Week 4 of the college football season may have kicked off on Thursday, but this is when things really take off.
While the Thursday and Friday slates provided plenty of compelling action, Saturdays are made for college football. Our staff wasted no time jumping into the action, fielding four best bets for Saturday’s midday games.
It all starts in Ann Arbor, when Michigan hosts Maryland to open the Big Ten game. Then we moved to Dallas for the Iron Skillet (or Sonny Dykes Bowl, whatever you want to call it). Finally, we make a trip to the MAC, where Buffalo travels to eastern Michigan.
Check out our top four picks for week 4 midday college football games, and see our other top 12 picks for Saturday afternoon and evening games below.
Best Saturday Noon College Football Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups our college football staff is targeting for today’s game slate. Click on the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Maryland vs. Michigan
By Thomas Schlarp
Somehow, Michigan emerged unscathed from the challenge of the state of Colorado, Hawaii, and Connecticut. Now, he faces his first real test of the season when he hosts Maryland to open the Big Ten game.
Even with the easy opponents and the highest-scoring offense in the country, Michigan’s offense still feels underrated because of how many reps reinforcements have gotten in these scorching games.
JJ McCarthy will be making his first start against the Power Five competition, but he has passed every test he has faced this season with flying colors. The sophomore has completed 88% of his passes and has yet to throw an interception.
He’s also surrounded by a group of explosive playmakers that includes six different receivers with catches of more than 30 yards and running back Blake Corum, who has scored seven times on just 34 carries.
Michigan will be stressed by Maryland’s deep passing attack, led by Taulia Tagovailoa and a host of receivers, but Michigan is one of only three teams in the country to allow less than 100 yards per game and has eight sacks in three games.
Maryland tends to get fat on lesser opponents and really struggles against the top of the Big Ten competition. It lost to Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State and both Michigan schools last year by a combined score of 247-84 (average 32.6 points).
Michigan has won the last six against the Terps by a combined score of 261-59 (average 33.7 points).
I see no reason for this trend to stop, as Michigan will dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and win by close to three touchdowns.
To choose: Michigan -17 (Play until -17.5)
TCU vs. SMU
By Kody Malstrom
After opening at +1.5, this number quickly dropped to -2.5 in most books. It’s for good reason, as TCU was a popular sleeper pick heading into the season after going through massive coaching reviews. Now, he has the opportunity to warn the nation.
The offense should be able to move the ball at will in its new fast-paced Air Raid approach under former SMU head coach Sonny Dykes. SMU builds limited pressure and ranks below average in Havoc, posing little threat to TCU’s downfield progression.
The Horned Frogs defense also underwent a massive overhaul, bringing in Joe Gillespie from Tulsa to implement the 3-3-5. After finishing bottom of the barrel in most defensive categories, TCU has now held both opponents to 17 points or less.
TCU will only get better as the season progresses with SMU on the road before the highly anticipated matchup against Oklahoma the following week.
Look for TCU to handle SMU with ease after a fraudulent box score against Maryland. I’ll take the Horned Frogs at -2.5 or more.
To choose: TCU -1.5 (Play -3)
By Mike Ianiello
Iron Skillet becomes Sonny Dykes Bowl, as TCU’s head coach returns to Dallas after leaving SMU for the Horned Frogs job. He knows this list of Mustangs inside and out.
TCU began the year by mixing freshman Chandler Morris and senior Max Duggan for the quarterback job. Morris is currently injured, so Duggan has the keys. Honestly, the offense has looked more fluid and comfortable with him anyway. He is completing 78% of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Running the ball is the Horned Frogs’ game, and they do it by committee. They are averaging 227.5 rushing yards per game and 6.8 yards per carry on the season. TCU ranks eighth in the nation in rushing explosiveness.
Kendre Miller is the main running back, but he added Louisiana transfer Emani Bailey this offseason, and Wildcat quarterback Sam Jackson is a great gadget player.
Last week against SMU, Maryland ran over the Mustangs for 225 yards and two touchdowns. His lead rusher averaged 9.4 yards per carry with multiple explosive runs.
On the other hand, all the Mustangs do is throw the ball. That’s a tough matchup against a TCU defense that ranks eighth in the country in Defensive Passing Success Rate.
Rashee Rice is a stud to the Mustangs, but he’s really all they’ve got. Last week, he threw 19 balls to him, and all other wide receivers and tight ends combined for 20.
TCU has two great cornerbacks who should be able to limit Rice and force other players to make a play.
There was a lot of talk about signing defensive coordinator Joseph Gillespie from Tulsa. Anyone who has watched the Golden Hurricane defense saw a playoff that consistently cracked the top 25 at Havoc. Well, he’s now brought his plan to Fort Worth.
With Gillespie in charge of defense, the Frogs rank second in the country in Defensive Havoc. Dylan Horton and these forward seven will have plenty of opportunities to close their ears and go after SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai.
TCU opened as the underdog but quickly bet on the favorite. I agree with that line move. I like Horned Frogs at -1.5 and would play them at -2.5 to get the Iron Skillet back.
To choose: TCU -1.5 (Play up to -2.5)
Buffalo vs. Eastern Michigan
Buffalo enters Week 4 of the season still looking for its first win as it heads to Ypsilanti to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
The good news for the Bulls is that they have been successful in recent history against the Eagles. Buffalo has won the last two meetings between the two, including a 43-14 blowout at Ypsilanti in 2018.
The bad news is that I think his winning streak is coming to an end this year. Eastern Michigan is 2-1 on the season, including an upset over Arizona State last weekend as a 20.5-point underdog.
The Eagles rank 38th in offensive finishing units, compared to a Buffalo team that ranks 97th in defensive finishing units. More importantly, the Eagles have yet to get into the red zone this season and haven’t walked away with points, going a perfect 13-for-13 through three games.
Buffalo has allowed more than 450 yards in each game so far this season, and the only one it has led in total yards was against FCS Holy Cross, leading by seven total yards. The Bulls also currently rank 130th in tackles and 104th in defensive success rate.
Our Action Network projections make the Eagles a 13-point favorite, and I’d back them up to a 7-point favorite.