Week four had high expectations but let us down. The Ohio State vs. Notre Dame matchup turned out to be a great game, but many of the other premier matchups left more to be desired. We have multiple games between ranked teams, so there’s a chance for another stellar weekend. The college football season is coming to the end of its first month, which means we are starting to get into the meat of conference play. We will still have a few nonconference games, but they will be few and far between as we head into October.
5: #8 USC vs Colorado (Sat Noon EST, Fox) – Coach Prime was humbled when playing Oregon last week. The Buffaloes will return home to face Caleb Williams and USC. Colorado is expected to be without Travis Hunter once again, which is a major loss for them. The key for Colorado remains the line of scrimmage. Both the offensive and defensive lines were dominated by Oregon. USC has talented lines but will not physically challenge Colorado as much as Oregon did. Shedeur Sanders is going to need to play his best game of the season if Colorado wants a remote shot at beating USC. The Trojans’ defense should allow Colorado a chance to score points and possibly keep pace early in the game. The biggest issue will be containing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Williams is off to another fantastic start, registering 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions. USC is eyeing a run for the College Football Playoffs and has the offense to do so. The defense has continued to be a liability, and how Alex Grinch still has a job confuses me. USC allowed Arizona State to stay competitive for far too long, giving me thoughts that Colorado should cover a 21-point spread.
4: #13 LSU vs #20 Ole Miss (Sat 6:00 EST, ESPN) – The battle is about staying relevant in the SEC West. Yes, LSU’s loss came out of conference, but that doesn’t deviate from my point. A second loss for LSU will eliminate their chances of making the College Football Playoff, while a second loss for Ole Miss will take them out of SEC contention. LSU needed a last-second field goal to beat Arkansas. Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas have formed one of the most lethal duos in the country, registering 936 yards and 10 touchdowns in just four games. Nabers and Thomas will have opportunities to find the end zone once again on Saturday. The biggest question for both teams will be their defense. LSU’s total defense ranks 70th, while Ole Miss’s defense ranks 63rd. Ole Miss was expected to have one of the best rushing attacks in the country, but Quinshon Judkins has struggled. Judkins is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry and has tallied just 201 yards in four games. Ole Miss will need their offense to find chemistry in order to take advantage of the LSU defense.
3: #25 Kansas vs #3 Texas (Sat 3:30 EST, ABC) – Do you all remember that time Kansas beat Texas? How about that other time when the walk-on fullback caught the game-winner? Kansas is looking to defeat Texas for a third time in recent years. Lance Leipold has Kansas rolling once again this season. The Jayhawks have one of the best rushing attacks in the country, ranking 13th with 217 yards per game. Jalon Daniels is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback who can rely on Devin Neal. Kansas will face a dominant rush defense with the Longhorns ranking 19th, allowing only 87 rushing yards per game. Quinn Ewers has been involved in early Heisman discussions after his big win over Alabama. Ewers will have a chance to add another key win to his resume on Saturday. Texas will play against a vastly improved Kansas defense that will challenge him. The Jayhawks’ weak spot is in the secondary, which ranks 50th in passing yards allowed. Look for Kansas to get creative, pull out all the stops, and keep this game competitive through halftime.
2: #11 Notre Dame vs #17 Duke (Sat 7:30 EST, ABC) – Notre Dame is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Ohio State and will now travel on the road to face Duke. Notre Dame will have to bounce back and avoid a letdown against a dangerous Duke team that has already shown the ability to upset higher-ranked teams. Marcus Freeman’s team will rely heavily on the ground attack as this has been their strongest area of success. Audric Estime is the lead back who has rushed for 591 yards and is averaging 7.7 yards per carry. Sam Hartman will also need to step up and use his experience to help lead his team to an important road victory. Hartman spent five seasons in the ACC and became very familiar with many of the teams on the Notre Dame schedule. Duke’s defense has been nearly lockdown against the pass, ranking fourth and allowing just 143 yards per game. The rush defense will need to improve, or Notre Dame may not even look to pass the ball. Duke’s offense is led by Riley Leonard once again. Leonard is not lighting up the stat sheet as he has only thrown two touchdowns. He has provided assistance with his legs, rushing for 238 yards and four touchdowns. This matchup will come down to Duke’s run defense and whether they can put Notre Dame in third-and-long situations, playing into their defense’s favor.
1: #10 Utah vs #19 Oregon State (Fri 7:30 EST, ESPN) – The best game of the weekend falls on Friday night. Oregon State is coming off a hard-fought loss to Washington State and will need to refocus as Utah comes to town this weekend. DJ Uiagalelei has continued with the same narrative he had at Clemson. He is inconsistent week to week and has a tendency to turn the ball over. Uiagalelei started off the season great but has completed less than 50% of his passes over the last two games. Utah has one of the best defenses in the country and will continue to challenge him on every play. Oregon State will need to rely heavily on their run game with Damien Martinez and Deshaun Fenwick. The tandem combined for 182 rushing yards and three touchdowns. One of the big questions for Utah remains the health of Cam Rising. Last week, rumors surfaced that he might play against UCLA, but he ended up not making an appearance. The Utah offense has been stagnant with Nate Johnson and Bryson Barnes running the offense. Utah managed just 219 yards last weekend against UCLA. If Cam Rising does not play, can Utah’s defense continue to keep them in the game against the 10th ranked rushing offense in the country?
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