Week 4 of the college football season brings the best Saturday schedule of the season thus far with three matchups of ranked opponents and a few other high-profile matchups to savor.
There are two major matchups in the SEC with No. 12 Tennessee hosting No. 22 Florida and No. 10 Arkansas and No. 20 Texas A&M meeting in Arlington, Texas. In the previous matchup, the Gators, who had already lost to Kentucky, must win on the road at Knoxville to keep their division hopes alive. The Volunteers have lost 16 of the last 17 in the series, so a win that keeps them undefeated would be especially sweet. In the latest matchup, the winner between the Razorbacks and Aggies gets a big boost in the SEC West chase to keep up with Alabama.
The biggest game from a standings standpoint takes place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where No. 5 Clemson visits No. 16 Wake Forest. This sets up as a significant matchup in the ACC Atlantic race with the winner holding a critical tie-break advantage. The Demon Deacons won the division last year but lost in the regular season to the Tigers.
Also worth noting outside of games involving ranked opponents, No. 2 Ohio State gets a visit from Wisconsin, No. 6 Oklahoma hosts Kansas State and No. 7 Southern California faces a tough test at Oregon State.
The battle of the basketball schools between Duke and Kansas will end just like the Jayhawks’ basketball season did last season… with a win. Kansas has to be the most surprising team in America, and they have the ability to fight through adversity, having dropped double digits the last two games and winning again.
Whether this is sustainable is another question. After the game against the Blue Devils, their October looks like this: home games against Iowa State and TCU and road games against Oklahoma and Baylor and that could easily send them into a winless month.
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No. 7 Southern California is riding high, with quarterback Caleb Williams leading a top-10 scoring attack that has helped reinvigorate the program. But the defense has been nothing to write home about so far, ranking 82nd in the country in yards allowed per game. That group may have a hard time dealing with an Oregon State offense that can score in bunches. The Beavers (3-0) will have the backing of the home crowd and be armed with the confidence they gained from last year’s thrashing of USC in Los Angeles. I think they find a way to win a shootout to give USC their first loss to Lincoln Riley.
Oregon State beats Caleb Williams and Southern California to earn a spot in the Top 25 and completely shake up the race in the Pac-12. While USC has assumed favorite status with Utah and Oregon already having one loss, a loss on Saturday would leave OSU in position to finish in the top two and play for a New Year’s Bowl Six. The Beavers could end up being one of the surprise teams of the season.
Iowa has scored 41 points through three games, nearly half fewer than the next-lowest-scoring team in the Big Ten. Rutgers has scored 38 points in its two games against FCS competition. So when these two teams meet on Saturday, don’t expect too many goals. In fact, don’t be surprised if there’s a repeat of the infamous 2014 game between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest that ended in a 0-0 tie at the end of regulation time. However, the most likely outcome is for the Hawkeyes to find the end zone (gasp) at least once and earn a close victory.
Kansas hosts Duke on Saturday. Phog Allen Fieldhouse will be absolutely lit up when two of the nation’s most storied powerhouses square off in a top-five matchup in history and… what’s that? Isn’t that a basketball game? Oh.
Okay, jokes aside, what these two non-traditional soccer programs have accomplished so far on the field must be taken absolutely seriously. First off, they’re both 3-0, which hasn’t been the case for KU since 2009 and the Blue Devils since 2018.
The Jayhawks have two solid road wins on hand, including a conference win at West Virginia and an even more convincing win at future Big 12 foe Houston. Naturally, this has fans of a certain school in a neighboring state wondering aloud if Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold might be interested in another job after less than two years in Lawrence.
Duke’s win at Northwestern might not have as much long-term value, but Temple’s Week 1 elimination by the Blue Devils set a good tone for the Mike Elko era.
So even though the ball isn’t round and the game will be played on artificial turf rather than hardwood, we feel comfortable nominating it as the best game of the week. How to go to? We’ll take on the host Jayhawks at a close one, but FS1 should be worth a few check-ins during the noon ET television window.
Do you trust Texas? I do not. Too much scar tissue. Very little evidence that things have really changed under Steve Sargsian. The Longhorns have played all three games so far at home, which could be giving a false sense of security about their level of play. Now they have to go on the road and play a Texas Tech team that got a good win over Houston a couple of weeks ago and is averaging 475 yards of offense. That’s not good news for a Texas defense that still looks like a work in progress. The Longhorns can get starting quarterback Quinn Ewers back, which would certainly shake up their passing game. But the atmosphere at Texas Tech may be too shocking for the system after starting the season in such a friendly environment. Tortillas will fly in Lubbock when the Red Raiders pull off a big win.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Florida-Tennessee tops College Football Week 4 picks, bold predictions