This Weekend in College Football: Week 4

Noon:

  • North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): UNC will be the first quality opponent we’ve played all year. They boast the first real challenging offense we will face, and thus the first real test for our new 4-3 look defense. The claimed strength of our defense is the secondary, but that’s mostly theory at the moment I’d say. We’ll know for sure in 9 hours or so. The forecast calls for rain, which I would ordinarily say favors a running offense, but for an option offense it’s sort of a mixed blessing as a wet ball doesn’t make an option pitch easier to catch than a throw. Either way this contest goes, I don’t really expect a repeat of last year’s 68-50 scoreline.
  • San Jose State @ Minnesota (ESPN2): Minnesota.
  • Louisiana Tech @ Kansas (FS1): It’s hard to make any definitive statements about this game other than that it’ll probably be a pretty awful football contest. If this were last year’s Louisiana Tech squad with last year’s Louisiana Tech coach I would have the Bulldogs in a rout. But it’s not, and so far this year they’ve been blown out by NC State and have lost to Tulane. Tulane is a not a very good football team. I think I will have to go with KU to get their first FBS win since September 10, 2011. (Fun fact: their current FBS losing streak started with a 66-24 rout by Georgia Tech in Lawrence.)
  • Marshall @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): VPI should be able to score enough to beat these guys, though if their defense is as good as it seems then 3 points should be enough. 
  • Vanderbilt @ Massachusetts (ESPNEWS): I’m still fascinated by the concept of live football on ESPNEWS, but it’s a bit baffling at the same time because I’m pretty sure there’s lot of folks out there who don’t get ESPNEWS in HD or at all. Either way, Vandy in a walkover.
  • Wake Forest @ Army (CBSS): More mediocre-to-bad football here. Let’s pick Army just for the hell of it, because if there’s any “major” team they could potentially run over it’d be Wake.

12:30:

  • Pittsburgh @ Duke (ACC): I have Duke penciled in as going to a bowl again, mostly because I think they can go 4-0 against their out-of-conference schedule (though Navy may give them fits, we’ll see in a few weeks) and probably picking up two ACC wins. This isn’t one of them.
  • Tulane @ Syracuse (ACC/FSN): The hits just keep one coming. The ‘Cuse aren’t very good, but they shouldn’t need to be to beat Tulane.

3:00: Houston vs. Rice (@Houston, TX; FSN): I wish I go back to different parts of the past 10 years and pick a different Rice and Houston team for this game, but alas, I cannot. Stuck in the present, I’ll have to go with the Cougars.
3:30:

  • Michigan State @ Notre Dame (NBC): This is probably the best game of the day. I still don’t really “believe” in Sparty’s offense, and it’s almost impossible to judge their defense at this point owing to a lack of data. Notre Dame is probably just “okay” on both sides of the ball, though probably slightly more okay on offense that defense. So if it’s coming down to who is likely to actually score 28 points, then I have to give the edge to the Irish.
  • Tennessee @ Florida (CBS): This game will probably because slugfest, but if there’s any team that can win a 9-7 game this year it’s the Gators. 
  • Purdue @ Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN2): Well, I’ll bet that if Wisconsin ever finds themselves in a late game clock-management situation again, they probably won’t spend 10 seconds complaining to the officials as the clock continues to run. Anyway, such a scenario is exceedingly unlikely to unfold again with the Boilermakers.
  • Utah State @ Southern California (ABC/ESPN2): I need to see one more bad loss by the Trojans before I can buy into the “USC is burning” narrative. Utah State is good, but they already lost to Utah. So yeah, if USC loses here, than sure, I’ll say they’re awful. But for now I think they win.
  • Arkansas @ Rutgers (ESPN): This is another difficult game to call. I’m tempted to give a slight edge to the Razorbacks because “ESS-EEE-CEE” and all but that narrative sure didn’t work for them last year. Perhaps worrying for the Scarlet Knights is that they were outgained by Eastern Michigan last weekend, though that was in the passing game so perhaps it doesn’t apply to Arkansas’s seemingly potent rushing attack.
  • West Virginia vs. Maryland (@Baltimore, MD; ESPNU): I don’t believe Maryland’s 3-0 record, so I’m going to roll with the Mountaineers here.
  • Kent State @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): I guess the guys at the LSU frat that made fun of the Kent State shooting weren’t big CSNY fans. Anyway, Penn State should probably get this one.

4:00: Louisiana-Monroe @ Baylor (FS1): Speaking of rematches of games from last year that involved a ton of points, well, seeing as how the Warhawks only put up 21 on Wake Forest last week, I’m not optimistic for a repeat performance.
7:00:

  • Arizona State @ Stanford (FOX): This will be one of the more entertaining games of the day. And before you say “well, that’s not saying much” realize that we’ll get a classic contrast of styles matchup here, between Stanford’s hard-nosed, old-school approach and the Sun Devils’ more West Coast friendly aerial game. That said, they faced similar attack in Wisconsin last weekend and only made it out because of what will probably be the year’s biggest end-of-game officiating debacle, so I’ll go with the Cardinal here.
  • Colorado State @ Alabama (ESPN2): Alabama.
  • Southern Methodist @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ESPNU): SMU’s throwback unis should not be enough to come anywhere close to TAMU, but we did see last week with both Michigan and Notre Dame that even good teams can have a bit of a hangover effect. Then again, they both won, and TAMU is probably better than either of them. 
  • Texas State @ Texas Tech (FSN): This one should not stress the Red Raiders too much. 

7:30:

  • Oregon State @ San Diego State (CBSS): These two have something in common: losses to FCS teams! But Oregon State lost to a good Eastern Washington team, while SDSU got routed by Eastern Illinois. That does not bode well for the Aztecs, even in this rare home game with a power conference team.
  • Troy @ Mississippi State (SEC/FSN): I think that Miss State will probably have less trouble against this team from the state of Alabama, which would bring their record against such to 2-1 on the year.

7:45: Auburn @ Louisiana State (ESPN): Tigers win! Okay, with that out of the way, it’s still hard to see how Auburn will have the talent with this point to move the ball against LSU’s defense. Combined with LSU’s newfound ability to actually score points, and we have the makings of a potential SEC “darkhorse” candidate if there ever was such a thing.
8:00:

  • Kansas State @ Texas (ABC): Considering how big of a disaster Texas is shaping up to be this year, does it really matter who their quarterback is? I say no. Also for that reason I’m going with K-State here. 
  • Michigan @ Connecticut (ABC): This 8 o’clock timeslot pretty well encapsulates everything that’s wrong with this week’s slate of games. I have Michigan here. 
  • Missouri @ Indiana (BTN): Mizzou, probably.

10:15:

  • Utah @ Brigham Young (ESPN2): Utah gave up 170+ yards rushing to their other in-state rival, so it’s hard to see how they’re going to stop the Stormin’ Mormons in this edition of the Holy War.
  • Wyoming @ Air Force (ESPNU): Air Force’s defense has been pretty porous in their other two Mountain West games so far, and it’s hard to see that trend abating against Wyoming.

10:30:

  • New Mexico State @ California-Los Angeles (PAC12): If UCLA is as good as everyone says they are, they’ll win thus one easily. They’d win either way to most likely, but still. 
  • Idaho @ Washington State (PAC12): Wazzou is probably going to have a field day with these guys.

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