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LSU heads to Morgantown; A&M, O-State collide in College Station
By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Here's a look at every game of the Week 4 college football schedule.
No. 47 UCF at No. 65 BYU
The Cougars must regroup after last week’s shockingly one-sided — as in 54–10 — loss at home to hated rival Utah. BYU must find a way to run the ball if it hopes to have any success this season.
UCF 28, BYU 21
No. 13 Arkansas at No. 1 Alabama
We’ll find out if a great defense (Alabama) can stop a great offense (Arkansas) Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. My guess: Go with defense.
Alabama 31, Arkansas 24
No. 32 Missouri at No. 2 Oklahoma
There could be some concern for a letdown by Oklahoma after last week’s huge win at Florida State, but the Sooners will be ready to play after losing at Missouri last October.
Oklahoma 31, Missouri 17
No. 3 LSU at No. 14 West Virginia
ESPN’s College GameDay will make its first-ever trip to West Virginia for what figures to be a wild night in Morgantown. This won’t be easy, but LSU should prevail as long as it doesn’t turn the ball over too many times.
LSU 24, West Virginia 17
No 58 Tulsa at No. 4 Boise State
After Saturday, Tulsa will have played three of the best offensive teams in the country — Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa. Brutal.
Boise State 44, Tulsa 20
No. 5 Oregon at No. 54 Arizona
This is Week 3 of a four-game gauntlet for Arizona that features road trips to Oklahoma State and USC sandwiched around home games against Stanford and Oregon. The Cats lost the first two by an average score of 37–12.
Oregon 37, Arizona 14
No. 6 Nebraska at No. 98 Wyoming
Wyoming is 3–0, but only one of its wins (at Bowling Green) has come against an FBS opponent. This should be nothing more than a tune-up for Nebraska before the Huskers’ big showdown at Wisconsin on Oct. 1.
Nebraska 41, Wyoming 3
No. 8 Oklahoma State at No. 7 Texas A&M
The winner of Saturday’s showdown between the Cowboys and Aggies will emerge as a serious threat to challenge Oklahoma for supremacy in the Big 12.
Texas A&M 44, Oklahoma State 37
No. 9 Florida State at No. 25 Clemson
It’s looking doubtful that EJ Manuel will be able to play after injuring his shoulder last week against Oklahoma. Still, I believe the Noles are good enough on defense to win in Death Valley without their starting quarterback.
Florida State 28, Clemson 21
No. 10 Virginia Tech at No. 89 Marshall
There is no shame in losing to Ohio. There is, however, shame in Marshall losing 44–7, especially after beating Southern Miss the week before.
Virginia Tech 38, Marshall 7
South Dakota at No. 12 Wisconsin
Wisconsin is probably ranked too low in our poll. The Badgers will have a chance to prove their worth next week when Nebraska comes to town.
Wisconsin 51, South Dakota 10
No. 15 Florida at No. 70 Kentucky
Kentucky is averaging only 274 yards of offense, and it’s not as though the Wildcats have faced a difficult schedule. Western Kentucky, their Week 1 opponent, lost at home last weekend to Indiana State, 44–16. Central Michigan, UK’s Week 2 foe, lost at Western Michigan, 44–14, last weekend. And Louisville, which beat Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday night, has a loss at home to FIU on its resume.
Florida 31, Kentucky 14
No. 51 Vanderbilt at No. 16 South Carolina
The key against South Carolina is trying to find a way to keep Marcus Lattimore in check. He has been a beast in 2011, with an average of 29 carries and 178 yards in the Gamecocks’ three wins. Vanderbilt’s run defense has been stout, but the Dores have yet to see a back like Lattimore.
South Carolina 28, Vanderbilt 13
No. 18 USC at No. 31 Arizona State
USC, the only team in the nation with three wins vs. BCS conference opponents, hits the road for the first time this season in a game that figures to go a long way in determining the winner of the first-ever Pac-12 South Division title. USC’s probation will prevent it from playing in the league title game, but you know Lane Kiffin’s club would still love to claim a division crown.
Arizona State 27, USC 24
No. 85 Rice at No. 19 Baylor
Rice will face its third BCS conference opponent in as many weeks, after splitting games with Texas (loss) and Purdue (win). Baylor has too many weapons. The Bears should win big.
