So it’s already Week 4 and at the end of the weekend, we’ll basically be one-third of the way through the 2017 college football season already. Sad! Or maybe not so sad for us Baylor fans...
ANYWAYYYYYY this week doesn’t have any matchups that you’d think of as iconic but there is certainly a lot of upset potential brewing out there. 6 of the top 8 teams in this week’s AP poll go on the road to play an underdog that has some potential to bite an unsuspecting favorite. Here’s your roadmap to the games to watch in Week 4:
Early Slate - Secretly Decent with a Texas Vibe?
First Option: Texas Tech at Houston, ABC. It's Kliff Kingsbury vs. Major Applewhite and boy does it ever feel like 2001 all over again. Both of these teams are off to 2-0 starts heading into this key non-conference clash. Tech has impressed on both sides of the ball so far this season given the low level of expectations surrounding the Red Raiders going into 2017. Nic Shimonek has stepped right into Pat Mahomes' shoes and Tech's defense has been actually not as bad! Hey they gave up less than 8 TDs to Arizona State's RB this year so that's improvement, right? I'm certainly looking forward to the matchup between Tech's OL and Houston's menace DT Ed Oliver. Expect Coog fans to be pretty fired up to get an in-state P5 team in their own barn. Should be a fun atmosphere in the 713.
Second Option: Texas A&M v. Arkansas, ESPN. It's the Hot Seat Bowl! Kevin Sumlin entered the season under serious internal pressure to show improvement at Texas A&M and uh... yeah we all saw the end of that game against UCLA. Meanwhile on the other side, Bret Bielema is starting to feel it a bit from Arkansas fans after TCU came into their house and stole all their cookies a couple weeks ago. Plus this is a neutral site game so it might actually feel somewhat like a bowl! A&M looked like they finally woke up in the 2nd half against Louisiana-Lafayette last week. Can our old buddy Kellen Mond show improvement against a P5 defense from his 3-17 showing out in LA? Can Arkansas do offensive things against a stout Aggie front line? The loser of this team is gonna catch a lot of fan rage.
Third Option: NC State at Florida State, ESPN2. A lot has changed for FSU since they last took the field on opening weekend against Alabama. The Noles had their September 9 matchup against Louisiana-Monroe cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and then had their September 16 game with Miami postponed until October. On the field, FSU will have to get used to life without QB Deondre Francois, who was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered against Bama. True freshman James Blackman takes his place but will have an immediate test against what appears to be a salty NC State defensive line on paper. The Wolfpack are looking to pick up a signature win after a disappointing loss to South Carolina in their season opener before a couple easy wins the past two weeks. Can Florida State live up to expectations despite the turmoil or can NC State pull off a big upset on the road?
Afternoon Slate - #GrillingSZN
First Option: TCU at Oklahoma State, ESPN. The definitive game of the week in the Big 12 and probably in the country is likely this one in Stillwater between the Cowboys and the Frogs. Oklahoma State has looked incredibly impressive on offense thus far in 2017 but now they'll face a significant step up in competition against an improved TCU defense. Mason Rudolph has played like a Heisman caliber QB to this point and he has a bevy of experienced weapons around him including Justice Hill, Marcell Ateman and All-American James Washington. But it was OSU's defense that was the key in this game last year when these two teams met in Fort Worth. Is Kenny Hill ready to show that this year will be different? Baylor fans know better than anyone just how nightmarish a game can get in Stillwater. We should learn a lot about both teams.
Second Option: Michigan at Purdue, FOX: Well this was NOT a game that I expected to be generating any excitement at the beginning of the season but here we are! New coach Jeff Brohm has injected immediate life into the Boilermakers as they have pushed Louisville to the brink and destroyed Mizzou in the early going. Purdue's offensive numbers have spiked significantly, and now the Boilers take on a Michigan team that has struggled to put the ball in the end zone with any consistency. Michigan's defense is miles better than anything Purdue has faced so far in 2017, but the Wolverines will need to score touchdowns instead of kick field goals in order to beat Purdue on the road. If Michigan's red zone struggles continue, we could be looking at our first big top 10 upset of the season.
Third Option: USC at California, ABC. Here's another game that looked to be rather innocuous before the season started but now that Cal has gotten off to a surprising 3-0 start, this has a bit more intrigue than it initially appeared. USC is also 3-0 but they've struggled with Western Michigan and squeaked by Texas in the process, and now they go on the road for the first time in 2017. Sam Darnold had to carry the Trojans to the finish line last weekend in USC's double OT win over the Longhorns and Darnold is certainly capable of doing that on a weekly basis. Yet at some point, USC will need other key pieces to contribute. This Cal defense is lightyears ahead of anything Sonny Dykes ever put on the field. And if USC gets caught looking ahead to a big matchup at Washington State next week, this could be a potential upset in the making as well.
Evening Games - Post Baylor Game Tailgate Watching
*Note - This blog is completely counting on you to pay full attention to the Baylor game. But sometimes the opponent is a 27.5 point favorite...
