2014 College Football Picks: Week 4 Odds and Predictions – Free College Football Picks 9/20/14: Heading into the fourth week of the 2014 college football season, the schedule tends to get a little softer for some teams as they gear up for conference play, but that doesn’t hold true for everyone. In fact, Week 4 gets started with a bang with a matchup between Top-25 teams on Thursday night. From there, a somewhat quiet Saturday afternoon is capped by the biggest game of the ACC season. While there might be a bulk of quality games, there are few big ones on the schedule this weekend, and here is a closer look at the marquee matchups in Week 4 of the college football season.
No. 5 Auburn Tigers at No. 20 Kansas State Wildcats
This Top 25 battle between out-of-conference opponents will not only be a statement game for Auburn and Kansas State, but it will also be a statement game for the SEC and Big 12. Sure, mighty Oklahoma beat an unranked Tennessee team last weekend, but this matchup should be a much better indicator of how the two conferences truly stack up. On the field, the game will likely be a showdown of the Wildcats’ improved offensive attack that is led by dual-threat quarterback Jake Waters and explosive receiver Tyler Lockett. Auburn counters with its vaunted ground game that currently ranks seventh in the country. Quarterback Nick Marshall and running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant head the rushing attack.
In recent years, Kansas State has relied on a physical defense and a power rushing attack to control the line of scrimmage and win games. This team is definitely more explosive offensively, but if Kansas State’s narrow 32-28 win over Iowa State was any indication, the defense isn’t quite as good as it has been. Meanwhile, Auburn’s rushing attack looks as dynamic and unstoppable as it did last year when the Tigers ran all the way to the BCS title game, and they roll into this matchup ranked fifth in the country in points per game. Even with an improved offense and with the game in Manhattan, it’s hard to see the Wildcats keeping pace with Auburn for four quarters.
Prediction: Auburn Tigers (-7.5) Cover the Spread
Florida Gators at No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide
While this showdown of SEC foes doesn’t quite have as much juice with Florida coming off a down year, there is still plenty at stake. For one, the Crimson Tide are auditioning for a spot in the college football playoff whenever they take the field. Meanwhile, a strong showing from the Gators would be a major statement for a power program trying to regain its stature. In typical Alabama fashion, the Crimson Tide head into the matchup with a top-20 rushing attack led by backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, and the defense ranks in the top 10 in fewest points allowed. The Gators have also been impressive on offense thus far with quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones headlining an offense that currently ranks seventh in scoring and ranks in the top 25 in both rushing and passing yards.
While this matchup looks enticing on paper thanks to Florida’s revamped offense, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The Gators’ numbers are enhanced by a 65-0 thrashing of Eastern Michigan in their opener, and in their second game against SEC bottom-feeder Kentucky, the Gators needed triple overtime to pull out a win. Alabama on the other hand has looked methodical on offense, bulldozing opponents on the ground. Granted, the secondary has looked vulnerable, but Florida doesn’t have the weapons to expose the unit. Throw in the fact that the game is in Tuscaloosa, and the Crimson Tide will do what they do best and wear down and pull away from a Florida team that simply doesn’t have the same caliber of athletes on either side of the ball.
Prediction: Alabama Crimson Tide (-15.5) Cover the Spread
No. 1 Florida State Seminoles at No. 22 Clemson Tigers
Saturday night’s showdown between Florida State and Clemson could very well be the season-defining game for both teams. The winner will be in control of the ACC Atlanta Division and be in the driver’s seat for the conference title. The winner will likely be the only team in the ACC with a realistic shot of making the college football playoff so there is a little added pressure on the defending national champion Seminoles. If the high stakes didn’t make the matchup intriguing enough, defending Heisman winner Jameis Winston earned himself a first-half suspension for shouting obscenities at school, meaning the Seminoles will be without their best player for their biggest regular-season game.
Heading into the matchup, neither team has looked great. Clemson’s supposedly stout defensive front was sliced and diced by Georgia running back Todd Gurley in an ugly 45-21 Tigers loss in the season opener. Florida State on the other hand struggled to put away Oklahoma State in its opener, and while receiver Rashad Greene and Winston have looked strong, the rushing attack hasn’t clicked like it did last year despite an experienced offensive line. In the end, the suspension to Winston may not decide the outcome, but it could decide the margin. Playing at home with its season on the line, I expected the Tigers to come out swinging. The Seminoles will simply be trying to hold serve until halftime, and once Winston returns, Florida State should take control of the game. However, the chances of this being an easy win for the Seminoles on the road without Winston for a half seem slim.
Prediction: Clemson Tigers (+19.5) Cover the Spread
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