College Football Week 4 Preview — Which Undefeated Teams Can Survive?
While we might not have the Top 10 matchups we did last Saturday, this week features six big games between unbeaten opponents. Here are some of the questions going into Week 4.
Can Clemson Right the Ship?
Yes, Clemson ran roughshod over an FCS opponent last week. But in the two games prior, the Tigers didn’t exactly look like the defending national runner-up returning the preseason Heisman favorite. Clemson beat Auburn and Troy by just six points apiece and averaged just 24.5 points and 406.5 yards per game (compared with 36 and 514.5 last year).
They’ll have a chance to show they’re still a force this week against Georgia Tech. After a dismal 3-9 season a year ago, the Yellow Jackets are off to a 3-0 start and have not lost at home to Clemson since 2003. While Deshaun Watson won’t take the Heisman frontrunner status away from Lamar Jackson with one game, look for Watson to have a big performance and show that, until someone knocks them off, the Tigers are still the team to beat in the ACC.
Who Can Challenge Ohio State and Michigan?
The numbers don’t lie—through the first three weeks of the season, the Big Ten has been the best conference in football. And while most of the focus has understandably been on Ohio State and Michigan, this week gives us a showdown that could have a big impact on the conference title hunt.
No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 8 Michigan State both come into this matchup with big name victories already under their belts (LSU and Notre Dame, respectively). They boast the two best running games in the conference, but the Spartans have an edge at quarterback as the Badgers are reportedly in the midst of a quarterback controversy. With two potent run games and stout defenses, this will be an old-school Big Ten ground-and-pound game. Wisconsin can take control of the Big Ten West while a Michigan State victory would keep Sparty in the discussion in the East with the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
Is the Twelfth Time the Charm for Tennessee?
Remember the days when the Florida-Tennessee rivalry regularly featured Top Ten teams and had serious national title implications? While we’re not quite back to that level yet, both the Vols and Gators look like they may have turned a corner toward getting back to respectability after some down years. For just the third time in ten years, both teams enter the game ranked.
Tennessee has lost this game 11 years in a row. A Volunteer victory would not only exorcise a bunch of football demons but also solidify Tennessee’s spot as the favorite in the SEC East. To do so, they’ll likely need a big game from running back Jalen Hurd (who had the second-most rushing yards in school history last year) against a Gator defense that is second in the nation in rush defense.
Can Baylor Stop Shooting Itself in the Foot Long Enough to Contend in the Big 12?
How Far Can USC Fall?
The Trojans are off to a 1-2 start, have scored one offensive touchdown in losses to Alabama and Stanford and are making a switch at quarterback. But aside from that, things are just swell at USC.
The Trojans have a chance to turn things around in a must-win game at No. 24 Utah. USC has one of the nation’s toughest schedules so another loss this week could snowball into a truly ugly season. Redshirt freshman Sam Darnold will be making his first start for the Trojans and will face a Utes defense that ranks 18th nationally in pass defense.