HN Staff 6-Pack of College Football Picks for Week 4

September 21, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The staff returns for another season of college football picks against the spread. Each week we’ll select six games.


Jon Miller 10-8 overall/3-3 last week

Rob Howe 10-8/5-1

Sean Neugent 9-9/3-3

David Schwartz 9-9/3-3

Here’s the Week 4 slate:

Wisconsin (-3.5) at Iowa

Rob Howe: The Hawkeyes have scored one offensive touchdown in their last three meetings with Wisconsin. That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. I don’t think this Badger defense is a good as what they’ve had the last several years, however. I think Iowa wins a close one here so I’ll definitely take the points.

Jon Miller:  I watched nearly the entire BYU-Wisconsin game.  I don’t think Wisconsin’s defense is nearly as good as it has been in recent years, but in recent years they have been among the best in the nation.  Still, I think Iowa’s zone blocking scheme invites trouble upon itself, and the Badgers have played it better than anyone.  However, I think Brian Ferentz will do a little zigging this year when the Badgers are expecting him to zag.  It’s all about execution, but I think Iowa wins this game outright so I will take the Hawkeyes and the points.

David Schwartz: The Hawkeyes win this one straight up in one of the lowest-scoring, most brutal Big Ten games of the season. Iowa plus the points at home.

Sean Neugent: Under the lights at Kinnick? You have to pick the Hawks, right? Not so fast. I believe if any team could lose last week and come into a hostile environment and win it’s the Badgers. Before the season, I picked Iowa to win this game and for the Hawks to lose to ISU. I flip-flopped before the Cyclones game to pick Iowa. And, I’m doing the same with this game. Until Iowa proves me wrong and beats Wisconsin, I have to go with the Badgers, 17-13.

Stanford (-2) at Oregon

Howe: I’m not convinced Oregon is back considering it’s beaten up on three bad teams. With Bryce Love expected back this week and the Cardinal’s stingy defense, the visitors are the better squad. I throw the deuce.

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Miller: Stanford…this line has moved from the Ducks being two-point favorites to Stanford being favored.  That doesn’t guarantee a cover, but I will take The Cardinal.

Schwartz: Vegas is giving the Ducks a lot of unearned credit by making them just two-point dogs, even if they are at home. They’re undefeated, but they haven’t yet played a challenging opponent, whereas Stanford already has a win against USC. The Ducks are still in rebuild mode. The Cardinal and lay the two points.

Neugent: Stanford RB Bryce Love is back following a one-week injury hiatus, which alone is huge. The Cardinal crushed Oregon last year 49-7 and already has a quality win on the season in beating USC 17-3, while the Ducks have yet to play anyone. However, the victory over the Trojans is not looking so great now after Texas demolished them 37-14 last week. I don’t see Oregon as quite the high-powered team they were for a while there, but they are making steps in the right direction. They should play better than they did last year, especially at home. Still, I’ll take Stanford to win 30-20.

TCU (-3.5) at Texas

Howe: Can the Horned Frogs bounce back from last week’s tough loss to Ohio State? Was the Longhorns’ win against USC a mirage? I can’t bet Texas losing at Maryland out of my mind. I’ll take TCU and lay the points.

Miller:  It feels like Vegas wants me to take Texas here.  So I won’t.  I will lay the three and a half, but the hook is concerning.

Schwartz: TCU couldn’t hang with Ohio State last week, but really, how many teams in college football can hang with the Buckeyes—maybe six or seven? Texas was supposed to be better this season, but they haven’t made the leap that many predicted. The Longhorns being favored by so little at home shows that the oddsmakers don’t trust this team, and neither do I. I’m going TCU and giving up the 3.5.

