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College Football Week 4: Schedule, odds, picks and game previews

Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton (14) celebrates an interception during the fourth quarter of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Cfb Notre Dame Vs Purdue

PFF is here to provide everything you need to know ahead of the second full week of college football.

Below, you’ll find the college football Week 4 schedule, game lines, a guide to PFF Greenline betting picks and a game preview for the most notable matchups. Please note that the lines are courtesy of our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change up until kickoff.


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WAKE FOREST at VIRGINIA

Friday, Sep. 24 | 7:00 PM EST | ESPN2

Spread: Virginia -4 (-110)
Total: 68.5
Moneyline: Virginia -190, Wake Forest +160

Looking for some Friday night fireworks? Wake Forest traveling to Virginia should have you covered.

Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong leads the most explosive passing offense in the country. He currently ranks first in the Power Five in PFF grade, big-time throws and deep passing yards (473). He throws in a wonky fashion, but he makes it work. He looks to have improved his downfield touch and ball placement from last year, causing a leap from his already decent form in 2020 that ended in an elite-graded season.

Highest percentage of pass plays to pick up 15 or more yards | Power Five
Team Rate
1. Virginia Cavaliers 24.7%
2. West Virginia Mountaineers 23.9%
3. Ole Miss Rebels 22.8%
Power Five Average 15.4%

Wake Forest was a sleeper team entering the 2021 season, and it is looking the part so far in 2021. With Sam Hartman on the field, the Demon Deacons have produced a 56.2% successful pass rate that would rank top five in the FBS. He has earned an 84.5 PFF grade in his three games, taking great care of the ball in the process and producing multiple big-time throws in each start.

The program's defense is also flying under the radar, ranking top 10 in unit PFF grade entering Week 4. That side of the ball will get tested Friday against this big-play Virginia offense. 

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 12 NOTRE DAME vs NO. 18 WISCONSIN

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | FOX

Spread: Wisconsin -6.5 (-110)
Total: 46.5
Moneyline: Wisconsin -235, Notre Dame +190

Wisconsin will try to avenge its Week 1 loss to Penn State by taking down Notre Dame at Soldier Field on Saturday afternoon. If the Badgers are to do that, quarterback Graham Mertz can’t afford to play like he did against the Nittany Lions. He earned a 44.9 passing grade after making four turnover-worthy throws in the contest. And this Notre Dame defense won’t be any easier on him after his early-season struggles.

Safety Kyle Hamilton is one of the best defensive players in the country, and the unit as a whole ranks 11th in PFF’s defensive rating after shutting down Purdue's offense in Week 3. The Irish finally rose to the occasion, limiting the Boilermakers to -0.16 expected points added (EPA) per play and only four explosive pass plays on 61 dropbacks.

Notre Dame's biggest X-factor and path to victory are also at quarterback with Jack Coan, who will face off with his former school. The Irish passing offense couldn’t get much rolling against Purdue last week, and there are a few reasons why. First, the limitations that hindered Coan at Wisconsin are cropping up once more. He threw five quarterback-fault incompletions on 15 passes targeted over 10 yards downfield. To make matters worse, the receiving room dropped five balls, and the offensive line allowed a 42% pressure rate.

Dynamic freshman quarterback Tyler Buchner is a big piece to monitor in this contest. He has played 27 snaps over the past two weeks and is likely to add to that this week despite battling some hamstring tightness. The Irish do, however, need to make sure they aren’t so predictable with Buchner on the field. Of his 27 snaps, 22 have been a run play — with most having an option built in.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 7 TEXAS A&M vs NO. 16 ARKANSAS

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | CBS

Spread: Texas A&M -5.5 (-110)
Total: 48
Moneyline: Texas A&M -210, Arkansas +175

Texas A&M needed to see quality play from quarterback Zach Calzada against a lackluster New Mexico defense last week, and the sophomore came through when free of pressure. From a clean pocket, Calzada earned a 90.2 passing grade, completing 13 of his 19 attempts for 199 yards and two scores — and three of those six incompletions were drops.

But Calzada was again a poor performer under pressure. He completed only six passes on 17 dropbacks under duress while eating three sacks and throwing an interception. This doesn’t mean Calzada will be able to replicate that clean pocket success against this defense, though. Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom wants and likes to be versatile, but look for the Razorbacks to play Calzada the way they did Texas’ Hudson Card a couple of weeks ago: rush three, drop eight and minimize passing lanes. It rattled Card — a young and inexperienced passer — and it’ll be tough on Calzada.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 9 CLEMSON at NC STATE

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPN

Spread: Clemson -9.5 (-115)
Total: 47.5
Moneyline: Clemson -380, NC State +290

It’s time to officially panic about the Clemson Tigers. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has not looked the part, the offensive line ranks near the bottom of the ACC, the run game has gone from elite to average at best and the receiving unit isn’t separating at a high enough rate. Uiagalelei is perhaps the biggest concern. The accuracy concerns we raised this past offseason have been worse than imagined. He currently owns the third-worst rate of quarterback-fault incompletions in the Power Five when throwing beyond the line of scrimmage.

