Welcome to Week 4 of the College Football season, where conference play is now starting to rev up, and we are here with our three best last-minute value bets of the week still available at the top sportsbooks.
Remember that these are value-bets mostly based on our proprietary model, thus resulting in a high majority of our selections being underdogs. With that being said, we are not opposed to finding value anywhere, as evidenced by a rare first-half total being among our three best bets this week, as well as two more typical value dogs.
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Pittsburgh Panthers
Saturday, September 23, 2023 – 08:00 PM EDT at Acrisure Stadium
North Carolina may be the ranked team here, but this might be a prime “buy low” spot for Pittsburgh to get more than a touchdown at home, so we are taking the points.
Check the Box Score
Pitt comes off an ugly nationally televised 17-6 loss to West Virginia that may very well be playing a part in this seemingly inflated line, but a quick check of the box score shows that the teams tied with 211 total yards and the Panthers were done in by three interceptions by Boston College transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who also completed an abysmal 8-of-20 pass attempts.
The reunion of Jurkovec with former BC offensive coordinator Phil Cignetti has not gone as planned, but the Panthers’ defense has been outstanding, ranking fifth in the nation allowing 236.0 yards per game and 17th in yards per play allowed at 4.2, and the running game has been solid at 143.3 rushing yards per game.
Can Be Run On
Thus, a Pitt offensive game plan to run the football can work quite well vs. a North Carolina defense ranked just 75th in the country in rushing defense at 129.0 yards per game and a worse 103rd in the advanced Second Level Rushing Yards metric. And being able to sustain time-consuming drives is never a bad thing for a decided underdog.
Doing so would also keep UNC quarterback Drake Maye on the sideline longer. Then again, we are not so sure Maye is as good as his press clippings, as he has a less than stellar four touchdown passes vs. an equal four interceptions, although there is no denying that he is the far superior signal-caller in this game.
Still, with Pittsburgh having the better defense and an offense capable of sustaining drives with the run, we are taking the points at home, with an outright upset not impossible.
Predicted Score: North Carolina 27 – Pittsburgh 23
Ole Miss Rebels vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Saturday, September 23, 2023 – 03:30 PM EDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium
In probably our most intriguing bet of Week 4, we are backing the first half Under when Alabama hosts Mississippi on Saturday.
Not Your Typical Alabama
This is not the typical Alabama offense we have become accustomed to while winning national championships under Nick Saban, and while the issue starts with a weak quarterback so far, a leaky offensive line has not helped matters. The Crimson Tide are returning to Jalen Milroe at QB despite him leading the offense to just 41 total points in two games before sitting out last week.
Then again, it may not matter who is under center when there is very little time to throw behind an offensive line ranked 101st in the nation in pass blocking according to Pro Football Focus. Thankfully the defense is allowing just 4.4 yards per play overall with defensive ends Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell applying constant pressure to QBs. Alabama has allowed the seventh-fewest 10+-yard plays in the country thus far.
Tale of Two Halves
Now if we toss Mississippi’s opening 73-7 win over Mercer of the FCS and look only at the last two games vs. FBS competition, Ole Miss has outscored Tulane and Georgia Tech by a combined score of 85-43. However, while the defense has been consistent throughout, the offensive production has been interesting, with the offense scoring exactly 10 points in the first half in each game.
However, Coach Lane Kiffin and his staff made the necessary adjustments with 65 of the 85 total points coming after halftime. And we would not be at all surprised by another slow offensive start here given the play of the Alabama defense to this point.
Thus, we are electing to take those halftime adjustments, which have obviously been great, out of this equation by betting the Under for the first half only.
Predicted Score: Alabama 13 – Mississippi 10 (Halftime)
NCAAF Pick: 1st Half Under 27 (+100) at Bovada
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Saturday, September 23, 2023 – 12:00 PM EDT at FirstBank Stadium
Vanderbilt getting nearly two touchdowns at home seems like an overadjustment to an upset loss on the road last week, so we will take the points hosting an untested Kentucky team.
Cream Puff Schedule
Kentucky comes in at 3-0 but consider that has come vs. three outclassed opponents in Ball State, Akron and Eastern Kentucky, and the Wildcats even failed to cover the spread in a 28-17 win over the latter FCS opponent. Furthermore, all three games have come at home.
They now hit the road for their SEC opener, and despite the easy schedule to this point, the Cats have gotten off to slow starts offensively in all three games, and they cannot count on a better second half this time around with the step up in class and now playing on the road. Plus, the weak slate has yet to allow for a proper evaluation of a defense that lost several key pieces from last year.
Vanderbilt lost 40-37 as a 4.5-point favorite at UNLV last week but returning home helps here, and while we know it is very early, quarterback AJ Swann actually leads all SEC quarterbacks in passing yards right now.
That obviously will not continue, but the Commodores’ passing game does look legitimate with two excellent receivers in Will Sheppard and Jayden McGowan both on pace for 1,000-yard seasons as options 1 and 1A, so we like the prospect of Vanderbilt scoring enough points to cover this lofty number.
Finally, let us not forget that Kentucky may have its eyes on meetings with Florida and Georgia in the next two games. Yet another reason to take these big points with the Commodores at home.
Predicted Score: Kentucky 27 – Vanderbilt 21
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.