By Brad Carroll
The early slate of the Week 4 college football games Saturday is highlighted by a ranked showdown between No. 16 TCU and No. 6 Oklahoma State, but the big-time matchups don’t stop there. Alabama, Clemson, USC, Michigan and Florida State are all in action in the afternoon, already jockeying for positioning in the College Football Playoff hunt.
Our college football experts have you covered for all of the important matchups on Saturday afternoon, with previews and picks against the point spread below. So sit back and let us help you enjoy another big week of college football action. Make sure to check out our Thursday and Friday previews and picks here and our Saturday night previews and picks here.
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NC State at No. 12 Florida State, 12, ABC
The Spread: Florida State -12.5
Brad’s Breakdown: Florida State hasn’t played since its Week 1 loss to Alabama, 24-7, so the Seminoles should be ready to not only play another game, but make a statement they still belong in the College Football Playoff picture. They are going to have to win the rest of their games, and win a lot of them big, and it starts at home against NC State. The Wolfpack lost its opener to South Carolina, 35-28, but has since won two straight, against Marshall and Furman, so they are definitely the more seasoned group considering they’ve had two extra games to find their identity than the Seminoles have. Still, this one has a blowout in favor of Florida State written all over it.
Brad’s Final: Florida State 45, NC State 21 (Florida State)
Craig’s Final: Florida State 28, NC State 10 (Florida State)
Glenn’s Final: Florida State 28, NC State 17 (NC State)
Matt’s Final: Florida State 27, NC State 17 (NC State)
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas, Arlington, Texas, 12, ESPN
The Spread: Texas A&M -2.5
Brad’s Breakdown: Texas A&M has won two straight games after its complete collapse against UCLA in the season-opener. That loss put the fire on coach Kevin Sumlin, who was already on the hot seat coming into the season. That heat hasn’t gone down since, but a win over Arkansas could lessen it just a bit. Arkansas has been worse than Texas A&M so far this year, with a 1-2 record, including losses to Virginia Tech (35-24) and TCU (28-7). Neither team will have true home field advantage in this one, but playing at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium steers more toward the Aggies, even if Jerry Jones is an Arkansas alum. A&M will win a close one.
Brad’s Final: Texas A&M 33, Arkansas 30 (Texas A&M)
Craig’s Final: Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 27 (Texas A&M)
Glenn’s Final: Texas A&M 42, Arkansas 28 (Texas A&M)
Matt’s Final: Arkansas 35, Texas A&M 20 (Arkansas)
No. 1 Alabama at Vanderbilt, 3:30, CBS
The Spread: Alabama -18.5
Brad’s Breakdown: It always seems to be the case where Alabama will blow out a good opponent, where the point spread is small, and never does the same against a bad opponent, where the point spread is gigantic. Case in point was the Florida State game, where Bama rolled as a 7-point favorite, while on the opposite end, Alabama beat Colorado State last week 41-23 as 29-point favorites. This point spread against Vanderbilt isn’t too high, probably with Vegas figuring out how to get people to simply bet against Bama when they are big favorites. Anyway, Alabama is easily one of the four best teams in the nation, and Vanderbilt could be on the rise, but nowhere near the level of the Crimson Tide. Vanderbilt is 3-0, including a 14-7 victory over then-No. 18 Kansas State. The Commodores allow just 4.3 points per game. But Alabama is Alabama and covering this bigger spread should be no problem this time around.
Brad’s Final: Alabama 40, Vanderbilt 20 (Alabama)
Craig’s Final: Alabama 38, Vanderbilt 13 (Alabama)
Glenn’s Final: Alabama 35, Vanderbilt 13 (Alabama)
Matt’s Final: Alabama 56, Vanderbilt 3 (Alabama)
Boston College at No. 2 Clemson, 3:30, ESPN2
The Spread: Clemson -34.5
Brad’s Breakdown: Clemson sure did make a statement with its 47-21 victory over then-No. 14 Louisville on the road last week. If anyone doubted the Tigers after their close, 14-6 win over Auburn, they can put those to rest. The only thing that could stop Clemson this week against Boston College is suffering a letdown. But playing at home in Death Valley should take care of that potential problem. Boston College is 1-2 with two blowout losses to Wake Forest and Notre Dame on its ledger. The only issue here is how much Clemson will win by.
Brad’s Final: Clemson 42, Boston College 7 (Clemson)
Craig’s Final: Clemson 56, Boston College 10 (Clemson)
Glenn’s Final: Clemson 58, Boston College 20 (Clemson)
Matt’s Final: Clemson 66, Boston College 13 (Clemson)
No. 5 USC at California, 3:30, ABC
The Spread: USC -16
Brad’s Breakdown: USC quarterback Sam Darnold made himself the clear favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft next year, if he decides to come out, with a masterful performance in a thrilling, double-overtime victory over Texas. The Trojans are 3-0 overall, which includes a 42-24 victory over then-No. 14 Stanford in Week 2. California is also 3-0 with a pair of impressive victories, over North Carolina and Ole Miss. But this could be a matchup Darnold and the USC offense dreams about, as Cal allows 475.7 total yards on defense, 338.3 of which comes from the opponent’s passing game. Darnold could take another big step toward that No. 1 pick.
Brad’s Final: USC 42, California 21 (USC)
Craig’s Final: USC 42, California 21 (USC)
Glenn’s Final: USC 48, California 28 (USC)
Matt’s Final: USC 42, California 28 (California)
No. 16 TCU at No. 6 Oklahoma State, 3:30, ESPN
The Spread: Oklahoma State -11.5
Brad’s Breakdown: This is an early-season showdown, especially when it comes to the Big 12 and its place in the College Football Playoff picture. Both TCU and Oklahoma State are 3-0, with TCU getting a big win over Arkansas, while Oklahoma State routed Pittsburgh last week. Both offenses have been great so far, with TCU scoring 49 points a game and averaging 507.3 yards, and Oklahoma State scoring 54 points and averaging 607 yards per game. Both defenses have been solid as well, with each allowing well less than 20 points per game. But it’s going to be the offenses that shine here, and even though the Cowboys has been thoroughly impressive this season, the thought here is the Horned Frogs can keep this one close enough.
Brad’s Final: Oklahoma State 45, TCU 35 (TCU)
Craig’s Final: Oklahoma State 31, TCU 21 (TCU)
Glenn’s Final: Oklahoma State 28, TCU 27 (TCU)
Matt’s Final: Oklahoma State 45, TCU 3 (Oklahoma State)
No. 8 Michigan at Purdue, 4, FOX
The Spread: Michigan -10
Brad’s Breakdown: Michigan is 3-0 on the year and ranked eighth in the country, but the Wolverines and their fans aren’t feeling too great about themselves this season. The Wolverines have had trouble scoring on offense and have allowed lesser teams stick around well into games. Michigan beat Florida, 33-17, despite throwing two pick-sixes, and then followed that up with a non-cover win over Cincinnati and a 16-point victory over Air Force. Not exactly what you’d like to see from a team challenging for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The defense, however, continues to carry the team and is among the best in the nation. Purdue has had a solid start to the year, winning two of its three games, with a seven-point loss to then-No. 16 Louisville and last week won at Mizzouri 35-3. Home field should be worth a lot, and while the Boilermakers won’t win, they should stick around with Michigan.
Brad’s Final: Michigan 28, Purdue 20 (Purdue)
Craig’s Final: Michigan 28, Purdue 10 (Michigan)
Glenn’s Final: Michigan 30, Purdue 17 (Michigan)
Matt’s Final: Michigan 30, Purdue 3 (Michigan)