College Football's 15 Best Week 4 Games
The first three weeks of the college football season offered up a few surprises and a few entertaining games. However, they were largely filled with boring blowouts. Many of the top-ranked teams in the country decided to pad their non-conference schedules with cupcake FCS opponents.
Now is a time for fans to rejoice, though, because conference play is about to kick into full swing this week.
This weekend's schedule is filled with plenty of intriguing conference clashes. However, obviously the game that most people are going to be talking about is the ACC showdown between No. 4 Florida State and No. 10 Clemson.
The tussle in Tallahassee may be the marquee matchup of the weekend, but there are plenty of other games that are worth keeping an eye on as well.
Here's a look at the 15 best games of Week 4.
Clemson Tigers at Florida State Seminoles
The Tigers have one of the most explosive sets of offensive skill-position players in the country comprised of QB Tajh Boyd, RB Andre Ellington and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins.
In last year's meeting between these two teams, the Clemson offense totaled 443 total yards in a 35-30 victory.
Florida State was without the services of starting quarterback E.J. Manuel. But it was the lack of a running game that actually doomed the Seminoles, as they could only muster up 29 yards on the ground.
Their rushing attack has looked much more potent so far this season. Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman are three talented backs who complement each other well.
Florida State's defense, which is led by future NFL players such as defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, linebacker Christian Jones, CB Xavier Rhodes and safety Lamarcus Joyner, has enough talent to slow down Clemson's dangerous offensive attack.
The real key will be whether the Seminoles can establish a consistent ground game against the Tigers' athletic defensive front-seven, which is led by DE Malliciah Goodman and linebackers Stephone Anthony and Jonathan Willard.
If Thompson, Wilder and Freeman can wear down the Tigers, Florida State has a great chance to win this important early conference matchup.
Kansas State Wildcats at Oklahoma Sooners
This year's game is shaping up to be a much more competitive affair.
Kansas State QB Collin Klein is one of the best players in college football, and he's got a very dangerous partner in crime in RB John Hubert, who has run for 296 yards and three touchdowns in three games.
The Wildcats defense, which is led by LB Arthur Brown, DE Meshak Williams and CB Nigel Malone, is a strong unit. However, it's going to have its hands full trying to slow down QB Landry Jones, WR Kenny Stills and the rest of the Oklahoma offense.
Ultimately, Klein will be the key difference-maker in this game.
The dual-threat senior signal-caller is almost impossible to contain when he's playing at his best, which is why the Sooners defense better be ready for a difficult challenge on Saturday.
Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Michigan QB Denard Robinson has absolutely owned the Notre Dame defense in the teams' last two meetings. He has totaled 928 yards, accounted for eight touchdowns and beaten the Irish two years in a row.
This time, however, Robinson won't have such an easy time piling up yardage and scores against a Notre Dame defense that appears to be one of the strongest units in the country.
Star linebacker Manti Te'o and the rest of the Irish defenders certainly remember what Robinson did to them, and you can bet they'll have payback on their minds Saturday.
Notre Dame is starting to build some serious momentum as the grueling part of its schedule approaches. If the Irish can slow down Robinson and pick up a win over the No. 18 Wolverines, it may be time to start talking about BCS bowl game possibilities for the boys in South Bend.
California Golden Bears at USC Trojans
It will be fascinating to see how USC responds after experiencing a devastating and shocking loss to Stanford last weekend.
The Trojans may have been knocked out of the BCS championship race, and QB Matt Barkley may have seen his Heisman dreams turn into a nightmare. However, this is still a team that has aspirations of winning a Pac-12 title this season.
Starting off conference play 0-2 would be disastrous, especially since Utah and UCLA both look like they could be contenders in the South division in 2012.
Cal has arguably the best wide receiver in the country, Keenan Allen, and one of the most talented secondaries in the conference, led by cornerbacks Marc Anthony and Steve Williams.
The Golden Bears may not have the overall talent that USC possesses, but they actually match up relatively well with the Trojans.
