LSU vs. Central Michigan

LSU football fans cheer Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, after seeing themselves on the jumbotron during the LSU vs Central Michigan game in Tiger Stadium.

Jared Brodtmann: Hello! Welcome back to The Reveille’s College Football Weekly Pick ‘Em! I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be joined this week by fellow Reveille staff writer Henry Huber, who’s going to be joining me for the rest of the season to get a few extra picks out there. With conference play finally getting into full swing this week, we’ve got some fun games to look out for as we jump into the meat of the season!

Henry Huber: Thank you for the introduction, Jared. As an avid college football fan, I appreciate the chance to focus more on matchups I would normally just glance over. I’m also belated to put my skills to the test, in what should be a very interesting season. Here’s to a fun and exciting season. I’ll be sure to give these picks my all! 

Jared’s Last Week: 2-3

Jared’s Season: 7-8

Cincinnati -3.5 vs. Indiana W

Unfortunately for my Bloomington brethren, it was not quite Indiana’s day. Desmond Ridder made just enough plays, and Cincinnati’s defense held true for the big day. It’s been a bit of an underachieving season for Tom Allen’s Hoosiers so far, but I think they’ll ruin a few Big Ten teams’ days by the time it is all said and done. For the Bearcats, meanwhile, this was a big win but one where at times did not look like college football material. If they turn the ball over and miss assignments the way they did against Alabama or Georgia, the result will not be pretty. I’m rooting for the Group of 5 though! Go little guys!

Miami -6.5 vs. Michigan State L

This game may be a testament to how good Michigan State is, but it is almost certainly a statement of Miami’s colossal failures of the last three years. Manny Diaz needs to level that ship quickly, or it won’t be long before the ‘U’ goes in another direction. Meanwhile, Mel Tucker has seen to a heck of a start for his Spartans. They’re ranked going into Big Ten play, a reality that seemed like a long shot with how talented the conference is.

Florida vs. Alabama -14.5 L

By FAR the biggest shock from the week. Dan Mullen’s ferocious, powerful offense taking it right to Alabama’s front seven? I did not see that one coming at all. At the end of it, Florida was only a handful of plays away from pulling off surely what would have been one of the biggest upsets of the season. This game exposed Alabama as a team that may be able to be taken advantage of, with a strong offensive line and good run blocking schemes, something so uncharacteristic of Nick Saban's teams of the past. This is absolutely a storyline to follow going forward, with Ole Miss and Texas A&M looming on Alabama’s schedule soon.

Georgia vs. South Carolina +31.5 W

It was a blowout, but South Carolina held on just enough. Georgia’s offense, while effective at winning football games, thanks to their mighty defense, just isn’t made for covering large spreads. Good for the Gamecocks, getting the win (against the spread...)!

Penn State vs. Auburn +5.0 L

Ugh, I feel for Auburn. Such a big opportunity for Bryan Harsin to make a statement to be wasted. Still, this team has plenty of upside going forward, but they will need to correct some mistakes before they can be considered a potential 10-win-team again. James Franklin’s squad has pulled off key wins over Wisconsin and Auburn, which has launched them into the top 10. We’ll see if the Nittany Lions can finally put it all together and win the Big 10 this year with a vulnerable Ohio State.

Jared’s Week 4 Picks:

Texas vs. Texas Tech, Saturday 9/25, 11:00 A.M. CT, ABC

The Pick: Texas Tech +9.0

Horns down? Horns down.

Well, not really. I actually like Texas to win surprisingly, but this is going to be a really good game. Texas Tech is finally seeing some success under third-year Coach Matt Well, and they have a talented quarterback leading their offense in Oregon transfer Tyler Shough. Meanwhile, Texas is recovering from a devastating loss at Arkansas in Week 2, but their offense led by Casey Thompson and Bijan Robinson is something serious. There should be a lot of points getting thrown around, in what used to be one of the better Big 12 rivalry games. Giving the Red Raiders nine of them is enough for me to pick them in a game that could honestly go either way.

Score: Texas 45, Texas Tech 41

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M, Saturday 9/25, 2:30 P.M. CT, CBS

The Pick: Texas A&M -5.5

BAH-BAH-BADUM. BABABADUM.

