Kramer: Bettor's guide to Week 4 in college football

By Adam Kramer  (VSiN.com) 

September 23, 2022 05:13 PM
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I’m going to warn you. You are about to read a few hundred words about Kansas football. 

Normally, this real estate is reserved for Georgia or Alabama or Ohio State or a theme cascading across college football. Not today. Today we need to talk about undefeated Kansas, a sentence that still is weird and wonderful to type.

The Jayhawks have covered the spread in all three games while scoring 159 points in that span. They are 3-0. Oh, and if you had Kansas Over 2.5 wins entering the season, you cashed that ticket in mid-September. 

It’s not just the fact that the Jayhawks haven’t lost. They’ve won road games at West Virginia and Houston. These are legit teams playing in legit environments.

In less than two years, Lance Leipold has transformed Kansas from CFB’s doormat to a fun team that currently has the nation's No. 3 scoring offense. This unit, led by quarterback Jalon Daniels, is a matchup nightmare.

While Nebraska fans chant Urban Meyer’s name, the program should really be looking toward Lawrence, Kansas, for its next head coach. 

That would have sounded outrageous a few years ago. Now? It would be wise. For now, Leipold is the head coach of one of the greatest stories in college football.

With that said, I don’t know where this is all headed. No, Kansas won’t win the national title. There will be some losses along the way. 

But this is what I love about college football. Seeing a transformation this grand is rare and wonderful.

Where’s this all going? Who cares? Enjoy the ride.

The Appetizer: Football Tidbits and Observations

1. Georgia is very good. We know this because a) we know what good football looks like, b) the Bulldogs absolutely clobbered South Carolina 48-7 as 25-point road favorites, and c) Oregon’s superb win over BYU as a short favorite makes Georgia’s Week 1 win over the Ducks look that much better. Tight end Brock Bowers is a superhero and quarterback Stetson Bennett is a legit Heisman candidate. Also, the point spreads will be large moving forward. The Bulldogs play Kent State, at Missouri, Auburn and Vanderbilt in the next four games. Yowza. 

2. Appalachian State had itself a week. After hosting “College Gameday,” the Mountaineers beat Troy on a walk-off Hail Mary. Troy still comfortably covered the 14-point spread, which I was on, although the loss was truly unbelievable. The Trojans took a safety (on purpose) rather than punt, which brought the score to 28-26. App State followed it up with a miracle win, one week removed from beating Texas A&M. What a wild and weird year.

3. The final minute of the Notre Dame-Cal game was gambling torture. After struggling all afternoon, the Irish picked up what appeared to be a Cal fumble and returned it for a touchdown. The TD would have given the Irish a 14-point lead, and the spread closed at 13.5. The play was reviewed, and Cal ultimately retained the ball. Oh, and Cal almost caught a game-winning Hail Mary (a la App State) at the end. There was a targeting call in between. Weird sequence all around.

4. LSU and Florida State have come a long way since playing a very weird football game in Week 1. FSU beat Louisville while covering the 2.5-point spread despite dealing with some enormous injuries Friday night. LSU came from behind and beat Mississippi State outright as a 3-point underdog at home Saturday. Neither result was a given, although the resolve of both teams was evident. I’m not sure we know how good either team truly is yet, but it wouldn’t shock me to see one (or both) continue to win.

5. At some point, Jimbo Fisher is going to need to change his offensive philosophy. With so much talent in the program, Texas A&M, which beat Miami and covered the 6.5-point spread, can’t continue down the current path of "meh." When Nick Saban brought in Lane Kiffin to man his offense, the trajectory of the program changed forever. It feels like Fisher needs to find his Kiffin come winter. 

6. Herm Edwards is out at Arizona State. This one you could have seen coming in March, although it’s amazing to see how quickly coaches are being fired this season. I’m not sure where Arizona State fits in the hierarchy of openings, but I am fascinated to find out.

