A lot has happened since Week Three in the NCAA came to an end.
The Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West have all announced returns to play, while the Canadian-heavy Mid-American Conference (MAC) seems soon to follow. Week Four will feature the first games from the powerhouse Southeastern Conference (SEC) as well as a few impactful Canadian matchups. As always, we have all your NCAA predictions right here.
After two weeks of heavy Canadian content, I’ve been fairly successful with my picks for 3DownNation. Last week, I hit on seven of the 10 Canadian games, raising my overall record to a respectable 13-of-17. Once again, our CanCon game of the week ended with the projected victor, but the game itself looked very different than anticipated and I missed out on my second consecutive pick against the spread.
This week, we head back to the same well for our feature contest, highlighting the same team in back-to-back weeks. This time however, they face a very different challenge and a team with star Canadians of their own.
West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma State (-6.5)
Location: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Okla.
Kickoff: Saturday, September 26 at 3:30 PM EST/12:30 PM PST
Where to View: ABC
I predicted Oklahoma State would be an offensive powerhouse last week.
I was wrong.
Heck, every expert, analyst and arm-chair quarterback outside of Tulsa was wrong. The Cowboys fell flat on their face against the Golden Hurricane, barely scratching out a win with an anemic offensive attack. From the very start, Tulsa was aggressive defensively to put Oklahoma State on their back foot and, perhaps most importantly, knocked sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders out of the game earlier. Rudderless, the Cowboys cycled quarterbacks before settling on true freshman Shane Illingworth.
Head coach Mike Gundy is keeping Sanders’ status for Saturday close to the vest but even if he starts, it’s likely his trademark mobility will be severely affected by an injured ankle that will be fresh out of a walking boot. Regardless of who is under centre, the offensive burden will undeniably fall to star Canadian Chuba Hubbard.
The best Canadian in the NCAA is hoping for a bounce back performance against West Virginia. With heavy pressure in his face, the former 2,000-yard back struggled to get going and was held under a hundred yards for the first time since a game against McNeese State last September in which he was rested after just eight carries. It was a disappointing debut for the Heisman candidate and he’ll need a lot more than 3.4 yards per carry to beat the Mountaineers.
So much of a running back’s job depends on his blocking and Oklahoma State’s offensive line struggled mightily against Tulsa. They now face a much stronger defensive line in West Virginia, led by the dynamic duo of Darius and Dante Stills. The brothers combined for 14 sacks and 26 tackles for loss last year, but Darius decided to forego the NFL to come back and wreak more havoc with his brother in 2020. That led to him being named the preseason favourite for Big 12 defensive player of the year. Also in the rotation behind Dante is Canadian true freshman Akheem Mesidor of Ottawa, who had a sack in an impressive debut against Eastern Kentucky.
Looking to challenge Hubbard for the status of best Canadian in this game is West Virginia free safety Alonzo Addae. Addae was the top Canadian performer in Week Two, making national headlines with a spectacular interception. That success came against an overmatched Eastern Kentucky and Addae must now prove against legitimate competition that his FBS debut was not a fluke. Regardless of which Cowboy is tossing passes to star receiver Tylan Wallace, the Pickering native will be holding down the back end and he might just save the day if Hubbard breaks free.
On the other defence, Calgary’s Amen Ogbongbemiga will be looking for a rebound of his own in Oklahoma State’s second game. The starting middle linebacker looked average against Tulsa, recording just four tackles and a middling Pro Football Focus grade of 50.5. He’ll be going head-to-head with Mountaineers’ running back Leddie Brown, who was responsible for three scores in the season opener. The Oklahoma State defence will also be challenged by redshirt junior quarterback Jarret Doege, who looked excellent against Eastern Kentucky. Doege only started three games in 2019, but he threw for 307 yards and a score against the Cowboys last season.
Oklahoma State simply has too much talent and potential for me to give up on them after one lacklustre performance, but all signs point to up and coming West Virginia making it close. I’ll hedge my bets by picking the favourite straight up, but I expect the Mountaineers to cover.
Pick straight-up: Oklahoma State
Pick against the spread: West Virginia (+6.5)
Other Week 4 NCAA games featuring Canadians
No. 5 Florida (-14) at Ole Miss
CanCon: Lamar Goods, DL, FR (Flo), Tavius Robinson, OLB, JR (Miss), Deane Leonard, CB, SR (Miss)
No. 24 Louisville at No. 21 Pittsburgh (-3)
CanCon: Jared Wayne, REC, SO (Pitt), Liam Dick, OL, FR (Pitt)
Georgia Tech (-7.5) at Syracuse
CanCon: Matthew Bergeron, OL, SO (Syr), Geoff Cantin-Arku, LB, SO (Syr), Patrick Davis, OL, SR (Syr), Ben Labrosse, DB, FR (Syr), Damien Alford, REC, FR (Syr), Tyrell Richards, LB, JR (Syr)
Pick: Georgia Tech
Florida International at Liberty (-7.5)
CanCon: John Kourtis, OL, SO (Lib)
No. 22 Army at No. 14 Cincinnati (-13)
CanCon: Bruno Labelle, TE, SR (Cin)
Duke at Virginia (-5.5)
CanCon: Terrell Jana, REC, SR (Vir)
Texas State at Boston College (-17.5)
CanCon: Samuel Obiang, NT, SO (TexSt), Ezechiel Tiede, REC, SO (BC)
Pick: Boston College
No. 2 Alabama (-28.5) at Missouri
CanCon: John Metchie III, REC, SO (Ala)
Houston Baptist at Louisiana Tech
CanCon: Edouard Paradis, OL, JR (HB), Gabe Siemieniec, PK, SR (LATech)
Pick: Louisiana Tech
No. 16 Tennessee (-3.5) at South Carolina
CanCon: Josh Palmer, REC, SR (Ten)
NC State at No. 20 Virginia Tech (-6.5)
CanCon: Daniel Joseph, DE, SR (NCSt)
Pick: Virginia Tech