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Staff Picks - College Football Week 4

Hey, we finally got a huge weekend of impact games!

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Whoa! Week three’s in the rearview mirror, and Auburn is 3-0 with a huge showdown at Texas A&M Saturday afternoon. HOWEVER, there’s a ton of other good college football including a top ten showdown in Athens. How do we think these games are going to turn out? Let’s see...

Michigan @ Wisconsin (-3) (O/U 43.5)

I can’t quite figure out Wisconsin. Consecutive shutouts are good, but that offense? Ugh. Then again, Michigan has had their own struggles this season. I really thought Army would pull off the upset. Wisconsin 24, Michigan 17 - Josh Dub

I saw Wisconsin buzzsaw through USF in the opener while the only Michigan game I’ve seen was them nearly losing at home to Army. In addition to the game being in Madison, I’m gonna take the Badgers to win and cover. Wisconsin 27 Michigan 14 - Will McLaughlin

This is a fascinating matchup. I know we all got a kick out of laughing at Michigan going into OT to beat Army but you have to remember Oklahoma did the same thing last season and went on to win the Big 12 & land a bid to the College Football Playoff. Granted, Oklahoma absolutely shredded Army’s defense when they got the ball but could not for the life of them get a stop and were forced into having only 8 possession all game scoring touchdowns on half of them. A little different than Michigan’s performance.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, has been dominant out the gate. All the fancy maths LOVE them some angry Badgers right now with Wisconsin ranked 7th by SP+, 10th by FPI and 10th by Sagarin. The Badgers, unsurprisingly, feature another dominant rushing attack lead by Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor. With this game also in Madison, you REALLY have to like the Badgers chances.

But this might be the most important game in the Jim Harbaugh era. While Michigan has not been bad under their former QB, they haven’t been championship calibre which was the expectation when hiring Harbaugh. They still can’t beat Ohio State and are something like 1-14 vs top 10 opponents. If the switch is to flip, it feels like maybe this is the weekend for it to happen.... Nah... Go Badgers. Wisconsin 31 Michigan 20 - AU Nerd

Talk about a one sided rivalry. Blue leads this series 51-15-1. This time should be one of the ones that goes to the Badger-Badger-Badger-Badgers. Shea Patterson really hasn’t panned out like the fans and Jim Harbaugh would like and I don’t see any reason how he figures things out in Camp Randall. Take the Badger and go with the over. Sconny 31-17 - Drew Mac

Man, can you imagine thinking Wisconsin was going to be favored in this game in the preseason? Wisconsin has been downright dominating through three games, winning their two games 110-0 so far. Michigan has been one of the best defenses in the country so far, but their offense behind Shea Patterson has been real bad. Like 74th in SP+ bad. My head says Michigan will pull this one out, but my heart says go with the Badgers to make Michigan an early favorite to finish #3 in the Big 10 East. Badgers it is, 20-7. - Ryan Sterritt

Wisconsin can run the ball and Michigan has identity issues with their offense and a madman for a head coach. These are the kinds of games we forget when we see Wisconsin in the B1G Championship game at the end of the season. Wisconsin 35 Michigan 17 - Josh Black

Oh yay, an early morning B1G snoozefest. I’m not going to dwell here too long. Cheese 27 - Khakis 17 - AU Chief

Something something real men something leadership something prestige. Sconny 30 Michigan 10 - Son of Crow

Wisconsin is about one standard deviation ahead of Standard Wisconsin so far, but that hasn’t been against anyone with a pulse. Michigan really hasn’t cut loose yet, but they’ve had a week to plan. I think this one stays close, and both teams lean on their defenses. I’ll take Wisconsin to cover, but not by much. Wisconsin 19, Michigan 14. (Wisconsin wins and covers, UNDER) - James Jones

‘Scuse me while I go spend a few hours in the library reorganizing the card catalog. Michigan’s the miserly old librarian shushing people, and Wisconsin’s the high school sophomore who thinks he’s cool because he brought McDonald’s with him to work on his school paper. Badgers cover easily, 31-10 - Jack Condon

Tennessee @ Florida (-14) (O/U 49)

Tennessee isn’t dead yet. I think they’re just good enough to test Florida and put some things on film for Auburn to use. Dan Mullen will survive…this week. Florida 28, Tennessee 20 - Josh Dub

This game always produces some weird games even though most end up in Florida wins. Florida moves on without Feleipe Franks at QB and we’ll see who emerges at that position for the Gators. I would love for Tennessee to make this a game but I just don’t see it. Florida 27 Tennessee 10 - Will McLaughlin

Florida won in the most predictable of fashion vs Kentucky last weekend after being predictably outplayed for a good portion of that game. That series is just the same tragedy played out over and over made even more harmful by UK winning last year. Now Kat fans truly believe those games will go their way. You poor, said, obnoxious Elite 8 losers....

