There are many things that do not feel right in 2020, and the start of this college football season still does not feel right to many people. In the first week, instead of the usual “Pac-12 after dark” game, we got Coastal Carolina vs. Kansas. One of the primetime ABC games was Clemson-Wake Forest. As much as I respect the Demon Deacons, these are not the kind of games that capture the nation. However, the SEC is scheduled to start conference games this week, so hopefully, some of their heavyweight matchups will make the college football season have more of a sense of normalcy.
Regardless of the matchups, college football season is one where people look for an edge over the oddsmakers to make some money. That is exactly what we aim to do with my top-four plays from Week 4 in college football.
Best Bets for Week 4: College Football
(odds courtesy of FanDuel)
Last Week: 2-2
Florida at Ole Miss (O/U 56.5)
New Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin was always going to find it tough sledding in the SEC. However, I am sure he would have preferred a little bit more of an ease into his new job instead of a visit from the No. 5 ranked team in the country.
Kiffin has always been known as an offensive guy, as evident by his hiring as offensive coordinator by two of college football’s most prestigious programs in USC and Alabama. He did a tremendous job at FAU, leading the Owls to a couple of their only winning seasons in their short history as a Division 1 team. Last year, the Owls won 10 games and a second C-USA championship behind an offense that ranked 12th in the country with 36.0 PPG.
In the Dan Mullen era, the Florida Gators have been known more for their defense. However, the Gators return just six starters on that side of the ball and can be exploited early in the season before they start to gel. Returning quarterback Kyle Trask ranked 3rd in the SEC in completions and second in the SEC in passing efficiency rating last year. Now that Joe Burrow is no longer at LSU, he is many people’s pick to be First-Team All SEC. Thus, between Kiffin’s penchant for high-scoring offense and the experience of Trask, look for a lot of points to be scored in this one.
PICK: Over 56.5
Georgia Tech at Syracuse (Over/Under 52.5)
If you have watched the Syracuse Orange this year, I ask you to provide me with a logical explanation of how you can confidently bet the over in one of their games. To put it in perspective, through two games Syracuse has scored 16 points and allowed 14 sacks. Perhaps their first two opponents (#18 UNC, #25 Pittsburgh) slept walked their way through easy victories against Syracuse and an unranked Georgia Tech team cannot afford such a luxury. I just do not see a way Syracuse scores enough or allows enough points for this game to reach 52.5 points.
The Yellow Jackets allowed 49 points to UCF last week, but that is completely understandable given how efficient UCF’s offense is and how quickly of a pace they play at. Just the week prior, Georgia Tech beat Florida State in a 16-13 snooze fest which is much more of how I envision this game playing out. If the over is going to hit it is because Georgia Tech will do the majority of the scoring. However, the Yellow Jackets are still finding their footing with transitioning out of the triple-option offense, and Syracuse’s defense has played surprisingly well given that they have gotten no help from their offense through the first two weeks.
PICK: Under 52.5
Duke +5 at Virginia
This is the third week in a row the Duke Blue Devils have been involved in this article, and we are on their side again. Though the game is in Virginia, Duke has the clear advantage over the Cavaliers with having two games under their belt, while the Cavaliers have not played any due to COVID-19 complications. The Blue Devils looked impressive in hanging tough in South Bend against a talented Notre Dame team who broke out against USF last week. While Duke’s 26-6 home loss to Boston College as six-point favorites will be considered a huge disappointment, there is reason to believe that loss was not so bad.
First off, there was hardly any game tape of Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec after his limited playing time while at Notre Dame. Thus, Duke was clearly caught off guard by his physicality and his arm strength, and never fully got adjusted. In addition, Duke had a tremendous amount of miscues as Brad Powers’ tweet points out.
Boston College deserved to win, but not by 20 points.
Here are some of Duke's miscues:
Intercepted at BC 27-yard line.
Fumbled at the BC 4-yard line.
Fumbled at their own 12-yard line.
Missed a 35-yard FG.
Fumbled at BC 4-yard line.
Intercepted at BC 33-yard line.
— Brad Powers (@BradPowers7) September 21, 2020
If one or two more bounces go Duke’s way, we could have been looking at an entirely different ball game. However, I will gladly take the team who has had two chances to kick the rust off getting points against a team that has not seen live game action yet.
PICK: Duke +5
Alabama -27.5 at Missouri
There is no question that Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the best in the business right now. Therefore, when you give him a prolonged amount of time to prepare for a game (like a whole offseason), there are usually some positive results. Alabama is 13-0 SU and 12-1 ATS in their season-opening games under Saban. And before you start wondering whether or not they have played only cupcakes, they have actually faced six top-20 teams and four top-10 teams in that span.
During the offseason, this spread could have been had for much less at -21 or so. Therefore, it is fair to wonder if the value on Alabama is gone. However, teams that saw their point spread move five or more points last week went 3-1 ATS. Therefore, I look for Saban’s bunch to be chomping at the bit and for them to carry on the Saban tradition of rolling in their opening game.
PICK: Alabama -27.5
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