Ncaaf bleacher report predictions

College Football Picks: Week 4 Predictions for Every Game

Conference play kicks into overdrive during Week 4 of the 2018 college football season, and No. 1 Alabama and No. 7 Stanford highlight the slate with games against ranked opponents.

Alabama hosts No. 22 Texas A&M for the first matchup between head coach Nick Saban and former assistant Jimbo Fisher at their respective schools, and Stanford heads to No. 20 Oregon.

While those are the only contests featuring a pair of AP Top 25 teams, Georgia, Clemson and TCU are among the programs that are hitting the road for a league contest.

Separated by kickoff time, we’ve predicted every game involving a Football Bowl Subdivision team on the Week 4 slate.

Note: AP Top 25 teams are highlighted first within a specific time slot.

Thursday and Friday Games

Tulsa (1-2) at Temple (1-2), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Temple dropped home games against Villanova and Buffalo to open the campaign, so, naturally, the Owls crushed Big Ten foe Maryland 35-14 on the road. Temple’s defense didn’t allow a point. Maryland only scored on a pick-six and blocked punt. Tulsa should score, but an average offense won’t be enough to topple the Owls.

Prediction: Temple 31, Tulsa 20

Florida Atlantic (2-1) at No. 16 UCF (2-0), Friday, 7 p.m. ET

The in-state clash is a battle for early Group of Five supremacy. Although Hurricane Florence sidelined UCF in Week 3, quarterback McKenzie Milton and Co. should have little trouble picking apart an FAU defense that’s allowing 39.3 points per game. FAU will keep it close, but the Knights have a clear advantage — plus home field.

Prediction: UCF 41, Florida Atlantic 30

No. 10 Penn State (3-0) at Illinois (2-1), Friday, 9 p.m. ET

Illinois squandered a 12-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to South Florida. That letdown means the Illini won’t have a chance at 4-1, since Penn State and its now-cruising offense heads to Champaign. Trace McSorley has accounted for eight touchdowns over the last two games and won’t slow down Friday.

Prediction: Penn State 45, Illinois 17

Washington State (3-0) at USC (1-2), Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET

Last season, this Friday night matchup brought USC’s first loss of the campaign. Could the Trojans flip the script on Washington State, which has three 20-point wins already? Although USC is favored, the struggles on offense are problematic against a steadily improving Washington State scoring attack.

Prediction: Washington State 31, USC 24

Top Saturday Early Games

No. 2 Georgia (3-0) at Missouri (3-0), Noon ET

Though it’s only Week 4, Georgia could take command of the SEC East. Florida already has a loss, Kentucky takes on No. 14 Mississippi State this weekend and Missouri could drop its SEC opener. The Tigers have the firepower to compete with the Bulldogs, but a defense that ceded 37 points to Purdue will be its downfall.

Prediction: Georgia 45, Missouri 31

No. 8 Notre Dame (3-0) at Wake Forest (2-1), Noon ET

Eventually, Notre Dame’s luck will run out. That shouldn’t happen Saturday opposite Wake Forest, especially if the Demon Deacons play quarterback roulette as Kendall Hinton returns from a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules. Nevertheless, the Irish remain a problematic work in progress on offense — even if they have enough to top Wake.

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Wake Forest 17

Nebraska (0-2) at No. 19 Michigan (2-1), Noon ET

Start here: Michigan will win. But if Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez’s leg is healthy, the Wolverines won’t throttle the Huskers. The big question is how quickly Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is willing to stray from his power-run preference if Michigan keeps slamming into the line unsuccessfully. Let QB Shea Patterson do his thing, Jim.

Prediction: Michigan 31, Nebraska 17

No. 23 Boston College (3-0) at Purdue (0-3), Noon ET

Purdue has dropped its first three contests by a combined eight points; this contest should be much closer than the records suggest. Granted, that won’t matter if the Boilermakers continue their poor showings against the pass. They rank 121st nationally in yards allowed per game through the air, and Boston College signal-caller Anthony Brown has been wonderfully efficient so far.

Prediction: Boston College 38, Purdue 27

Akron (2-0) at Iowa State (0-2), Noon ET

Despite losing to Oklahoma in Week 3, the Cyclones received praise from Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley. “They’re going to give people fits,” he said, per ESPN.com’s Mitch Sherman. Akron earned a stunning upset at Northwestern, but Iowa State will overpower the visiting Zips on offense and hold off a decent Akron attack.

Prediction: Iowa State 34, Akron 20

Minnesota (3-0) at Maryland (2-1), Noon ET

The defining question for this Big Ten clash is which Maryland offense shows up. After cresting five yards per play and 400 total against Texas and Bowling Green, the Terps mustered 195 yards and failed to score an offensive touchdown in a loss to Temple. That inconsistency is troubling opposite a so-far-excellent Minnesota defense.

Prediction: Minnesota 24, Maryland 17

Louisville (2-1) at Virginia (2-1), 12:30 p.m. ET

Louisville nearly had a nightmare in Week 3 but managed to clip Western Kentucky 20-17. Virginia, meanwhile, has averaged 43.5 points at home this season. One offense is rolling, and the other is searching for answers post-Lamar Jackson.

Prediction: Virginia 31, Louisville 23

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