We are back for Week 4 of the college football season.
Can Michigan State (and Connor Cook) knock off Notre Dame (and Tommy Rees)?
In Week 3, I was 20-4 straight-up and 12-10 against-the-spread. My four straight-up losers were Nebraska (to UCLA), Penn State (to Central Florida), Texas (to Ole Miss) and Wisconsin (to Arizona State).
For the year, that makes me 66-15 straight-up and 40-37 against-the-spread.
In three weeks on Big Ten games, I am 31-5 straight-up and 18-14 against-the-spread.
I posted my pick on Thursday’s game between Clemson and N.C. State here. I picked Clemson, a 13-1/2 point favorite, win 41-20. The Tigers won 26-14, so I am 1-0 straight-up and 0-1 against-the-spread already this week.
There is only one match-up of ranked teams this week as No. 23 Arizona State visits No. 5 Stanford. But there are at least a few other interesting games to keep tabs on this week.
Here we go with our Week 4 Viewers Guide and Picks (all times Eastern Time):
* Boise State at Fresno State (-3 ½), 9 p.m. (ESPN) – Boise State is 11-4 all-time against Fresno State. All 11 of those wins have come in the 12 years since 2001. Boise has won seven straight in the series over Fresno. This could be a preview of the Mountain West title game. Boise bounced back from its season-opening thrashing at Washington with wins over Tennessee-Martin and Air Force. Fresno State downed Rutgers in overtime and Cal-Poly before last week’s game at Colorado was postponed due to flooding. This should be a good one. Boise State 36-30
* North Carolina at Georgia Tech (-6 ½), noon (ESPN) – Tech comes in at 2-0 with wins over Elon and Duke. The Yellow Jackets are third nationally in rushing yards (356.0 ypg), third in scoring (54.0 ppg) and first in points allowed (7.0 ppg). UNC rebounded from its opening loss to South Carolina by doubling up Middle Tennessee State 40-20 in Week 2. Tech has won four straight in the series, including a wild 68-50 win last year at Chapel Hill. Georgia Tech 31-20
* Western Michigan at Iowa (-16 ½), noon (Big Ten Network) – Western still looking for its first win under first-year coach P.J. Fleck. Iowa comes in at 2-1 after its 27-21 win over Iowa State. Here’s a stat: Western Michigan is 2-0 all-time against Iowa. The last win was in 2007 (28-19). Western has already lost to Michigan State (26-13) and Northwestern (38-17). I think Iowa gets its long-awaited first win over Western Michigan and it will be in churn-it-out, workmanlike fashion. Iowa 28-17
* San Jose State at Minnesota (-3 ½), noon (ESPN2) – Minnesota coach Jerry Kill suffered his fourth seizure during a game in 28 games as the Minnesota head coach during last week’s 29-12 win over Western Illinois. The Gophers will be gunning for a 4-0 for the second consecutive year. But they can’t sleep on the Spartans, who opened with a win over FCS Sacramento State before falling at powerful Stanford (34-13). Minnesota QB Philip Nelson is his team’s leading rusher and passer. He is iffy with a hamstring issue. Redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner had to finish last week's game. Minnesota in a good one 31-24
* Florida A&M at Ohio State (-50 ½), noon (Big Ten Network) – Urban Meyer says he expects QB Braxton Miller to play after missing last week’s game at Cal (52-34 OSU win). Backup Kenny Guiton did a bang-up job in that game for the Buckeyes, who welcome in 1-2 FAMU from the FCS ranks. Could get ugly early. Ohio State 66-10
* South Dakota State at Nebraska (-20 ½), 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network) – This has been the roughest week of Bo Pelini’s tenure as the Nebraska coach. His team blew a 21-3 lead in a 38-21 home loss to UCLA. Then somebody leaked 2-year-old audio where Pelini blasted the Nebraska fanbase as fair weather fans (among other things). The Nebraska defense has not improved one iota and Pelini probably needs a strong finish (say 8-1 or 9-0) to get people to forget his comments and hang on to his job. Here comes 3-0 South Dakota State from the FCS ranks. You’d say this should be an easy win. But nothing is coming easy for Pelini and his Huskers right now. It sounds like QB Taylor Martinez (turf toe) will sit this one out. QB Tommy Armstrong could start in his place. Nebraska 34-17
* Maine at Northwestern (-28), 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network) – Maine comes into Ryan Field at 3-0, including a win over FBS UMass (24-14). Northwestern has been impressive with wins over Cal, Syracuse and Western Michigan, but can’t ease off the gas pedal here against the Bears. Northwestern 41-20
