College Football is entering the last week of September. Teams are starting to separate themselves as pretenders and contenders. Week four has numerous matchups which could help shape the remainder of the college football season. The weekend’s slate features four games matching up undefeated teams. My gut is telling me week four will be filled with upsets. Numerous top 25 teams have difficult games on the road which could result in a weekend full of surprises. This week’s top five games are as follows:
5: #17 Baylor vs Iowa State (12:00 EST, ESPN2) Spread Iowa State -2.5 – Baylor lost a key game to BYU in week two but a non-conference loss does not hurt their chances in the Big 12. Baylor is still one of the most talented teams in the conference and should be in position to contend in the Big 12. Blake Shapen has started the season off well throwing four touchdowns and only one interception. Baylor has found the most success with their rushing attack. The Bears have averaged 234 rushing yards per game while totaling 14 rushing touchdowns on the season. Iowa State’s defense has been a main reason why the Cyclones started 3-0 this season. Iowa State has only allowed 180 total rushing yards this season. Linebacker O’Rien Vance has been a focal part of the defense. He has totaled 14 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, one sack and two forced fumbles. Xavier Hutchinson has been one of the best receivers in the Big 12. Hutchinson already has 28 receptions for 319 yards and five touchdowns. This game will come down to Baylor’s rushing attack against Iowa State’s defense. Baylor’s ability to consistently move the ball on the ground will be their key to victory.
4: #7 USC vs Oregon State (9:30 EST, PAC 12 Network) Spread USC -6.5 – First, why is this game on the Pac-12 Network? USC vs Oregon State is one of the best games of the weekend yet no one will be able to watch the game. Lincoln Riley has turned USC into a legitimate College Football Playoff contender. Caleb Williams is off to a hot start and could be a Heisman finalist by the end of the season. USC is averaging 50.7 points per game while only allowing 19.7 points per game. The Trojans have a history of struggling when playing games in the state of Oregon. Jonathan Smith is off to his best start at Oregon State. The Beavers are led by quarterback Chance Nolan. Nolan has thrown for 746 yards with seven touchdowns and only two interceptions. Oregon State’s pass rush is a concern because they have only registered three sacks but they have recorded 16.5 tackles for loss. Oregon State has a chance against USC but the key will be limiting the Trojan’s playmakers. Caleb Williams can help USC win easily if he avoids making any mistakes or turning the ball over.
3: #15 Oregon vs Washington State (4:00 EST, FOX) Spread Oregon -6.5 – Oregon started off the season with a beat down from Georgia but has battled back. Oregon defeated BYU by 21 points which could help the Ducks turn a corner on the season. Oregon was able to limit BYU’s rushing attack to only 61 yards. Bo Nix played his best game against BYU. Nix completed 13 of 18 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 35 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Oregon’s pass defense has been the team’s biggest issue. The Ducks have allowed 277 passing yards per game. BYU’s Jaren Hall threw for 305 yards while Georgia’s Stetson Bennett threw for 368 yards. Washington State surprised the nation when they defeated Wisconsin on the road in week two. The Cougar’s new quarterback, Cameron Ward, has started off his season strong throwing for eight touchdowns. The best player on Washington State this season has been linebacker Daiyan Henley. Henley in on pace to be an All-American after registering 30 tackles with 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles so far this season. The biggest question for this matchup is Bo Nix. Washington State has already forced nine turnovers this season and will be looking to force a few more against Oregon. Which version of Nix will Washington State face on Saturday?
2: #10 Arkansas vs #23 Texas A&M (7:00 EST, ESPN) Spread Texas A&M -1.5 – Texas A&M made a switch at quarterback after the Aggies lost to Appalachian State. Haynes King was benched in favor of LSU transfer Max Johnson. Johnson struggled in his first start completing just 10 of 20 pass attempts for 140 yards and one touchdown. Texas A&M currently ranks 109th in scoring offense (20.7 points per game) and 110th in total offense (313 yards per game). The pass defense of the Aggies was a major reason for their victory over Miami. Tyler Van Dyke was held to 217 yards passing and zero touchdowns. KJ Jefferson will present a different threat when the Aggies play Arkansas. Jefferson is a mobile quarterback who has recorded six passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns this season. Running back Raheim Sanders has also developed into an offensive weapon for the Razorbacks. Sanders has totaled 440 rushing yards, 117 receiving yards and four total touchdowns this season. He is also averaging an astonishing 6.7 yards per carry. The Razorback’s passing defense has struggled this season allowing 338 yards per game while the rush defense has been the opposite allowing on 68 yards per game. Texas A&M needs to take advantage of the Arkansas pass defense. Jefferson will find ways to score but can Texas A&M find the endzone consistently?
1: #5 Clemson vs #21 Wake Forest (12:00 EST, ABC) Spread Clemson -7.0 – Clemson vs Wake Forest did not have as much intrigue a few weeks ago but Sam Hartman’s return changes the complexion of the game. Hartman has been masterful since he returned following an issue with blood clots. The Wake Forest quarterback has thrown for 625 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions in his two starts. Wake Forest lacks a top tier wide receiver but has numerous players who can make an impact in the passing game. Taylor Morin and A.T. Perry both have recorded at least 12 receptions and one touchdown on the season. Malik Mustapha will the key player on defense as he currently has 3.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and two forced fumbles. Clemson’s offense appears to have improved from their disastrous 2021 season. D.J. Uiagalelei’s completion percentage is up to 64.8% and he has only thrown one interception on the season. Clemson has struggled in the first half against both of their FBS opponents this season. The Tigers only scored 14 points in the first half against a pitiful Georgia Tech team and just 13 points last weekend against Louisiana Tech. Defense has continued to be a strength for the Tigers. Clemson has allowed just 312 yards of offense per game. Opposing ball carriers are struggling to advance the ball by averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. Should Wake Forest score early, can Clemson counter and keep pace with the Demon Deacons?
Honorable Mention: Wisconsin vs Ohio State, Maryland vs Michigan, Virginia vs Syracuse, TCU vs SMU, Florida vs Tennessee, Texas vs Texas Tech, Wyoming vs BYU