Week 4 of the college football season features some intriguing matchups within the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12. With that in mind, here are our previews and predictions (points spreads courtesy of DraftKings, and current at the time of publication, but subject to change) for games featuring teams in The Associated Press Top 25.
All times Eastern. Statistics in parentheses from this season, unless otherwise noted.
1 of 25
Kent State (1-2) at No. 1 Georgia (3-0), Noon, Saturday, ESPN+/SEC Network
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Simply put, Georgia is still really good at football. The reigning national champs have outscored then-No. 11 Oregon, Samford, and South Carolina 130-10. The Bulldogs’ defense, which had some questions after losing a host of key performers, has yielded just 747 total yards (251 passing) and forced six turnovers. Give Kent State credit for taking on another perennial power after losing at Washington and Oklahoma by a combined 55 points.
Prediction: Georgia (-45 1/2)
2 of 25
No. 17 Baylor (2-1, 0-0 in Big 12) at Iowa State (3-0, 0-0 in Big 12), Noon, Saturday, ESPN2
Scott Wachter/USA TODAY Sports
Baylor is the ranked team here, but Iowa State has made some early noise — notably winning at rival Iowa on Sept. 10. The Cyclones, who last started 4-0 in 2000, are getting it done with a defense that’s allowed 27 points in three games, Meanwhile, Baylor has blown out two smaller programs but managed just 20 points in a loss at then-BYU on Sept. 10. We expect the Iowa State faithful to be out in full force as their squad looks for a third straight home win over the Bears.
Prediction: Iowa State (-2 1/2)
3 of 25
Maryland (3-0, 0-0 in Big Ten) at No. 4 Michigan (3-0, 0-0 in Big Ten), Noon, Saturday, Fox
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Maryland is trying to go 4-0 for a second straight season, and Taulia Tagovailoa (68-for-88, 895 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions) is a stud, but they’ve been outscored 261-59 during a five-game losing streak to the Wolverines. Tagovailoa went 19-for-33 for 178 yards with a touchdown and interception during Michigan’s 59-18 2021 rout of the Terps. For as much that is made of the Wolverines’ offense, their defense has allowed 17 points and 582 yards of total offense in three games — albeit against sub-par programs in Colorado State, Hawaii, and UConn.
Prediction: Michigan (-17)
4 of 25
Central Michigan (1-2) at No. 14 Penn State (3-0), Noon, Saturday, Big Ten Network
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The Nittany Lions are off to an impressive start by opening with a tight win at Purdue and now rolling over Auburn on the Plains. While the latter may prove less noteworthy as the season progresses, Penn State is garnering due attention. So too has freshman running back Nick Singleton, who’s gained 303 yards, on 20 carries, and four touchdowns in the last two weeks. CMU allowed 273 rushing yards in losses to Oklahoma State and South Alabama. Chippewas’ Lew Nichols III, the nation’s top rusher in 2021, was held to 92 yards in those defeats before breaking out for 166 against Bucknell last weekend. Penn State is allowing an average of 96 rushing yards.
Prediction: Penn State (-28)
5 of 25
Rhode Island (2-1) at No. 24 Pittsburgh (2-1), Noon, Saturday, ACC Network
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Pitt has already played three quarterbacks this season, and health, obviously, will dictate who is on the field. Though Kedon Slovis remains the top option. We could see more than one Pitt player under center this weekend, even against a Rhode Island squad ranked No. 20 in the STATS/TSN FCS Poll. The Panthers have won 10 straight and 20 of their last 21 meetings against FCS opponents dating to the start of the 1998 season.
Prediction: Pittsburgh (OFF)
6 of 25
No. 5 Clemson (3-0, 1-0 in ACC) at No. 21 Wake Forest (3-0, 0-0 in ACC), Noon, Saturday, ABC
Bart Boatwright/Staff/USA TODAY
The outcome of this matchup could very well determine the winner of the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Clemson, which has handled a relatively easy start to its 2022 schedule, has won 13 consecutive matchups with Wake, dating back to a 12-7 road loss in 2008. For the Demon Deacons, a victory over Clemson would obviously be a major statement . However, Wake’s Sam Hartman has completed just 53.6 percent of his passes for 568 yards with a single touchdown and two interceptions, while being sacked 15 times, in three games versus Clemson. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ Will Shipley ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns during a 48-27 home win over the Deacons last season.