* Kent State at Penn State (-20 ½), 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network) – Penn State must shrug off last week’s 34-31 home loss to Central Florida. The Nittany Lions were just never able to get control of that game, trailing by two touchdowns or more before a late rally. Kent opened with a win over FCS Liberty before losses to Bowling Green and at LSU (45-13) last week. Penn State is 3-0 all-time vs. Kent State with a 24-0 win in the most recent meeting in 2010. Penn State 38-15
* Purdue at Wisconsin (-24), 3:30 p.m. (ABC regional, ESPN2 outside region) – Respective coaches Darrell Hazell (Purdue) and Gary Andersen (Wisconsin) coach their first Big Ten game. Both are coming off painful losses. Purdue led Notre Dame all night before falling 31-24. Wisconsin was robbed at the end of last week’s loss at Arizona State (32-30) when a Pac-12 crew failed to spot the ball in a timely manner. None of this is good for Purdue. The last thing the Boilers needed was to go into Camp Randall against an unhappy Badgers team. Wisconsin leads the all-time series 43-29-8, including a 38-14 romp at Purdue last year. That was UW’s seventh straight win in the series. Can Purdue slow down the rushing attack of RBs James White and Melvin Gordon? Hmmm. Wisconsin 42-14
* Utah State at USC (-6 ½), 3:30 p.m. (ABC regional, ESPN2 outside region) – USC bounced back from its unthinkable home loss to Washington State (10-7) by blistering Boston College (35-7). Now comes Utah State, which lost its opener at Utah (30-26) before posting wins at Air Force and over FCS Weber State. I am going to assume that Lane Kiffin and the Trojans can keep the naysayers – as well as these Aggies – at bay for at least another week. USC 31-20
* Michigan State at Notre Dame (-6 ½), 3:30 p.m. (NBC) -- MSU goes on the road in search of its first 4-0 start since opening 8-0 in 2010. QB Connor Cook has unseated Andrew Maxwell and will make his first road start with the Spartans. The stingy MSU defense will be tested by Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees and the Fighting Irish, who are averaging a robust 326 passing yards per game. ND’s defense locked up MSU in a 20-3 win at East Lansing last year. The Irish have won three of the last four in the series and own a 47-28-1 edge all-time. Here’s a stat: Nine of the last 13 meetings between these schools have been decided by single digits. Here’s another: Four of the last eight have been decided by a field goal or less. I think we see another MSU-ND thriller. Notre Dame on a late field goal 23-20
* Arkansas at Rutgers (-1), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN) – A virtual toss-up as Bret Bielema takes the Razorbacks to New Jersey to face the Scarlet Knights. I think the Hogs’ running game (294.3 ypg) and tough defense (12.7 ppg allowed) swing it for Arkansas. Arkansas 27-20
* West Virginia vs. Maryland (-5), at Baltimore, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU) – WVU is 2-1 with wins over FCS William & Mary and Georgia State and a road loss at Oklahoma. Resurgent Maryland (3-0) can match last year's win total with a victory in this game at M&T Bank Stadium. WVU has won seven straight in its rivalry with neighbor Maryland, including a 31-21 win last year in Morgantown. Here’s a stat: Between his time at UConn and Maryland, Terps coach Randy Edsall is 1-8 against WVU. Ouch. Injuries in the Maryland secondary could tip this toward WVU. Conversely, Maryland’s C.J. Brown-Stefon Diggs combination will be tough to stop. Maryland 31-21
* Tennessee at Florida (-16 ½), 3:30 p.m. (CBS) – This used to be a great SEC East rivalry. But the Gators have taken command with an all-time edge of 23-19 after winning the last eight meetings in a row. That includes last year’s 37-20 romp in Knoxville. After a 2-0 start under new coach Butch Jones, UT crashed back to Earth with last week’s 59-14 loss at Oregon. Florida has been idle since a loss at Miami (Fla.) (21-16) two weeks ago. Since 2004, Florida is 54-8 at The Swamp. That includes four wins over Tennessee. Florida 27-17
* Delaware State at North Dakota State (no line), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3.com) – ESPN’s College Game Day goes into uncharted territory with this Saturday’s visit to Fargo, N.D. NDSU won the FCS national championship last season and opened the year with a 24-21 win at defending Big 12 champion Kansas State. North Dakota State 44-13
