College Football Week 4 Picks: Thursday, Friday And Saturday Bets

Written By Brett Gibbons on September 23, 2022
College Football Week 4 Picks

Don’t look now, but we’re already a quarter of the way through with the college football season. Finally, we’re getting some reliable data to justify bets and fairly judge teams. This slate is something I’ve been excited about since Sunday. Below, I’ve whittled down a juicy board to my four favorite college football Week 4 picks and best bets.

Spoiler alert: I’m back on the under train after a pair of cashes last weekend. Stay with us all season long for college football odds and game previews.

College Football Week 4 Picks, Best Bets

To place a bet on any of the games below, click on their odds in the tables.

West Virginia at Virginia Tech

My favorite way to identify under bets is when one team is inept on offense while also having a good enough defense to get in the way of the opposing team. A terrific look at that is in Thursday night’s West Virginia at Virginia Tech game. This total’s been on the move down from opening and anything above 50 feels like a great bet.

The Hokies are 88th in EPA per play on offense and 89th in points per drive. That’s in spite of playing the 117th-ranked schedule per FPI. Most recently, Virginia Tech beat FCS Wofford 27-7 in another inept offensive showing. This is a team that shoots themselves in the foot with turnovers, punctuated by QB Grant Wells‘ four interceptions in three games.

Defensively, Virginia Tech should be good enough to slow JT Daniels and West Virginia, even if it’s slightly. The Mountaineers have put up points this season on Pitt and Kansas, but goofy turnover luck inflated those games’ totals. WVU is 128th in turnover luck this season.

Neither offense inspires me enough to believe there’s going to be very many points scored in this game.

Brett’s bet: Under 52.5 points (-110), placed Sept. 20 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Best available number: Under ()

Virginia at Syracuse

In the same vein as the previous bet, I’m targeting inept offenses. They don’t get much less capable than Virginia has been this season. Despite rostering Brennan Armstrong– the leading passer in the ACC and fourth in the nation with over 4,000 yards in 2021– Virginia is 121st in dropback EPA. They’ve scored a total 19 points in games against FBS opponents this season (Old Dominion, Illinois). Most notably, they scored a TD on 14.3% of red zone opportunities and just 25% of goal-to-go drives last week against ODU.

Worse than the play calling and utilization of a QB as talented as Armstrong is their offensive line. They’ve given up an 8.75% sack rate on the season, in the bottom 20 in the country.

Syracuse, though their advanced metrics appear to pin them as a porous defense, held Louisville’s Malik Cunningham to peanuts in Week 1. The Orange held him to a -0.06 EPA on the ground compared to a 0.620 EPA in the other two contests. Syracuse also held Purdue to a 3.8% explosive passing rate while in zone coverage last week.

Syracuse’s defense is reliable and should be more than capable of holding one of the league’s worst offenses under three scores. (And, it just so happens, more than their combined points on the season against FBS competition!)

Brett’s bet: Virginia U21.5 team total points (-115), placed Sept. 19 at BetRivers

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Wisconsin at Ohio State

It’s an under-fest in this edition of picks and best bets. This matchup fits the equation laid out in the WVU/Virginia Tech under– a team with a struggling offense and a capable defense. Wisconsin’s offense has a real root problem. Removing neck-crack games against Illinois State (FCS) and New Mexico State (130th in SP+), the Badgers were held to a 36% success rate and 12% explosive play rate against Washington State. Meandering runs between the tackles on early downs resulted in 5.4 yards per play.

Through the air, it’s even worse. Graham Mertz appears to be little more than a self-aware jugs machine, resulting in the 130th-ranked passing attack in EPA. To keep up with the Buckeyes, Wisconsin may have to turn to Mertz in desperation.

But Wisconsin’s defense is extremely capable; they’re top-10 in EPA per play and sixth in defense SP+. Ohio State has the country’s most dangerous team in multiple ways, but did struggle to move the football against Notre Dame when rhythm was thrown off.

57.5 points implies roughly a 37.8-19.8 finish. Color me skeptical to say I’m not sure either team hits their implied total.

Brett’s bet: Under 57.5 points (-110), placed Sept. 21 at BetMGM
Best available number: Under ()

Minnesota at Michigan State

I believe this is a gross reaction to Michigan State’s loss to Washington last week.

The Spartans fell from 11th in the country to unranked despite always having been an underdog in that Week 2 loss. A big factor into that loss was consistently awful field position and a conservative game plan on defense to not blitz Michael Penix Jr.– a QB Michigan State is familiar with. Otherwise, they didn’t have a single three-and-out and were perfect in the red zone. Conversely, they held Washington to a 26% red zone success rate.

Minnesota walks in with one of the league’s best backs, Mo Ibrahim. They’ve been a potent offense this season (fourth in EPA per play), but it’s come against the second-easiest schedule in the country per FPI. Michigan State held Washington to just 2.9 yards per carry in Week 2.

It’s hard not to back under a field goal home underdog here. You can get them at a good price on the moneyline in relation to their point spread, so I’m buying Michigan State low off a loss.

Brett’s bet: Michigan State ML +126, placed Sept. 21 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Best available number: Michigan State

Follow TheLines on Twitter for all college football odds and analysis, and best of luck with your college football Week 4 picks.

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Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

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