Week 4 - Most Meaningful Matchups in College Football

Weeks 1-3 were great, some wild and amazing finishes – strange games for favorites and late night drama. Week 4 looks…a little light on that. Once again (like Week 2) doesn’t appear to be a great slate of games. Conference play is beginning in earnest but a lot of the games feature what we believe is an upper-echelon team versus one of their conference’s supposed bottom-feeders (Vanderbilt at Georgia and Arizona at Oregon are two examples).

While next week (Week 5) is shaping up to be amazing – the best college football writers can get you excited about even a less-than-spectacular slate here in Week 4. Again – the weeks where it seems like everything will be chalk.

Here we go for Week 4! (All times EST):

10. Boise State at Utah State Noon on CBS – the G5 game of the week, this contest between two Mountain West contenders – with the Broncos coming off a disappointing but close loss to Oklahoma State. This game could shape the rest of Boise’s season – a loss would put them behind the 8 ball already in league play. For Utah State it’s a chance to get off to a great start and show improvement in Blake Anderson’s first year at the helm.

9. #25 Kansas State at Oklahoma State 7:00 PM ESPN+ - This is the Big 12 opener for both teams and both have had 3-0 starts to season with decent-to-good wins (Boise for OSU & Stanford + Nevada for Kansas State). On the other hand, neither has appeared to be world-beaters who can challenge for Big 12 title but someone has to be in the top 3 in the league and either could be in play after this game. A win here for Kansas State and next week’s game at home against Oklahoma gets VERY interesting.

8. Rutgers at Michigan 3:30 PM ABC – Okay – no one would have had this game on ANY list before the season with Michigan looking stagnant and Rutgers being…well…Rutgers. But both teams are off to a 3-0 start and both look like they have an identity. I expect Michigan to win this game but a Rutgers upset – or even a close game would have profound meaning on both campuses and for the Big 10 East.

7. #14 Iowa State at Baylor 3:30 PM on FOX – this is supposed to be Iowa State’s best team and potential dream season. Already off to a less than spectacular start with the loss to Iowa in Week 2, the Cyclones still have everything in front of them as far as Big 12 play goes but Baylor has started off 3-0 and has home field in this game. The Bears played good defense even in last year’s 2 win campaign whereas ISU has struggled. Could be a close, tight one late here.

6. LSU at Mississippi State Noon on ESPN – The Bulldogs controversial loss last week at Memphis took a little luster off of this matchup but LSU needs to show that they are moving past last year and their opening loss to UCLA while Leach and State would love nothing more than to show they are going to be at least interesting in the SEC West. Anytime the Bulldogs can beat the Tigers it’s huge for them. A loss for LSU could portend serious trouble for Ed Orgeron.

5. Nebraska at #23 Michigan State 7:00 PM on FS1 – This game shouldn’t be so high BUT with Michigan State’s surprise 3-0 start – including 1-0 in conference and, frankly with Nebraska looking a bit better the last three weeks after an opening loss to Illinois, this game feels like a potential turning point for the Huskers or…conversely…a building block for the Spartans. If MSU wins, they have a very realistic path to getting to 6-1 or even 7-0 before the schedule turns really tough in late October. Unthinkable before season.

4. West Virginia at #4 Oklahoma 7:30 PM on ABC – Suddenly the Sooners seem more…vincible…rather than invincible. They narrowly escaped Tulane and Nebraska and West Virginia, after a close opening loss to Maryland, has won its next two including a big win over rival Virginia Tech. The line on this is -16 and, while I don’t think West Virginia can score like previous Mountaineer teams could, I think they will stay in this one. It’s the kind of game on a Saturday night in a week that is supposed to be ho-hum that could get interesting.

3. #9 Clemson at N.C. State 3:30 PM on ESPN – Clemson is more vulnerable now than at any point in the last 5-6 years in the ACC and N.C. State is probably the team in the Atlantic that has anywhere close to similar talent – not that close – but at least a puncher’s chance. The Wolfpack under Dave Doeren have really not had a signature big win but getting this Tiger team at home while they are still struggling to find their offense is the best timing they will probably ever get. A win by N.C. State would mean that Clemson is out of the playoff for the first time since 2014. Meanwhile Clemson really needs to show they have righted the ship after nearly losing to Georgia Tech last week (and only scoring 14 points)

2. #12 Notre Dame vs #18 Wisconsin Noon on FOX – the highest profile matchup of the week for sure, the only reason it’s not #1 is that it has no bearing on conference races and Wisconsin already has a loss. It’s a battle of two Wisconsin QBs, one the ex, Jack Coan, the other, the incumbent Graham Mertz who’s struggled this year. I expect a close, physical game. Notre Dame has been playing with fire – is this the game it bites them? I say yes.

1. #7 Texas A&M vs. #16 Arkansas 3:30 PM on CBS – This is another game that no one would have predicted as a destination “game of the week” but the Hogs have been a revelation to start the season while the Aggies have weathered losing their new starting QB and survived an upset attempt in Denver a couple weeks ago. Both defenses are quite good – I think A&M is a touch better but needs more production out of their offense. If one team can jump out to a lead of more than one score I think it gives their defense a big advantage. A lot of money and pundit picking is going towards Arkansas – I’m going to zag and say A&M finds a way to stay unbeaten, but – like a lot of other games on this list – should be a physical, old school SEC-style game.

Honorable Mention:

Tennessee at #11 Florida 7:00 PM on ESPN – The Volunteers stink, I think, but will Florida have a hangover after nearly upsetting Alabama last week? The Gators have much more talent and I do expect them to win relatively easily but this is still an important rivalry game that sets the tone for the SEC East each year.

Texas Tech at Texas Noon on ABC – The Red Raiders are perhaps the quietest 3-0 team in the country…but no one thinks the good times will last. Texas would like to start establishing themselves in the Big 12 race and wipe away the stain of the thumping they took from Arkansas in Week 2…I believe the Longhorns will win going away, but you never know in the Big 12.

SMU at TCU Noon on FS1 - A good crosstown rivalry between a team on the come in SMU and one trying to reassert themselves after a couple of down years - TCU.

Missouri at Boston College Noon on ESPN2 - Cross-conference regional matchup between two teams who were thought to have opportunity to make a move this year. They still might though the Tigers lost a close SEC opener to Kentucky and BC has lost their starting QB for a few weeks. Still, this is an important game to set tone for rest of season and it’s fun to see teams from different parts of country duke it out.

As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter @ReadyCFB and look for game commentary, live tweeting and other fun throughout the weekend and other times as well. Always love hearing from people whether they agree or disagree. Have a great weekend!