Highest rate of throws beyond LoS deemed a QB-fault incompletion | Power Five
Player Rate of Passes
Noah Vedral, Rutgers 31.8%
Braxton Burmeister, VA Tech 30.4%
D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson 28.3%
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA 27.5%
Jayden de Laura, Washington State 27.2%

Pair that with some poor decisions, and Uiagalelei has a 55.3 PFF grade through three weeks of play. North Carolina State is a far better opponent than Georgia Tech, who Clemson scraped by last week. The Wolfpack could give the Tigers a run for their money if they can’t clean up their act.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

NO. 14 IOWA STATE at BAYLOR

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | FOX

Spread: Iowa State -7 (-110)
Total: 47
Moneyline: Iowa State -275, Baylor +200

Baylor welcomed in Jeff Grimes — who revamped BYU’s offense with Zach Wilson the season prior — as its new offensive coordinator and play caller this past season. It’s been three games against bad teams, but it’s clear Grimes’ system has rapidly improved a Baylor offense that was rather anemic before. He’s doing the same exact things at Baylor as he did at BYU with his wide zone, play-action-centric offense, and now the Bears have the most-efficient passing offense and fourth-highest-graded quarterback in the Power Five.

Baylor’s offense | 2020 & 2021
2020 2021
10% Wide Zone % 63%
21.9% Play-Action % 50.0%
9 Wide Zone Play-Action Plays 32
5.6 Play-Action YPA 11.9
-0.15 EPA Per Play 0.32
57.0 Passing Grade 88.1

But can they have even close to the same kind of success against this Iowa State defense that has been great at stopping wide zone runs? The Cyclones have limited their opponents to 2.8 yards per carry on wide zone runs since 2020. In that span, Iowa State has sported the fifth-highest-graded defense in the Power Five. 

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

RUTGERS at NO. 19 MICHIGAN

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | ABC

Spread: Michigan -18.5 (-110)
Total: 51.5
Moneyline: Michigan -1000, Rutgers +650

Michigan won comfortably for the third straight week, and its rushing attack once again stole the show. The Wolverines produced 11 runs of 10-plus yards on 49 carries en route to 0.41 expected points added (EPA) per rush. The program now has over 1,000 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns through three games, trumping what the passing offense has done by a substantial margin.

Michigan Passing vs. Rushing in 2021
Passing Rushing
25.5% Play call % 74.5%
16 10+ Yard Gains 28
493 Yards 1,075
18 TDs + First Downs 57

Quarterback Cade McNamara remains an unknown. He has attempted only 37 passes across three games, most of which have been around the line of scrimmage. He will be the ultimate deciding factor in Michigan's fate this year, but it's clear the team's run game and defense are right where they need to be.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

WEST VIRGINIA at NO. 4 OKLAHOMA

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:30 PM EST | ABC

Spread: Oklahoma -16.5 (-110)
Total: 58
Moneyline: Oklahoma -800, West Virginia +550

West Virginia is fresh off a big win over in-state rival Virginia Tech, and the team now has its toughest matchup of the year against Oklahoma. The key for the Mountaineers to keep this one remotely close starts with the offensive line keeping quarterback Jarret Doege clean, something it hasn't done a good job of this season.

Doege has been under pressure on nearly one-third of his dropbacks, and he has performed poorly on such plays. His pressured passing grade is one of the three worst marks in the Power Five. But when kept clean, West Virginia leads the Power Five in explosive pass play rate.

The bad news for Mountaineer fans is that they’ll be going up against arguably the best pass-rush unit in the country. The Sooners rank first in the FBS in team pass-rush grade entering Week 4. Edge defender Nik Bonitto and interior defensive linemen Perrion Winfrey and Jalen Redmond all have PFF grades north of 85.0 in their three outings.

Oklahoma has already been in two different close calls this year, which is two too many. While the team's coverage unit is to blame for much of that, it all starts at the quarterback position with Spencer Rattler. He’s still playing too risky. Rattler has had multiple plays this season of ignoring what the defense gives him and launching a pass into triple coverage. He’s been fantastic when throwing at the short and intermediate levels of the field, but his deep ball hasn’t been there.

