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MC&J: Week 4 nationally in college football is loaded with fun matchups

Outside of the Big Ten, there are four matchups of teams in the Top 25, with three of those games coming from the Pac-12.

Hawaii v Oregon Photo by Ali Gradischer/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 10-10 (3-4 National, 7-6 B1G)

Season ATS: 32-32 (12-18 National, 20-14 B1G)

The last couple weeks it feels like we have been treading water a bit. There have been some good picks, bad picks, lucky picks, and unlucky picks. I have been way off on my Ohio State picks so far this year, but pretty good on a lot of other Big Ten picks — although I am still steamed at Iowa scoring late to pad Brian Ferentz’s point total. Hawkeye fans deserve to have to deal with the loser son of Kirk Ferentz for the next 50 years.

My national picks have been dreadful, but hopefully that can change this week on a fun Saturday schedule. Unlike last week where we struggled to find some interesting games to picks, there was no problem finding eight entertaining contests to predict.

National games:

No. 4 Florida State (-2.5) v. Clemson - 12:00 p.m. ET - ABC

Lately this annual matchup has belonged to Clemson, with the Tigers winning the last seven games between the schools. If there was ever a year for the Seminoles to snap their losing streak against Clemson it has to be this year, right? Florida State came out of the gates hot, beating LSU and blowing out Southern Miss in their first two games of the season, leading to a lot of talk that the Seminoles are BACK!

While Florida State appears to be on the rise, Clemson has come back to the pack in the ACC over the last few years. As much as I can’t stand Dabo, I still think the Tigers are a really good team. I know they lost to Duke in the opener, but I feel like they’ll be fired up and ready to go at home on Saturday. Clemson has gained some confidence with a couple easy wins after losing to Duke their opener.

On the other side, I feel like Florida State might be a little overrated, especially after nearly blowing last week’s game at lowly Boston College. Clemson makes it eight straight wins over the Seminoles.

Clemson 27, Florida State 24

No. 16 Oklahoma (-14.5) v. Cincinnati - 12:00 p.m. ET - FOX

Welcome to the Big 12, Cincinnati! Your first conference game is against Oklahoma. After struggling last season, Brent Venables has his team rolling through the first three games of their final season in the Big 12. Dillon Gabriel has been nearly perfect this season, totaling 12 touchdowns through three games, and missing on just 14 of his 80 pass attempts. Even though their competition hasn’t been great, the defense of the Sooners has handled their business, only giving up 28 points so far this year.

There was an expected fall off for the Bearcats after Luke Fickell left for Wisconsin, but I don’t think they expected to fall to Miami (OH), snapping a 16-game winning streak over the RedHawks. It may look like former Ohio State commit Emory Jones, who is now at his third school, has played well to start the year, but don’t let the numbers fool you. Seven of his touchdowns this year came in the opener against Eastern Kentucky.

I’m just not convinced the Bearcats can keep up with a Sooner team that is playing with a lot of confidence to start the year.

Oklahoma 44, Cincinnati 23

No. 19 Colorado v. No. 10 Oregon (-21) - 3:30 p.m. ET - ABC

Colorado has been the best story in college football so far this year. The Buffaloes are so good that I found a way to stay up till 2:30 a.m. to see how their game against Colorado State ended. That is no small feat since I’m old and rarely can stay up that late any more. I’m sure if it was almost any other team playing I probably would have been passed out by one in the morning.

For as fun as Colorado has been this year, I think those good vibes come to an end this week. If we’re being honest, the Buffaloes should have lost last week. Colorado State had 145 personal foul penalties and Jay Norvell handed the game to Colorado with his cowardice. Losing Travis Hunter is a massive blow to the Buffaloes, since he has a huge impact on both sides of the football.

Winning by more than 21 points against Colorado probably sounds a little crazy with how the Buffaloes can put points on the board. Colorado State was able to give teams a bit of a blueprint on how to slow down Deion’s team. Be physical and just be sure to play smarter than the Rams did. I trust Dan Lanning’s team to be able to do just that.

Oregon shows they are a legitimate CFP contender with a convincing with over Colorado.

