The first three weeks of college football season brought a few big matchups, but as Week 4 dawns, it’s time to start separating the contenders from the pretenders in the major conferences and in the national championship picture. Several games between ranked teams highlight the schedule as late September arrives with supremacy in the sport up for grabs.
Headlining the schedule is a battle between heavyweight brands as No. 6 Ohio State travels to No. 9 Notre Dame for the first time since 1996 in a top-10 matchup for the second consecutive year. It will be just the eighth all-time game between two of the sport’s most storied programs after the Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 21-10 last season in Columbus, Ohio.
That game is just the beginning of what could be the best week of the season’s first month. Another top-15 matchup is on tap as No. 13 Alabama hosts No. 15 Ole Miss in a showdown with major SEC West implications. Rebels coach Lane Kiffin is looking to become the latest former Nick Saban assistant to take down the Crimson Tide.
Week 4 lines are out, so let’s take a look at what oddsmakers are thinking as we look ahead.
Odds via SportsLine consensus
The big games
No. 4 Florida State -2.5 at Clemson: Florida State found a way to survive and win 31-29 at upset-minded Boston College on Saturday. The Seminoles’ sluggish play against the Eagles raises questions over whether they are ready to snap a seven-game losing streak to Clemson. This is Clemson’s first time as a home underdog since 2016 and the Tigers will be eager to defend their home field.
No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon -19.5: This is a massive spread for a game between top-20 foes, especially considering Colorado already has a Week 1 road victory against a TCU team that was ranked No. 17 at the time. But with two-way star Travis Hunter expectedfor the Buffaloes, Oregon’s high-flying offense will have a chance to make a statement of its own. Colorado’s defense has survived largely off its ability to force turnovers thus far and will have its hands full vs. quarterback Bo Nix and the Ducks.
No. 24 Iowa at No. 7 Penn State -14: Penn State is playing a Big Ten West team for the second straight week after using a 5-0 turnover edge to beat Illinois 30-13 on Saturday. The Nittany Lions will likely have to be better offensively if they are going to cover a spread this large against Iowa’s stout defense. Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara will have to take better care of the football after throwing three interceptions in three games. If he doesn’t, the Hawkeyes could meet the same fate as Illinois.
No. 6 Ohio State -3.5 at No. 9 Notre Dame: Notre Dame has been the more impressive of these two teams thus far, but the Buckeyes’ passing game might be finding its groove. Over the past two games, star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. has 12 receptions for 286 yards and three touchdowns. The Fighting Irish counter with one of the nation’s most-effective QB-RB duos in the form of Sam Hartman and Audric Estime. Can Notre Dame produce enough stops to unnerve Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord as he plays in the toughest road environment of his career?
No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 13 Alabama -6.5: Alabama has looked like a shell of itself through three games as it struggles to find consistent quarterback play. The Rebels have offensive injury issues, but there are no quarterback questions. Jaxson Dart looks improved in his second season as the starter under coach Lane Kiffin and could lead Ole Miss to just its third-ever road win over Alabama. The last time the Crimson Tide lost twice before the end of September was 2007, which was Alabama coach Nick Saban’s first season.
No. 22 UCLA at No. 11 Utah: UCLA is 3-0 but hasn’t played a Power Five opponent yet and is starting freshman Dante Moore at quarterback in a hostile environment. Utah is 3-0 after three ugly wins — including two against Power Five opponents — and mystery remains over whether veteran quarterback Cam Rising is ready for his season debut. If he does play, will he be 100%? Both teams have a lot of questions to answer, but the Utes have proven more and have home-field advantage on their side.