Prediction: Clemson (-7)
7 of 25
Middle Tennessee (2-1) at No. 25 Miami, Fla. (2-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports
The Hurricanes failed their first real test of 2022, falling 17-9 at then-No. 24 Texas A&M. Sure, the Hurricanes’ defense played well, but the offense was held without a touchdown. There might be something to make of that as Miami’s schedule gets more challenging in ACC play, but scoring should not be a problem this weekend. Since the start of the 1989 season, MTSU is 0-24 against Top 25 opponents. Each of its last four such games has been decided by at least 19 points.
Prediction: Miami, Fla. (-26 1/2)
8 of 25
No. 20 Florida (2-1, 0-1 in SEC) at No. 11 Tennessee (3-0, 0-0 in SEC), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS
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Tennessee opened a 10-point favorite over rival Florida. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, via OddsShark, that’s the largest favorable spread for the Vols in this series for at least a quarter century. Tennessee has also dropped five straight and 16 of the last 17 to Gators. However, Hendon Hooker (844 passing yards, six touchdowns) and Tennessee’s offense is putting up an average of 52 points and playing with plenty of confidence. Florida, meanwhile, remains an enigma through its first three games. Meaning it might be tough for the Gators to keep up amid the rowdy confines of Neyland Stadium.
Prediction: Florida (+10)
9 of 25
No. 22 Texas (2-1, 0-1 in Big 12) at Texas Tech (2-1, 0-0 in Big 12), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Scott Wachter/USA TODAY Sports
Another potentially difficult challenge for a ranked Big 12 team on the road . Yes, the Longhorns have won four straight in this series, and six in a row at Texas Tech, but each of the last three meetings in Lubbock were decided by eight or fewer points. Of course, Texas has Bijan Robinson, who ran for 183 yards and three touchdowns during last weekend’s 41-20 win over UTSA. The Red Raiders, who knocked off then-No. 25 Houston at home earlier this month, are allowing just 2.9 rush yards per carry.
Prediction: Texas (-6 1/2)
10 of 25
Tulsa (2-1) at No.16 Mississippi (3-0), 4 p.m., Saturday, SEC Network
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The Ole Miss offense gets plenty of pub, but what about the defense? That Rebels unit has allowed just 13 points, one touchdown and 793 total yards to Troy, Central Arkansas and Georgia Tech. Tulsa, however, can score the football, averaging 43 points per game so far. The Golden Hurricane also boasts quarterback Davis Brin, who enters Week 4 with a national-leading 1,206 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and one interception. This should be a decent test for the Mississippi defense.
Prediction: Tulsa (+21 1/2)
11 of 25
No. 15 Oregon (2-1, 0-0 in Pac-12) at Washington State (3-0, 0-0 in Pac-12), 4 p.m., Saturday, Fox
Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard/USA TODAY NETWORK
Looking to start 4-0 for the first time since 2017, Washington State posted a big win at then-No. 19 Wisconsin on Sept. 10, but Oregon appears to be a different beast. Rolling to a 41-20 home win over then-No. 12 BYU was pretty impressive for the Ducks, who are starting to show some offensive balance. Oregon has won three in a row against the Cougars, and we see that trend continuing while averaging 205 rushing yards. Washington State gave up 174 yards on the ground at Wisconsin.
Prediction: Oregon (-6 1/2)
12 of 25
Northern Illinois (1-2) at No. 8 Kentucky (3-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2
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The Wildcats aim to conclude a perfect non-conference slate with a 13th straight home victory outside the SEC. With running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. suspended , Kentucky has totaled just 223 yards on the ground this season. However, NIU has yielded 445 and an average of 4.2 yards per carry through its first three games. The reigning Mid-American Conference champion Huskies are facing a second straight SEC team after blowing a 14-point second-half lead and could be without injured starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi. Which would not bode well against a Wildcats’ defense that’s yielded 29 points in 2022.
