Predicting the winner of every Week 4 college football game, from TCU-Oklahoma State to Wagner-WMU

TCU and Georgia have major opportunities to prove themselves in Week 4.

Below are picks and projections using the S&P+ projections you can find in full in the Football Study Hall stat profiles. See the bottom of the post for more detail about these.

The spread (listed in parentheses) is shown next to S&P+’s pick for each game. When S&P+ predicts a push (a tie with Vegas, basically), I’m listing the pick on the side that S&P+ would’ve picked, if teams could score in decimals.

This document breaks games (and S&P+’s season performance to date) out into their decimal glory. The game-to-game error rate for these picks remained solid in Week 3, but the luck turned a bit, and it had its first below-.500 week. It’s still at 55 percent against the spread for the entire season, however.

Ranked vs. ranked

Week 4 features two matchups of ranked teams, including what should be a super-fun Big 12 marquee battle.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Pittsburgh
  • No. 6 Oklahoma State 35, No. 16 TCU (+11) 31 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 11 Georgia 29, No. 17 Mississippi State (+5.5) 27 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN)

OSU has drastically exceeded projections so far — the preseason S&P+ projections did not like the Cowboys’ defense — and that could continue with a drubbing of TCU. But TCU has looked awfully strong too. The Horned Frogs could give themselves a chance.

Mississippi State and Georgia have been two of the SEC’s more mature, impressive teams. We’ll see who keeps moving forward.

Other ranked teams in action

NCAA Football: Iowa at Penn State
  • No. 1 Alabama 35 (-18.5), Vanderbilt 15 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBS)
  • No. 2 Clemson 37, Boston College (+34) 9 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 3 Oklahoma 40, Baylor (+27.5) 27 (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET, FS1)
  • No. 4 Penn State 33 (-12.5), Iowa 19 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 5 USC 40, California (+16.5) 25 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 7 Washington (-10.5) 35, Colorado 23 (Saturday, 10:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • No. 8 Michigan (-10) 35, Purdue 17 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, Fox)
  • No. 10 Ohio State 49, UNLV (+40.5) 14 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, BTN)
  • No. 12 Florida State (-12) 38, NC State 19 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2)
  • No. 13 Virginia Tech 37, Old Dominion (+28.5) 16 (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, ACCN)
  • No. 14 Miami (-13.5) 38, Toledo 24 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ACCN)
  • No. 15 Auburn 36, Missouri (+19) 22 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 18 Washington State 42, Nevada (+28) 18 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • No. 19 Louisville 47, Kent State (+43.5) 11 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ACCN)
  • No. 20 Florida (-2.5) 29, Kentucky 22 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, SECN)
  • No. 21 South Florida 35, Temple (+19.5) 25 (Thursday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 22 San Diego State (-3.5) 34, Air Force 27 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • No. 23 Utah 31, Arizona (+3.5) 29 (Friday, 10:30 PM ET, FS1)
  • No. 24 Oregon 39, Arizona State (+15) 31 (Saturday, 10:00 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • No. 25 LSU 36, Syracuse (+23.5) 18 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)

This is a strange week for the rest of the top 10. Oklahoma is only projected to beat Baylor by 13 because Baylor’s preseason projections are still propping up the awful Bears (but not for much longer). I don’t expect a challenge there, but the No. 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8 teams all face exciting, improving opponents on the road. All are projected to win by at least 12, but the odds of all five winning are not great.

Power 5 vs. Power 5

NCAA Football: Southwest Classic-Arkansas vs Texas A&M
  • Texas A&M (+2.5) 31, Arkansas 28 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • West Virginia (-22.5) 38, Kansas 26 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • Georgia Tech (-7) 38, Pittsburgh 26 (Saturday, 12:20 PM ET, ACCN)
  • North Carolina (+2.5) 32, Duke 28 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • Nebraska (-12) 30, Rutgers 17 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
  • Notre Dame (-4) 29, Michigan State 24 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, Fox)
  • Stanford (-7.5) 36, UCLA 25 (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN)

In Wednesday’s Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody, we dubbed A&M-Arkansas “Anxiety Bowl 2017.” The fan base of the losing team is probably going to have a particularly miserable week on the ol’ Internet.

