College Football Preview: Week 4
Week 4 is upon us and I think this week is going to answer questions a lot of us have. I think we’re going to be able to separate the good 3-0 teams from the not so good 3-0 teams. It should be a fun Saturday.
Before we get to Saturday, though, there are a few interesting match ups tonight and tomorrow.
Tonight, the Miami Hurricanes travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers. The game will be on ESPN and kick off is set for 6:30 p.m. CST. This is an interesting match up. Miami is coming off of a bye week after their loss to the Buckeyes and they are going to be looking to redeem themselves. Pittsburgh is kind of in the same situation here. They came into the year with a lot of hype only to lose at Utah in Week 1. I’m going to be looking at the play of Dion Lewis. This kid is an outstanding talent, but he hasn’t shown anything this year. He’s only averaging 2.9 yards per carry and you have to wonder if he’s a little fatigued from his insane workload last year. I’ll be looking to see if he’s got the spring in his step back. Jacory Harris is another guy I’m gonna be watching. He threw four interceptions at Ohio State and if he can’t make better decisions tonight, Miami will be in trouble. I think playing at home will help Pitt’s freshman quarterback keep his composure. I’m going with Pittsburgh here.
Friday, Sept. 24: TCU @ SMU, ESPN 7 pm CST
- The Horned Frogs might deal with a fight from the Mustangs, but I see TCU coming away in this one.
AROUND the SEC
We’re starting to get into SEC play now and we will begin to find out who is legit and who isn’t.
Something I like to do is guess the score of the games. When I was younger, I filled out an NCAA March Madness bracket (annual suck-a-thon for me) and showed it one of my gym teachers.
She (yes, she) laughed at me and said, “You picked the scores??”
I can’t say that was the best idea I ever had. So yes, I like pretending that I am a genius or some sort of “Early Edition” and pick the scores. I don’t care if I’m horribly wrong, but it is a thought out guess of how I think the game will play out. And it’s fun.
UAB (1-2, 0-1 C-USA) @ Tennessee (1-2, 1-1 SEC)
- 11:21 am, CST (ESPN3)
The Volunteers are coming into this game a little beat up from the past two weeks. They have been able to amp themselves up against Oregon and Florida, but can they do it for UAB? I think this will be an interesting challenge for Tennessee. The Vols can’t overlook UAB or they will find themselves in a position they don’t want to be in.
OUTCOME: I think Tennessee is going to win this one, but they might struggle a bit early on. The Vols put this one away late and come away with the victory.
The Line: Vols -14
FINAL PREDICTION: UT 31, UAB 17
Alabama (3-0) @ Arkansas (3-0, 1-0 SEC)
- 2:30 pm CST, CBS
Alabama is on the road for the second week in a row and opening up SEC play for the 2010 season. Arkansas is coming off a big win at Georgia to open their SEC season.
Is Arkansas’ defense really this good? The short answer is no. They haven’t played anybody. Georgia was the first test for their defense and Arkansas gave up 24 points and 392 yards of offense. Arkansas did a good job of keeping Alabama’s run game in check last year. I don’t think they will do that again.
Arkansas has gotten a lot of sacks so far, but their defensive line will be up against one of the best offensive lines in the country this weekend.
I don’t feel like Alabama’s pass rush has had a chance to get going this year. Teams have been getting rid of the ball quickly so far. The pressure has been there – it just hasn’t led to sacks, yet. I think that will change this weekend. Despite the fact that Alabama’s defense was better last year, they still designed a good scheme to confuse Mallett. There’s no reason to think they can’t do that again.
OUTCOME: I don’t feel like Arkansas’ defense can stop Alabama enough to win this game. Arkansas makes a lot of mistakes, too. They have a turnover margin of -1 and average 8 penalties per game. They can’t expect to make the same mistakes and beat a team as good as Alabama. Alabama cannot allow Mallett to sit comfortably in the pocket and establish a rhythm. I’m thinking they are going to be able to flush Mallett and keep him from getting comfortable. Alabama wins this one easily.
The Line: Alabama -7.5
FINAL PREDICTION: Alabama 38, Arkansas 17
Kentucky (3-0) @ Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC)
- 6 pm CST, ESPNU
I talked about this game in my blog yesterday, so I won’t elaborate much here. The Gators are on upset alert in The Swamp.
The Line: Florida -14
FINAL PREDICTION: Kentucky 31, Florida 30
Georgia (1-2, 0-2 SEC) @ Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2 SEC)
- 6 pm CST, ESPN3
Georgia is coming off two straight losses to SEC teams as well as Mississippi State. Georgia has not looked as stagnant on offense as MSU has, but they haven’t looked a whole lot better. I really can’t see Georgia losing three straight SEC games to open the year. Mark Richt might have to take refuge in a bunker should that happen, though.
Mississippi State’s offense is averaging 10.5 points per game in SEC play and averaging 257 yards per game, but I would rank LSU and Auburn’s defense ahead of Georgia.
OUTCOME: I can’t call the upset here, but this game will be ugly. I think Georgia escapes Starkville with a win.
