College Football Week 4 Betting Preview: Salute to Service Academies Edition

  • We’re picking college football games against the spread for Week 4
  • Always bet on service academies as huge underdogs, and not just out of patriotism
  • The most LSU possible reaction to beating Auburn is losing to LA Tech

We went 2-2 again last week, so we’re still at 6-6-0 for the season. Thinking about picking an odd number of games, so this doesn’t happen.

Army (+31.0) at Oklahoma (#5)

Team Spread
Army +31.0 (-115)
Oklahoma -31.0 (-105)

Here’s how they compare, statistically:

Army vs Oklahoma Statistical Comparison

2018 Stat Army Oklahoma
Record 2-1 3-0
S&P+ Defensive Rank 115th 55th
S&P+ Offensive Rank 53rd 5th
S&P+ Overall Rank 101st 9th

As you can see, Army and Oklahoma don’t compare, statistically, and a 31-point spread between two teams with these statistical profiles would be wholly justified.

Here’s the catch, though: it’s Army. Nobody wants to dunk on the troops. The players don’t, the fans don’t, and the head coach certainly doesn’t want to run up a 62-3 score on the next generation of young officers. That would be just disrespectful, and if there’s anything college football can agree on, it’s respecting the troops.

The other catch is that Army, like most service academies, is an option team. They excel in running the ball 60 times in two hours and getting home before supper. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for Oklahoma to run up the score, which (again) they don’t want to.

If you had taken the points in every 21.5-point spread game since 1995, you’d have hit on 75.2% of those bets.

Betting tip: The troops and the points. Go Army!

Florida (-4.0) at Tennessee

Team Spread
Florida -4.0 (-110)
Tennessee +4.0 (-110)

The statistical comparison breaks down slightly in Florida’s favour, but that doesn’t tell the whole story:

Florida vs Tennessee Statistical Comparison

2018 Stat Florida Tennessee
Record 2-1 2-1
S&P+ Defensive Rank 29th 57th
S&P+ Offensive Rank 51st 41st
S&P+ Overall Rank 31st 40th

What the stats won’t show you is that Florida has had every opportunity to massage their stats and still only comes away as a slight favorite. They won’t show you that Feleipe Franks went 17/38 last week. Did you know that it’s possible to throw two touchdowns and come away with a QBR less than 50? I didn’t, but I do now!

The only way the Gators are saved here is Tennessee is even less competent than they are. Which might happen, but will probably result in a 13-10 win for Florida.

Betting Tip: Florida hasn’t done anything to warrant being a road favorite against anyone. 

Louisiana Tech (+21.0) at LSU (#6)

Team Spread
Louisiana Tech +21.0 (-115)
LSU -21.0 (-105)

Yes, LSU is the better team. Yes this a home game for LSU. Here’s the stats:

Louisiana Tech vs LSU Statistical Comparison

2018 Stat Louisiana Tech LSU
Record 2-0 3-0
S&P+ Defensive Rank 107th 6th
S&P+ Offensive Rank 28th 76th
S&P+ Overall Rank 71st 21st

What the stats won’t tell you is that LSU played Auburn last week, and is looking forward to a mean run of games in the SEC. They’ll be beat up, and will be looking to preserve themselves for a sneaky tough game against Ole Miss, a home game against Florida, and then playing Georgia, Mississippi State, and Alabama all in a row. That is a nightmare schedule, and putting your chips down to blow out LA Tech doesn’t seem sensible.

Furthermore, and this is an entirely emotional thing: LSU pulled off a huge win on the road last week. Beating Auburn in Jordan-Hare is next to impossible, and LSU should feel great about what they achieved as 10-point favorites. There might be something of a hangover. LSU might want to keep things in low gear.

Betting Tip: LA Tech plus the points!

Washington State (+4.5) at USC

Team Spread
Washington State +4.5 (-110)
USC -4.5 (-110)

Here’s how the teams compare statistically:

Washington State vs USC Statistical Comparison

2018 Stat Washington State USC
Record 3-0 1-2
S&P+ Defensive Rank 38th 15th
S&P+ Offensive Rank 43rd 87th
S&P+ Overall Rank 30th 39th

Bet you didn’t expect Washington State to have a top-40 defense, or the better record, or the better S&P+ rank!

USC is favored here because nobody trusts Mike Leach, it’s a home game for the Trojans, and USC is just supposed to be the better team. I think Washington State can cover here because JT Daniels is having trouble getting comfortable and there’s some issues on the offensive line. I also don’t think Clay Helton is a very good coach.

Betting Tip: USC might be really bad now that Darnold’s gone. Washington State plus the points.

Geoff Johnson

MTS co-founder Geoff Johnson is a lifelong Mets fan, something he can't do anything about. He has a great track record when it comes to wagering on baseball – largely because he's more than willing to bet against the Mets. His career profits are impressive, but not quite as good as his handsome friend Frank Lorenzo. He wishes he hadn't let Frank write his profile.