Fearless Rick's 2017 College Football Picks - Week 4 early games

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WEEK 4 NCAA Football Picks

All times Eastern

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Week 3 results (ATS)
Coin: 7-6-1; Rick: 9-4-1

Cumulative: Coin: 18-29-1; Rick: 27-20-1

Friday, September 22

8:00 pm Virginia at Boise State (-11, 51 1/2) - This is not the Boise State tam people came to enjoy in the 2000s. Undergoing some changes, the Broncos are still among the elite teams in the nation, but on the lower rung of that class, 2-3 in their last five games, dating back to last season.

Last week's 28-14 win over New Mexico was nothing special in terms of offense and neither was the 24-13 win over Troy in their season opener.

That said, the Cavaliers are coming off a 2-10 season, with a 2-1 mark in their first there games, the lone loss a 34-17 decision to Indiana. Last week's 38-18 romp over UConn proved that their offense, behind QB Kurt Benkert, can produce scoring drives. Considering that the line here would be much greater if the Cavs were weak or the Broncos strong, the consensus is to take the points in what could be a close game.

Coin Flip: Boise State

Prediction: Broncos 31 Cavaliers 24

10:30 pm Utah (-3, 60 1/2) at Arizona - Arizona loves to run the ball, and they've done it effectively against a couple of pushovers - North Arizona (62-24) and UTEP (63-16). In between the Wildcats lost to Houston, 19-16, which is not an embarrassment. The Wildcats can play on both sides of the ball.

3-0 Utah's defense may be among the best in the country, though, judging by the quality of their opponents thus far, it's hard to tell. Their run defense is spartan, allowing just 49.3 yards per game, second in the nation to Duke's 47.7. This sets up a truly epic showdown between Arizona's cadre of backs (all six of them) and Utah's defense. Vegas sees this as a high-scoring affair, but it may be one of the tougher defensive struggles in the PAC-12 this season. At home, getting points to open their conference schedule, the Wildcats should be running and ready to spring the upset.

Coin Flip: Arizona

Prediction: Wildcats 23 Utes 21

Saturday, September 23

12:00 pm Arkansas at Texas A&M (-2 1/2, 55) - The Razorbacks ran into numerous roadblocks in their last outing, a 28-7 home loss to TCU and that isn't a good omen heading out on the road.

After losing a 45-44 squeaker to UCLA in their opener, the Aggies bounced back for a pair of wins, albeit over so-so opponents, Nicholls and Louisiana U.

A&M has a good enough defense to check the Arkansas attack, and more than enough offense - especially on the ground, to run away with a win.

Coin Flip: Texas A&M

Prediction: Aggies 31 Arkansas 19

12:00 pm Texas Tech at Houston (-3, 72) - Houston is scary good and healthy after having their opener cancelled on September 2 due to Hurricane Harvey. They racked up a 19-16 win at Arizona and a 38-3 rout of Rice since then and are one of the favorites to capture the American Athletic title.

Texas Tech has shown plenty of offense in 1 56-10 win over Eastern washington and a 52-45 victory over Arizona State, but neither of those teams play much defense, so the Red Raiders will have to prove that Nic Shimonek's 78.8 completion percentage isn't a fluke. Tech is pretty good, but Houston is pretty awesome. The Cougars haven't lost a home game since November 8, 2014, when they fell, 31-24, to Tulane.

Coin Flip: Houston

Prediction: Cougars 48 Red Raiders 30

3:30 pm Duke (-2 1/2, 66) at North Carolina - The only win the Tar Heels have to their credit this season is a 53-23 win at Old Dominion last week, not exactly a vote of confidence.

Duke has the top rushing defense in the country, and the Blue Devils are going to make it rough sledding for Carolina running backs. As a slight favorite, Duke could make this ugly if they contain North Carolina's ground game.

Coin Flip: North Carolina

Prediction: Blue Devils 34 Tar Heels 17

3:30 pm TCU at Oklahoma State (-12, 69) - The Cowboys are ranked and solid, but this is a conference game and TCU looks pretty good at 3-0 after going 6-7 in 2016.

Going 3-0 against the likes of Tulsa, South Alabama and Pitt doesn't really tell anybody much about the quality of this Oklahoma State team, but they are tied for fourth in scoring with Texas Tech, at 54.0 points per game, but it's not like the Horned Frogs are going to just lay down and die on defense.

Disregard last season's 31-6 win for the Cowboys. TCU can cover the line and maybe pull off the upset of the week.

Coin Flip: Oklahoma State

Prediction: Horned Frogs 38 Cowboys 35

3:30 pm Alabama (-18 1/2, 43) at Vanderbilt - The Commodores upended Kansas State last week, 14-7 to get to 3-0 and serve notice that they can play some football, especially on defense where they lead the nation at 4.3 points per game.

Making Alabama a nearly three-TD favorite on the road at this point in the season is pure folly. Sure, they're 3-0 and whipped Florida State, 24-7, and Colorado State 41-23, but their defense hasn't been impressive and the offense, though very good, can be controlled to some degree. It's a certainty that the Vanderbilt players are not frightened one bit by the Crimson Tide and will do their best to defend their home turf. This figures to be much closer than the line indicates.

Coin Flip: Alabama

Prediction: Crimson Tide 23 Commodores 16

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