Anyway... I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s what I ate last night or my nerves for Auburn’s game this Saturday but there’s just this feeling that maybe Tennessee pulls the stunner. I mean it would be a very Dan Mullen thing to lose this game. But given the Gators disruptive OL, an offense that honestly looked better with Trask at QB and the general suckiness of the Vols, I don’t have the stones to pull the trigger. I do think Tennessee covers which they can kinda take as a win I guess? Florida 38 Tennessee 27 - AU Nerd

NOON KICK! Ugh! I love the people that say ‘Remember when this was a real matchup?’ No...I remember Spurrier beating Phil and Peyton around like rented mules but no...I don’t remember this being a matchup. Which brings us to this year! Florida has their backup QB who is better than Felipe Franks (sad that he got injured, but Trask is a better QB for this offense) and that doesn’t bode well for Tennessee. However, the Vols are better than their first week showing that 14 is a big number so I will take the Gators to win but will take the Vols and 14. Also, go under. Gatas 23-14 - Drew Mac

The trap has been set perfectly for this upset. Tennessee is in shambles, but maybe has a ray of hope after beating down an average FCS team. Florida, after stealing a come from behind win with their backup quarterback, is on the highest of highs right now. If only the Vols didn’t have Jeremy Pruitt, I might pick them in an upset here, but I can’t trust him to pull this one off. Florida is going to probably be down or tied at half time, but Gators win this with a few late scores 31-14. - Ryan Sterritt

Y’all are going to think I’m crazy but Tennessee didn’t just win last weekend, but showed that they’re still willing to get after it. Pruitt still has this team engaged and this is a game that could completely change the current narrative in Knoxville and I am so tempted to pick Tennessee. Florida’s front 7 on defense is why I’m not. Florida 27 Tennessee 13 - Josh Black

Hey, Tennessee finally go them one against he Mighty Moc’s of Chattanooga. Florida nearly blew it against Big Blue. They are apparently planning on running out both back-up QBs this week. That smells like a disaster, but who knows. Both these coaches can take a long walk off a short pier as far as I’m concerned but I guess I’ll go with the Hunchback of formerly of Starkville. Jorts 33 - People That Only Know One Song 17 - AU Chief

Hey I think Florida is gonna lose you guys. I mean, I don’t really, but I need to start picking against the grain because otherwise I’m not going to win. Tenn 21 Florida 20 - Son of Crow

SP+ does not know Franks is out and likes the Gators by 19. Do we really think Franks to Trask/Jones is a 5 point drop? I don’t. I also don’t think Tennessee figured anything out enough to go on the road and keep this one within two scores. Florida 34, Tennessee 17. (Florida wins and covers, OVER) - James Jones

Here’s Cam Newton clowning Tennessee while in a different shade of orange and blue. Glad we got him in the end. Vols are about to be 1-6. A new losing streak starts here. Gators 34-13 - Jack Condon

Notre Dame @ Georgia (-13.5) (O/U 56.5)

I am looking forward to this. Georgia is my least favorite team, by a very wide margin, but Notre Dame is my third or fourth least favorite team. I think Notre Dame will get exposed. This one will be over before halftime. Unfortunately, CBS threw all their eggs in one basket. Now we get to listen to Gary and Brad filibuster. Georgia 42, Notre Dame 14 - Josh Dub

Okay, this is where I know for darn sure I’m going out on an island. Look, Georgia is great but they have played Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State. No offense to those teams, Notre Dame is a much better football team than those 3 teams. While Georgia’s run game seems to be a huge advantage in this one, I just have a gut feeling that Notre Dame is going to rise to the occasion. Give me the Irish in a huge upset! Notre Dame 37 Georgia 34 - Will McLaughlin

Preseason I had this down as a loss. I just thought with the pieces needed to be replaced at WR, some question marks surrounding the Dawgs pass rush and UGA’s general ability to piss away golden opportunities that maybe the Fighting Irish would roll into town and pull the stunner.

But there’s one hitch in that plan. Notre Dame can’t stop the run...

Per Cole Cubelic the Irish have allowed 19 run plays of 10+ yards or more. They are one of 13 teams to do so. Those other 12 have played 3 games. ND has played 2...

