CFB Week 4 best bets: The 'Saturday Seven'
After a hot start last Saturday, the tables turned as Western Michigan and UTSA failed to hang with a third-string passer and a backup quarterback, respectively. A 3-4 week for our seven valuable underdogs puts us at 22-17-1 against the spread overall this season for a very respectable 56.4% winning percentage.
South Florida showed some moxie in the Swamp last week. Hopefully, the Bulls have some of that leftover for Louisville. Malik Cunningham might be a scary fade, but Louisville is 1-2. The Bulls got gashed on the ground at Florida, though not by Anthony Richardson.
Offensively, South Florida now seems to have a plan. After rushing just six times through the first two games, passer Gerry Bohanon recorded 15 carries for 102 yards versus the Gators. That effort complemented Brian Battie, who's posted back-to-back 100-plus-yard rushing games after receiving just three carries in the Bulls' opening-week disaster with BYU. This matchup is more even than the spread indicates.
Pick: South Florida +14.5
Although Cincinnati's non-conference win against Indiana last year was a big reason why the Bearcats made the College Football Playoff, the 14-point margin was wildly misleading. The Hoosiers outgained Cincinnati 376-328, had a fourth-quarter lead, and fumbled at the 1-yard line late in the game.
The Bearcats have lost stars to the NFL since then, and I'm not impressed by dominant wins over Kennesaw State and a Miami (OH) team without a functional quarterback. This is too many points against Big Ten talent and a coach in Tom Allen who's shown a propensity for thriving as an underdog.
Pick: Indiana +17
While Texas covered at home against Frank Harris and UTSA thanks in part to a deflected pick-6, the Longhorns didn't show enough for me to not worry about their first road game this season.
As expected, Texas Tech struggled at North Carolina State last week. However, back home in Lubbock - where weird things happen - the Red Raiders have a chance to pull off the upset. They have three different options at quarterback, which is just as hard for us to handicap as it is for Texas to prepare for.
Pick: Texas Tech +7
We took two weeks off from backing our cult hero, Jayden de Laura, but Arizona reinvigorated my opinion that the team is much improved this season by pulling off the upset over FCS powerhouse North Dakota State.
California almost knocked off Notre Dame last week, but is that impressive at this point? If anything, it might be cause for a letdown as the Golden Bears return home after playing in the shadow of "Touchdown Jesus." The Wildcats have more offensive weapons and a better quarterback than California, so we'll take the field goal in a tepid road environment.
Pick: Arizona +3
The Houston hype was ample this offseason before the Cougars suffered two early losses, including last week when Kansas rolled right over them. The defense is tired and the offense is just good instead of great.
On the surface, Rice got smoked in its one step up in weight class this season against USC. But the Trojans blew that game wide-open with three pick-6s, and they possess a great offense. The Owls can catch the Cougars licking their wounds before American Conference play starts next week.
Pick: Rice +17.5
It might be helpful for Charlotte to have its veteran quarterback. The two games the 49ers played without Chris Reynolds weren't pretty, which made them 21-point underdogs to Georgia State. Then Reynolds made a surprising return to throw for 400 yards and five touchdowns in an upset win.
Spencer Rattler is a veteran quarterback, but he hasn't been all that helpful as South Carolina has struggled offensively. The Gamecocks should have an easier time against a porous 49ers defense, but Reynolds can do enough to keep this game inside of three touchdowns.
Pick: Charlotte +22.5
Florida State will likely move to 4-0 heading into a gauntlet of ranked ACC teams, but Boston College bettors have the Seminoles right where they want them with an inflated 17.5-point line. Phil Jurkovec is good enough to keep this one close in the same way LSU and Louisville were able to against Florida State.
Pick: Boston College +17.5
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.