Oregon 52, Colorado 21

No. 22 UCLA v. No. 11 Utah (-4.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - FOX

It looks like UCLA will be in good hands over the next few years with Dante Moore at quarterback. The freshman has been great for the Bruins in wins over Coastal Carolina, San Diego State, and NC Central. Having success on the road in Salt Lake City is a whole different animal, though. I feel like Moore and the offense might be a little ahead of pace right now, but they are going to come back to earth against a tough Utah defense.

I bet Utah wishes they had a definitive answer at quarterback right now. As of writing this, it is still unknown if Cam Rising is going to make his season debut on Saturday. Even without Rising, the Utes are still 3-0 to start the season. It hasn’t been pretty at times for Kyle Whittingham’s teams, but they’ve found ways to stay perfect so far this season. Even if Rising doesn’t play, I still like Utah in this one, as Nate Johnson builds on a solid performance last week.

Utah 28, UCLA 20

No. 15 Ole Miss v. No. 13 Alabama (-7) - 3:30 p.m. ET - CBS

First former Alabama assistant Steve Sarkisian came back to Tuscaloosa and handed Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide a loss. Now it’s Lane Kiffin’s turn to try and stick it to his former boss. Last year Kiffin almost got one over on Saban in Oxford before Alabama rallied to win 30-24. This year feels like the Rebels have a better shot at snapping an eight-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide.

I’m not going to start digging Saban’s grave just yet, but it’s obvious this isn’t one of his better teams since he has been head coach at Alabama. After missing last week’s game, Jalen Milroe will start this week. Milroe is just too inconsistent to trust. I’ll gladly take the points with Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart and running back Quinshon Judkins. Let’s get real wild and pick the Rebels to hand Alabama their second loss before the end of September.

Ole MIss 31, Alabama 27

No. 14 Oregon State (-2.5) v. No. 21 Washington State - 7:00 p.m. ET - FOX

Honestly, College GameDay should have went to Pullman this week since not only are these two teams ranked, they are the only Pac-12 teams that have yet to find a home for next season and beyond. The Beavers have taken care of business against three cupcakes to start the season. Running back Damien Martinez has been running wild, while Clemson transfer D.J. Uiagalelei acclimates himself to the Oregon State offense.

As good as Oregon State has been to start the season, Washington State has been even better. The Cougars blowout win at Colorado State looks even better after the Rams pushed Colorado to the limit. Then the next week Washington State pushed around Wisconsin in Pullman. I could see the Cougs bottling up Martinez, forcing Uiagalelei to throw the football more, which could lead to Wazzu creating some turnovers. I just don’t trust the Beavers to be able to leave Pullman with a win.

Washington State 30, Oregon State 23

No. 3 Texas (-14.5) v. Baylor - 7:30 p.m. ET - ABC

Are you really comfortable trusting something called Sawyer Robertson to keep things tight against Texas? Had Blake Shapen been healthy for this game I might feel a little better about Baylor’s chances. Robertson is 28-for-62 this year and thrown three interceptions. Those are some gross numbers.

Texas had a bit of a hangover for most of last week’s game against Wyoming before turning things on in the fourth quarter to win 31-10. While I’m still not convinced the Longhorns don’t lose a game or two this season to waste what they did in Tuscaloosa, this isn’t the spot where things crumble. Baylor is too lost right now to upset a strong Texas team.

Texas 38, Baylor 17

Cal v. No. 8 Washington (-20.5) - 10:30 p.m. ET - ESPN

Through three games, Washington looks like one of the best teams in the country. If we are being honest, the Huskies should be ranked in the top five right now. Michael Penix Jr. has ben surgical, throwing for 1,332 yards and 12 touchdowns in three blowout wins. While it remains to be seen if Washington can navigate a tough schedule in the Pac-12, they certainly have impressed so far.

Cal is a solid team. The Golden Bears run the football well and play pretty good defense. Ben Finley isn’t winning a shootout with Penix Jr., though. The problem with Cal in this game is to have success they’re going to have to run the football. It’s hard to run the football if you are trailing by multiple scores, which I could see happening early on. Even if the Golden Bears keep it close, Washington has shown they can stop the run.

I know this is a lot of points to be laying, I just don’t see how Cal keeps things close in Seattle. Last week Idaho jumped out to a 17-0 lead before the Golden Bears woke up. If Washington jumps out like that, there is now coming back for Cal. This feels like another easy win for the Huskies.

Washington 48, Cal 20