The Line: Off
FINAL PREDICTION: UGA 20, MSU 14
Fresno St. (2-0, 1-0 WAC) @ Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1 SEC)
- 6:30 pm CST, ESPN3
Ole Miss disappointed again last week with an unexpected loss to Vanderbilt at home. The Rebels have yet to win a game at home this season and have been nonexistent in the second half of games. The Rebels need to turn things around fast if they expect to make a bowl game at the end of the season.
Ole Miss has also had issues with turnovers. They have 7 turnovers through their first three games. If they continue to turn the ball over this week, then Fresno State will have a chance to come away with the win. I can’t really call it an upset if they do win, though. Fresno State played well with some good teams last season, but they also lost their standout RB Ryan Matthews to the NFL.
OUTCOME: I’ve picked Ole Miss to win every week and really, they shouldn’t be 1-2. They aren’t a good team, but they aren’t quite as bad as their record suggests. They do have issues on offense, but perhaps it has to do with Masoli not having a full offseason to work with this team. I think it is affecting them, but one of the most troubling signs for the Rebels is their lack of play in the 2nd half. It’s embarrassing for them to be this out of shape. Ole Miss wins this one.
The Line: Ole Miss -3
FINAL PREDICTION: Ole Miss 31, Fresno St. 24
South Carolina (3-0, 1-0 SEC) @ Auburn (3-0, 1-0 SEC)
- 6:45 pm CST
This should be another exciting night of college football and another exciting game from Jordan-Hare Stadium. Two of the most highly recruited running backs in the country, Michael Dyer and Marcus Lattimore, will be playing on one field Saturday night.
South Carolina’s defense has been stingy when it comes to points being scored. The Gamecocks are only allowing opposing teams 59.7 yards per game in the rushing department, but they haven’t been quite as good at stopping the pass. The Gamecocks are averaging just under 4 sacks per game. They will need to keep the ball on the ground in this one and pound away at the Auburn defense.
Cam Newton still hasn’t proven that he can make the big throws. He threw two more interceptions against Clemson and didn’t make very many good decisions. He’s very dangerous with his legs and open spaces, but you have to think Auburn is trying to cut down on the amount of times he takes off running. Auburn needs to continue and utilize their running backs. Auburn’s line play was exposed against Clemson and they commit a lot of mental errors (7 penalties per game). They can’t keep getting away with that.
OUTCOME: South Carolina is coming off a 38-17 win over Furman. Auburn is coming off a thrilling, physical win over Clemson. They’ve escaped with a win two weeks in a row now. I think two physical contests in a row will affect Auburn. This will be another physical game for Auburn and it’s going to come down to quarterback and line play. Auburn makes a lot of mistakes and South Carolina does not. Jordan-Hare will be rocking again, but I’m giving the edge to South Carolina.
The Line: Auburn -3
FINAL PREDICTION: South Carolina 21, Auburn 17
West Virginia (3-0) @ LSU (3-0, 2-0 SEC)
- 8 pm CST, ESPN2
John Chavis has LSU’s defense playing very well so far this season. They’ve held opponents to 279.7 yards per game so far and have been getting a lot of pressure and turnovers. It’s been the defense carrying the team thus far, because the offense has been rather one-dimensional. Jordan Jefferson has not thrown over 100 yards in his last two games, but the running game has been there for LSU.
This is not the same West Virginia offense we’re used to seeing. The Mountaineers are primarily a passing team now and it’s one of the reasons they are 3-0. West Virginia will find out a little more about themselves on Saturday under the lights in Baton Rouge. They haven’t been overly impressive in their victories and they barely escaped Marshall with a victory. West Virginia’s defense is ranked 10th nationally and they probably won’t give up very many yards on Saturday due to LSU’s lackluster offense, but I don’t think West Virginia’s defense is that good.
As a side note, this is the first time LSU and West Virginia have played each other.
OUTCOME: Geno Smith probably won’t see a better cornerback all season in Patrick Peterson. The Mountaineers will want to look the other way when passing the ball. LSU will have their hands full trying to contain Noel Devine. He is a player to watch in this game. He could make the difference for West Virginia. LSU must get a good game out of Jordan Jefferson. West Virginia will be looking to stuff the run and make Jefferson beat them. I think Geno Smith will make some mistakes against this secondary and LSU will put this one away late.
The Line: LSU -10
FINAL PREDICTION: LSU 24, West Virginia 14
Other Match Ups
Oregon @ Arizona State
– The Ducks will want to be careful with this one. Arizona State played well at Wisconsin last week, but I don’t think they can keep up with Oregon. Oregon should win fairly easily. Oregon 45, Arizona State 24
Oregon St. @ Boise St.
–I think Boise State remains undefeated and wins an exciting game. Boise St. 41, Oregon State 31
UCLA @ Texas
–Texas has really struggled so far and UCLA has been a roller coaster. Texas 28, UCLA 17
Stanford @ Notre Dame
–Stanford wins a close one in South Bend. Stanford 30, Notre Dame 24
Temple @ Penn State
–Penn State will win this game, but I think an improved Temple team will stick around longer than the Nittany Lions care for. Penn State 24, Temple 13
NC State @ Georgia Tech
–Georgia Tech is on upset alert. I won’t be surprised if NC State has a chance to win this game, but I think the Ramblin’ Wreck takes care of business. GT 31, NC State 27
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below. You can e-mail me suggestions or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @JoeSportswriter.