The keys to victory for Notre Dame and Wisconsin
The big game heading into this weekend comes to us right at noon ET on Saturday and is being dubbed the “Jack Coan Bowl” as the Notre Dame quarterback takes on this former Wisconsin team at Soldier Field in Chicago.
No. 12 Notre Dame is 3-0 but have not had an easy win yet this season and this game against the No. 18 Badgers will be their toughest test to date as they hope to stay alive as a potential playoff team.
As well, No. 14 Iowa State is coming off their first blowout win of the season and hope to continue their quest for a Big 10 championship bid as they travel to Baylor to take on the unbeaten Bears on Saturday afternoon. The Cyclones were a popular preseason pick to contend in the conference and their lone loss this season was out of conference, so this is a big road game.
If you’re looking to bet on college football this Saturday in Week 4 action, here’s what I like on the board.
No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers
Spread: Wisconsin -6.5
Wisconsin had high expectations coming into the season, which quickly disappeared in a Week 1 home loss to Penn State. The Badgers will try to avoid suffering their second loss in three weeks when they face the Irish at Soldier Field. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has returned to being an independent this season after playing in the ACC in 2020 and after a sluggish start with tight wins over Florida State and Toledo, they basically need this win for any hope of a playoff bid.
There is also added motivation here for Notre Dame QB Jack Coan, who was a two-year starter at Wisconsin before transferring to Notre Dame. The Irish were known for their defence last season, but have given up a surprising number of points so far in 2021. However, I think that trend changes. They held Purdue to 13 points last week and I think this game will be a grind. I don’t love either side, so I’ll take the under here and hope it’s a similar slugfest for the Badgers as their Week 1 game against Penn State turned out to be.
THE PICK: Under 45
Missouri Tigers at Boston College Eagles
Spread: Missouri -1.5
I really liked this Boston College team heading into the season as a dark horse team in the ACC, but that all changed when they lost star QB Phil Jurkovec for the season. His replacement Dennis Grosel stepped in last week and threw for a total of 59 yards in the game and the offence had 238 total yards against an awful Temple team that had given up an average of 45.2 PPG through its first two games.
Missouri is led by a decent QB in Connor Bazelak who took a tough Kentucky team to the wire in their lone loss this season. Coach Eli Drinkwitz seems to have the offence moving and I just like to lean to the Tigers here as the Jurkovec loss looked bigger than expected last week for the Eagles.
THE PICK: Missouri -1.5
Ohio Bobcats at Northwestern Wildcats
Spread: Northwestern -14.5
Through three games this season, the Bobcats have only scored more than 20 points once and that was in a loss to FCS team Duquesne. While I cheer for Kurtis Rourke of Oakville, Ont., to follow in his brother Nathan’s footsteps, that has not been the case so far this season as the 16.3 PPG indicates. Northwestern, on the other hand, is no world beater on offence either, averaging 22 PPG, and is coming off a disappointing loss to a bad Duke team.
Historically, the Wildcats have been a solid defensive team under Pat Fitzgerald and it will be challenging for Ohio to move the ball against them. This under is very appealing so if you want a Canadian player to cheer for in this game that is not Rourke, keep an eye on Ohio safety Jett Elad of Mississauga, Ont., who leads the team in pass breakups so far this season.
THE PICK: Under 47.5
No. 14 Iowa State Cyclones at Baylor Bears
Spread: Iowa State -7
This is very big conference game for the Cyclones. Under Matt Campbell, Iowa State has been notoriously slow starters, but this is generally the time where the team picks it up. Breece Hall led the nation in rushing last season and has only broken the 100-yard mark once through three games so far, so they will look for him to get going here.
Baylor is off to a 3-0 start, albeit against pretty weak competition in blowout wins over Kansas and Texas Southern. The third win was a grind-it-out battle against Texas State. I think Baylor is in for a reality check here as the Cyclones look to make a statement in their first conference game of the season.
THE PICK: Iowa State -7
Florida Atlantic Owls at Air Force Falcons
Spread: Air Force -4
Air Force got their first real taste of competition last week and lost in a shootout to a solid Utah State team. They were forced to throw more than they would have liked to from their traditional triple-option offence and held up well. They have another difficult test this week with this impressive Florida Atlantic Owls team whose lone loss was to Florida, but is 2-0-1 against the spread this season.
Owls quarterback N’Kosi Perry looks much more comfortable as a starter at the Group of 5 level than he did at Miami. As well, the Owls played a triple-option team in Georgia Southern and held them to just six points. I know the Falcons are a better team than GASO, but I really like the Owls getting the points here and will probably sprinkle the moneyline as well.
THE PICK: Florida Atlantic +4