Baylor 44, Rice 17
Portland State at No. 20 TCU
The Horned Frogs rank 103rd in the nation in total defense after three games. That is stunning.
TCU 38, Portland State 3
No. 104 UTEP at No. 21 South Florida
UTEP quarterback Jay Hall, filling in for the injured Nick Lamaison, has completed ony 17-of-48 passes for 254 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Not the type of efficiency Mike Price is looking for at the quarterback position.
South Florida 34, UTEP 10
No. 33 North Carolina at No. 22 Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets are 3–0 and putting up insane numbers on offense. They lead the nation in rushing offense, total offense and scoring offense, thanks in large part to their 66-point, 768-yard effort against Kansas last weekend.
Georgia Tech 31, North Carolina 24
No. 97 Western Michigan at No. 23 Illinois
Earlier this week I posed the following question: Can Illinois, with a relatively soft remaining schedule, run the table?
Illinois 33, Western Michigan 14
No. 60 San Diego State at No. 24 Michigan
Brady Hoke takes on his former team, and he left behind a very good quarterback in Ryan Lindley and a great tailback in Ronnie Hillman.
Michigan 35, San Diego State 24
No. 71 Kansas State at No. 26 Miami (Fla.)
Miami was one of the most impressive teams in the nation last weekend with its thorough beatdown of Ohio State. The Canes are playing with some swagger. That’s bad news for K-State.
Miami (Fla.) 27, Kansas State 14
No. 27 Notre Dame at No. 52 Pittsburgh
The Irish are 0–2 in games in which they have totaled over 500 yards of offense and 1–0 in games in which they have less than 300 yards. The key: Limiting turnovers. In the losses to South Florida and Michigan, the Irish had a combined 10 turnovers, several in the red zone and several at inopportune times.
Notre Dame 31, Pittsburgh 20
No. 120 Florida Atlantic at No. 28 Auburn
Florida Atlantic has scored a total of three points in two games and is averaging less than 100 yards of offense. Let’s see if Auburn, which is giving up well over 500 yards per game, can slow down the Owls.
Auburn 51, Florida Atlantic 7
No. 102 Louisiana Tech at No. 29 Mississippi State
Louisiana Tech led Houston 34–14 early in the fourth quarter last week before getting outscored 21–0 in the final 13 minutes. It will be interesting to see what kind of emotional state this team is in when it heads to Starkville.
Mississippi State 38, Louisiana Tech 13
No. 63 Temple at No. 30 Maryland
Temple had a 10–7 lead over Penn State deep into the fourth quarter last week. This is a good team with a great running back in Bernard Pierce. I smell an upset.
Temple 24, Maryland 21
No. 109 Central Michigan at No. 34 Michigan State
These aren’t great times for Central Michigan. The Chips have lost 10 of their last 11 games vs. FBS opponents and last week lost to rival Western Michigan, 44–14, for the first time since 2005.
Michigan State 38, Central Michigan 13
No. 75 Colorado at No. 35 Ohio State
Colorado receiver Paul Richardson followed up his 11-catch, 284-yard breakout performance vs. Cal by catching four passes for 27 yards against Colorado State. The Buffs will need a big day from Richardson to keep things interesting in Columbus.
Ohio State 24, Colorado 10
No. 114 Eastern Michigan at No. 36 Penn State
Penn State has scored a total of 25 points in its two games against FBS opponents. The Nittany Lions will need to show drastic improvement on offense to be a factor in the Big Ten.
Penn State 31, Eastern Michigan 0
No. 37 Georgia at No. 88 Ole Miss
Ole Miss has one touchdown — which came in garbage time of a 30–7 loss to Vanderbilt — in two games against FBS opponents. Georgia shouldn’t have too much trouble in Oxford.
Georgia 30, Ole Miss 13
No. 81 Nevada at No. 38 Texas Tech
The Wolf Pack are finding life without Colin Kaepernick to be quite difficult. They lost their opener at Oregon, 69–20, before struggling to beat San Jose State, 17–14, last week.
Texas Tech 49, Nevada 14
No. 40 California at No. 44 Washington
California will look to attack a Washington defense that has really struggled in ’11. The Huskies rank 108th in total defense and 107th in scoring defense after giving up 27 points to Eastern Washington, 32 to Hawaii and 51 to Nebraska. The UW pass defense has been especially bad, allowing well over 300 yards per game.
