The best upset picks for Week 4 of the college football season
Week 3 of the college football season was relatively tame, as every single team in the top 10 came out on top. Although the schedule unfolded as expected, we could see some serious upheaval in Week 4.
Here are five games with major upset potential in the week ahead.
Wake Forest vs. Virginia
Fri, September 24 2021, 11:00 PM
Wake Forest is 3-0 on the season after forcing six turnovers against Florida State in a 35-14 victory. The significant positive turnover margin exaggerated the outcome, but the offense still looked good against a talented Seminoles defensive front.
Quarterback Sam Hartman threw for 8.4 yards per attempt, and running back Christian Beal-Smith averaged 5.0 yards per rush. It was a balanced attack that saw the Demon Deacons outgain the Seminoles 484-317 while achieving big plays and consistent drives. Wake Forest had 27 first downs, and dominated time of possession by holding the ball for nearly 40 minutes.
Virginia looked dangerous through 24 minutes against North Carolina, capturing a 28-24 halftime lead before collapsing defensively in the second half to lose by 20. It's not an encouraging sign when your quarterback throws for over 550 yards and four touchdowns and you still lose by double digits.
Expect Wake Forest to control this game and to pull off the upset.
Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin
Sat, September 25 2021, 6:00 PM
One of the best games of the week pits the Notre Dame Fighting Irish against the Wisconsin Badgers. The game will be hosted on a neutral site setting in Chicago, and the fan distribution should be fairly equal. Notre Dame has narrowly won three contests now, and is widely regarded as the worst top 10 team in the country.
The Fighting Irish's offensive line is clearly still going through growing pains, and the defensive line hasn’t shown the elite talent that Notre Dame typically features. However, there is still talent all over this roster, including the best player on the field in tight end Michael Mayer. Mayer can be targeted any time veteran quarterback Jack Coan needs a big play, and he should have an impactful game.
As a former Badger himself, the Wisconsin coaching staff surely knows Coan’s weakness and where they can attempt to expose him. But things work both ways, and Coan has likely given Notre Dame plenty to think about as it relates to Wisconsin’s schemes, talent, and vulnerabilities.
This should be a close game late with each team having an opportunity in the fourth quarter to win it. Let’s take the plus odds on the Irish.
Oregon State vs. USC
Sun, September 26 2021, 2:30 AM
Picking against USC last week proved to be a poor choice as Washington State showed no resistance to the Trojans passing attack. However, Oregon State should do a far better job of holding serve on offense this week with their 26th ranked passing offense. They’ve bounced back nicely after a tough road loss during opening week vs. Purdue, putting up 42 and 45 points against Idaho and Hawaii, respectively.
The Trojans looked inspired in their first game following former head coach Clay Helton’s termination, but perhaps the letdown will come in their second run.
North Carolina State vs. Clemson
Sat, September 25 2021, 7:30 PM
Clemson has been an enigma in 2021. The Tigers still have plenty of talent, so it's a mystery why they're failing to score at an explosive pace like previous iterations of this program.
Clemson barely snuck by Georgia Tech as a 28-point favorite last week, scoring just 14 points after failing to score a touchdown against Georgia in the opener. They are now 0-3 against the spread and are traveling to one of the tougher road venues in the ACC at North Carolina State.
The Wolfpack have a good defense, surrendering under 73 yards per game on the ground, and Clemson is living on reputation rather than production at this point in the year.
California vs. Washington
Sun, September 26 2021, 1:30 AM
The Washington Huskies appeared to solve some of their offensive woes last week in a blowout win against Arkansas State, but they now face one of the better defensive-minded head coaches in the Pac-12 in Justin Wilcox.
The Golden Bears are 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 games as road underdogs, and 6-2 against the spread in the last eight meetings between these teams, including a 20-19 victory in 2019 when the Huskies were ranked 14th at the time.
This has all the makings of a low-scoring defensive struggle with the underdog having an opportunity to make a big play or two to swing the outcome.