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College Football Week 4 Odds, Picks & Prediction: Central Michigan vs. Penn State (2022)

by September 23, 2022
College Football Week 9 Same Game Parlays Picks & Predictions: Ohio State vs. Penn State (Saturday)

Let’s take a look at the College Football Week 4 odds, picks, and predictions for this week’s game: Central Michigan vs. Penn State.

And check out our other College Football Week 4 game previews and best bets:

Check out Thor Nystrom’s Week 4 College Football Power Rankings >>

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College Football Week 4 Odds, Picks & Prediction: Central Michigan vs. Penn State

This a straightforward, matchup-based handicap.

Penn State is 3-0 despite ranking in the bottom-five of the country in PFF tackling and ranking lower than No. 85 in both defensive rushing success rate and opportunity rate. The defense is still hanging in at No. 9 SP+, primarily because PSU prevents explosive plays, tightens in the red zone and has benefited from 3.9 points of turnover luck per game, per SP+.

But what PSU is categorically incapable of doing is keeping opposing rushing games off schedule. CMU’s offense is built around pounding the rock with RB Lew Nichols on early downs. The 5-foot-11, 222-pound Nichols is not an explosive back. He’s a bowling ball who breaks tackles and doesn’t fumble.

In 451 touches since the start of last season, Nichols has fumbled only once. Over that span, 1,149 of his 2,122 rushing yards have come after contact – 54.1%. Expect Nichols to break a ton of tackles on Saturday.

Meanwhile, CMU ranks top-15 in PFF tackling and No. 25 in PFF run defense. So the Chips should succeed in incentivizing PSU to have more predictable offensive play-calling patterns, theoretically making the Nittany Lions easier to defend.

History also suggests this is a good spot for CMU to stay within the number. The Chips are 5-1 ATS as an underdog since the start of last season and 9-3 ATS as a double-digit underdog since the beginning of the 2018 season (dating to the season before HC Jim McElwain’s tenure began).

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College Football, Game Previews, Picks