You can beat the Dawgs if you can stop the rushing attack and pressure the QB. Not sure ND has those pieces. I think this turns into a romp with Kirby having circled this as his showcase game all summer. The Dawgs are bringing an enormous amount of elite prospects to campus, college gameday is in town and it’s UGA’s first opponent with a heartbeat. I expect a bludgeoning leading to more UGA hype and more 5* commits. Life is pain. UGA 42 ND 20 - AU Nerd

FINALLY! Georgia gets someone with a shot at actually scoring double digit points. The Irish have looked dominant in their 3 wins just as Georgia has, however the bookies don’t think this one will be close...and I agree sadly. Nothing would make me happier than seeing Georgia get run at home (especially if they put on those blood clot black jerseys) but it wont happen here. I think of ND as the Not Ready for Primetime Players of the college football world. Georgia proves me right because they hate me. Georgia and the Over. DAAAAWGS 45-20 - Drew Mac

I’ve never rooted harder for the Irish, including last year when UGA went to South Bend. After all of the shit they’ve talked in the last calendar year, Georgia deserves to get it handed to them at home, with Gameday in tow. They won’t, though. UGA is going to gash these poor Catholics on the ground, and even if the score is close, the game won’t be in doubt. 31-21 Georgia. Ugh. - Ryan Sterritt

Look y’all no one likes Notre Dame. But would I be willing to break out my old football jersey and helmet from playing days for the Briarwood Lions (look just like Notre Dame) for the sake of celebrating a Georgia loss at home? YOU BET I WOULD! Sadly this Georgia team is going to run through Notre Dame the same way Clemson did last season. Georgia 41 Notre Dame 17 - Josh Black

It’s hilarious to me that people are playing up this game like Notre Dame has a chance to win. Give me a break. Grown Men Barking 37 - Team That Won Their Last Title Less Than Thirty-nine Years Ago 24 - AU Chief

Guys I think Georgia might destroy this Notre dame team. I am shocked this line is so low. Maybe Vegas knows more than me, but maybe also Georgia just blows them out and you win money. Dwags 55 irish 4 - Son of Crow

Lol we get this at 13.5? It’s currently shooting up near 16 or 17. Fuck Georgia, but they’ll blast the Irish. Georgia 38, Notre Dame 16. (Georgia wins and covers, UNDER) - James Jones

Sadly, leprechauns aren’t real, and I think Georgia’s got their magic flute and armor to ward off spells. Bulldogs 45-23 - Jack Condon

Oklahoma State @ Texas (-5) (O/U 74)

Texas ain’t back, still. They’ll win, but they ain’t back. Texas 41, Oklahoma State 35 - Josh Dub

Well we learned 2 weeks ago that Texas wasn’t quite back yet. The Cowboys have won 4 straight in this series. Make it 5! Oklahoma State 41 Texas 35 - Will McLaughlin

In terms of most fun to watch, it’s hard to pick against this matchup. OKST features one of the best players in the country no one is talking about (or weren’t talking about) in Chubba Hubbard who I think was briefly an AU target. He’s been insane to start the season averaging 7.9 yards a carry and scoring 7 TDs. On the other side, Sam Ehlinger did all he could to go blow for blow with Joe Burrow but fell just a bit short. However, I think this time he gets it done in a wild but entertaining affair. Gotta go with the over. Texas 42 Oklahoma State 38 - AU Nerd

Sam Ehlinger has been an absolute beast this season, physically taking this Texas squad on his back and trying to drag them to victory. If it weren’t for getting Burrowed, they would have done it against LSU. Mean while Okie State has quietly been very efficient at gutting opponents offensively while having a not so terrible defense. This one will be fun, but Okie State has won the last 6 in the series and while the Horns have looked good, I still need them to win one of these game before I truly believe the hype. Okie State straight up and under. Cowboys 42-31 - Drew Mac

Time to hop back on the “Tom Herman can’t win as a favorite” train. SP+ even has this game as a pick’em, so yeah, give me the Cowboys to come in and pick off Texas for, let me check, THE EIGHTH TIME THIS DECADE. Pokes 40-34 in Overtime. - Ryan Sterritt

I think Texas is a legitimate top 10 level team this year and may end up splitting the OU games again because I believe they’ll play twice. Texas 48 OSU 38 - Josh Black

I like the Cowboys. Always have. I would love to see their superior color of orange roll into Austin and and show the world that, Texas is indeed not back. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Men of a Certain Age 35 - Town Full of Weirdos (And Keep It That Way) 34 - AU Chief

