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2023 College Football Week 4 Sleeper Picks

By Hank Blaine

For the most part, conference play begins around college football in Week 4 as many teams have concluded their non-conference schedules or have one game late in the season out of league remaining. Here are three conference games in Week 4 Saturday where the underdog could surprise or at least should cover.

Top 2023 College Football Week 4 Sleeper Picks

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

It’s the Big 12 debut for Cincinnati, while Oklahoma opens its final season in the league before heading to the SEC. Entering the season, Cincinnati and Oklahoma were two of just seven teams to win 50 games over the last five years (since 2018) and are two of 15 teams programs to appear in the College Football Playoff. The Bearcats may have been caught looking ahead to this one as they were upset 31-24 in OT at home by MAC school Miami of Ohio on Saturday to break a 16-game losing streak in the series. Carter Brown’s 35-yard field goal attempt by Cincinnati was blocked as time expired to force overtime. UC was inside the Miami 10-yard line four times, but managed just three field goals in the first three quarters after scoring on their first possession. Cincinnati has the nation’s second-highest home winning percentage (92.9%, 26-2 record) since the start of 2019 – behind only Clemson (96.3%, 27-1).

Oklahoma (No. 8, 534.0) and Cincinnati (No. 12, 525.3) both rank among the nation’s top dozen offenses. Sooners QB Dillon Gabriel leads the nation in pass completion percentage (.825) and ranks second in pass efficiency rating (220.4) and points responsible for per game (24.0). At Tulsa on Saturday, he set a single-game school record for completion percentage (.903) by going 28 for 31. He threw for 421 yards and 5 TDs in three quarters of work. OU has won eight of its last 10 Big 12 openers and 12 of its last 15. Its three Big 12-opening defeats in the last 15 years all came to Kansas State in Norman (2012, 2020 and 2022). OU is 2-0 all-time vs. Cincinnati.

2023 College Football Week 4 Pick: Cincinnati

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

ACC matchup. UNC (3-0) beat a good Minnesota team 31-13 on Saturday to stay unbeaten. Drake Maye threw for 414 yards and two scores and Nate McCollum dazzled in his first action as a Tar Heel with 15 catches for 165 yards. It was the second 400-yard passing game of Maye’s career and a Carolina debut to remember for McCollum, the Georgia Tech transfer who piled up over 100 receiving yards and a 46-yard touchdown in the first quarter alone. Maye now has thrown for at least 200 yards in all 17 starts of his career and has tossed multiple TD passes in 14 of those starts. The UNC single-game record for catches is 16 by three players, most recently Ryan Switzer in 2016 versus Pittsburgh. Carolina has won the last eight times it’s scored 30 or more points, including all three games this season. UNC improved to 53-22 as a ranked team in 15 seasons under head coach Mack Brown. It has won the last 12 times it gained 400 or more yards (it tallied 519 total yards vs. Minnesota).

Pittsburgh comes off a 17-6 loss at West Virginia as the Mountaineers scored 10 points off two Pitt picks. Pitt was held to its fewest points in the series since a 34-0 loss in 1996. The Panthers were limited to 73 yards of offense in the second half. Each team had exactly 211 yards overall. The Panthers rank fifth nationally and lead the ACC in total defense at 236.0 yards per game. Pitt yielded only 211 yards at West Virginia. Pitt has defeated at least one Top 25 team in each of the past seven seasons under Coach Pat Narduzzi. The Panthers are looking to avenge last season’s 42-24 loss in Chapel Hill, a game Pitt led heading into the final quarter. The 2022 setback snapped a two-game series winning streak for Pitt. Both of those victories occurred in Pittsburgh and were overtime affairs (2019 and 2021).

2023 College Football Week 4 Pick: Pittsburgh

Miami Hurricanes vs. Temple Owls

  • When: Saturday, September 16th, 2023. 3:30pm EST
  • Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
  • College Football Odds: Miami (-24) // Temple (+24)

This is a non-conference game … Miami isn’t going to lose but we don’t think it covers in a trap game. UM has been off since last Thursday’s 48-7 win over Bethune-Cookman. Miami racked up 589 total yards, while limiting Bethune-Cookman to just 165 yards and eight first downs. The Canes, who entered the game averaging 8.2 yards per play — ranking fourth in FBS – averaged 8.4 yards per play. Miami scored five touchdowns in six red zone trips. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke completed 19 of 23 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns in one half of action. He also rushed for a 10-yard score. Van Dyke now has 419 career completions, passing former Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde for 10th on Miami’s all-time list. Emory Williams also saw action at quarterback, completing 9 of 11 passes for 102 yards. Miami’s defense amassed 10 tackles for loss and limited the Wildcats to just 33 rushing yards.

The Owls (2-1) beat Norfolk State 41-9 on Saturday. The story of the game was freshman running back Joquez Smith, who burst onto the scene with 142 rushing yards and two total touchdowns. The victory marked the 30th straight time that the Owls came away victorious when limiting their opponent to 10 points. Miami and Temple have met 14 times, with the Hurricanes holding a 13-1 advantage in the all-time series. The two teams played for 12 consecutive seasons from 1992-2003, when the Owls were a member of the Big East. They haven’t played since 2005. Temple will honor Joe Klecko at halftime. He played at Temple from 1974-76 leading the Owls in tackles with over 100 in each season. Klecko is a member of the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame and this summer was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2023 College Football Week 4 Pick: Temple

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READ MORE: 2023 College Football Week 4 Odds, Overview & Picks