I’m so excited about this game. It’s going to tell us so much about both of these intriguing SEC West teams. The Aggies had such high expectations this year, and on the other side, Arkansas is by far the surprise team of the SEC so far. One will be walking out of Fayetteville with a loss, and I can’t wait to see who it will be.

Sam Pittman has brought a new pedigree of toughness to Arkansas, and it’s the reason he’s the frontrunner for SEC Coach of the Year. The Razorbacks are going to be dangerous, wreaking havoc on a young, inexperienced quarterback like Zach Calzada. However, I think something clicked for the Aggie offense as a whole last week. A weak opponent like New Mexico is often all that’s needed to get a team with as much talent like Texas A&M on track. Watch for how the Razorbacks handle Jalen Wydermyer, the star Aggie tight end. Arkansas’s defensive leader linebacker Grant Morgan was a second-team All-American last season and will be key to neutralizing him. I think the Aggies cover, but it stays reasonably close.

Score: Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 23

Michigan vs. Rutgers, Saturday 9/25, 2:30 P.M. CT, ABC

The Pick: Rutgers +20.5

Another game where I think the favored team will take care of business, but one where I find the point total to be too much. Michigan, despite all the jokes, jabs and memes, has actually turned out to be a really talented team. Jim Harbaugh, riding a blazing hot seat, has steered his Wolverines to a 3-0 start, and this will be their first Big Ten test. They’ve played quality opponents in Western Michigan and Northern Illinois, two above-average mid-majors, and handily beat Washington.

I like Michigan to win pretty handily, but look out for Rutgers. This is one of the most competitive Big Ten chases in recent memory, with no clear team above the rest and no teams to overlook. Keep an eye on Bo Melton, Rutgers’ top receiver. I have a feeling he’ll make a few plays to give the Scarlet Knights enough punch to stay within 20.

Score: Michigan 38, Rutgers 20

South Carolina vs. Kentucky, Saturday 9/25, 6:00 P.M. CT, ESPN2

The Pick: Kentucky -5.0

Primetime SEC East action! My favorite SEC East team makes its return to my picks, as they look to march in Columbia and get their first away SEC East win and their second conference win of the year.

If there’s such a thing as a Chris Rodriguez stan account, I would be running it. The man is a human bowling ball, and with Kentucky’s stellar offensive line, the Wildcats should really have no problems dictating the tempo of the game and easily controlling the scoreline. If Will Levis can improve with his decision-making and limit turnovers, Kentucky should win cleanly.

Score: Kentucky 27, South Carolina 13

Oklahoma vs. West Virginia, Saturday 9/25, 6:30 P.M. CT, ABC

The Pick: West Virginia +17

In the past, a game in Norman on primetime ABC Saturday night would be a nightmare for a West Virginia or whatever poor Big 12 team was called upon to enter the arena. But Oklahoma just hasn’t been all that impressive so far. Spencer Rattler has struggled living up to the high expectations set by scouts, fans, and the quarterbacks who came before him, and the defense has been suspect at times, allowing Tulane to put up 35 in Week 1.

West Virginia is coming off a huge win over Virginia Tech at home and looks like the part of that solid team that always gives big playoff hopefuls trouble. I feel a lot of points on the way and another Oklahoma ride on the struggle bus with them ultimately coming out on top again.

Score: Oklahoma 33, West Virginia 25

Henry’s Week 4 Picks: 

Wisconsin vs Notre Dame, Saturday 9/25, 11:00 A.M. CT, FOX

The Pick: Wisconsin -6.5

On paper, it’s easy to write off Notre Dame and while I would love to be the person that tells you differently, I can’t see this game going any other way. Though Wisconsin’s struggles within the passing game over this season and in years past are apparent, Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t given me any reason to believe that Wisconsin won’t be able to put up points in ample fashion against the Fighting Irish. Giving up a huge lead against a struggling Florida State team, narrowly escaping defeat against Toledo, and getting statistically outplayed against Purdue are all the games I have to work with. It’s a small sample size, but one I’m willing to use to bet against Notre Dame. 

Sorry, Jack, I predict no victory in your return to Camp Randall Stadium. At least it could be close? 

