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College Football Picks 2019: Week Four

Current Picks Record: 15-9 (1-3 Upset)
(#7) Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ (#3) Georgia Bulldogs
Jake Fromm, Georgia
Two seasons ago, Georgia's 20-19 victory over Notre Dame in South Bend set the stage for an eventual National Championship appearance. Now, the Bulldogs will have to defend their own turf against the Fighting Irish, a formidable non-conference foe. Neither of these teams have played a very tough schedule to this point, as ND has rolled through Louisville & New Mexico, while Georgia has dominated Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State. Those early-season victories have allowed both offenses to test out new things and get some much-needed momentum. This seemed especially important for an Irish offense that did have a veteran QB in Ian Book, but some questions at running back and on the O-Line. Book has looked like a seasoned pro to this point, but how will he fare against a UGA pass rush and secondary that could be the best he has seen all season? He'll have to make a number of tough throws in tight windows, and will also need somebody to step up on the perimeter. The Bulldogs can be challenged vertically, but the Irish have lacked a true home run threat in this offense for a number of seasons. The ND ground attack will also have to face a Bulldog front that is still relatively inexperienced, but loaded with talent. UGA currently sits fifth in the country in rush defense, allowing just 2.14 yards per rush and 67 yards per game. The Irish do have some playmakers in their backfield, but can the offensive line get enough push against an SEC defense? That could be one of the main deciding factors in this one. Georgia has looked explosive on offense, even with lingering questions in a youthful receiver corps. QB Jake Fromm has been terrific, while the rest of the Bulldogs' offensive weapons continue to attack defenses in a variety of ways. D'Andre Swift has been a stud, with Zamir White and Kenny McIntosh adding even more spark off the bench. On the perimeter, true freshmen George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock already look like future superstars, and they'll test a solid ND secondary. Georgia also seems to have a distinct advantage in the trenches, where they'll feature perhaps the nation's best offensive line. The Irish do have a strong defense top to bottom, but facing an SEC offense with this mix of speed and physicality is a tough order. Do the Irish have the athletes they need to keep up? Only hurting Notre Dame's chances to pull off the upset is the obvious fact they are playing in Athens. It is one thing to take down UGA on the road, but the Bulldogs haven't lost in their home since the 2017 season. I like Book and this defense enough to think that they won't be run out of the stadium, but the Irish just don't have enough to keep up over the course of sixty minutes.
The Pick: Georgia, 34 Notre Dame, 21

(#8) Auburn Tigers @ (#17) Texas A&M Aggies
Even though Texas A&M was manhandled recently by Clemson, this is still a team with SEC West Title aspirations. They will get their first conference test of the 2019 season with the Tigers, who believe they are a serious Playoff contender following their season-opening win over Oregon. Much of the attention on the Auburn offense has been reserved for QB Bo Nix, and he has played well for a true freshman taking over at a major program. Yet, the real guiding force to the offense over the season's first three weeks has been an old formula: their rushing attack. JaTarvious "Boobie" Whitlow, Kam Martin and Shaun Sivers give Gus Malzahn a trio of versatile, electrifying running backs to be creative with. Add in backup quarterback Joey Gatewood, a factor in short yardage and goal line situations, and this is a formidable offensive group. With that being said, A&M can still counter with a defense that only seems to be getting better. They're especially strong up front, where they are deep and athletic. Nix is going to have to make some throws too, and while he has showed tremendous poise for his age, his numbers aren't overwhelming. This is a defense that loves to create chaos and turnovers, and they'll be pouncing early and often. The question for the Aggies actually is on offense, quite a shift from past teams. While quarterback Kellen Mond is a proven veteran that has won a lot of games, he has been underwhelming early on. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the Auburn defense. While the Tigers boast one of the country's premier defensive lines, the secondary certainly has some question marks. If A&M does a reasonable job containing that rush, Mond could be ready to do some serious damage. They will still need to find a way to run the ball, which is going to be a difficult challenge. It was always going to be hard against this defense, but things got even more precarious when lead back Jashaun Corbin was ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a hamstring injury. True freshman Isaiah Spiller is now the guy, and he will be leaned on heavily. This may be a tough matchup top to bottom for the Aggies, but I actually like them to come out on top at home. Auburn may sit undefeated at the moment, but I think they were outplayed in the opener, and have a variety of things to sort out before I feel confident in what they can do. I think the Aggies and Mond do enough offensively to come out the victor in front of the home folks.
The Pick: Texas A&M, 38 Auburn, 27

(#11) Michigan Wolverines @ (#13) Wisconsin Badgers
Could we get a possible Big Ten Championship preview in late September? Both Michigan and Wisconsin have legitimate Playoff aspirations and enter this battle with flawless records. The Wolverines got all they could handle from Army at home two weeks ago, but managed to escape. While the Black Knights are a quality opponent, the real worry in the victory was an offense that struggled to move the ball or create explosive plays. Considering that all the talk over the off-season was how new OC Josh Gattis was going to revolutionize and modernize this offense, fans are very anxious about the current state of the unit. Even more concerning is the fact that this struggling offense now deals with Wisconsin, who has not allowed a single point early on this fall. QB Shea Patterson has been beat up, so some of his struggles are understandable. However, this guy entered 2019 as one of the Big Ten's top signal-callers, and he has to act like it. There are weapons all around him, and the coaching staff has given him more freedom. Can he make the big throws this Michigan team is going to need? Running back Zach Charbonnet has come on strong as a true freshman, and there is plenty of explosiveness ready to make things happen on the perimeter. The Badgers might be playing lights-out defensively at the moment, but this isn't a perfect group either. They still struggle to rush the passer at times, and just lost a key component to their secondary, as safety Scott Nelson was recently ruled out for the year. Wisconsin's offense has also been humming along, but they face their stiffest challenge of the season with the Wolverines. QB Jack Coan has looked good, but how does he handle the press-man coverage Michigan loves to play? It is a unique challenge, and he'll need plenty of help from this group of wide outs. Sure, it helps having a running back like Jonathan Taylor to take the load off. Taylor has picked up right where he started from 2018, as one of the sport's most dynamic playmakers. He has even shown improvements in a few areas, most notably as a pass-catcher. Containing him is an obvious top priority for this UM defense, and they've done a good job in year's past of bottling up elite running backs. An interesting matchup to watch in this one is certainly the Wisconsin offensive line versus the Michigan pass rush. Don Brown loves to blitz, and while the Badgers' line has looked good early on, most of these blockers haven't faced this type of defensive scheme. If Coan isn't able to stay on his feet, it's hard to imagine the Badgers having much prolonged success moving the ball. With the way that Wisconsin has been playing, and the fact it is in Madison, the Badgers have opened up as slight favorites. However, I'm going with Michigan to pull off a big win, even with some of the offensive question marks. I trust in this defense a lot, and think Patterson should be ready for a bounceback Saturday.
The Pick: Michigan, 28 Wisconsin, 26

Other Picks
(#15) UCF @ Pittsburgh: UCF, 45 Pittsburgh, 24
Tennessee @ (#9) Florida: Florida, 28 Tennessee, 17
(#4) LSU @ Vanderbilt: LSU, 37 Vanderbilt, 20
Oklahoma State @ (#12) Texas: Texas, 42 Oklahoma State, 38
Upset: BYU, 31 Washington, 27

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