California 31, Washington 27
No. 110 Louisiana-Monroe at No. 42 Iowa
ULM has actually played relatively well so far in 2011. The Warhawks “held” Florida State to 372 yards and 34 points in Week 1 and actually led TCU 17–14 after the first quarter last week (before losing 38–17).
Iowa 37, Louisiana-Monroe 10
No. 107 Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 46 FIU
The Golden Panthers are emerging as one of the top stories of the 2011 season. Mario Cristobal’s club is 3–0 with a pair of impressive wins — at Louisville and vs. UCF. FIU simply needs to take care of business in its first Sun Belt game of the year.
FIU 34, Louisiana-Lafayette 14
Georgia State at No. 48 Houston
Houston is riding high after last week’s thrilling comeback win over Louisiana Tech. Case Keenum leads the nation in total offense (382.7 ypg) and will have an opportunity to pad those numbers against Bill Curry’s Georgia State Panthers.
Houston 51, Georgia State 0
Tennessee State at No. 53 Air Force
Here’s the good news for Tennessee State: The Tigers held Murray State to 77 yards rushing last week. The bad news: Murray State thew for 630 yards en route to a 58–27 win.
Air Force 51, Tennessee State 14
No. 57 SMU at No. 119 Memphis
Memphis remains in a heated battle with FAU for team No. 120 in our weekly college football rankings. A bad performance this week against SMU — which is almost a given — could vault the Tigers over the Owls to 120.
SMU 51, Memphis 7
No. 78 Southern Miss at No. 59 Virginia
This is a big swing game for both teams. Virginia has been solid so far in Mike London’s second season, with wins over William & Mary and at Indiana and a loss at North Carolina. This is the type of game the Cavs needs to win to show they are making progress as a program.
Virginia 27, Southern Miss 21
No. 62 Toledo at No. 61 Syracuse
Syracuse is 2–1, but the Orange haven’t played all that well this season. Toledo is 1–2, but the two losses have come against Ohio State (27–22) and vs. Boise State (40–15). The Rockets have a ton of talent on offense.
Toledo 31, Syracuse 28
No. 64 Ohio at No. 67 Rutgers
Ohio has been very solid so far in 2011, with convincing wins over New Mexico State, Gardner-Webb and Marshall. We’re still not sure about Rutgers; the Knights took care of business vs. NC Central and then played relatively well in a loss at North Carolina.
Ohio 21, Rutgers 20
No. 69 UCLA at No. 100 Oregon State
This is an absolute must-win for two programs who have struggled in non-conference play. Oregon State freshman tailback Marcus Agnew, who rushed for 223 yards in the opener but didn’t play in Week 2, is likely out again with a hamstring injury. Still, I like the Beavers to break through for their first win.
Oregon State 28, UCLA 21
Cal Poly at No. 72 Northern Illinois
After averaging 45.5 points in their first two games — a win over Army and a loss at Kansas — the Huskies were held to seven points and 237 yards of offense in a humbling 49–7 setback to Wisconsin. It’s time to get back in the win column.
Northern Illinois 41, Cal Poly 10
No. 99 Colorado State at No. 73 Utah State
Utah State has put up some gaudy numbers in its two games (split with Auburn and Weber State). The Aggies, led by true freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton and junior tailback Robert Turbin, rank fifth in the nation in total offense. Colorado State looks to be improved in 2011, but Utah State is the better team.
Utah State 30, Colorado State 17
UC Davis at No. 74 Hawaii
Hawaii’s 40–20 loss at UNLV last week was one of the most surprising results in the first three weeks of the season. The Warriors should bounce back in fine fashion against UC Davis, but you have to wonder about this team going forward.
Hawaii 41, UC Davis 10
No. 103 UAB at No. 76 East Carolina
Neil Callaway entered the season on the hot seat. It’s now scorching, after the Blazers lost their home opener to Tulane, 49–10.
East Carolina 47, UAB 14
Central Arkansas at No. 79 Arkansas State
Arkansas State has been pretty good this season despite its 1–2 record. The Red Wolves blew out Memphis, 47–3, and played competitive games against Illinois (33–15) and Virginia Tech (26–7).
