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The best bets for Week 4 of college football, including Notre Dame

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The early betting lines often allow for the most value.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

All wagers at -110 odds and for 1 unit unless otherwise noted. My picks are in bold, with that team’s spread attached. All odds listed below are current as of date picks were made. Visit Odds Shark for updated lines throughout each game week.

Season record: 21-21 (50%) (-$195)

Last week I went 7-7-1 (-$70).

Because I make these wagers throughout the week, I order them by when they were made.

Picks made Thursday, September 20

  • Western Kentucky +3 (-105) at Ball State: Western Kentucky is one of the most unlucky teams in the nation so far according to Bill Connelly’s S&P+ stat profiles, at 1.4 wins below Pythagorean projection.
  • Arkansas +30.5 at Auburn: You have to be willing to take either side in a game once it reaches a certain number. 30.5 points for me is that number in this game. I think Auburn is very good, and it probably should have won last week. But 30.5 is too much.
  • Rice at Southern Miss -14: I waited to see if this line would dip below 14. It hasn’t but I still like it, and I like it even more with SM QB Kwadra Griggs being listed as probable.
  • Virginia Tech at Old Dominion +28: I have been waiting all week for this to creep back up to 28 after missing the window on Sunday. Old Dominion is one of only four teams to be a full win short of its Pythagorean record (the others are Purdue, Nebraska, Western Kentucky, and Memphis).
  • Eastern Michigan at San Diego State Under 50.5: Eastern Michigan’s defense is not bad. Its offense, however, is rather shaky. And this could be a letdown spot for the Aztecs.

Reads and misreads: There are some games on which I waited and instead should have fired immediately (like Minnesota and UNLV), and games on which I should have waited (like Tulane, which I got at +35 and is now +37). But all in all, 12 of the 14 wagers so far this week to have moved at least a full point have done so in my favor. Beating the closing line over time usually means beating the book.

Still waiting: If A&M gets to +28 at Alabama I’ll be taking it because it is simply too much value to pass up. I’d also really like to play Utah State under 10.

Picks made Monday, September 17

I often tell readers that the best bets can be found in the opening lines on Sunday afternoons. Lines tend to be sharper after they’ve been bet all week. Most of my plays are made early in the week. Note that some of the lines below have since changed.

Of course, if you’re trying to bet thousands of dollars on each game, the low limits (typically $250-500 max bets per game) early in the week can be a hindrance, but I’m figuring most of my readership is playing $100 per game or less.

  • Kent State at Ole Miss Over 74.5: Kent State’s offense is improved and playing with increased tempo. Ole Miss should bounce back from the beating it took at the hands of Alabama.
  • Arizona State at Washington Under 50: Herm Edwards teams are under magnets despite ASU being 2-1 on the over this year, and Washington’s offense is not as strong as its defense.
  • NC State at Marshall Over 54.5: I trust Ryan Finley to lead N.C. State to five touchdowns, and Marshall should be able to put up 20.
  • Boston College at Purdue Under 64: Boston College has an improved offense. And the Eagles did struggle a bit against Wake Forest’s offense. But I look for BC to try to slow this game down as much as possible.

Picks made Sunday, September 16

  • Penn State at Illinois +27.5: Penn State has a look-ahead to Ohio State, and I am surprised this is over 24.
  • Akron +18.5 at Iowa State: Iowa State has a look-ahead game next week to TCU, and this is a sandwich spot coming off the game against Oklahoma.
  • Boston College at Purdue +9: Purdue might be the best 0-3 team in the nation.
  • FIU +28 at Miami: Miami has a short week with a conference Thursday night game next week against North Carolina. FIU will be very motivated.
  • NIU +12 at Florida State: This line should not be double digits with FSU’s offensive line troubles. I made the number FSU by eight.
  • Ohio at Cincinnati -6.5: The Bearcats play decent defense and will pound the football on the ground. I figured this line would be 10.
  • Tulane +35 at Ohio State: Ohio State had some injured defensive linemen against TCU and cannot be looking forward to playing Tulane’s option attack with the Penn State game on deck.
  • Notre Dame -6.5 at Wake Forest: Wake Forest QB Kendall Hinton returns from suspension, but he probably won’t start, and I trust Notre Dame’s defense enough to get stops and short fields.
  • Louisville at Virginia -3: Virginia is competent. Louisville has not recovered from the loss of Lamar Jackson.
  • Western Michigan -7 at Georgia State: I am surprised this number is not double digits.
  • Miami (OH) -6 at Bowling Green: This is another one at which I was surprised the spread is not double digits.
  • Arizona at Oregon State +6.5: Oregon State can run the football. Can Arizona throw well enough to take advantage of a poor Oregon State secondary?
  • Buffalo -4 at Rutgers: Buffalo is simply the better team and Rutgers does not have much home-field advantage.
  • Florida at Tennessee +6: Florida’s run defense has been really bad. Should the Gators really be laying points in a conference road game?
  • South Carolina at Vanderbilt +3: I have Vanderbilt rated about equal with the Gamecocks and will gladly accept these points at home.
  • Kansas State at West Virginia -14.5: Kansas State is not the typical Kansas State this year. The QB issues will cause KSU to struggle to keep up with WVU.
  • Troy at Louisiana Monroe +6.5: I can’t figure why this is over a field goal, other than public reaction to Troy winning at Nebraska. Louisiana Monroe’s score against Texas A&M was inflated by special teams.
  • South Alabama at Memphis -27.5: Memphis’ ability to score is just way too much now. I am expecting the Tigers to drop 50+ at home against most conference opponents. Brady White is a legit QB and RB Darrell Henderson will be an NFL player.

Ongoing Futures/Props

I made 26 futures or prop bets which I published between May and August. My current record on these is 1-1, with a profit of $-10. That is reflected in the total above. My reasoning for making them can be found at the link.

Wins

BC +1.5 at Wake Forest (GOY futures line)

Losses

Alabama at Ole Miss +22 (GOY futures line)

Undecided

  • Washington national championship (+2400)
  • Washington Over 8.5 wins (-200)
  • Michigan State Over 7.5 wins (-155)
  • Stanford Under 9.5 wins (-170)
  • Tennessee Under 6.5 wins (-160)
  • Virginia Over 5 wins (-110)
  • Boston College Over 5.5 wins (-110)
  • Oregon Over 8.5 (-120)
  • Northwestern Under 6 (+100)
  • Florida State Over 7.5 wins (-110)
  • UCLA Under 5.5 wins (-115)
  • Washington State Under 6.5 wins (-110)
  • Pittsburgh Under 5.5 wins (+100)
  • Virginia Tech Under 8.5 wins (-110)
  • Florida at Mississippi State -3 (Game of year futures line)
  • Wisconsin at Michigan -3 (Game of year futures line)
  • N.C. State +19.5 at Clemson (Game of year futures line)
  • USC to win the Pac-12 (+485)
  • NC State to win ACC (+6000)
  • Georgia Tech to win ACC (+6000)
  • Clemson to make the Playoff (-130)
  • Alabama to not make the Playoff (+280)
  • Oklahoma to make the Playoff (+425)
  • Notre Dame to make the Playoff (+600)

Correction: I incorrectly entered a loss as a win on Sunday, and my record has been updated at the top of this post as of Monday morning. Apologies.