The Week 4 college football schedule isn't as tantalizing as last week's, but I do think this could go down as "Trap Weekend."
Top-ranked Alabama is a whopping 44-point favorite over Kent State, but I'd jump all over the points there for a few reasons. The first is that the Tide are likely still physically and emotionally spent following last week's huge comeback win in their SEC opener at Ole Miss. That is even bigger considering the Rebels had won two straight in the series, and you know that ticked off Nick Saban. Shoot, he was smiling after the win. Smiling! Speaking of Saban, I think he takes it easy this week because Kent State is his alma mater. He played and got his coaching start there. No need to embarrass the school. Finally, Bama might be without its No. 2 receiver in ArDarius Stewart due to a knee injury. Not like the Tide need him to win.
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I'll be curious how No. 13 Florida State plays in Tampa against a very good South Florida program that is on the rise under Coach Willie Taggart. The Bulls run an up-tempo Gulf Coast offense that has been the nation's second-highest scoring over the past seven games. While this game means everything to a program like USF, it's a nuisance game for the Noles and they might be flat off last Saturday's blowout loss in Louisville and ahead of a tough game vs. North Carolina back in ACC play. USF is just a 5-point dog.
No. 3 Louisville also seems likely to suffer a letdown effort this week off that mega-impressive destruction of FSU in perhaps the biggest game in school history. Now the Cardinals go into the mountains of West Virginia as 27-point favorites at Marshall. I'm not saying the Thundering Herd will win as they were crushed at home last week by Akron and have a lone win over a ranked opponent since joining the FBS in 1997. But there's no way Louisville isn't looking to next week's Clemson game.
Look for No. 6 Houston to also be sluggish off its big win at Cincinnati last Thursday. The Cougars are at Texas State, which is the biggest home dog on the board at +35. It's the school's first home game against a ranked team since joining the FBS.
My potential upset of the week? Northwestern getting +7.5 at home against No. 20 Nebraska. The Huskers are off a home upset of Oregon and are just 1-4 in road openers in the past five years. NU won last year in Lincoln as a 7-point underdog and has covered four of the past five meetings.
Here are some news, notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
South Carolina at Kentucky (-2.5, 59): Opened with UK at -1 and total has risen 3.5 points. I'm pretty shocked that Kentucky is favored here. Have the oddsmakers not seen the Wildcats play? They allowed 34 straight points at home in a Week 1 loss to Southern Miss, were utterly dominated Week 2 in Florida and gave up 42 points last week at home to New Mexico State in a 20-point win. The Cats also have lost starting quarterback Drew Barker for a "significant" amount of time to a back injury. Barker was sidelined after the first series of UK's win over New Mexico State. He was the first UK quarterback to be named the starter after spring practice in the Mark Stoops era. JuCo transfer Stephen Johnson takes over, and he was very good vs. NMSU -- but consider the competition. It will be the second career start for USC true freshman QB Brandon McIlwain. He made his first last week in a 20-15 win over East Carolina. McIlwain was one of Coach Will Muschamp's first big recruiting wins when taking over at USC. I absolutely love the "under" here even as bad as UK's defense has been.
Colorado at Oregon (-10.5, 68.5): Lot of injury questions in this game. For sure out for the Ducks are speedster receiver Devon Allen, who ran the 110-meter hurdles in the Rio Olympics, and starting left tackle Tyrell Crosby as both suffered season-ending injuries in last week's tough loss at Nebraska. Allen has 141 yards receiving and a TD. All-American running back Royce Freeman is questionable with a knee injury. He left in the first quarter vs. the Huskers. Oregon is deep at running back, but there are few home-run talents in college football like Freeman. For the Buffs, quarterback Sefo Liufau is questionable with an ankle injury. He will be a game-time decision. Liufau has completed 71.1 percent of his passes for 768 yards, six TDs and no picks while rushing 28 times for 124 yards and a score. If he can't go, it's redshirt freshman Steven Montez, who is 6-for-17 for 117 yards and two scores. One of the team's top defensive players, junior outside linebacker Derek McCartney, is done for the year with a torn ACL suffered in last week's loss to Michigan.
New Mexico State at Troy (-20, 65): Spread has risen 2.5 points and total dropped 2.5. Perhaps not a game you would pay much attention to, but NMSU's best offensive player, running back Larry Rose III, is expected to make his season debut. Rose won the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year award in 2015 after he rushed for 1,651 yards and 14 touchdowns. He missed the first three games off sports hernia surgery. In addition, perhaps the team's best defender, junior linebacker Derek Ibekwe, also should debut off his own sports hernia surgery. He led the team in tackles in 2015.
No. 9 Washington at Arizona (+12.5, TBA): Line has risen 1.5 points. This is your latest-starting game of the night at 10:30 p.m. ET. Is Washington any good? The Huskies were a chic pick to win the Pac-12 this year, and they just might. But they have played a Baylor-type schedule thus far, ripping Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State, all in Seattle. Dating to last season, UW has scored at least 40 points in six straight games, and Jake Browning is the highest-rated QB in the nation this year. Arizona is 7-5 at home against Top-10 teams since 2005 but probably will be without starting QB Anu Solomon again, while top tailback Nick Wilson is questionable at best. Solomon probably has lost his job as Brandon Dawkins has been great passing and running in starting the past two games with Solomon injured. Wilson has rushed 43 times for 257 yards and three TDs. He was hurt last week in the win over Hawaii. True freshman J.J. Taylor blew up when Wilson left as Taylor rushed 18 times for 168 yards and a TD. That Washington defense is just a tad better than Hawaii's, however.
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