NCAA Football Predictions: Week 4 Opening Line Report and Picks
Please, Urban Meyer, return to coaching and go to Tennessee. The sport is more interesting with you in it. Last week, Meyer told a Cleveland website that he hasn't entirely ruled out a return to coaching:
"I'm not there at the moment," Meyer said. "Like you said, next year can I say that? We'll talk again next year and we'll see."
I'm sure some book will offer a prop on whether he is on a sideline next year. And Tennessee makes all the sense in the world. Meyer recently gushed about the program, calling it one of the Top 10 jobs in America while also saying he was "shocked" how far it had fallen. There's no question that current coach Jeremy Pruitt is on the hot seat after UT lost its first two games at home to Georgia State and BYU. Tennessee did win in Week 3, but that was against little sister Chattanooga. This Saturday, the Vols are at Meyer's former school, No. 9 Florida. The Gators are 14-point favorites and if they stomp UT, expect the Meyer rumors to only intensify.
He also has been tied to Southern Cal. BYU is making Meyer potentially millions of dollars because the Cougars upset the Trojans on Saturday, 30-27 in overtime. So BYU might get Clay Helton fired too. USC is a better job than Tennessee, but Meyer might want to return to his SEC roots and potentially get to one-up Nick Saban every year in the SEC title game. Then again, Meyer is already in the L.A. area doing work for Fox TV alongside USC alums Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, who are surely in his ear.
Here are a few Week 4 opening lines that caught my eye. Games Saturday unless noted. Picks are ATS.
No. 10 Utah at USC, Friday (+3.5): A Fox Sports 1 national telecast and probably the most important game of the year in the Pac-12 South Division. It's the conference opener for the Utes, who are the highest-ranked and probably best team in the Pac-12 (Oregon may still have a say). Southern Cal already has an important conference win under its belt in rallying past Stanford two weeks ago but catching a huge break there with Cardinal starting QB KJ Costello missing the game. The BYU loss obviously didn't affect the Pac-12 standings. Utah avoids Stanford and Oregon in the regular season but hosts Washington State next week and has to visit Washington. Southern Cal is at Washington next week and still has to play Oregon. Long story short: I believe the winner Friday takes the South Division. Last year, the Trojans were 41-28 losers in Salt Lake City. Tyler Huntley threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns for Utah. It was down 14 early but scored 34 unanswered points. The Trojans were outgained 541-205. JT Daniels (now out for season) was an ugly 6-for-16 for 89 yards and two picks. Pick: Utes.
No. 11 Michigan at No. 13 Wisconsin (-3): This could be a Big Ten title game preview, but most likely only if Michigan wins here. The Badgers play in the much weaker West Division, so they probably can lose this game and still take the West. Not sure Michigan can do the same in the East considering it still has to play Iowa, at Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State. No way the Wolverines run that table. A bit unusual this early on, but both teams come off a bye week. Wisconsin has been incredible thus far in beating South Florida and Central Michigan a combined 110-0. Heisman candidate and running back Jonathan Taylor doesn't have gaudy rushing stats because he has been pulled early, but he does have eight total touchdowns. Michigan should have lost Week 2 at home to Army but escaped 24-21 in double overtime. UM's first lead wasn't until double OT and Army missed a 50-yard field goal to win at the end of regulation. Michigan routed Wisconsin 38-13 in Ann Arbor in 2018. Former Badgers QB Alex Hornibrook was an awful 7-for-20 for 100 yards and two interceptions. Pick: Badgers.
No. 7 Notre Dame at No. 3 Georgia (-13.5): I've read this is not only the toughest ticket in Georgia football history but that it's easily the toughest and highest-priced on the secondary market in the country this year. That's still the cache that Notre Dame brings when it visits a campus for the first time. These schools have played only twice. UGA won a terrific 20-19 matchup in South Bend two years ago on a late Rodrigo Blankenship field goal (he's still around). UGA also won the national title in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1981, by beating No. 7 Notre Dame 17-10. Amazing the Dawgs won that game considering QB Buck Belue was 1-for-12 for 7 yards. But Georgia had some running back named Herschel Walker, who rushed 36 times for 150 yards and two scores. I believe this is a College Football Playoff elimination game because I don't expect either to run the table the rest of the way. Georgia still has Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M and then possibly the SEC title game. Notre Dame has Southern Cal, Michigan, Virginia Tech and Stanford. Pick: Stunned at this number. I'll be taking the points but waiting to see if it gets above 14.
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