Arkansas State 48, Central Arkansas 10
No. 80 Army at No. 90 Ball State
Army is fresh off a huge 21–14 win over Northwestern. Ball State is 2–1 after beating Buffalo, 28–25, in Muncie. This is an important game for two teams who will scratch and claw to reach bowl eligibility.
Ball State 28, Army 24
No. 82 Connecticut at No. 108 Buffalo
Connecticut has lost its last two games — at Vanderbilt and vs. Iowa State — by a total of seven points. The Huskies have been solid on defense, but the offense, most notably the quarterback position, has been brutal.
Connecticut 24, Buffalo 10
No. 91 Tulane at No. 83 Duke
Duke atoned for its loss at home in Week 1 to Richmond by winning at Boston College last weekend. Sean Renfree was outstanding throwing the ball, but the Blue Devils continue to struggle in the running game. Tulane is feeling good about itself after winning convincingly, 49–10, at UAB last week. This is a game Duke simply has to win.
Duke 30, Tulane 24
Massachusetts at No. 84 Boston College
Boston College is 0–3 for the first time since 1991, Tom Coughlin’s first season as the boss in Chestnut Hill. Losing to UMass isn’t an option at this point.
Boston College 31, Massachusetts 14
No. 87 Fresno State at No. 111 Idaho
Fresno State played relatively well in losses to California and Nebraska but struggled in a win over North Dakota. Idaho beat the same North Dakota team soundly two weeks ago, but comparative scores are also dangerous. Fresno State is the better team.
Fresno State 31, Idaho 21
No. 92 Middle Tennessee at No. 93 Troy
Rick Stockstill has done a solid job at Middle Tennessee but has yet to beat Troy in five tries.
Troy 31, Middle Tennessee 24
North Dakota State at No. 94 Minnesota
The Golden Gophers picked up the first victory of the Jerry Kill era, but this is no time to let up. North Dakota State beat Minnesota in 2007 and lost 10–9 in ‘06 when a field goal attempt was blocked in the closing seconds.
Minnesota 28, North Dakota State 17
No. 101 Bowling Green at No. 95 Miami (Ohio)
It’s a key MAC East showdown between two teams planning on staying in the race all season long. Miami has been impressive in its two losses at BCS conference opponents, losing at Missouri, 17–6, and Minnesota, 29–23.
Miami (Ohio) 31, Bowling Green 20
No. 96 Indiana at No. 116 North Texas
Indiana is playing its second game away from home vs. a non-BCS conference foe. The Hoosiers lost their opener to Ball State in Indianapolis, but should have a more favorable result in Denton this weekend. The Mean Green have played a tough schedule, losing to FIU, Houston and Alabama, but they are in major rebuilding mode.
Indiana 31, North Texas 14
Southern Utah at No. 105 UNLV
Credit Bobby Hauck and his staff for keeping this team together. After two alarmingly lopsided losses at Wisconsin and Washington State by a combined score of 110–24, the Runnin’ Rebs shocked Hawaii last week with a thorough 40–20 win in Vegas. They should improve to 2–2 this week, but things are rarely easy for UNLV football.
UNLV 41, Southern Utah 27
No. 106 New Mexico State at No. 112 San Jose State
San Jose State is 0–3, but the Spartans are clearly an improved team. They lost two weeks ago by 10 points at UCLA and lost last week by three to Nevada. This week, Mike MacIntyre should record his first win over a FBS opponent as the head coach at SJSU.
San Jose State 27, New Mexico State 17
South Alabama at No. 113 Kent State
It’s been a rough first three weeks for Darrell Hazell, who is 0–3 as a head coach with the three losses coming by a combined score of 105–19. South Alabama gave NC State some problems last week in a 35–13 loss.
South Alabama 21, Kent State 20
VMI at No. 117 Akron
Akron has scored a total of 17 points in three games, but the Zips should make their way into the win column this week against a VMI club that is 0–3 in the FBS ranks.
Akron 21, VMI 7
Sam Houston State at No. 118 New Mexico
This will not be easy for New Mexico. Sam Houston Sate is 2–0 with convincing wins over Western Illinois and Central Arkansas.
New Mexico 27, Sam Houston State 21
Last week: 56-13