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College Football Week 4 Preview: Match-Ups, Upset Picks and Storylines to Watch

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College football's Week 4 slate doesn't feature a ton of huge matchups, but there's plenty of impact games. Florida State-Clemson is a marquee ACC battle between two top-10 teams, while Michigan travels to Notre Dame. As usual, the SEC always has a few intriguing contests that are must-see games. Vanderbilt travels to Georgia, LSU hits the road for a matchup against Auburn and new SEC member Missouri takes on South Carolina. 

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 4

1. Who will stake an early claim for the ACC title: Clemson or Florida State?
The ACC hasn’t had many big games on a national scale in recent years, but Saturday night’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson will have BCS title implications. The loser of this game is probably out of the picture when it comes to a national title, while the winner takes a huge step towards winning the ACC title. Clemson has been tested a little more this season, as the Tigers beat Auburn in the season opener, while Florida State played two FCS teams (Murray State and Savannah State) to start the year. The battle in the trenches will be especially important for this game. Clemson and Florida State’s offensive line came into the year with question marks, and both units have yet to emerge as a strength. If the Seminoles’ defensive line controls the line of scrimmage, it will be tough for the Tigers to get quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins on track.

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2. Oklahoma looks to take early control of the Big 12
Most of the Big 12 teams have played only non-conference games thus far, so this week’s Oklahoma-Kansas State matchup is an early opportunity to seize control of the conference. The Sooners have dominated the recent series, as Kansas State’s last win in a regular-season meeting came in 1997. For the Wildcats to have any shot at winning on Saturday night, quarterback Collin Klein has to get on track. In last season’s meeting, Klein had just 150 yards of total offense, which won’t get it done this time around. The Sooners will gear up to stop Klein, while looking to get its passing game on track. Kansas State’s secondary has struggled in the first three weeks of the season and will be tested against Landry Jones and his receivers.

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3. Is Notre Dame ready to be a national title contender?
After a 20-3 win over Michigan State last week, Notre Dame has positioned itself for a run at a BCS bowl. It’s early, so the Irish still have a lot to prove. However, if the first three games have shown anything, Notre Dame seems to have corrected its turnover program from last season and fixed its quarterback issues. Redshirt freshman Everett Golson still has a lot to learn, but is a clear upgrade over Tommy Rees. This Saturday presents another challenge for the Irish, with Michigan set to visit South Bend. The Wolverines are still trying to find the right pieces on the offensive and defensive lines, but Denard Robinson has torched Notre Dame in the last two meetings. This is a relatively even matchup, so once again, turnovers are crucial. If the Irish don’t turn the ball over and win the battle in the trenches, they should be able to hold Robinson in check and snap a three-game losing streak to Michigan.

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4. Does Auburn have any chance to beat LSU?
So far, Auburn has shown nothing to suggest it can beat LSU this week. The offense has struggled to get anything going through the air, while the defense ranks a disappointing 94th in yards allowed. LSU is dealing with a few injuries on the offensive line and in the backfield, but remains one of college football’s top teams. This will be the first big road test for quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who should be a big upgrade under center for LSU over Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. With a road date against Florida in two weeks, it’s important for the Tigers to get Mettenberger comfortable before the competition increases. Winning on the road in the SEC is never easy, but all signs point to a LSU rout on Saturday night.

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5. Oregon… the new Pac-12 favorite?
With USC losing to Stanford, the focus shifts to Oregon as the Pac-12’s best hope at playing for a national title. However, the Ducks have yet to be tested, as Arizona will be their toughest game through the first four weeks of the season. The scoreboard operator should be busy, especially with both teams averaging over 45 points a game. Oregon redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota has been solid through the first three starts of his career, recording 782 overall yards and eight touchdowns. The Wildcats should be able to move the ball, especially with quarterback Matt Scott and running back Ka’Deem Carey combining to average over 450 yards a game. Both teams won’t field a dominant defense in this matchup but getting timely stops is crucial to the outcome. Look for Oregon to make a few more stops than Arizona, which will help the Ducks pull away in the fourth quarter.

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Six Intriguing Under-the-Radar Games to Watch

Louisiana Tech at Illinois
The Bulldogs are one of the best non-BCS teams and has won nine of their last 10 games. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is expected to return after missing the last two weeks with an ankle injury. The Fighting Illini owns one of the Big Ten’s best defenses, but they will be tested by a Louisiana Tech offense averaging 56 points a game.