* Cincinnati (-23 ½) at Miami (Ohio), 4 p.m. (ESPN3.com) – These two schools, just 40 miles apart, play for the Victory Bell. The Miami-Cincinnati series (1888) ranks fifth among most-played rivalries in
FBS and is the second-oldest FBS rivalry, behind Michigan-Notre Dame (1887). UC opened strong by blasting Purdue 42-7 before losing at Illinois 45-17. The Bearcats have turned to Brendan Kay at quarterback with Munchie Legaux out for the year. Miami comes in at 0-2 after lopsided losses at Marshall (52-14) and Kentucky (41-7). Cincinnati 38-10
* Arizona State at Stanford (-7), 7 p.m. (FOX) -- Arizona State is sky high after its very fortuitous win over Wisconsin. Stanford will also try and pound the ground game against ASU. The Cardinal have eased into the season with win over San Jose State and at Army (34-20). A win would help Stanford legitimize itself as a top-five team and national championship contender. Here’s a stat: Stanford is 24-3 at home in the last five years. Stanford in a fun one 38-28
* Colorado State at Alabama (-39), 7 p.m. (ESPN2) – Alabama returns home after its huge 49-42 win at Texas A&M. CSU comes in at 1-2 after losses to Colorado and Tulsa and a win over FCS Cal Poly. CSU coach Jim McElwain was Alabama's offensive coordinator from 2008-11. Alabama 40-7
* SMU at Texas A&M (-28), 7 p.m. (ESPNU) – Texas A&M and QB Johnny Manziel will look to come back from last week’s painful loss to Alabama. The Aggies welcome in their former Southwest Conference rival in SMU. A&M leads the all-time series 43-29-7, including an 11-0-1 edge since 1985. A&M rolled 48-3 last year at SMU. SMU is 1-1 with a loss to Texas Tech and a win over FCS Montana State. Texas A&M 48-26
* Auburn at LSU (-17), 7:45 p.m. (ESPN) – This game matches up two of the nation’s 17 3-0 teams. Auburn, under Gus Malzahn (hey, I got it right this week), has already reached its win total from last year. The latest one was a 24-20 home thriller over Mississippi State. LSU’s best test was in the opener, a 37-27 win over TCU at Cowboys Stadium. LSU has risen to sixth in the polls, but Auburn could give LSU a tussle. I’m not sure Auburn has the firepower to hang with QB Zach Mettenberger and LSU. Put the game at Death Valley and at night. Hmmm. LSU leads the all-time series 26-20-1 and has won five of the last six games, including 12-10 last year at Auburn. LSU 28-19
* Michigan (-17 ½) at Connecticut, 8 p.m. (ABC regional) – Michigan pays off the back end of a home-and-home series with UConn with this visit to Storrs. UM took a 30-10 win over the Huskies in 2010 in Ann Arbor. Michigan had a Notre Dame hangover last week as it scraped by hapless Akron 28-24 with a late goal line stand. UConn limps in at 0-2. Michigan 38-17
* Kansas State at Texas (-6), 8 p.m. (ABC regional) -- Rumors are running rampant in Austin after back-to-back Texas losses to BYU (40-21) and Ole Miss (44-23). But Mack Brown still has time to circle the wagons if the Longhorns can make some kind of splash in the Big 12. Conference play starts with this visit from K-State, which has routed Louisiana-Lafayette and UMass after its opening loss to North Dakota State. The Wildcats took a 42-24 win in Manhattan last year. K-State leads the all-time series 8-5, including five straight wins. K-State has also won three of its last four trips to Texas. UT last loss three in a row in 2010, when the Longhorns lost four in a row on their way to a 5-7 finish. Texas 27-24
* Missouri (-2) at Indiana, 8 p.m. (Big Ten Network) – After Indiana’s 41-35 loss to Navy two weeks ago, the Hoosiers are almost in a must-win situation as they welcome in the Tigers. Mizzou has wins over Murray State and Toledo. This game matches two of the nation’s top 10 scoring offenses. He who has the ball last laughs the loudest. Indiana 45-42 in a wild one
* Utah at BYU (-7), 10:15 p.m. (ESPN2) – I started my research for this game by looking for these teams under the Mountain West standings. Then I realized neither of them are still in that league. I know, kind of funny. BYU is tested after losing at Virginia (19-16) and knocking off Texas two weeks ago. Utah, at 2-1, is licking its wounds after a 51-48 overtime loss at home to Oregon State. Utah leads the all-time series 53-31-4. Utah has won eight of the last 11, including the last three. Utah won 24-21 at home last year. BYU, second nationally in rushing (368.5 ypg), gets it done at home. BYU 31-21
247Sports.com is running a great promotion with free access to your favorite team site. Click here to find your favorite team’s site and take a free trial.