Score: Wisconsin 31, Notre Dame 23

San Jose State vs Western Michigan, Saturday 9/25, 1:00 P.M. CT, ESPN+

The Pick: WMU -2.5

San Jose State had plenty of hype going into the 2020-21 season after a strong 2019-20 showing that concluded with a Mountain West title (and a blowout loss in their bowl game against Ball State). However, I believe many people are overlooking Western Michigan, as one of the teams that could stand at the top of the Group of 5 by this season’s conclusion. The Broncos are led by sophomore-standout Kaleb Eleby at quarterback, whose debut season featured a stellar 195.1 passer rating and an 18:2 TD/INT ratio. The season also featured strong wins against MAC standouts in Toledo and Central Michigan. He’s picked up exactly where he left off last season, and I expect he’ll have an awesome showing tomorrow.

In Group of 5 matchups, I like to look at how teams have fared against Power 5 teams. Western Michigan did struggle against Michigan, but that’s expected, and they followed that Power 5 blowout with an amazing offensive performance and victory against an ACC opponent in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, San Jose State was beaten down by USC and hasn’t shown me anything too impressive this year.

Score: WMU 45 San Jose State 28 

Clemson vs. NC State, Saturday 9/25, 2:30 P.M. CT, ESPN

The Pick: NC State +10

Clemson, oh Clemson, where art thou points? Of course, their defense has played spectacularly this season as they always have, but it’s clear that this team is struggling with the departure of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. They scored a meager 14 points against Georgia Tech, a game in which they narrowly avoided defeat. Northern Illinois scored more points against Georgia Tech than Clemson did, and that says a lot. DJ Uiagalelei has looked more than human this season and that normally strong offensive line hasn’t played up to their previous seasons’ predecessors. If Clemson’s offensive struggles continue, they are bound to suffer an embarrassing loss, and I personally believe that could happen this weekend. Their defense can only carry them so far and they are still bound to give up points.

NC State did struggle against Mississippi State and that’s been taken into consideration, but even in that game they played sound defense and actually outpaced Mississippi State in terms of yardage and first downs. They’ve historically given Clemson trouble in the past and I believe that gets revived this year.

Score: Clemson 17 NC State 14

Kansas State vs Oklahoma State, Saturday 9/25, 6:00 P.M. CT, BIG 12 Network

The Pick: Kansas State +6

Oklahoma State is the favorite in this matchup and historically, I can see why. Under Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State leads the matchup, with an 8-5 record against Kansas State, and overall, they hold a 41-23 record against the Wildcats since 1917. But this is 2021 we’re talking about.

Both teams are 3-0 this season, but a closer look shows that one schedule is clearly more impressive. Kansas State has defeated both Stanford and Nevada by three scores, whereas Oklahoma State struggled against the likes of Missouri State and Tulsa. They did beat Boise State too, but I still give Kansas State the edge in terms of wins. They also have a clear edge in terms of point and yardage differential, trumping the Cowboys by 11 and 86 respectively. 

I don’t see this game being a blowout. In fact, I see it being very close, but I do give the victory to Kansas State here. 

Score: Kansas State 28 Oklahoma State 24

Tennessee vs Florida, Saturday 9/25, 6:00 P.M. CT, ESPN

The Pick: Florida -19

Last but not least (well maybe), Florida vs Tennessee. Ah yes, a classic, and boy, is this a tough one to decipher. On one hand, it seems obvious that Florida is going to win and win by a couple of scores and on the other hand, that spread seems rather big. Sure, Florida handled themselves very well against the clear best team in the nation, Alabama, and they look to be one of the best teams in the country at the moment. But the Volunteers have not looked as bad as they have in years past, despite a rough loss against Pittsburgh in Week 2.

However, their wins don’t give me much confidence either as they were against Bowling Green, whose only win this year was against Mercer, and Tennessee Tech, an FCS school. And their quarterback situation is confusing at best and undesirable at worst. Joe Milton III has a completion percentage of 51.4% and it looks like he is going to start against the Gators despite better play from Hendon Hooker. With the score likely largely depending on how the quarterback(s) perform(s), and Florida easily being the best defense they’ve played against, I still see Florida taking this spread. But I won’t be surprised if I eat my words come Saturday night. If the Volunteers are smart and put Hooker in, it could definitely be a bit closer at least. 

Score: Florida 41 Tennessee 21

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