College Football Picks Week 4: Best Contrarian Bets

Author: James Ivy

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We can all recall the time when we first entered into the sports betting arena. Our first inclination was to make wagers based on a team’s performance the last time we saw them play. Other times we’d make a bet on a team because they were hosting a primetime game at home. Or we’d bet on a ranked team simply because they were only a field goal favorite against an unranked opponent. These scenarios along with the absurd preseason/regular season polls influence the way casual public bettors make their college football picks. With legal online sports betting expanding across the U.S., more people will fall victim to things like recency bias when they make their first wagers.

As they do that, we can make sure to take advantage of public sentiment; not by following the crowd but by being contrarian. We can follow betting lines throughout the week and spot college football picks that allow us to “buy low” on teams that actually present solid value. The following three points are needed to help us identify games in which a contrarian approach can be useful.

1. When the public is heavy on one side of a game

2. When the betting volume is high

3. And when the line stays at or reverses from the opening number (a good indicator of sharp money).

College Football Picks Week 4 — Contrarian Plays for Friday

Utah vs. USC +4

Opened: Utah -3.5 at William Hill

USC lost their starting QB JT Daniels to an ACL tear in Week 1, but new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, who was a Heisman candidate playing for Mike Leach at Texas Tech, brings a spread system to Southern California that sets up well for true freshman Kedon Slovis. Slovis has completed 58 of 75 passes for 715 yards and five touchdowns. The Trojans are 2-1 after an overtime loss to BYU. Slovis will have to improve his decision making if USC is to beat Utah, a team known for their defensive prowess. He threw 3 interceptions in week 3 against another strong defense.

With nearly 80% of the tickets coming in on Utah as of Thursday. The line hasn’t made any drastic moves, fluctuating between Utah -3.5 and -4. This is an indication that smart money is coming in on USC.

The Play: USC +4 (use our FanDuel Sportsbook promo code to get these odds)

College Football Picks Week 4 — Contrarian Bets for Saturday

Michigan State -9.5 at Northwestern (use our PointsBet promo code to get these odds)

Opened: Michigan State -6.5 at William Hill

Sparty laid an egg last week, and the public is expecting a repeat performance. However, there has been steam coming in on Michigan State, sending the line steadily up to its current number of 9.5. It’s tempting, but I am hesitant to play this game due to the value being sucked out after moving past 7. As I wrote earlier, the goal is to buy low with our contrarian plays. If you weren’t on Michigan State early, then it’s probably too late to hop on them now. There could be a case to back Northwestern given the 3-point line movement, but -8.5 is probably much closer to where the line should have opened at in the first place.

The Play: Pass

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Oklahoma State at Texas -5.5

Opened: Texas -5 at William Hill

Oklahoma State looked shaky in the second quarter at Tulsa this past weekend but ended up cruising in the second half. My Tulsa +14 ticket was looking decent at halftime and proceeded to cruise to the trashcan in the last 30 minutes of the game. Oklahoma State has recently controlled their meetings with Texas, currently riding a four-game win streak and taking 7 of the last 9. It’s worth noting that Texas head coach Tom Herman has historically been bad as a favorite, though Texas has covered two games as favorites in 2019. I faded Texas in the previous week against LSU and will continue to fade them here.

Multiple online sports betting sites showed instances of reverse line movement from 6 down to 5.5 early in the week, but the spread eventually moved up to 6.5 Friday morning

The Play: Oklahoma State +6.5 (use our William Hill promo code to get these odds)

For more general betting tips, check out our college football picks betting guide.

Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images

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