FBS vs. FBS

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Arizona State
  • Boise State 33, Virginia (+12) 22 (Friday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • Tennessee 42, Massachusetts (+28) 19 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, SECN)
  • Houston (-6) 36, Texas Tech 29 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2)
  • Tulane (-1.5) 29, Army 25 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Tulsa 38, New Mexico (+12.5) 32 (Saturday, 1:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • South Alabama (-3.5) 31, Idaho 27 (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Eastern Michigan 29, Ohio (+2) 27 (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Maryland (-3.5) 30, UCF 25 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • Navy 30, Cincinnati (+11) 27 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Indiana 36, Georgia Southern (+24) 14 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
  • South Carolina (-8.5) 36, Louisiana Tech 25 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, SECN)
  • Miami (Ohio) (+2) 28, Central Michigan 27 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Wake Forest 26, Appalachian State (+4.5) 25 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • UL-Lafayette 33, UL-Monroe (+6.5) 28 (Saturday, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Troy (-15.5) 37, Akron 20 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Georgia State (-1) 28, Charlotte 26 (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, )
  • North Texas (-11) 33, UAB 21 (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET, beIN)
  • SMU 32, Arkansas State (+5.5) 28 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Western Kentucky (-7.5) 35, Ball State 25 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, Stadium)
  • Middle Tennessee 35, Bowling Green (+7) 28 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Florida Atlantic (+3) 33, Buffalo 25 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Florida International (+1.5) 33, Rice 28 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, Facebook)
  • UTSA (-13.5) 34, Texas State 18 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Utah State (-3) 30, San Jose State 25 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, Facebook)
  • New Mexico State 38, UTEP (+18) 27 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Wyoming (-6.5) 34, Hawaii 27 (Saturday, 10:15 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • Connecticut 31, East Carolina (+4.5) 29 (Sunday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU)

I would just like to point out that New Mexico State is an 18-point favorite this week. Against an FBS opponent. 18 points. These are unchartered waters. According to the incredible resource that is Mr. NFL, the Aggies have been favored by more than 10 points only five times in the last 15 years. The bad news: they covered only once in those five games. The good news: that one time was against UTEP in 2002.

NMSU when favored by more than 10 per Vegas (2002-17):

  • -17 vs. Prairie View in 2009 (W, 21-18)
  • -13 vs. Idaho in 2008 (L, 14-20)
  • -14.5 vs. Arkansas State in 2003 (L, 24-28)
  • -17 vs. UTEP in 2002 (W, 49-14)
  • -12 vs. UL-Lafayette in 2002 (W, 31-28)

FBS vs. FCS

NCAA Football: UCLA at Memphis

No spread picks for FBS vs. FCS games, which typically don’t have lines at every book.

  • Western Michigan 40, Wagner 18 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Memphis 46, Southern Illinois 19 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN3)

A nice cool-down workout for Memphis after last week’s win over UCLA.


Each year at Football Study Hall, I have posted weekly S&P+ picks as a way of affirming the ratings’ validity. I use my S&P+ system as a complement to most of my analysis, and the picks are a way of showing it generally knows what it’s talking about.

S&P+ tends to hit between 50 (meh) and 54 percent (great) against the spread from year to year. It isn’t always the single best performer, but it holds its own. And beyond picks, it goes deeper than any other set of college football analytics on the market. You can go into granular detail regarding team strengths and weaknesses in a way that no other set of ratings allows. (See the annual team statistical profiles as proof.)

This year, I will be posting the weekly S&P+ picks at SB Nation instead of FSH.

Because I like to experiment, however, I won’t just be posting the official S&P+ picks. Go to this Google doc, and you will find three sets of picks: S&P+, F/+ (combined ratings from S&P+ and Brian Fremeau’s FEI), and what I’m calling an adjusted S&P+ pick, in which I attempt to account for two additional factors: week of play and type of game.

  • Week of play: I’m finding that there are cycles to scoring averages throughout a given season. Week 1 typically falls below the season scoring average, while the final weeks of the season tend to perk up in the scoring department. This adjusted projection will take this into account.
  • Game type: It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the standard deviation of possible results in a game against FCS competition, for instance, is different than that of a conference game. This projection will also adjust for different types of games. This will mean some pretty extreme projections (Arkansas by 63 over FAMU, for example), but we’ll see how it performs.