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College Football Week 4 Saturday Picks: Spread, over/under and moneyline

By Ben Brown
Sep 20, 2019

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We continue to charge forward with this college football season. After giving you a short writeup on Friday’s three-game slate, we are back with our full set of betting plays for Week 4. Our written picks are 12-8 with two pending plays from Friday. As always, you can gain access to our model plays for the entire slate of FBS college football games with PFF’s ELITE subscription. Below are highlighted plays based on the Greenline model.

[Editor’s Note: All ELITE subscribers have access to PFF Greenline, an online dashboard that offers predictions for the spread, over/under and moneyline for every NFL and college football game each week. Subscribe today to gain access!]

NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (+14.5) AT GEORGIA BULLDOGS

Game of the Week

WHY NOTRE DAME COVERS:

After opening with the Bulldogs as 12-point home favorites, this spread has drifted out past the two touchdown threshold and is now finally settling in at Georgia -14.5. At that price, the Fighting Irish are given a 55.3% cover probability according to Greenline. Outside of hitting the turnover jackpot, the way Notre Dame covers this spread will rely on the play of Ian Book. It has been well documented in these parts how much Book has struggled when passing from a pressured pocket. Pressure performance is quite unstable, as evidenced by Book’s 85.5 passing grade under pressure against New Mexico last week. Still, the Fighting Irish need to keep pressure subdued, which they have been average at, allowing pressure on 32.8% of dropbacks. Book has been nearly perfect when clean, posting a 156.3 passing grade with a 78.1% adjusted completion percentage. Outside of dominating the turnover battle, Notre Dame will need to keep Book clean if they want to pull off the upset or at least keep it within a two-touchdown cover.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG:

Book did perform well under pressure against New Mexico last week, but the Bulldogs are a different manimal than the Lobos. In 2019, Georgia has registered pressure on 56.7% of dropbacks faced. Capable of completely shutting down the passing game, Georgia is eighth in EPA allowed per passing play in the FBS. Somehow they continue to feel underrated even at third overall. Something also needs to be said about the capabilities of Jake Fromm, who has been lights out in dominating performances to start the season. He owns the sixth-best passing grade in the FBS with zero turnover-worthy throws. Add in D’Andre Swift, who is averaging almost a first down per carry to start 2019, and it begins to feel like a scary proposition for almost* any team to head to Georgia and not lose by more than two touchdowns. Highlighted in the top NFL draft prospects to watch is the battle between Andrew Thomas and edge rushers Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem, which will be a pivotal matchup Notre Dame needs to win on Saturday.

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (+3.5) AT WISCONSIN BADGERS

Game of the Week

WHY MICHIGAN COVERS:

This line moved off of the key number three adding the hook to the Wolverines’ side. Extending out this spread has Greenline enticed by the road dog, giving the Wolverines a 57.2% cover probability. The Wolverines bring in the No. 1 overall pass-rushing unit in the FBS with a 91.0 grade after allowing -.213 EPA per pass play. The Wolverines have generated pressure on 76.8% of dropbacks, which is by far the highest rate in the FBS. Jack Coan has looked steady in the face of pressure, but that comes on the smallest of sample sizes to start 2019. Despite the hype surrounding the Badgers’ offensive line, they have graded quite average (70.7) as a pass-blocking unit. The Wolverines come in with the third-best pass blocking grade in the nation at 87.5 after allowing pressure on 24% of dropbacks. Bettors appear to be moving off of Michigan after their hiccup against Army. Recency bias appears to be at work here and siding against it while taking Michigan with the points seems like the right play on Saturday.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG:

After being named the first-team quarterback in our preseason All Big Ten team, Shea Patterson hasn’t exactly reinforced our preseason pick. Despite not actually recording an interception in 2019, he does have four turnover-worthy throws in two games with the offense struggling to move the ball against Army two weeks ago. Jack Coan actually has a comparable grade to Patterson to start 2019 but has been much more accurate in the process. According to our accuracy percentage, Coan has the highest percentage of accurate throws in the FBS. If Coan continues to perform at a high level in the face of the Wolverines’ defense, this game will remain close throughout. If Jonathan Taylor continues to generate a forced missed tackle on 34% of his attempts, the Badgers could run away with it and secure a big victory and a cover in the process.

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