College Football Trends for Week 4: Clemson, Ohio State in Rare Positions Ahead of Marquee Matchups

How should we treat teams in rare positions like Clemson and Ohio State? Let's see what history says.

Sep 16, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) runs
Sep 16, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) runs / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

Week 4 is a measuring stick slate of games for plenty of teams with College Football Playoff aspirations.

Ohio State will play its first true road game of the season at Notre Dame, who has vaunted inside the top 10 this week, setting up a close spread matchup between two teams with lofty goals. Meanwhile, Clemson is in the rare spot of a home underdog against upstart Florida State, something the Tigers haven't been since Lamar Jackson came to Death Valley.

This is a rare position for both teams. What does history say about the limited sample size? Let's dive into some trends ahead of a loaded Week 4 slate.

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Ohio State Thrives as a Small Favorite

The Buckeyes have been one of the top programs throughout the College Football Playoff era, constantly rated as a top 10 team, so the team is always looked at favorably by oddsmakers. However, the team does face tests from time to time and oddsmakers line OSU games tightly, but that's when the Buckeyes thrive.

Ohio State is a three-point road favorites at Notre Dame this weekend, you can check out my betting preview for that one here.

It's worth noting that Ohio State hasn't been in this position since 2018 when Ryan Day was an offensive coordinator, so there are a ton of new pieces in Columbus for this roster and coaching staff, but it does show that this is a rare spot for OSU.

How will Ryan Day and new quarterback Kyle McCord respond? The Buckeyes are three-

Clemson Up Against It Hosting Florida State

Clemson hasn't been a home underdogs since October 1st, 2016 when Lamar Jackson and Louisville came to town, a 42-36 win for the Tigers.

However, Dabo Swinney's group is home underdogs against Florida State, who has one of the most notable victories to date this season, knocking off LSU on a neutral site to start the season in a nationally televised matchup.

Meanwhile, the following night, Clemson lost at Duke, scoring only seven points in the process. Now, we arrive at this highly touted Week 4 matchup with the Seminoles entering as favorites.

Since Swinney took over, the Tigers are 2-4 against the spread (ATS) as home underdogs, per, all games taking place from 2008 to 2016 so this has been some time. This could be a last stand for Clemson's College Football Playoff and even ACC title hopes, but oddsmakers are expecting a FSU victory.

Read more about this marquee matchup with my betting preview here

Be Careful Trusting High Totals

Much has been made about the new clock rules in college football this season, the clock only stops on first downs in the final two minutes of the game rather than every first down and the impact has been felt across the nation.

There are about three fewer possessions total this season relative to last year and its harder for teams to put up high point totals.

Through Week 3, totals that are 66 or more 11-2-1 to the UNDER this season.

In Week 4 we have only one game that is lined with a total of 66 or more: Colorado vs. Oregon, which has a total of 70.5 as of this writing.

Read more about Colorado vs. Oregon on Stacking the Box: College Football Edition below!

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Track Reed's bets here!