Florida, Texas A&M have a lot to prove

CFB best bets: Florida, Texas A&M with a lot to prove in Week 4 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Week 4 of the college football season is shaping up to be an exciting one, headlined by three games featuring two teams ranked in the top 25 of the new AP poll.

Most teams are done with their early-season non-conference schedule, which means conference play is ramping up and with that should come better, more competitive matchups.

Here are our picks for the must-watch games on the Week 4 schedule (Season best bets record: 5-6)

No. 5 Clemson at No. 21 Wake Forest

Time/TV channel: Saturday, Sept. 24 at noon ET on ABC

Spread: Clemson -7

There’s a good chance this game will be Clemson’s toughest ACC matchup of the season. That said, there are few reasons to bet against the Tigers on Saturday.

Clemson is 6-3 against the spread (ATS) and 9-0 straight up in its last nine games. The Tigers also have won 17 of their last 20 road games and 10 consecutives matchups versus the Demon Deacons. Clemson is 4-1 ATS in its last five ACC contests, too.

Clemson has scored 41.3 points per game this season, and its defense hasn’t even started to play its best football. Wake Forest barely avoided an embarrassing upset in Week 3, beating a much-inferior Liberty team 37-36.

The Tigers continue to roll.

Pick: Clemson -7


No. 20 Florida at No. 11 Tennessee

Time/TV channel: Saturday, Sept. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS

Spread: Tennessee -11

Florida started the season in impressive fashion by beating then-No. 7 ranked Utah at home. Since then, the Gators have underwhelmed with a Week 2 loss to Kentucky and a lackluster 31-28 win over a South Florida team that went 2-10 last season.

Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson has thrown two interceptions in back-to-back weeks with a total of just 30 rushing yards over that span. He faces a tough Tennessee defense on the road Saturday that has forced six turnovers in three games.

Florida is 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games and 0-8 ATS in its last eight matchups outside The Swamp. The Gators also are 0-5 ATS in their last five SEC games.

This spread is a little high, but the Gators have shown nothing over the last two weeks to suggest they will make this matchup super competitive.

Pick: Tennessee -11


No. 10 Arkansas at No. 23 Texas A&M

Time/TV channel:

Spread: Texas A&M -2.5

This is a huge game for both schools as they jockey for positioning and a crucial tiebreaker in a loaded SEC West division.

Neither team was very impressive in Week 3. Arkansas was actually trailing 27-17 to Missouri State in the fourth quarter before rallying for a 38-27 victory. Texas A&M followed its embarrassing loss to Appalachian State with a 17-9 victory over Miami FL.

Arkansas has the worst pass defense in the nation, giving up 352.7 yards per game. Normally that would be alarming, but the Aggies passing attack is averaging just 208 yards per game — the second-fewest of any SEC school. Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher benched quarterback Haynes King and started junior transfer Max Johnson versus Miami. Johnson was decent, but not great, completing 10 of 20 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown.

Arkansas has averaged 37.6 points per game through three weeks. Texas A&M has scored 20.6 points per game. It’s difficult to envision the Aggies keeping pace with the Razorbacks’ high-powered offense, especially with Texas A&M’s weaknesses at quarterback.

The Razorbacks are 5-1 ATS in their last six games. They’re also 4-1 ATS in their last five games versus Texas A&M and 4-1 straight up in their last five SEC matchups.

Pick: Arkansas +2.5