First Option: Mississippi State at Georgia, ESPN. Did anyone have Mississippi State punking LSU by 30 last weekend? The Bulldogs put the rest of the SEC West on notice with that 37-7 win and now they jump right into a top 20 matchup between the hedges against Georgia. Nick Fitzgerald has led a resurgent MSU rushing attack that began to show signs late in the 2016 season and has fans thinking of the 2014 team that was led by Dak Prescott. They face a UGA team that has been stout defensively in shutting down Notre Dame and Appalachian State on the ground. Georgia is still working around a QB issue as freshman Jake Fromm has gotten most of the reps in Jacob Eason's injury absence. I expect that this might be a low scoring slugfest type of game with the winner having a clear claim to best team in the SEC not named Bama.
Second Option: Penn State at Iowa, ABC. When you compare Penn State's offense to what Iowa can throw out there, it looks like quite the mismatch on paper. Ahhh but weird things tend to happen to top ranked opponents in Iowa City at night. Just ask Michigan last season. Iowa will be more than fired up to get a shot at another major upset on their home field. The key will be whether or not Iowa's defense can hold its own against one of the most explosive offenses in the country in Penn State. Saquon Barkley is worth the price of admission on his own and you know Trace McSorley isn't afraid to drop bombs down the field. Iowa allowed nearly 500 yards to Iowa State in their only matchup against a P5 oppoent to this point so the jury is still out. But if they're able to force some turnovers and keep the Lions from getting rolling, this one could be interesting in the 4th quarter. I'll also point out that Iowa has the best new tradition in college football.
Third Option: Syracuse at LSU, ESPN2. Okay so sure, I don't expect that this will be much of a game in the second half. However, I'm very interested to see how former Baylor assistant Dino Babers' offense does on the road in Death Valley against a premiere SEC opponent. The Orange really haven't gotten on track offensively yet this season but QB Eric Dungey showed some real signs at various points last season in the ACC. LSU is reeling after that debacle last weekend in Starkville and will have to go without leading rusher Darrius Guice. I suspect that LSU will have a big advantage in the trenches and should still be able to run the ball effectively, but at some point they're going to need Danny Etling to make a play downfield. I'd be surprised if this was a game deep into the 2nd half, but the matchup still piques the interest a bit.
PAC 12 AFTER DARK SPECIAL!!!1!
9:00 - Washington at Colorado, FS1
|11:00a||ESPN||Texas A&M v. Arkansas||Arlington, TX|
|11:00a||CBSSN||Army @ Tulane||New Orleans, LA|
|11:00a||FSN||Kent State @ Louisville||Louisville, KY|
|11:00a||ESPN2||NC State @ Florida State||Tallahassee, FL|
|11:00a||ABC||Texas Tech @ Houston||Houston, TX|
|11:00a||SECN||Massachusetts @ Tennessee||Knoxville, TN|
|11:00a||BTN||UNLV @ Ohio State||Columbus, OH|
|11:00a||ESPNU||West Virginia @ Kansas||Lawrence, KS|
|11:20a||ACCN||Pittsburgh @ Georgia Tech||Atlanta, GA|
|2:00p||FS1||UCF @ Maryland||College Park, MD|
|2:30p||CBS||Alabama @ Vanderbilt||Nashville, TN|
|2:30p||ESPN2||Boston College @ Clemson||Clemson, SC|
|2:30p||CBSSN||Cincinnati @ Navy||Annapolis, MD|
|2:30p||ESPNU||Duke @ North Carolina||Chapel Hill, NC|
|2:30p||SECN||Louisiana Tech @ South Carolina||Columbia, SC|
|2:30p||BTN||Rutgers @ Nebraska||Lincoln, NE|
|2:30p||ESPN||TCU @ Oklahoma State||Stillwater, OK|
|2:30p||FSN||Toledo @ Miami||Miami Gardens, FL|
|2:30p||ABC||USC @ California||Berkeley, CA|
|3:00p||FOX||Michigan @ Purdue||West Lafayette, IN|
|5:00p||P12N||Nevada @ Washington State||Pullman, WA|
|5:30p||FS1||Oklahoma @ Baylor||Waco, TX|
|5:30p||beIN||UAB @ North Texas||Denton, TX|
|6:00p||ESPN||Mississippi State @ Georgia||Athens, GA|
|6:00p||CBSSN||San Diego State @ Air Force||Colorado Springs, CO|
|6:00p||ESPN2||Syracuse @ LSU||Baton Rouge, LA|
|6:30p||ESPNU||Auburn @ Missouri||Columbia, MO|
|6:30p||SECN||Florida @ Kentucky||Lexington, KY|
|6:30p||ABC||Penn State @ Iowa||Iowa City, IA|
|7:00p||FOX||Notre Dame @ Michigan State||East Lansing, MI|
|9:00p||P12N||Oregon @ Arizona State||Tempe, AZ|
|9:00p||FS1||Washington @ Colorado||Boulder, CO|
|9:15p||ESPN2||Hawaii @ Wyoming||Laramie, WY|
|9:30p||ESPN||UCLA @ Stanford||Palo Alto, CA|