Entering the fourth Saturday of the college football season, the six top-ranked teams in the nation according to the Associated Press (AP) poll will all be looking to go 4-0 on the year.
But after last week’s dramatic turn of events featured the AP’s top three teams at the time -Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State – all pitted against top-25 ranked teams in season-defining contests, this week serves up softballs for the best teams in the land.
Number one ranked Alabama (3-0), fresh off a rousing 48-43 comeback win over SEC rival Ole Miss, takes on an overmatched Kent State (1-2) squad. The defending national champion Crimson Tide have been installed as 43-point home favorites by online sportsbook Bovada, making the Golden Flashes one of the biggest underdogs of 2016.
Second-ranked Ohio State (3-0) has the week off, while third-ranked Louisville (3-0) faces Marshall (1-1) as 26-point road favorites at Bovada.
While the nearly four-touchdown spread may not be all that appealing to bettors, both teams have a propensity for lighting up the scoreboard, making the Over/Under an intriguing option. The books haven’t posted a number just yet, but considering that the Cardinals have scored at least 62 points in their three victories, and the Thundering Herd have scored 62 while allowing 65, the potential for a triple-digit total is high.
The fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines (3-0) will be laying 19 points at Bovada playing at home against the Penn State Nittany Lions (2-1); the fifth-ranked Clemson Tigers (3-0) travel southward as nine-point favorites over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-0); and the sixth-ranked Houston Cougars have the 34.5-point edge on the road against the Texas State Bobcats (1-1).
The first matchup of AP top-25 ranked teams features eighth-ranked Michigan State (2-0) against 11th-ranked Wisconsin (3-0). The Spartans are consensus 6-point home favorites over their Big Ten rival at Bovada, after booking a solid 36-28 win over then 18th-ranked Notre Dame (1-2) last week. The Badgers also have a victory over a ranked opponent, however, beating then fifth-ranked LSU (2-1) by a score of 16-13 to open the year.
Tenth-ranked Texas A&M (3-0) will battle 17th-ranked Arkansas (3-0) as six-point favorites. The Aggies already knocked off a perennial SEC powerhouse in Auburn (1-2) last week, while the Razorbacks will be opening their conference schedule.
Twelfth-ranked Georgia (3-0) holds the unusual distinction of playing as undefeated seven-point underdogs on the road against 23rd-ranked Ole Miss (1-2).
But the Bulldogs narrowly escaped a historic upset bid two weeks ago, fending off a late comeback effort to barely beat the Southland Conference’s Nicholls Colonels (1-1) by a 26-24 margin. And last week Georgia needed a fourth-quarter comeback to best Missouri (1-2) in a 28-27 duel between SEC East also-rans.
Conversely, the Rebels built a big lead in the season-opener against then fourth-ranked Florida State (2-1), before falling short in a 45-34 shootout. Ole Miss also went up 24-3 early on top-ranked Alabama last week in an SEC West clash only to blow the lead and lose a 48-43 nail biter.
So despite the two teams holding very different overall records, Bovada’s bookmakers are giving Ole Miss the decided edge based on their season-long body of work relative to that of their opponent.