Prediction: Kentucky (-25 1/2)
13 of 25
No. 10 Arkansas (3-0, 1-0 in SEC) vs. No. 23 Texas A&M (2-1, 0-0 in SEC), at Arlington, Texas, 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
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A season ago, Texas A&M was a top-10 team, but then-No. 16 Arkansas took down the Aggies 20-10, to snap a nine-game skid in the series. This year, it’s the Razorbacks sporting the higher ranking and looking to solidify itself as a major player within the SEC this season. The Hogs’ KJ Jefferson threw for two touchdowns and ran for 50 yards versus Texas A&M this season. Yet, the X-factor could be how well Aggies quarterback Max Johnson fares against an Arkansas defense that could be generous while allowing 27 points and 352.7 passing yards per contest.
Prediction: Arkansas (+2)
14 of 25
Vanderbilt (3-1, 0-0 in SEC) at No. 2 Alabama (3-0, 0-0 in SEC), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, SEC Network
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OK, Vandy has already surpassed its two-win total from the previous two seasons, but that does not mean it’s in a position to pull off a shocker in Tuscaloosa. Though these schools last met in 2017, Alabama has won 22 straight in the series and posted a shutout in each of the last two. In fact, the Commodores have not scored more than 10 points in any of the last seven meetings. That said, keep an eye on Vanderbilt receiver Will Sheppard, who caught 10 passes for 171 yards at Northern Illinois last week, and leads the nation with seven receiving touchdowns.
Prediction: Alabama (-40 1/2)
15 of 25
Connecticut (1-3) at No. 12 North Carolina State (3-0), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN3
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N.C. State has bounced back nicely from that season-opening scare at East Carolina. And, last week’s 27-14 home win over Texas Tech was an example of a good team taking care of a worthy opponent. We expect the Wolfpack to have an even easier time against UConn, which has lost its last 10 road games by an average margin of 30.8 points after falling 59-0 at No. 4 Michigan last weekend. This could get ugly quite early.
Prediction: N.C. State (-39)
16 of 25
Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0 in Big Ten) at No. 3 Ohio State (3-0, 0-0 in Big Ten), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC
Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK
After dropping 77 on Toledo, Ohio State looks to continue its dominance of the Badgers. The Buckeyes have won the last eight meetings with Wisconsin, and five in a row at Columbus. Wisconsin has another stout defense, allowing 24 points in three games, but C.J. Stroud (62-for-85, 941 yards, 11 touchdowns, no interceptions) is playing at a Heisman level. And, even if running back TreVeyon Henderson isn’t healthy enough to go, the Buckeyes still have loads of talent to continue its success in this series.
Prediction: Ohio State (-19)
17 of 25
Kansas State (2-1, 0-0 in Big 12) at No. 6 Oklahoma (3-0, 0-0 in Big 12), 8 p.m., Saturday, Fox
Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
The Big 12 has four ranked teams and another two that are undefeated. However, the Sooners appear to be the class of the conference at the moment. Brent Venables’ first Oklahoma team is getting it done on both sides of the ball, outscoring opponents 127-30. Yes, K-State stunned the Sooners in the last meeting at Norman in 2020 and won two of the last three matchups. However, Oklahoma is playing extremely well and should stay in control of this one.
Prediction: Oklahoma (-13)
18 of 25
No. 7 USC (3-0, 1-0 in Pac-12) at Oregon State (3-0, 0-0 in Pac-12), 9:30 p.m., Saturday, Pac-12 Network
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We have not forgotten that USC got pounded by 18 points at Oregon State last season. However, these are no longer Clay Helton’s Trojans. With high-profile transfers Caleb Williams (64-for-86 for 874 yards, eight touchdowns; two rushing touchdowns), Travis Dye (227 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and Jordan Addison (18 receptions, 295 yards, five touchdowns) leading the way and living up to their preseason hype, USC is averaging 50.7 points and showing no signs of slowing down.
Prediction: USC (-6 1/2)
19 of 25
Wyoming (3-1) at No. 19 BYU (2-1), 10:15 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2
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BYU was able to pull out a home victory over then-No. 9 Baylor, but its defense was humbled during last weekend’s 41-20 loss at then-No. 25 Oregon. The Ducks racked up 439 total yards, including 212 on the ground, against the Cougars. Wyoming is undefeated since a rough 38-6 loss at Illinois and just took down a tough Air Force squad. There is plenty of reason to believe BYU will bounce back, but it will be interesting to see if the Cougars do so in decisive fashion.
