Week 4 of the college football season had massive wins for G5 teams with SMU and App State winning games against Power Five schools on the road. Unfortunately, we need to mention a major upset with UCF falling to Pitt in the final minute, ending their 25-game regular season winning streak. We also can’t forget about the Tulane and Houston game which had an improbable ending with the Green Wave winning and covering the spread against the Cougars on the last play of the game. Let’s hope Week 5 brings the same excitement. The early lines have been released and here are my thoughts and early leans on the matchups.
SMU at USF
Spread: SMU - 7
The Mustangs had a big win over TCU in a rivalry game that ended their eight-game losing streak to the Horned Frogs. It’s clear now that SMU not only has one of the top offenses in the AAC but the entire country. They should be ranked in the top 25, but the AP poll still has teams like Michigan in the rankings. USF had a bye week after destroying SC State in their last game. This has the makings of a letdown spot for SMU and I can see this game being competitive for a half before SMU takes control. I see this line going up before kickoff. If you like SMU in this game, I would bet it early.
SMU should win and cover the spread
Cincinnati at Marshall
Spread: Marshall + 3
Both teams had a bye week to prepare for what should be a great game Saturday in Huntington, WV. The Bearcats had a win over Miami University by double digits and Marshall had an impressive win over Ohio. Cincinnati has a very good defense, and the offense is led by quarterback Desmond Ridder and tailback Michael Warren II who has over 400 yards rushing and four touchdowns. The Marshall offense played great against Ohio after falling apart in the second half in their loss at Boise State. One key for Marshall will be the availability of running back Brenden Knox, who had 133 yards against Ohio but did not play in the second half due to injury. I lean Marshall due to their great home-field advantage, but I’m going to wait on this game until more is known about the injury to Knox.
Lean Marshall in this matchup
Arkansas State at Troy
Spread: Arkansas State + 7
What a way to kick off Sun Belt play with a huge game between two of the top teams in the conference. Troy is coming off a non-conference road win at Akron and Arkansas State beat Southern Illinois last Saturday night in Jonesboro. This looks to be an even matchup on paper. I favor Troy, but I like the Red Wolves getting seven points in this game. Both teams have explosive offenses and very good quarterbacks. Red Wolves quarterback Logan Bonner had a big game on Saturday with 320 yards and four touchdowns. Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker accounted for four touchdowns as well in the Trojans’ win over Akron. Troy will be without one of the top backs in the Sun Belt and the Preseason Sun Belt Offensive Player of the year B.J. Smith. Smith injured his knee in the loss to Southern Miss two weeks ago. It will be interesting to see how much the absence of Smith alters the Troy offense in conference play.
I like Arkansas State and the points in this game
East Carolina at Old Dominion
Spread: Old Dominion -1.5
Old Dominion gave Virginia all they could handle in the Cavaliers’ comeback win. The Monarchs scored the the first 17 points of the game and showed they could compete with a Top 25 opponent. Old Dominion’s starting quarterback Stone Smartt did have a costly interception, but overall he played well against one of the top defenses in the country. Smartt is a good athlete, and if he can continue to develop as a passer the Monarchs will be a tough opponent for anyone on their schedule. East Carolina had a twelve-point win over William & Mary in a game that the Pirates struggled throughout. If not for kicker Jake Verity, they might not have been able to escape with a victory. Look for the Monarchs to bounce back from the loss to UVA with a win over ECU.
I like ODU to win and cover Saturday evening