- Fresno State and Michigan State hold the distinction as the only programs to enter the AP Top 25 poll in Week 4 of college football.
- Early-season dominance by Michigan, BYU, Ole’ Miss leads to their sizable leaps in this week’s poll.
NEW YORK – After a tumultuous start to the 2021-2022 NCAA football season featuring several upsets and matchups between ranked teams, several programs have emerged as legitimate contenders that were not considered as such heading into the season. Five teams, in particular, have made notable leaps in the Week 4 AP Top 25 poll for college football.
Top Five Biggest Leaps In The AP Top 25 – Week 4
Fresno State Bulldogs, Mountain West (3-1, 4-0 ATS)
Last Week: Unranked – This Week: 22
The Fresno State Bulldogs have leaped into the AP Top 25 rankings in Week 4, joining Michigan State as the only two programs to break into the rankings this week. Fresno State made a 21 slot leap (the largest of the week) after handing the then-13-ranked UCLA Bruins their first loss of the season as 11 point underdogs.
Running back Ronnie Rivers had a fantastic showing in Fresno State’s upset victory over UCLA, tallying 136 yards on 21 carries and finding the end zone twice.
Fresno State has been very good on the field but maybe even better in the sports betting realm, covering the spread in each of their first four games — including in their Week 2 matchup with playoff-contending Oregon, where they covered their 19.5 point spread.
The Bulldogs look to keep their against-the-spread hot streak alive as they take on the UNLV Rebels as huge 30.5 point favorites. The points total for the game is set at 58.5 points.
In UNLV’s 48-3 Week 3 loss to Iowa State, UNLV allowed 184 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns, opening the door for a potentially big day from Rivers.
Michigan State Spartans, Big 10 (3-0, 2-0-1 ATS)
Last Week: Unranked – This Week: 20
The Michigan State Spartans made a nine-slot leap, breaking into the AP Top 25 after defeating the Miami Hurricanes 38-17 in Week 3 as 7 point underdogs.
Running back Kenneth Walker III was instrumental in Michigan State’s upset over Miami, rushing for 172 yards on 27 carries. Quarterback Payton Thorne was also very effective, tallying 261 yards through the air for four passing touchdowns.
The Spartans have covered the spread in both games in which they were underdogs and pushed in the only game that they were favored (Youngstown State).
Michigan State’s early-season performance has not just earned respect from the AP pollsters, but also by internet oddsmakers – their betting odds to win the 2021 CFP have jumped to (+12500).
The Spartans look to remain undefeated both on the field and with sportsbooks as they take on Big 10 Nebraska. Michigan State is currently favored by 5 points with (-200) moneyline odds on Bovada. The points total is set at 52 points – the total has gone OVER in 5 of Michigan State’s last 6 games overall as well as 5 of their last 6 against opponents from the Big 10.
Brigham Young University Cougars, Independent (3-0, 2-1 ATS)
Last Week: 23 – This Week: 15
BYU jumped eight spots in the AP Top 25 poll after defeating ranked teams in back-to-back weeks, defeating Utah 26-17 as 7 point underdogs and Arizona State 27-17 as 3 point underdogs.
The Cougars’ surge has been led by a balanced offensive attack starring quarterback Jaren Hall (561 passing yards, 7 TD/2 INT) and running back Tyler Allgeier (265 rushing yards, 2 TD).
BYU has been absolutely dominant as of late in the friendly confines of LaVell Edwards Stadium, winning each of their 11 home games outright. They have also been very effective against the spread, covering in 10 of their last 15 games overall.
BYU looks to extend their streak of home dominance this week against the USF Bulls of the AAC, a game that currently features BYU as 23 point favorites.
Michigan Wolverines, Big 10 (3-0, 3-0 ATS)
Last Week: 25 – This Week: 19
The Michigan Wolverines improved by 6 spots in this week’s poll after easily covering the 27.5 point spread in their 63-10 victory over Northern Illinois. The leap in the rankings accompanies an improvement in their betting odds to win the 2021 CFP, which currently sits at (+6600).
The Wolverines have been as good against the spread as they have been against their actual opponents, covering the spread in each of their three victories, including two as favorites of two or more touchdowns.
Much of the buzz around Michigan concerns the emergence of quarterback Cade McNamara, who has seen his odds to win the Heisman Trophy leap to (+6000) with regulated sportsbooks, placing him within the top ten best odds to win the award after opening the season without being considered a contender.
McNamara has completed 64.7% of his passes for 371 yards and 3 touchdowns while avoiding throwing any interceptions thus far in 2021. His efficiency has been a large part of Michigan’s 3-0 start, leading the offense to a 3rd-in-the-nation 47 points scored per game.
Running back Blake Corum has also been a surprise this year, pacing the team in carries (48), rushing yards (407), rushing touchdowns (7), and yards per carry (8.5).
The Wolverines will look to stay undefeated both straight up and against the spread in this week’s matchup with the also undefeated Rutgers Scarlet Knights as 20.5 point favorites with (-1300) moneyline odds.
Ole’ Miss Rebels, Southeastern Conference (3-0, 2-0-1 ATS)
Last Week: 17 – This Week: 13
The Ole’ Miss Rebels round out the biggest jumps of the week, improving four spots in this week’s rankings after easily covering the -14 point spread in their 61-21 victory over Tulane.
Much of Ole’ Miss’ improvement in the rankings can be attributed to quarterback Matt Corral, who has thrown for 997 yards and 9 touchdowns with 0 interceptions thus far. He has also been more than effective on the ground, tallying 33 carries (the most on the team) for 158 rushing yards and a team-leading 5 rushing touchdowns.
Corral’s early-season dominance has seen him lead the Rebels to a nation’s-best 52.7 points per game. As a result, he displaced Alabama quarterback Bryce Young as the frontrunner to win the 2021 Heisman Trophy (+180, opened at +2000).
Ole’ Miss has an off week before heading into their first real test: a Week 5 road trip to face the No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide.
News tags: Alabama Crimson Tide | Arizona State Sun Devils | Blake Corum | Bryce Young | BYU Cougars | Cade McNamara | College Football | football | Fresno State Bulldogs | Iowa State Cyclones | Jaren Hall | Kenneth Walker III | Matt Corral | Miami Hurricanes | Michigan State Spartans | Michigan Wolverines | NCAA | Nebraska Cornhuskers | Northern Illinois Huskies | Ole Miss Rebels | Oregon Ducks | Payton Thorne | Ronnie Rivers | Rutgers Scarlet Knights | Tyler Allegier | UCLA Bruins | UNLV Rebels | USF Bulls | Utah Utes | Youngstown State Penguins
Jerad is a new addition to the USAOnlineSportbooks.com writing team, writing about all things related to sports gambling. As an ex-college baseball player, he pairs a first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of high-level sports teams with years of experience successfully betting on many different sports in order to bring valuable insights to bettors. He also studied political science at UCF, equipping him with the knowledge to cover the political, legal, and legislative aspects of sports gambling.