Spread Options: College football Week 4 picks against the spread

Another week of college football is upon us, and that means it’s time to make more picks.

I’ve had a strong season thus far, though last week I went just 3-3. I had a rough beat to start the day as a Western Kentucky vs. Indiana game that seemed destined for to go under the total ended up going into overtime thanks to a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final minute of regulation. Overtime is the enemy of any under bettor, and that doomed my pick.

My two other under bets were losers as well, but I was on the right side with my three other picks. With that said, I’m still nine games over .500 on the year and I’m feeling good headed into Week 4.

Last week: 3-3

Overall: 16-7

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

Boise State at UTEP

Time: 9 p.m. (Fri) | TV: CBSSN | Line: Boise State -15.5 | Total: 45.5

Dana Dimel has built UTEP into a competitive program but the Miners are really missing Jacob Cowing and Justin Garrett at receiver. The offense has cratered without those two reliable targets as third-year starting QB Gavin Hardison is completing only 48.8% of his throws. Couple that with one of the worst running attacks in the country and a minus-five turnover margin, and you’ve got a lot of problems on offense.

On the other side, this isn’t your typical Boise State team that can just roll through Mountain West competition. Boise State’s offense has been surprisingly bad, putting up 31 in a road win over New Mexico and just 30 in last weekend’s home win over UT Martin. In those wins, the Broncos have played with a slow tempo and leaned on the run game and their defense.

I think the Broncos win this game pretty easily, but I’m not sure how much they can score. I’m a little worried there could be a defensive touchdown that hurts me here, but I like this under quite a bit rather than trusting Boise to cover 15.5 points.

Pick: Under 45.5

Maryland at No. 4 Michigan

Time: Noon | TV: Fox | Line: Michigan -16.5 | Total: 65

Michigan has had one of the easiest schedules in the country, but I still think this point spread should be bigger. The Wolverines are going all-in with J.J. McCarthy at quarterback and will have the chance to put up a big number on offense in this one.

Maryland is off to a 3-0 start but hasn’t been super sharp on offense and is dead last in the country in penalty yards per game. The Terps allowed 520 yards of offense to SMU last week and were nearly upset, but SMU turned it over on downs twice deep in Maryland territory, had three turnovers in Maryland territory (including one at the 3-yard line) and missed a field goal.

Michigan has dominated this series, covering the spread in six straight meetings by an average of 14.75 points. And the average spread in those games was 18.9 points. Under Mike Locksley, Maryland is 1-10 ATS vs. ranked opponents, 6-17 ATS in Big Ten play and 3-9 ATS as a double-digit underdog. Everything is pointing me to Michigan here.

Pick: Michigan -16.5

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy throws against Connecticut in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy throws against Connecticut in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

UCLA at Colorado

Time: 2 p.m. | TV: Pac-12 | Line: UCLA -21.5 | Total: 57.5

It’s hard to overstate just how bad Colorado has been so far this season. The Buffs are truly one of the worst teams in the country and could be staring at a winless season. It’s that dire. CU gets to return home after getting outscored 100-17 in road losses to Air Force and Minnesota. Both of those teams love to run the ball, and UCLA is more than capable of doing the same with Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet.

UCLA is a volatile team that seems to coast at times, but I think last week’s near-upset at the hands of South Alabama can serve as somewhat of a wake-up call for the Bruins with conference play beginning. After this game in Boulder, UCLA has Washington, Utah and Oregon in its next three games. With that gauntlet on the horizon, I think UCLA will be much sharper here and roll to a blowout victory.

Pick: UCLA -21.5

Minnesota at Michigan State

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: BTN | Line: Minnesota -3 | Total: 51

Minnesota has cruised to a 3-0 start by beating up three terrible teams. Now the Gophers have to go into East Lansing with Michigan State reeling after a blowout road loss at Washington.

This point spread opened with MSU as a slight favorite but has swung more than four points in the other direction. With the way MSU played defensively in Seattle, it’s understandable why bettors would jump on the Gophers here. But Minnesota plays a much different style than Washington.

Like a few teams did in 2021, UW torched the Spartans through the air. Minnesota has run the ball on 70% of its offensive plays this year and just lost its top receiver Chris Autman-Bell to a season-ending injury. The Gophers have a star running back in Mo Ibrahim, but this is a much better matchup for MSU. I’ll take the home dog.

Pick: Michigan State +3

Michigan State coach Mel Tucker yells during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Akron, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 52-0. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker yells during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Akron, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 52-0. (AP Photo/Al Goldis) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Indiana at Cincinnati

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN2 | Line: UC -16.5 | Total: 57.5

I think Indiana is due for a blowout loss. The Hoosiers are 3-0 somehow. They were outgained by nearly 100 yards by Illinois, trailed FCS Idaho 10-0 at halftime and then miraculously rallied to beat Western Kentucky in overtime last week.

Self-inflicted wounds cost Cincinnati from potentially upsetting Arkansas in Fayetteville in Week 1 and then last week the Bearcats had three turnovers in a win over Miami Ohio that was much more lopsided than the final score would indicate. As long as the Bearcats can avoid giving Indiana short fields via turnovers, I think they can cruise to an easy victory.

Pick: Cincinnati -16.5

North Texas at Memphis

Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN+ | Line: Memphis -13 | Total: 69.5

Part of me thinks I will regret this pick, but I have been looking for a spot to play against Memphis for quite a while. This program has fallen off substantially since Mike Norvell left for Florida State. Over the past three seasons, Memphis is 9-17 against the spread. That includes a 3-7 ATS mark as a home favorite with two of those ATS victories coming against FCS opponents. Additionally, Memphis is just 1-6 ATS as a double-digit favorite vs. FBS opponents during that span.

This weekend, the Tigers are 13-point favorites over North Texas, a team that just got blown out by UNLV. North Texas is very bad on defense, but I think they have enough offense to keep this close. Memphis is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 70.2% of their throws and 8.8 yards per attempt.

Pick: North Texas +13

Stanford at No. 18 Washington

Time: 10:30 p.m. | TV: FS1 | Line: UW -14 | Total: 63.5

Washington has to be feeling great about itself coming off that win over Michigan State, but I feel like this is a prime letdown spot for the Huskies. While the Huskies are basking in the glow of their biggest win in a few seasons, Stanford had a bye last week. That means two things. Stanford had extra time to prepare for Washington’s offense while it could also work on perfecting the new-look offense it showcased in the loss to USC.

In contrast to the pro-style approach it had used for years, Stanford mixed in the slow-mesh RPO plays that Wake Forest has long used. The Cardinal moved the ball with ease against USC, but was doomed by four turnovers, including two near the goal line.

Stanford can beat you through the air with QB Tanner McKee and also has a good running game. I’d be surprised if there weren’t a few new wrinkles in the offense that Stanford hasn’t shown in its first two games. That could give Washington trouble and allow Stanford to stay within the number.

Pick: Stanford +14