Okie State is a fun team to watch yet again. I genuinely believe in this Texas team, though. They torched a really good LSU secondary and won’t see ANYTHING like that again the rest of the season. Look at that O/U man, the big 12 is W I L D. I think Ehlinger is a good QB, and the Horns have weapons all over that offense. We are beginning to see Tom Herman’s stamp on this team, and I think Texas runs away with this win. UT 42 OKState 31 - Son of Crow

There’s an SEC angle to this one: is LSU really that good throwing the ball now, or is Texas just a standard Big 12 defense? Oklahoma State has looked good under new OC Sean Gleeson. I think they keep things close in an absolute barn burner. Texas 45, OK State 42. (Texas wins, OK St covers, OVER) - James Jones

Texas is strutting into DKR with the Ted Nugent t-shirt and the cigs rolled up tight in the sleeve. They got a job, workin’ for the city (workin’ men, huh?). Keep a little money in their pocket. Still thinkin’ about getting back in JC or somethin’ though. Horns in a fun one, 40-37 - Jack Condon

Cal @ Ole Miss (-2) (O/U 44)

Cal is sneaky good, folks. Maybe? Hard to say. All I know is Ole Miss is sneaky bad. Maybe not even sneaky bad, maybe just plain bad. Cal 27, Ole Miss 14 - Josh Dub

I was trying to figure out how in the world Cal became ranked in the Top 25? Well a win at Washington would certainly help matters but have been fairly unimpressive in wins over North Texas and UC Davis. This will be a 9AM kick Berkeley time but keeping with my theme of picking games this week, I’m picking the underdog straight up. Cal 24 Ole Miss 21 - Will McLaughlin

This will be a bizarre game. Cal seems to be trying to copy the Michigan State philosophy of playing smother defense but frustratingly bad offense only to beat you in the most hair pulling of ways. Of course, it also makes them VERY susceptible to being upset.

Ole Miss’s brief flirtation with great defense is over having surrendered 29 points to Southeastern Louisiana. But this game is basically a toss up per the math folks I trust. Given it’s at home and Cal’s penchant to not be consistent at all, I actually do think Matt Luke gets it done. It won’t be pretty and will have you questioning your sanity by the end of the game but the Rebels defense the SEC’s honor. Ole Miss 28 Cal 21 - AU Nerd Cal beat Washington and Ole Miss lost to Memphis and squeaked by Piggy....alright. Bears (the west coast ones) straight up and over. Cal 34-24 - Drew Mac

Ew, gross. Two top 20 defenses and two bottom 40 offenses. Exactly what everyone thought when this series was scheduled! I would say I expect Cal to win this one, but I’m not sure I can really trust them to 4-0 to start the season. Then again... the Pac 12 has to beat someone, right? Golden Bears over Black Bears, 20-18. - Ryan Sterritt

Ole Miss is catching 2 points because they’re at home. Ole Miss is a very bad football team. Cal 27 Ole Miss 21 - Josh Black

Both these teams may stink, but this is a matchup I might actually tune in to watch, just because it’s not one you see every day. Berkley and Ole Miss might be the two most contrasting places in this great nation of ours. It’s one of those things that reminds me what makes college football so fun. Unfortunately, the fun stops on the field. By virtue of it being a road game for Cal, and Ole Miss still being a school that recruits SEC talent to a a degree, I’m going with the that school up north. Admiral Akbars 24 - The Other California Bears 13 - AU Chief

This game seems super gross. Cal is good on one side of the ball: Defense. Ole Miss is good on 0 sides of the ball and is categorically terrible on defense. This game is the football equivalent of potty training. It’s going to go terribly, and even the successes won’t feel worth it at the time because of all the hours you’ve spent washing poop off your hands. Cal 15 Ole Miss 10 - Son of Crow

SP+ likes Ole Miss because the recruiting rankings aren’t totally fazed out. That, the weather (hot as all get out), and Cal’s body clock really has me leaning Ole Miss. HOWEVAH, I just can’t get past how terrible Ole Miss looked against Memphis, and Cal’s defensive line is legit. I think that unit carries them through in a low-scoring game. California 17, Ole Miss 10. (Cal wins and covers, UNDER) - James Jones

Ole Miss ain’t gonna be able to lie their way through this affair. Cal’s fairly salty, and I don’t think the Rebels have the guns. Yella Bears 28-9 - Jack Condon