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College Capper: Picking Games for Week 4

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Week 4 is already here and if the first three weeks are any indication, this will be a very unusual season.

Sure, the SEC is strong as ever, but the other conferences, mainly the Big Ten, could be extremely difficult to peg this year.

If you've followed me this year, you know that I put a lot of faith in one Big Ten team, Wisconsin, and the Badgers have let me down time and again. Having witnessed most of their game last week, I can say without hesitation this is the worst Badgers team I've seen in almost 20 years. but what does that mean once they get into conference play against other weak Big Ten teams?

The short answer is - probably nothing. The rest of the Big Ten looks just as bad, so what we face is average teams - i.e. Wisconsin, Michigan, MSU and such - getting fat on the really weak teams in the league. At the end of the season we'll have this disillusion that some of these teams are really good.

Here's the problem, though. You can't chalk up a losing bowl season for the Big Ten just yet. If bowl season started this week, then, yes, you could easily make a case for the Big Ten getting crushed in a majority of bowl games, but the season has just begun and we've got a long way to go.

Besides, holding a grudge against all the Big Ten teams that have let you down this season will do you no good for the next two months, and they'll just beat up on each other.

The best advice is to base each game on its own merit. Trust me, you don't want to fade Wisconsin all year, it won't work.

As for fading my picks, that won't work either. I'm off to a slow start, but if it were as easy as picking against me each week, then, well, I'd switch my games before posting, right? It's just not that simple. I'm going to have some bad runs and some good ones, but I'm going to stick to my principles. Considering the first few weeks have been rough, I would assume a correction is coming soon.

Let's look at the card this week.


Cream of the Crop
(Week: 1-3-0/Season: 2-9-0)


Rutgers at Arkansas:
Rutgers enters this game off a national television win at South Florida last week while Arkansas was de-pantsed in front of the entire country. One would think that any line movement would be in favor of Rutgers, but that's not the case, not the case at all. This line opened at Arkansas -2 and has since jumped to -7. This is more than an expected bounceback, this is a full scale public correction, and I, for one, agree with the public. It's one thing to get caught off guard against ULM and beaten down by the best team in the land, but it's another thing to throw in the towel and have your pride questioned. If there's any pride left on that sideline, the Hogs will roll.

Side: Arkansas -7

Arizona at Oregon:
This one should be fun. Rich Rod's high-octane offense vs. the lightning-fast Ducks. Arizona is off to a solid start this season, but it has little to do with the defense. The Ducks haven't looked all that stout on defense either, which means there should be points a plenty. The only question is whether these teams can put up more than 77 points. I don't see why not. Anything less than 40 from the Ducks would be an absolute disappointment, and the Wildcats should be somewhere in the 30s by night's end.

Total: Over 77

Colorado at Washington State:
I was weary of laying points with WSU last week and was right to do so, but this is a bit of a different situation as Colorado might be the worst team in the country. Three touchdowns is a huge chunk, but WSU proved it can score last week, and it should have no trouble scoring this week. The only question is whether the defense can shut down Colorado. Well the Buffs average about 15 points against FBS competition. If they post a similar amount this week, we should be good with WSU as I expect at least 40 from the Cougars.

Side: WSU -21

Best of the Rest
(Week: 0-5-0/Season: 4-11-0)


BYU at Boise State:
Prior to the season it looked like this might be the year old foes could exact some revenge on Boise State, but after watching the Broncos at Michigan State a couple weeks ago, it looks like they still have a fairly solid squad. Not strong enough to compete with the big boys, but certainly strong enough to run past teams like BYU.

Side: Boise State -7.5


Baylor at Louisiana-Monroe:
ULM returns home after a tough trip through the SEC, and the Warhawks are actually disappointed to be 1-1. On the surface, this looks like an easy call. After all, ULM just played two middle-of-the-pack SEC teams to within three points, and now the Hawks are back at home playing a middling Big 12 team and they're getting more than a touchdown. The problem with ULM might be a bit of overconfidence. ULM is not used to being in this position, and it's hard to tell how the kids will handle this situation. That said, I'm going to stay away from the side, and go with the over. Baylor is still putting up points in bunches and surrendering plenty as well.

Total: Over 68.5


Clemson at Florida State:
The Seminoles sure looked good last week. They've been quite impressive all year but have yet to play a quality team. Clemson will be the first legitimate test for FSU this season, and while I'm confident the Noles will pass this test, I'm not sure this game will resemble last week's game at all. Expect a somewhat tight game, with FSU prevailing in the end by 7-10 points.

Side: Clemson +14

Central Michigan at Iowa:
Iowa may have righted the ship last week at home against Northern Iowa, but the Hawkeyes still have plenty of issues. The fact that pushing against the spread is considered "righting" the ship should give you an idea of where they are now. This line is just a bit too hefty for a team still that doesn't put many points on the board.

Side: Central Michigan +15

PASSing Thoughts
(Week: 2-1-0/Season: 7-6-0)


Temple at Penn State:
I was spot on with my original assessment of the Penn State game last week, unfortunately I switched my position at the last minute. However, I still think I have a good read on Penn State. Last week's effort and result was absolutely needed, but the sense of urgency simply won't be there this week, not like it was last week anyhow. Penn State's opponent should provide a much stiffer test as well this week as Temple is no slouch.

Side: Temple +7.5

Kentucky at Florida:
Florida looks like the real deal, but this week the Gators will be asked to do something they haven't done yet this season - cover a big number. They failed in their first attempt against Bowling Green in The Swamp, but they are a different team now after rising to the challenge in consecutive weeks on the road.

Side: Florida -24

Michigan at Notre Dame:
I was a week early predicting Notre Dame to go over, but this week should be a different story. Notre Dame slowed the MSU offense last week, but Michigan brings an entirely different look and style. With two capable offenses, the number here is more than attainable.

Total: Over 51

Syracuse at Minnesota:
When MarQueis Gray left last week's game, the Gophers actually received a boost, one that carried them to a win against Western Michigan. They might actually be a better team without Gray, but with a week to prepare for the backup, Syracuse has the upper hand. The Orange have lost a couple tough games this season, but they'll get a tight win here.

Side: Syracuse +1

Utah at Arizona State:
Much like Minnesota, Utah might be better off with its backup QB, it certainly was last week as it beat rival BYU, but this is a much more difficult spot. It's one thing to lead a team at home in front of a friendly crowd, it's another to take your team on the road and topple a pretty good team like ASU.

Side: ASU -7.5

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