By: David Folz
Week four of the college football season is upon us and it is by far the best weekend for college football as well as the high ranking showdowns to go along with it. Last week we saw the second ranked team get upset, will it happen again? LSU takes on Auburn, so it could happen. Also, the ACC’s biggest game of the year takes place with Florida State and Clemson, who will emerge the victor there? Many questions will be answered as we embark on week four of the college football season, and here is what to watch for and the top five games of the weekend.
Intriguing games everywhere: It starts Thursday night with BYU vs. Boise State and extends throughout the weekend. Baylor and Louisiana-Monroe face off on Friday and then a sufficient amount of games are intriguing Saturday. Wisconsin and UTEP is key for the Badgers to gain offensive footing. The aforementioned game between LSU and Auburn is crucial for Auburn to start a bounce back from a slow start to the year. Other interesting matchups to note: Virginia/TCU, Vanderbilt/Georgia, Illinois/Louisiana Tech, Utah/Arizona State, Oregon State/UCLA, California/USC and Miami/Georgia Tech.
Preview to the SEC Championship?: While it may be early to predict this conference’s championship game, it may not be so far-fetched to point out the key teams in the race. Georgia takes on Vanderbilt in a game that is crucial for Vandy to have a winning season. South Carolina takes on Missouri in a SEC game that will prove to be the first big test for the Gamecocks. In the SEC West, LSU and Auburn are going to slug it out in a game that is massive for any hope Auburn has at contending for the SEC. The SEC Championship game may not be decided this week, but you may get a very good sense of who is going to contend for it by the end of Saturday.
Rivalries abound: This weekend will feature some great matchups between rival teams. LSU/Auburn, California/USC, Michigan/Notre Dame, and Clemson/Florida State are all big matchups this weekend that feature teams with extreme dislikes for each other. They also feature key hopes for BCS games or conference championships at years end, so that importance is also on board for the weekend.
Is Notre Dame for real?: The Fighting Irish trounced Navy in Dublin, Ireland to start the season. Then proceeded to duel it out with Purdue in week two, then beat up Michigan State last week. The one gripe that many may have against the Irish is that they haven’t played a particularly good offense in any of those three games. That will change on Saturday as they host Michigan’s Denard Robinson. Robinson has burned the Irish in the past, and this year if Notre Dame has the BCS hopes, they better get to stopping him Saturday.
Top 5 Games of the Weekend
5. Missouri at South Carolina: I cannot stress how important this game is for Missouri to not go 0-2 in the SEC. South Carolina is already 1-0 thanks to their win against Vandy on the opening weekend and will be looking at 2-0 if they beat the Tigers. Missouri fell apart in the fourth quarter against Georgia, and that cannot happen against South Carolina. If the Gamecocks win, you can already set up the three team race between them, Georgia and Florida.
4. Arizona at Oregon: Arizona has been one of the good stories thus far in the football season, having upset Oklahoma State and ranked at 22 in the nation entering week four. The defense has been stout for the Wildcats, but they do not face a more prolific offense than Oregon in the season. Marcus Mariota also has not faced a better defense than he will against Arizona to start the season, so the freshman quarterback will have to be on his game for the Ducks to avoid the upset. It will come down to Arizona’s offense if they can score when Oregon scores as well.
3. Kansas State at Oklahoma: The simple key to this game will be Collin Klein’s play against the Oklahoma defense. If Klein plays well, then Kansas State can and probably will beat Oklahoma. If Oklahoma plays well and contains Klein, then expect the Wildcats to leave Norman with a loss. Landry Jones can be looked at a lot of the same way. If he plays well then Oklahoma wins, if not Kansas State wins. It may come down to other factors but both team’s star quarterbacks will have a bright spotlight on Saturday night.
2. Michigan at Notre Dame: This is a big game for both teams. Michigan got destroyed against Alabama on the opening weekend so they want to rebound from the loss by beating a team that is thought to be on the rise. For Notre Dame, it’s another chance to prove that they are back and able to contend for the BCS. This game will come down to Notre Dame containing Denard Robinson, something they have not done the past three years. If they do that then the Irish will walk away from this game 4-0 and Michigan’s only BCS hope is a Big Ten title.
1. Clemson at Florida State: This is HUGE for the ACC, Florida State, and Clemson. College GameDay is here, and so is the #1 game to watch this weekend. The overwhelming favorite of anyone in the ACC is that they want Florida State in this game, as they pose the best chance for the ACC in the BCS and the national championship. Clemson will want to thwart those plans this weekend and if they do, the ACC could be seeing red as they may lose out on its best chance in a long time at a possible national championship.