College Football fans have plenty to be excited about these days. This weekend marks the return of SEC football. In a month’s time, the Big Ten will begin its 2020 season. Just this week, the Pac-12 announced plans to begin their season in early November. Even the Mid-American Conference is devising a plan to get in on the action this season. Of course, more football means more opportunities for bettors to lock in College Football picks.
This weekly column is 4-2 on the season with the College Football picks it has included thus far. The slate is packed with intriguing games this week and narrowing my selections down to just three for this piece was actually quite tough. With the SEC making its return, it was only fitting to include my favorite bet of the week in the conference. The other two picks this week come from a pair of non-conference matchups that each feature an FBS Independent. Without further ado, let’s hit some Week 4 College Football winners!
All odds courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook
Week 4 College Football Picks
Mississippi State (+17) at (6) LSU
It will be an uphill battle from the start for Mike Leach as he begins his tenure as the head coach in Starkville with a road trip to take on the defending national champs. While still talented, this is a very different LSU team than the one that was perfect a year ago. Even if new quarterback Myles Brennan picks up close to where Joe Burrow left off, the Tigers have an almost entirely new set of defensive starters. Laying 17 points could be a lot to ask in the opener.
Mississippi State returns a wealth of experience on the defensive side of the ball. While LSU’s offense should once again put up points, it may not all come together in the very first game, especially when you take into account the weird offseason. On offense, Stanford transfer K.J. Costello will likely get the first crack at running Leach’s Air Raid in the SEC. With so much turnover for LSU defensively, the Bulldogs should be able to gain yards and score points.
The key for Mississippi State is to start the game strong. If the Bulldogs can gain the upper hand early against a new crop of LSU starters, they will be in a great position to cover the spread. The Bulldogs will need to put together a few drives and keep their defense off the field as much as possible in the early going. And while I fully expect the LSU offense to get it going eventually, there’s a real chance it could spend the early part of the game spinning its wheels. I’m not saying they’ll win this thing outright, but I like Miss State to stay within 17.
(22) Army (+13) at (14) Cincinnati
Two undefeated, ranked teams are set to do battle when Army takes on Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon at the historic Nippert Stadium. While I admit that Army being ranked is certainly a consequence of the whacky College Football landscape, the Black Knights aren’t getting much respect as 13.5-point dogs this week.
Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe might’ve been inferior opponents, but Army dismantled both with ease. The difficulty of planning against Army’s patented triple option attack cannot be understated. If the Knights can stay ahead of the chains, they should be able to eat clock and keep the ball away from the Bearcats’ offense. What’s more, Army’s defense has been a pleasant surprise in the first two games despite losing their leaders in tackles, sacks, and interceptions from a season ago.
Senior quarterback Christian Anderson has been unstoppable in the Black Knights’ first two games. Even if the Bearcats are able to contain him to a certain extent, I think the Army offense will be able to score with Cincinnati throughout. Army has been one of the sharper College Football picks throughout the week, with the line moving down from 14 as a result. In this case, the line movement just reinforces for me that Army is the correct pick.
FIU at Liberty (-7.5)
Hugh Freeze and his Liberty Flames got their season off to a great start last week, not only covering the spread against Conference USA power Western Kentucky but winning outright. The Flames will make their home debut this Saturday when they host another C-USA opponent in FIU who will be playing their first game of the season.
There was skepticism surrounding he QB position for Liberty coming into the season, but Auburn transfer Malik Willis exceeded expectations in the opener. He was a modest 13 of 21 passing, but his 168 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns stole the show. Willis’ skillset fits right into the run-pass option offensive sets that Freeze orchestrated throughout his time at Ole Miss. It’s not an easy thing to game plan for either, especially when you’re set to play your first game of the season as Butch Davis’ Panthers are.
In addition to the growing pains that typically come with the first true game of the season, FIU has been dealing with positive COVID cases. The Panthers are also forced to fill the quarterback and various defensive positions that were vacated by NFL draftees. While Davis has coached FIU to three consecutive bowl games, all three pf those teams began their respective seasons with a loss. With home field advantage and a game already under their belt, I like the Flames to roll.