Prediction: Wyoming (+21 1/2)
20 of 25
No.13 Utah (2-1, 0-0 in Pac-12) at Arizona State (1-2, 0-0 in Pac-12), 10:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
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Herm Edwards is no longer the coach at ASU, but it likely won’t matter, considering Utah has outscored Southern Utah and San Diego State 108-14 since falling at Florida to open the season. Sure, the Utes are just 1-9 at Arizona State since the start of the 1981 season, but things are different this year. Utah is poised to repeat at Pac-12 champion, while the Sun Devils’ program appears to be at a crossroads.
Prediction: Utah (-14 1/2)
21 of 25
Stanford (1-1, 0-1 in Pac-12) at No. 18 Washington (3-0, 0-0 in Pac-12), 10:30 p.m., Saturday, FS1
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
Is Kalen DeBoer the early favorite for national coach of the year? Well, after taking out then-No. 11 Michigan State last weekend, Washington is in a position to go 4-0 for the first time since 2017. Michael Penix Jr. (1,079 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, one interception) is playing at a high level — and yet to be sacked. After winning at Stanford last season, the Huskies will try to win back-to-back contests in this series for the first time since a six-game run from 1995-2003. The Cardinal, meanwhile, have dropped three straight against Top 25 opponents.
Prediction: Washington (-13 1/2)
22 of 25
Duke (3-0) at Kansas (3-0), Noon, Saturday, FS1
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Traditionally an elite college basketball matchup, but this year, these hardcourt rivals meet on the gridiron, where each is undefeated. The Jayhawks, with victories at West Virginia and Houston, already have one more win than they did the previous two seasons and have not won four games — or started 4-0 — since 2009. That was also the last time Kansas beat Duke, which last opened with four straight victories in 2018. The Jayhawks rank seventh in the country, averaging 259.0 rushing yards per game, while the Blue Devils are also among the nation’s best while gaining 5.9 per carry on the ground.
Prediction: Duke (+7 1/2)
23 of 25
Minnesota (3-0, 0-0 in Big Ten) at Michigan State (2-1, 0-0 in Big Ten), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Big Ten Network
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After beating up a pair of MAC teams, Michigan State was brought back down to earth with that 11-point loss at then-unranked Washington last weekend. Meanwhile, Minnesota has outscored the likes of New Mexico State, Western Illinois and Colorado by a combined 95 points, but this is its first real challenge, while also on the road for the first time, in 2022. The Spartans have won five straight in this series, including the last three at East Lansing — where the Gophers have totaled 35 points in those road contests.
Prediction: Michigan State (2 1/2)
24 of 25
Iowa (2-1, 0-0 in Big Ten) at Rutgers (3-0, 0-0 in Big Ten), 7 p.m., FS1
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Iowa outscored Rutgers 44-7 in winning its two meetings (2016, ’19) as Big Ten members. However, these Hawkeyes have totaled 41 points during its first three games this season — all at home. Then again, they’ve allowed just 13. Iowa is a sizable road favorite, but the environment should be rocking under the lights as the Scarlet Knights try to open 4-0 for the first time since 2012. Iowa ran for 162 yards during a 27-0 win over Nevada last weekend, but Rutgers has yielded just 97 rushing yards in 2022.
Prediction: Iowa (-7 1/2)
25 of 25
James Madison (2-0, 0-0 in Sun Belt) at Appalachian State (2-1, 1-0 in Sun Belt), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN+
Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports
Appalachian State seems to be the darling of the first few weeks of the 2021 defeats. High-scoring games (63-61 loss to North Carolina), massive upsets (17-14 win at then-No. 6 Texas A&M), and last-second victories (Hail Mary finish to beat Troy). This weekend could bring another intriguing Sun Belt Conference matchup in James Madison, the former FCS power that’s off to a solid start (outscoring Middle Tennessee and Norfolk State 107-14) during its first FBS season.
Prediction: Appalachian State (-7)
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.