College football picks against the spread: Stewart Mandel’s Week 4 picks

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I’m proud to say that Ohio came through for me last week as my second prophetic Upset Special in three weeks. (The first: Wyoming over Texas Tech in Week 1.)

I’m embarrassed to say, I got almost nothing else right. But this week’s matchups are too good to screw up.

Last week: 4-7 against the spread. Season: 15-18.

(All point spreads come from BetMGM, click here for live odds, all kickoff times Eastern.)

No. 4 Florida State (-2.5) at Clemson, Noon, ABC

FSU is the better team, but the Seminoles threw a wrinkle in my prediction by barely escaping Boston College with a W. It gave me pause. But I’m still haunted by the Tigers’ offensive performance against Duke. They’ve looked better the last two weeks against inferior competition, but this will be the most athletic defense they’ve seen to date.

Florida State 27, Clemson 24
The Pick:
Florida State -2.5

No. 16 Oklahoma (-14.5) at Cincinnati, Noon, Fox

What a day this will be at Nippert Stadium, with the Bearcats hosting their first Big 12 conference game against the most prestigious program to visit there since … ? I remember Penn State coming there when I was in high school … in 1992. Oklahoma hasn’t been tested yet, but Cincinnati’s loss to Miami (Ohio) does not instill confidence.

Oklahoma 31, Cincinnati 24
The Pick: Cincinnati +14.5

BYU at Kansas (-8.5), 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Kansas had a tougher time than expected playing at Nevada last week, but before that the Jayhawks blew out Illinois at home. I’m more concerned about BYU, which on one hand is coming off an impressive 38-31 win at Arkansas but is also turning around and taking another road trip, this one to face Jalon Daniels and an explosive offense.

Kansas 30, BYU 20
The Pick: Kansas -8.5

No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon (-20.5), 3:30 p.m., ABC

I think the Ducks will win because they’re a more complete team — not only can Bo Nix and the offense light up a scoreboard, but their defense is more formidable than Colorado’s. The question is, do I think Deion’s team embarrasses itself, as the line suggests the Buffs will? Nope. I believe … that they’ll keep it interesting.

Oregon 49, Colorado 42
The Pick: Oregon +20.5

No. 22 UCLA at No. 11 Utah (-4.5), 3:30 p.m., Fox

UCLA freshman quarterback Dante Moore is off to a great start, ranked fifth nationally in pass efficiency (albeit on 51 attempts). But unless he’s superhuman, I’d expect an 18-year-old making his first conference road start, in the Pac-12’s most hostile venue, against a defense allowing 270.7 yards per game, to have a tougher time of it this week.

Utah 28, UCLA 20
The Pick: Utah -4.5

No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 13 Alabama (-7), 3:30 p.m., CBS

Lane Kiffin poked the bear this week, and if this were any season in the previous 15 years, I’d pick Nick Saban’s team to drop a hammer on the Rebels. But from what we’ve seen so far, I don’t think the Tide have it in them. Jalen Milroe should perform better than he did two weeks ago, but Ole Miss has a decided edge at quarterback with Jaxson Dart.

Ole Miss 26, Alabama 24
The Pick: Ole Miss +7

No. 14 Oregon State (-3) at No. 21 Washington State, 7 p.m., Fox

Tough one! I’ve been high on the Beavers since the summer, and QB DJ Uiagalelei an RB Damien Martinez have not disappointed. Oregon State also ranks 13th in the FBS in yards per play allowed (4.1). But Wazzu hung 50 on Colorado State and knocked off Wisconsin, QB Cam Ward looks great, and it’s in Pullman. What the heck do I do?

Oregon State 35, Washington State 30
The Pick: Oregon State -3

Arkansas at No. 12 LSU (-17.5), 7 p.m., ESPN

Arkansas can’t quite seem to turn the corner under Sam Pittman, despite the longtime tandem of quarterback KJ Jefferson and running back AJ Green. The Razorbacks probably should have beaten BYU but made too many mistakes late in the game. Now they head to Death Valley to face a much more potent LSU offense that flexed against Mississippi State.

LSU 42, Arkansas 20
The Pick: LSU -17.5

No. 24 Iowa at No. 7 Penn State (-14.5), 7:30 p.m., CBS

I’m confident this will not be another 6-4 game, but that 40-point under looks tempting. Iowa may still be limited offensively, but its defense once again ranks among the nation’s best. Penn State has handled its business, though its rushing attack has not been as powerful as expected. It could be hard for the Nittany Lions to run away with it.

Penn State 20, Iowa 13
The Pick: Iowa +14.5

No. 6 Ohio State (-3) at No. 9 Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m., NBC

For years, Notre Dame went into these big games just trying to keep the score down and hang into the fourth quarter. Not this year. Behind star QB Sam Hartman and RB Audric Estime, the Irish have an honest-to-goodness explosive offense. Is it enough to keep pace with a Ryan Day offense? I believe so. But I’ve been wrong before.

Notre Dame 34, Ohio State 30
The Pick: Notre Dame +3

Mandel’s Upset Special
Georgia Tech at Wake Forest (-3.5), 6:30 p.m., The CW

What a historic moment. It’s my first Upset Special involving a game on The CW. Wake is 3-0 but has been struggling to find its offensive identity post-Sam Hartman. Last week, the Deacs ran for just 97 yards in a comeback win over Old Dominion. Whereas Tech is quietly fielding a top-30 offense behind ex-Texas A&M QB Haynes King.

Georgia Tech 37, Wake Forest 30
The Pick: Georgia Tech +3.5

(Photo of Jaxson Dart: Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images)

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