CFB Picks: Trust Clemson, Texas A&M To Cover Behind Strong Defenses

Defense is the key to winning bets in Week 4 of the college football season.

Each of the three Top 25 matchups have a clear defensive edge that can propel teams to win and cover, or simply just cover on the road.

Clemson and Texas A&M have the advantage as favorites in their respective games, while Florida could find holes in the Tennessee defense, like many other teams have recently.

Defenses, or a lack thereof, could be massive in a few other clashes across the country on Saturday, including Michigan's first shot at playing a real opponent.

Week 4 CFB Picks

Maryland at Michigan (-17) (noon ET, Fox)

Michigan has heard a lot of things about its poor nonconference schedule that featured Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn.

The Wolverines finally get to play a real opponent and their defense should shine against Maryland inside the Big House.

The biggest takeaway from Michigan's first three games was the concession of 17 points and the allowance of 194 yards per game.

Those are the key stats to apply for Maryland's trip to Ann Arbor. The Terps have allowed 198 more total yards per contest than the Wolverines and they almost lost at home to SMU last week.

Michigan beat Maryland 59-18 in College Park last season and I think we see a similar type of blowout with Michigan's defense being the star of the show.

Clemson (-7.5) at Wake Forest (noon ET, ABC)

Clemson has a tough two weeks ahead, but I think its toughest test comes against NC State next week, not on the road versus Wake Forest on Saturday.

Clemson's defense conceded 42 points over three games and it held Wake Forest to 27 points last year. That allowed Clemson to break open the game with 48 points.

Wake's defense has not significantly improved since last season's meeting. The Demon Deacons allowed 36 points to Liberty and 25 points to Vanderbilt in the last two weeks.

If Sam Hartman and the Wake offense are limited by the Clemson pass rush, it may be hard for the home side to stay in the contest.

Baylor (+115) at Iowa State (noon ET, ESPN2)

My gut said Baylor would win when I first viewed this line.

I'm sticking with the Bears after looking at the matchup with Iowa State.

Baylor did not look out of place on the road against BYU in its only true test.

Blake Shapen completed 64.3 percent of his passes and did not turn the ball over against BYU.

Both defenses have allowed under 300 total yards per game and I think it will take one or two plays from a quarterback to win this game and I'm willing to trust Shapen, who did not look out of place in his first road contest.

Buffalo at Eastern Michigan (-6) (noon ET, CBSSN)

This would be a typical let down spot for Eastern Michigan after upsetting Arizona State last week, but I do not think Buffalo is capable of winning on the road.

Buffalo gave up over 30 points in each of its first three games. EMU averages 156.7 rushing yards per game and it produced 305 ground yards against ASU.

Buffalo allows 196.3 rushing yards per game and it was outgained 221-57 on the ground against Coastal Carolina last week.

Florida (+10.5) at Tennessee (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Tennessee's defense needs to prove it can be trusted as a double-digit favorite in SEC play before I can play it on that line.

Tennessee gives up 344.7 yards per game, and oh by the way, it has lost 15 of the last 16 games against Florida.

The Gators scored over 30 points in each of the last four games against Tennessee. That could mean something and it also could mean nothing.

The Vols gave up 27 points to Pittsburgh and they gave up at least 20 points to their nine power-five opponents in 2021.

Until the Vols reverse that trend, I can't trust them at this high of a number, even at home.

Notre Dame at North Carolina (Over 55.5) (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

North Carolina's average defense may allow Notre Dame to look like a competent offense.

The Tar Heels allowed 28 points to Georgia State after conceding 61 points to Appalachian State.

Drake Maye and the UNC offense can move the ball and they will challenge the Fighting Irish to keep pace with them.

If there is any time for Notre Dame to discover an offense, a game against UNC's defense would be it.

Rice at Houston (Over 51.5) (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

I love this play.

Houston needs a get-right game after losing to Kansas and Texas Tech.

The Cougars averaged 31.7 points per game, but Rice is the team that comes into this matchup with the better offense totals.

The Owls averaged 33 points per game to start the season, but they have also conceded 32.3 points per game,.

Neither defense is great. Houston is motivated to bounce back. Rice is not a bad team and will not be lifeless on offense.

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (-2) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

I said this week's theme is defense.

Texas A&M has a darn good defense that held Miami to nine points.

The Aggies defense is not the unit that lost the App State game. The offense could not move the ball in Week 2.

Max Johnson looked decent in charge of the Aggies offense against Miami and he should be able to move the ball against an Arkansas defense that conceded 421.3 yards per game. Texas A&M's total is 120 yards fewer.

I trust A&M to get more stops than Arkansas and Johnson will only get better with more snaps inside the Aggies offense.

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