Week 4 college football predictions and previews for Friday September 22

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

September 20, 2023 04:20 PM

Week 4 schedule Friday games: Wisconsin vs. Purdue, NC State vs. Virginia, Boise State vs. San Diego State, Air Force vs. San Jose State

Friday Night Lights Week 4 College Football Edition brings us a four-pack of conference matchups, as we’ve got two games early and two games late for a “Choose Your Own Adventure” doubleheader.

Early action comes from West Lafayette and Charlottesville, as Purdue hosts Wisconsin for a Big Ten West battle and Virginia welcomes NC State for an ACC showdown. The two late games are both Mountain West matchups, with Boise State on the road to take on San Diego State and Air Force also in California to battle San Jose State.

I’ll spotlight my favorite play of the four games and also hit on the other three.

Week 4 Hub | College football odds | College football betting splits

(Odds as of September 20, 2:00 p.m. PT)

NC State Wolfpack (-9.5, 48) at Virginia Cavaliers

The weather along the Eastern seaboard is a big focus for Saturday and Sunday, but it looks like they’ll be able to get this one completed before the bad stuff moves in. That is really important for NC State because the Wolfpack offense needs to be able to throw the football.

While it looks like the Wolfpack have achieved some balance with 121 carries and 106 pass attempts, QB Brennan Armstrong is responsible for 37 carries, leading the team by 12 in that department. It does seem like Armstrong and former OC turned current OC Robert Anae may have figured some things out in the second half against Notre Dame and in last week’s controlled scrimmage against VMI.

This is mostly a fade of Virginia. An emotionally-charged bunch mourning the losses of three teammates and celebrating the life of the one still with them from last November’s shooting put forth an enormous effort against James Madison, only to lose 36-35. The Cavaliers were then no match for Maryland last week.

In three games, UVA has allowed 127 points, so that should be a good sign for Armstrong as he returns to the school where he began his collegiate career way back in 2018. Meanwhile, the Virginia offense has scored 27 points in two games against FBS opponents. While NC State looks to be a little bit of a question mark the rest of the way, they’re the superior team in this one and Virginia’s defense is extremely bad. Plus, they’re not well-coached and Dave Doeren is very solid for NC State.

My Power Ratings have this game at NC State -12 and with the weather concerns coming later in the night, I like the Wolfpack here.

Pick: NC State -9.5 (would play up to -10)

Other Week 4 Friday Games

Wisconsin Badgers (-6, 53.5) at Purdue Boilermakers: The Luke Fickell era is off to a slow start in Madison. The final score says that Wisconsin had their way with Georgia Southern, but the box score tells a dramatically different story. The yardage was 455-451 in favor of the Eagles, who did throw 52 times and were outgained 6.5 to 5.7 yards per play. It was the six turnovers for the Eagles that defined the game.

Purdue has been outgained on a yards per play basis while going 1-2 against Fresno State, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse, even though Hudson Card has actually played pretty well. Wisconsin held a really great QB in Cameron Ward in check in the loss to Washington State, but three lost fumbles, including one returned for a touchdown, played a huge role.

Purdue allowed over six yards per play to Fresno State and Syracuse, while holding a bad Virginia Tech team to just 4.6. Wisconsin is the best team that the Boilermakers have faced to this point. I like NC State, but I’ll also have some Wisconsin -6 and would play it up to -7, which is what my line is.

Boise State Broncos (-6.5, 45) at San Diego State Aztecs: The Broncos could very well be 2-1, as they fell victim to a 55-yard game-winner from UCF on the blue turf two weeks ago and then had a get-right game against a North Dakota team that comes from a very strong Missouri Valley Conference at the FCS ranks. ND was the 127th-ranked team in the nation per Sagarin last year, which means they graded better than quite a few FBS schools. They rank higher than 22 FBS schools this season.

While San Diego State is not one of them, the Aztecs would be 1-3 if Kurtis Rourke had stayed healthy in Week 1 and the only win for SDSU would be an eight-point triumph over a terrible Idaho State team. Since beating the Bengals at home, the Aztecs have been outscored 61-19 by UCLA and Oregon State.

This is my biggest power ratings overlay for Friday (-11.5), but I’m concerned that I have not adjusted Boise State enough for two really bad performances on defense against UCF and Washington. UCF had 8.6 yards per play, but somehow finished with only 18 points, so I think there was some fool’s gold from that performance for the Broncos. I’m not betting this one.

Air Force Falcons (-4.5, 47) at San Jose State Spartans: This game got some pub in my Week 4 CFB Situational Spots article. It’s a rough spot for San Jose State, who played a great defensive game against Toledo last week, but came up short. Now they have to defend the option on a short week after a cross-country flight back home following a late game in Toledo on Saturday.

This is a modest step up in class for Air Force after facing Robert Morris, Sam Houston State, and Utah State, plus it is the first road game for the Falcons. If nothing else, San Jose State should have more offensive potential with the limited number of possessions likely coming against an option team. The market has moved this from -3.5 to -4.5 and away from my number of -1, so I won’t have a bet, but will be looking to make adjustments to my power ratings if the game plays out as the market believes.

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