The Buffet: The Five Best Games of the Weekend

1. No. 23 Texas A&M (-2, 48) vs. No. 10 Arkansas

The A&M offense isn’t going to be rebuilt this year, although it was better on Saturday. The Aggies have life again after beating Miami and covering the 6.5-point spread. Being without some key contributors due to suspensions didn’t help, although I thought QB Max Johnson did some good things. While A&M covered, Arkansas was just happy to win. Despite being 26.5-point favorites over Missouri State, the Hogs needed to come from behind to secure a 38-27 win. Look-ahead game or natural regression? We will find out soon. A&M is going to need more offense against a team with plenty of it. QB KJ Jefferson is off to a wonderful start, and he could be a problem here.

2. Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State (-17.5, 56) 

The Badgers’ Week 2 loss to Washington State certainly takes some shine away from a game that could be played again as the Big Ten Championship come December. For now, however, the Buckeyes are a sizable home favorite after dropping 77 points on Toledo. (It’s worth noting that the Buckeyes also allowed 21, although they easily covered the 30-point number.) Wisconsin bounced back with a 59-point win over New Mexico State. Running back Braelon Allen scored three touchdowns, and he’s off to a fast start in 2022. Still, he can’t do it by his lonesome. If Wisconsin is to keep this close, and it certainly can, the offense will need to find more ways to produce.

3. No. 5 Clemson (-7, 57) at No. 21 Wake Forest 

At some point, the Clemson offense is going to be a problem. The QB situation is going to linger. Things will bubble over. While the final score was ultimately lopsided enough, the Tigers led Louisiana Tech 13-6 at halftime Saturday. Woof. Wake Forest could be the team (and environment) to bring some of these lingering concerns full circle. Well, maybe. The Demon Deacons nearly lost outright to Liberty as 17-point favorites last week. Maybe it was a look-ahead moment. Maybe it was something more. Either way, we’re about to find out a lot more about both of these teams this week. Wake feels very much alive here.

4. No. 7 USC (-7, 68) at Oregon State

I have bet against USC twice this season. That proved to be an incredibly bad decision both times. While we spent the offseason assessing if the Trojans could match the insane hype, the answer early on is convincingly yes. Caleb Williams has been as advertised at quarterback, quickly shrinking his Heisman odds even more than they already were. Oregon State, however, is a very worthy adversary, having won and covered the spread in all three games. The fact that this game will be played in Corvallis is a significant advantage. While I have been burned betting against the Trojans thus far, I might do so again. Oregon State can really play.

5. No. 20 Florida at No. 11 Tennessee (-9.5, 62.5)

Perhaps the Anthony Richardson Heisman campaign was a tad premature. Sure, we do this every year. But after Florida beat Utah in the opener, many assumed Richardson was destined for greatness. After a loss to Kentucky and a near loss to South Florida as a 23.5-point favorite, the hype surrounding the team and player have cooled. Tennessee is heading in the opposite direction. The Vols have covered all three games and inched closer to the top 10. The offense ranks No. 4 in scoring, and that could spell trouble for a Florida team that looks out of sync. While I have tried to temper enthusiasm for Tennessee, I’m not sure I can or will here. Tennessee might be a force. (Finally.)

Last Call: Parting Shots on Other Games of Note

Texas (-4, 59.5) at Texas Tech

UTSA put a scare into the beat-up Longhorns on Saturday, although Texas ultimately covered the spread. While Tech lost to NC State on the road, this will be a tricky road spot for the Longhorns.

Notre Dame (-1, 60.5) at North Carolina 

I’m curious to see where this line goes. At the moment, Notre Dame does not appear all that functional on offense. UNC, coming off a bye, can really post points. Early lean on the home team.

Oregon (-6, 53.5) at Washington State

Don’t sleep on this one. Coming off a huge win over BYU, Oregon has a fascinating road trip to Wazzu. Washington State is unbeaten, has a win over Wisconsin and could absolutely pull off this upset.

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