Highest-graded Power Five passers on non-deep throws (<=19 yards)
Player Passing Grade
Brennan Armstrong, Virginia 92.6
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma 91.6
Chance Nolan, Oregon State 91.5
Gerry Bohanon, Baylor 90.3

If he can’t recognize when and when not to take the downfield shot, this Oklahoma team will distance itself from the national title conversation. Rattler currently has zero big-time throws and five turnover-worthy plays. Having a PFF grade in the mid-80s with that stat is rare and a testament to how good he is outside of a small number of plays. Rattler is the most talented quarterback in the country, but the polish is missing for now.

Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

THE REST OF THE FBS SLATE:

Marshall at Appalachian State

Thursday, Sep. 23 | 7:30 PM EST | ESPN

 

Middle Tennessee at Charlotte

Friday, Sep. 24 | 6:30 PM EST | CBS Sports Network

 

Liberty at Syracuse

Friday, Sep. 24 | 8:00 PM EST | ACC Network

 

UNLV at No. 22 Fresno State

Friday, Sep. 24 | 10:00 PM EST | CBS Sports Network

 

No. 2 Georgia at Vanderbilt

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | SEC Network

 

Villanova at No. 6 Penn State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | Big Ten Network

 

LSU at Mississippi State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPN

 

Missouri at Boston College

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPN2

 

Florida International at Central Michigan

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

New Hampshire at Pittsburgh

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

Richmond at Virginia Tech

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | ACC Network

 

Bowling Green at Minnesota

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPNU

 

Ohio at Northwestern

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | FS1

 

Texas Tech at Texas

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | ABC

 

Wagner at Temple

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

Miami (OH) at Army

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | CBS Sports Network

 

Boise State at Utah State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:00 PM EST | CBS

 

Central Connecticut at Miami (FL)

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 12:30 PM EST | ESPN3

 

UMass at Coastal Carolina

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 1:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

San Jose State at Western Michigan

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 2:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

Toledo at Ball State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 2:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

Texas State at Eastern Michigan

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 2:00 PM EST| ESPN+

 

Maine at Northern Illinois

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 2:30 PM EST | ESPN3

 

Washington State at Utah

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 2:30 PM EST | Pac-12 Network

 

Colorado State at No. 5 Iowa

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | FS1

 

UTSA at Memphis

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPNU

 

Louisville at Florida State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | ESPN2

 

Illinois at Purdue

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | Big Ten Network

 

Kent State at Maryland

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | Big Ten Network

 

Wyoming at UConn

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST | CBS Sports Network

 

Towson at San Diego State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 3:30 PM EST

 

Georgia State at No. 23 Auburn

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 4:00 PM EST | SEC Network

 

Kansas at Duke

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 4:00 PM EST | ACC Network

 

Arkansas State at Tulsa

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 5:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

No. 24 UCLA at Stanford

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 6:00 PM EST | Pac-12 Network

 

Buffalo at Old Dominion

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 6:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

Charleston Southern at East Carolina

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 6:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

Louisiana at Georgia Southern

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 6:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

Texas Southern at Rice

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 6:30 PM EST | ESPN3

 

Tennessee at No. 11 Florida

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:00 PM EST | ESPN

 

Nebraska at No. 20 Michigan State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:00 PM EST | FS1

 

No. 25 Kansas State at Oklahoma State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:00 PM EST | Big-12 Network & ESPN+

 

Kentucky at South Carolina

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:00 PM EST | ESPN 2

 

North Texas at LA Tech

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:00 PM EST

 

Navy at Houston

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:00 PM EST | ESPNU

 

Southern Miss at No. 1 Alabama

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:30 PM EST | SEC Network

 

Akron at No. 10 Ohio State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:30 PM EST | Big Ten Network

 

No. 21 North Carolina at Georgia Tech

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 7:30 PM EST | ACC Network

 

Florida Atlantic at Air Force

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 8:00 PM EST | FS2

 

UAB at Tulane

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 8:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

Indiana at Western Kentucky

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 8:00 PM EST | CBS Sports Network

 

Troy at UL-Monroe

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 8:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

Hawaii at New Mexico State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 8:00 PM EST

 

New Mexico at UTEP

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 9:00 PM EST | ESPN+

 

California at Washington

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 9:30 PM EST | Pac-12 Network

 

USF at No. 15 BYU

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 10:15 PM EST | ESPN2

 

Arizona at No. 3 Oregon

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 10:30 PM EST | ESPN

 

Colorado at Arizona State

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 10:30 PM EST | ESPNU

 

Oregon State at USC

Saturday, Sep. 25 | 10:30 PM EST | FS1

 

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