goin’ on in San Marcos. For starters, they got a win Week 1. Week 2, they lose at Colorado 37-3, but the score was far from indicative of how that game went. Turnovers killed the Bobcats in the third quarter, but they certainly didn’t get rolled. Last week they were within one yard of taking heavy Sun Belt favorite App State to OT. They outgained the Mountaineers by more than 100 yards.

7* Ohio (+2.5) over EASTERN MICHIGAN

EMU has had a nice start to the season, punctuated by their win at Rutgers…but here’s the thing: Rutgers still sucks.

I thought the Eagles had a pretty fluky year last year and have doubted them from the start. I’ve liked Ohio. I don’t think the Purdue loss is going to end up looking that bad for them and they rebounded from it by pasting Kansas.

It’s gonna be a low-scoring game, but I think the Bobcats will be able to run the ball with more consistency and they have a better ability to make plays on offense. I also like the fact that EMU beat them last year. Ohio’s always been the better program and I think they’ll have a little extra motivation to make sure the Eagles regress back to the mean.

6* KANSAS-West Virginia under 68.5

By far the best defense Kansas will have played to this point in the season. They’ve been better offensively so far, but I’d expect that to die down against the Mountaineers. First road game for WVU and I’d like to see how well their offense travels.

5* CAL (+17) over USC

The Trojans are coming off two huge wins at home over Stanford and Texas. They’re going away from the Coliseum for the first time this season and it’s a night game in Berkeley in front of what should be a great crowd. The Bears have already won at UNC and taken down Ole Miss at home. They have a defense now, thanks to new HC Justin Wilcox.

4* TCU (+13) over OKLAHOMA STATE

I like OSU and they’ve obviously been awesome, but they’ve also played three teams who are probably not going to turn out to be very good. TCU’s the first team they’ve played that has anything close to a defense and it’s a pretty good one. I think the line’s begging you to take the Pokes.

3* MICHIGAN STATE-Notre Dame under 54

Originally thought about taking MSU here until I really started looking at it. I don’t see the path for a lot of points. For starters, it’s a Michigan State game. All they want to do is run. On the other side, all Notre Dame might be able to do is run.

2* LOUISVILLE-Kent State over 56.5

I think Bobby Petrino is going to try and score as many points as possible after the Cardinals got embarrassed at Clemson, just to try and get the confidence level back up. And it’s not like Kent State will have many answers defensively. I think you’re going to get something out of the Flashes in terms of scoring. I don’t really think Louisville’s defense is anything to write home about and they haven’t pitched a shutout since September 2013. And in that game, the Cardinals scored 72 points.

1* Toledo (+13.5) over MIAMI (FL)

Toledo can score with anybody and at this point I think you’d have to consider them a heavy favorite to win the MAC. There’s a lot of question marks with Miami right now. Week 1 is Week 1, but they didn’t exactly light up Bethune Cookman. Also, Week 1 was three weeks ago and it’s the last time the Canes played, due to Irma. I’m not sure what to expect from them, but I’m inclined to take the side that’s been scoring a ton of points, winning football games, and in a rhythm.

Money Line Parlay of the Week

Nebraska, MTSU, Houston (+120)

Nebraska burned me here last week, so call it a double down if you will. If Mike Riley loses to NIU and Rutgers on back-to-back weeks at home, I’d suggest he leave Lincoln before the locals find him. Things are going poorly for MTSU right now, but Bowling Green is one of the worst teams in college football.

Teaser of the Week

Boise (-6), South Carolina (-3), Michigan State (+10.5) — (+190)

Boise gets Virginia at home on a Friday night. I think the Broncos are past their hangover week post-Wazzu and they roll UVA. Speaking of teams burning me last weekend, I had South Carolina tied up in both the parlay and teaser last week. I’m just gonna stick them here this week. Surely they can beat a LT team that got blasted by Mississippi St. at home, right? RIGHT?!

Not Actually Betting, But Sides I’d Take With A Hypothetical Gun To My Head

APPALACHIAN STATE (+4.5) over Wake Forest

Arkansas State (+6) over SMU

TENNESSEE (-26) over UMass

Washington (-10) over COLORADO

FLORIDA STATE (-10.5) over NC State

IOWA (+13) over Penn State

TROY (-15) over Akron

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (-2) over Miami (OH)

SOUTH CAROLINA (-8) over Louisiana Tech

BUFFALO (-3) over Florida Atlantic

Picks W-L: 15-14-1 (51.7%)
Confidence Points: 76 (of 157)
Parlays: 0-3 (-300)
Teasers: 0-3 (-300)

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