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NCAAF Week 4 - Picks & Previews
September 23, 2022
NCAAF’s Week 4 Featured Games
Wake Forest Deacons (21) Vs Clemson Tigers (5), 12:00 EST
Line Tigers -7, 55.5
The Demon Deacons are the defending ACC Atlantic division champions having displaced Clemson from that spot for the first time since 2014. It was an overachieving season for Wake Forest with an 11-3 record and a dominant win over Rutgers in the Gator Bowl.
Clemson had a down season last year with the offence struggling to find its form. But even in a down season, Clemson still went 10-3 last year including a 48-27 win over Wake Forrest. They finished with six straight wins looking progressively better as the season concluded.
DJ Uiagalelei has been highly criticized for not being an elite-level QB suited for a program with such high expectations as Clemson. No one has ever gone as far as saying he isn’t good, rather saying he simply isn’t good enough. But DJ has given the reins of this offence and has every opportunity to prove his critics wrong. His ability to do so will be critical if Clemson hopes to once again challenge for a national championship.
My Pick: Tigers (-7)
I suspect the Clemson defence will be too much for Wake Forest and be the difference in this matchup. If the Deacons fall behind early while struggling to run the ball, it is a recipe for a multiple turnover day and another blowout in favour of Clemson.
With Clemson coming off a down season and Wake Forest overperforming last year, the line makers may be a little optimistic about the Deacon’s chances in this year’s matchup.
Tennessee Volunteers (11) Vs Florida Gators (20), 3:30 EST
Line Volunteers -10.5, 62.5
This is the most fascinating matchup of the day featuring a throwback rivalry that has lost its sparkle over the past decade. But if you go back to the Tim Tebow or Peyton Manning years, this was a premier game most seasons.
QB Anthony Richardson is an elite player whom many tout as a top-tier NFL prospect. He looked absolutely fantastic in Florida’s win over Utah in week 1. He was unpredictable in his play calling while proving too elusive for the Utes’ defence to coral. He essentially won that game for the Gators by himself.
In the two most recent games for Richardson, he has not looked nearly as dangerous. Florida followed the Utah win with a home loss to Kentucky which took a lot of the wind out of the Gator’s sail. They then narrowly escaped the Bulls from South Florida which would have been a disaster for the Gator’s season. The poor performances by Richardson in those two games raised serious speculation that he is dealing with a leg injury preventing him from performing at his peak level.
The Volunteers boast a high-octane offence led by QB Hendon Hooker with a well-balanced run/pass option. They are averaging 52 points a game through week 3 which accounts for their number 11 rank in the polls. The WR dual of Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman has looked lethal early in the season combining for over 500 yards between them in receiving yards.
My Pick: Under (62.5)
I am picking a total for this matchup because I am simply not confident enough to take either side of this point spread. There are too many unknown variables to predict the game accurately.
Which Anthony Richardson is going to show up for this game? If it is the one we saw the previous two weeks, the Gators will struggle to score points. Is Tennessee really a top-tier offence capable of blowing out quality opposition or are they simply ‘good’?
Either way, the potential for this game to go under this very lofty total is high.
Texas A&M Aggies (23) N Arkansas Razorbacks (10) 7:00, ET
Line: Aggies -2.5, 48.5
This is a neutral site game set at Jerry’s house, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, although the Aggies are officially listed as the home team. Expect plenty of Razorback fans to make the six-hour drive from Arkansas and by in the stands.
Texas A&M rebounded after the terrible upset they suffered to Appalachian State two weeks ago by downing the Miami Hurricanes in less than impressive style. The Aggies for the second week in a row were not the better team on the field. Specialty team’s miscues and their inability to score in the red zone were the difference in that game for Miami.
QB KJ Jefferson is a daunting dual threat for the Razorbacks. Arkansas has raked up 731 rushing yards in their first three games and there is no reason to believe that dominance will stop in this matchup.
The Razorbacks are a serious threat in the SEC West and will be a difficult out against any team including Alabama who they have at home next week. That is the game this program has circled on their schedule so the Razorback will need to be careful not to overlook the Aggies this week.
My Pick: Razorbacks (+110) ML
I do not like this matchup for the Aggies and I struggle to understand why they are considered favourites. Arkansas poses a much more challenging challenge for the Aggies this week and they are unlikely to make the same mistake the Hurricanes did.
Arkansas should win this game outright and likely by a couple of scores.
Oregon St Beavers Vs USC Trojans (7), 9:30 EST
Line: Trojans -6, 70.5
The Trojans were just 4-8 last season including an embarrassing 45-27 home loss to these same Beavers who rammed the ball down their throats for 322 rushing yards.
But what a change just one year can make. Through week 3 of 2022, the Trojans are 3-0 and ranked 7th in the country. They have yet to face a serious challenge this season, but that should change Saturday night. USC already avenged a loss to Stanford from last season and looks to do the same against the Beavers.
New Trojans Faces
USC hired head coach Lincon Riley in the offseason who immediately brought credibility and heightened expectations for the program. Riley previously coached the Oklahoma Sooners to four BIG 12 Championship titles and the expectation is for him to get the Trojans their PAC 12 Championship since 2017.
The Trojans were also big winners in the preseason transfer portal bringing in three big-name players at skilled positions. QB Caleb Williams from Oklahoma, RB Travis Dye from Oregon, and WR Jordan Addison from Pittsburgh all joined the USC program during the summer with the trio looking dangerous in early action.
The Trojan defence impressed through three games as well, securing a +10 turnover differential and +59 points off turnovers. That stat is sure to normalize slightly as they face stiffer competition throughout the season.
The Beaves are going for a ‘Blackout’ at home sporting new all-black and orange uniforms that will get the fans at Reser Stadium in Corvallis into a frenzy. The Beavers are also 3-0 to start 2022 and their progress cannot be ignored. They are serious contenders in the PAC 12, but they will need a big result in this matchup to make that goal a reality.
My Pick: Beavers (+6)
The path to another upset for the Beavers is clear. Run the ball with dominance, particularly in the red zone, while limiting the number of possessions for the Trojans. They also need the defence to make some key stops including a couple of turnovers. The Beavers have the talent on their squad to accomplish all of these tasks and this generous point spread seems too high.
Taking a program from 4-8 one season to PAC 12 champs and the playoff contenders seems too high of expectations. It is more likely this will be a multi-year transformation for USC with setbacks along the way.
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