By: Nate Gatter, KCOU Sports
A supposedly boring Week 3 proved the haters wrong last Saturday, giving us a shocker in Chestnut Hill, a thriller in the Swamp, coin-flipping ineptitude at Jerry World, a Wahoos upset in Charlottesville, and Marshall Morgan suffering from the announcer jinx to beat all announcer jinxes. When a single loss can freeze a team out of the National Semifinal picture, each week is sure to provide fireworks, and Week 4 will be no different. Find out What to Watch, Who to Watch, and how to have the best Saturday of your life, right here, right now.
Five Games To Watch and Who Will Win
(5) Auburn @ (20) Kansas State
One of the most intriguing non-conference games of the early season pits the defending national runner-up Auburn Tigers against the Fightin’ Bill Snyders of Kansas State. Snyder’s teams are well-coached and disciplined, but it will be difficult for even the most fundamentally sound front seven to resist the genius of Gus Malzahn’s offensive system. Expect K-State to hang close into the second half, but eventually the speed and deception of the Auburn offense will physically and mentally deteriorate the K-State defense until its linebackers are tackling one another more often than the Auburn ball carrier.
Final Score: Auburn 41, Kansas State 21
Iowa @ Pittsburgh
Iowa seemed a contender in the Big Ten West in the preseason, but a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Big 12 bottom feeder Iowa State has humbled expectations. The Hawkeyes have been strong defensively and show flashes of a strong passing game with QB Jake Rudock under center, but Kirk Ferentz’s unfortunate dedication to the running game has exposed a brutal lack of playmakers in the Iowa backfield. The road gets no easier for the Hawkeyes as they travel east to face Paul Chryst’s Pittsburgh squad in a tough road environment. The Panthers boast a 3-0 record themselves, including a 30-20 road victory over recent party-crasher Boston College. An extremely weak schedule in ACC play (currently no ranked teams on the ledger) makes Iowa one of Pitt’s toughest opponents this year.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 24, Iowa 10
Virginia @ (21) BYU
Absolutely fascinating matchup in Provo as one of the most exciting signal callers in the country, BYU junior Taysom Hill (1,045 total yards, 10 total TDs), faces a Virginia squad trying to rise from the ashes under the relentless efforts of Head Coach Mike London. The Cavaliers are 2-1, coming off an upset of then-21st ranked Louisville, and will look to knock off the 21st ranked team in the nation for a second consecutive week. The only loss for Mike London’s Wahoos came at the hands of UCLA, and the ‘Hoos defensive line had Brett Hundley waking in cold sweats for the next week after the pressure it mounted on seemingly every play. But the Cavs travel to one of the most underrated venues in the country at BYU, and face a quarterback who will run over, around, and through pressure. Expect BYU to be very aggressive in throwing the football down the field as well as moving Taysom Hill around the pocket. At home, with Virginia’s defense playing at Utah altitude, BYU will own the fourth quarter.
Final Score: BYU 34, Virginia 21
(4) Oklahoma @ West Virginia
Note to self: Do not go into Morgantown unprepared. The Mountaineers already gave Alabama a Week 1 scare, and Oklahoma looked unsteady at times last week, even at home against woeful Tennessee. Bob Stoops will have the troops ready to go; but an inexperienced, although extremely talented, starting quarterback makes his first trip to Milan Puskar Stadium and brings a very young backfield with him. Expect the OU offense to look out of sorts early on, but make adjustments at halftime to take care of business.
Final Score: Oklahoma 38, West Virginia 27
(22) Clemson @ (1) Florida State
While Dabo Sweeney is one of the most enjoyable personalities in college football, Clemson’s fearless leader has done little to prove his Tigers are the real deal. Even by Todd Gurley’s lofty standards, his gaudy Week 1 numbers in Athens were an embarrassment to the Clemson defense and should have left no reason to believe the Florida State offense wouldn’t abuse the same holes exposed by Gurley. Unfortunately for Seminole fans everywhere, Jameis Winston has decided to once again place himself ahead of the team and will pay the price. Into his stead steps sophomore backup Sean Maguire and his 26 pass attempts in his career. The good news for FSU, however, is Maguire still stands a strong chance of outplaying the Clemson quarterback committee and spelling the Seminoles to the second half. Small halftime lead for the Tigers erased by a motivated Winston in the second half.
Final Score: Florida State 31, Clemson 24
The “Why The Hell Is This Game On National TV?” Game of the Week
Florida @ (3) Alabama
Your Week 4 SEC Game of the Week, ladies and gentlemen! The Florida Gators escaped with a 36-30 overtime victory over Kentucky in the Swamp (Yes, in football!), and now travel to Tuscaloosa. CBS viewers will sit through another embarrassment of the Florida football program while Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson are forced to act as though they are surprised that Jeff Driskel threw another interception and that Will Muschamp once again feels the refs are to blame for his team’s lack of good football players. Alabama fans are licking their chops for this one, we’ll see if Muschamp is allowed back on the team plane afterwards.
Final Score: Alabama 38, Florida 14
Five Players To Watch
- Taysom Hill, Quarterback, BYU – vs. Virginia
See BYU vs. Texas, 2013 and 2014. Hill is a 2015 Heisman candidate trying to find a seat at the big boy table a year early.
- Trevor Knight, Quarterback, Oklahoma – @ West Virginia
Knight started the second half of OU’s 2013 season after redshirting in 2012. He is a star in the making, but this will be the first test of Knight’s ability to lead the Sooners to the CFB playoff in this campaign.
- Rakeem Cato, Quarterback, Marshall – vs. Akron
Not a riveting matchup, but be the first to tell your friends about Rakeem Cato (953 passing yards, 9 TDs). If the Thundering Herd has any chance at the CFB playoff this season it will need to run the table with Cato in top form.
- James Connor, Running back, Pittsburgh – vs. Iowa
Connor has run wild in Pitt’s first three games (544 yards, 6.7 YPC, 8 TDs) and the Panthers will need him to have a big game against an Iowa defense that ranks sixth in the FBS in rushing yards allowed (65.7 RYPG).
- Drew Hare, Quarterback, Northern Illinois – @ Arkansas
Who? I know, a bit of a stretch. But NIU is establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with on the national landscape and has wins over Northwestern and UNLV in its 3-0 record. Hare has good numbers (650 total yards, 8 total TDs, 0 INTs), especially considering he only became the starter last week. Look for NIU to put a scare into Arkansas with Hare leading the charge.
Get Ready To Rumble
That will do it for the Week 4 preview, go forth and conquer the couch. Week 4 may not be as chock full o’ upsets as Week 3 was, but it may have more to say about the CFB playoff picture and conference schedule to come. Until Sunday, my friends…