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Neugent: Are the Longhorns getting better or is USC still adjusting to a new quarterback? The last few years they have been such an up-and-down team, you never really know which one you are going to get. TCU put up over 500 yards on Ohio State and looked like a solid team, both rushing and passing the ball. Mistakes against OSU were costly in the 12-point loss. The Longhorns are going to need to start quicker than they did last week in the USC win if they want to beat TCU. I like consistency and the Horned Frogs are that. So, I’ll take TCU to win 33-26.

Akron (+19) at Iowa St.

Howe: The Zips are coming off the upset at Northwestern while ISU is searching for its first win. I think they Cyclones get it but I don’t see them covering 19 points.

Miller: It’s an emotional week on ISU’s campus.  Akron also beat Northwestern.  Still, I will go with the Cyclones and lay the 19, here and David Montgomery goes off.

Schwartz: Akron is 2-0, including a win at Northwestern. I think Iowa State wins this game, but 19 is a huge spread against a team that hasn’t lost yet. Akron and take the points.

Neugent: This is quite the spread considering the Zips win at Northwestern. The Cyclones looked like a solid team last week, despite losing by 10 to Oklahoma. They have some playmaking potential, especially with Hakeem Butler. QB Zeb Noland threw for over 300 yards last week in replacing injured starter Kyle Kempt. This game will be an emotional one inside Jack Trice Stadium following a tribute to Celia Barquin Arozamena, and should be a good crowd on hand to see the Cyclones first victory of the season. I think the ISU offense will be tough for Akron to matchup against. I’ll take the Cyclones 40-20.

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Michigan St. (-4.5) at Indiana

Howe: I really want to go with the Hoosiers here. I really do. I just can’t. Sparty is coming off a bye, and the defense is really good and wasn’t the reason for losing at Arizona State.

Miller:  Again, this feels like a trap line…trap or not, if MSU doesn’t cover this line, they have trouble on their hands for the rest of the year.  I will take the Spartans with confidence.

Schwartz: The undefeated Hoosiers have yet to be challenged. MSU came up short against Arizona State. This spread seems right on the mark, so the question is: Do you think Indiana has improved enough to stay within a touchdown of MSU? It’s too soon to tell, but we have to pick a winner, so I’ll take Indiana at home plus the points.

Neugent: The Spartans have been subpar so far this season, nearly losing to Utah State and losing to ASU. They were my pick to win the B1G East, and at this point, I don’t see them finishing in the top three of the East. Indiana has not been tested as of yet, but QB Peyton Ramsey is a 74 percent passer, leading the B1G. MSU has had two weeks to prepare for Indiana, which can be a good thing. However, with the way their offense struggled vs. ASU, I think it is a detriment to them. I don’t think they will click quite yet, while Indiana should be able to score on the Spartans defense. I like Indiana to win for only the second time in the last 10 games against MSU, which would make two in a row at home. Hoosiers are victorious in a close one, 26-20.

Minnesota (+3) at Maryland

Howe: These teams are offensively challenged. Usually that leads me to the underdog but I think the Gophers are a hollow 3-0. Maryland does have the win against Texas. That’s enough for me to go Terps minus the points.

Miller:  I will take the three points and go with the Gophers, only because Maryland’s ‘home field’ advantage really isn’t all that imposing, and I like the way Minnesota is playing.

Schwartz: The Terps beat Texas—which may or may not be a big deal—and got blown out by Temple. The Gophers haven’t lost, but similar to undefeated Iowa and Indiana, they haven’t played the toughest of schedules. It’s hard to get that Temple loss out of my head, and this is a tough one to pick, but I’ll take the Gophers on the road plus the three.

Neugent: Following two solid offensive games, the Maryland offense went ice cold vs. Temple last weekend. That isn’t looking good against a team that has held the ball for over 35 minutes per game in Minnesota. Still, the Terrapins beat the Golden Gophers last year in Minneapolis. Although in the only two B1G matchups — 2016 and 2017 — the away team has won. Maryland has been tested more with a victory over Texas. I see Maryland’s offense bouncing back and put one in the win column, 30-17.

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