If Lane Kiffin's squad gets caught looking behind instead of ahead, Barkley and the rest of the Trojans could be in for another tough struggle Saturday.
BYU Cougars at Boise State Broncos
The Cougars may have lost the "Holy War" to in-state rival Utah by just a field goal, but that could serve as the motivation they need to go out on the blue turf and really take it to the Broncos.
QB Riley Nelson and WR Cody Hoffman are a deadly passing duo. Plus, BYU's defense is full of athletic and active playmakers such as linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Brandon Ogletree and Uona Kaveinga.
This will only be Boise State QB Joe Southwick's third career start. It will be interesting to see how he fares against an intimidating Cougars defense.
Arizona Wildcats at Oregon Ducks
The Ducks and the Wildcats have two of the most explosive offenses in the country and they are fully capable of turning their Week 4 matchup into a full-fledged shootout Saturday night.
Both teams have outstanding offensive trios. Arizona has QB Matt Scott, RB Ka'Deem Carey and WR Dan Buckner, while Oregon has QB Marcus Mariota and running backs De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner.
Thomas, who has totaled 475 all-purpose yards and scored seven touchdowns already, looks like he's the top contender for the Heisman Trophy right now.
The Wildcats defense is certainly going to have a tough time slowing down Thomas and the rest of the dominant Ducks offense in Autzen Stadium.
Missouri Tigers at South Carolina Gamecocks
The Gamecocks have one of the best defenses in the country, led by defensive ends Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney and linebacker Shaq Wilson. However, the offense has not done a great job of protecting QB Connor Shaw, who has been injured in both games he's played in.
The Tigers defensive line features three players—defensive ends Brad Madison and Kony Ealy and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson—who can penetrate into the backfield on a consistent basis.
If South Carolina's offensive line doesn't perform better, Shaw will again have to deal with constant pressure from the Missouri defense.
LSU Tigers at Auburn Tigers
LSU manhandled North Texas, Washington and Idaho in its first three games, winning by an average margin of 38 points.
Now, Les Miles will bring his team on the road to visit Auburn for The Tiger Bowl.
The LSU defense is loaded with standout stars such as defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, defensive tackle Bennie Logan, linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid.
That isn't good news for Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier, who currently has a passer rating of 102, which ranks 122nd in the nation (There are 124 teams in the FBS).
Frazier has been just flat-out awful in the first three games of the season, and the Auburn defense hasn't been much better.
LSU has won four out of the last five meetings between these two teams, and it would be a pretty big shock if it didn't make that five out of the last six on Saturday.
Oregon State Beavers at UCLA Bruins
Oregon State only played one game in the first three weeks of the season due to a weather postponement and a bye week. However, that one game was certainly an encouraging performance, as the Beavers upset defending Big Ten champion Wisconsin in Week 2.
Now, we'll get our second look at Mike Riley's squad when Oregon State visits No. 19 UCLA this weekend.
The Bruins have exploded out of the gate, starting the year 3-0, and a lot of the credit has to go to the dynamic duo of QB Brett Hundley and RB Johnathan Franklin.
Hundley has looked terrific in his first three career starts, completing 67 percent of his passes for 827 yards and eight touchdowns.
Franklin has made an early statement to Heisman voters by totaling 662 yards of offense and scoring four touchdowns.
Oregon State's defense features two of the most underrated defensive ends in the country—Dylan Wynn and Scott Crichton, as well as a future high NFL draft pick in CB Jordan Poyer.
It will be interesting to see if the Beavers can contain both Hundley and Franklin in a tough road environment at the Rose Bowl.
Vanderbilt Commodores at Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs barely survived last year's meeting, escaping with a 33-28 victory.
It wouldn't be surprising if this year's contest is another hard-fought battle.
QB Jordan Rodgers, RB Zac Stacy and WR Jordan Matthews give the Vanderbilt offense a powerful trio to rely on. Plus, the Commodores defense has also been playing very well so far this season, giving up just 3.8 yards per play.
Georgia has plenty of offensive talent as well, including Aaron Murray, one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and freshman phenom running back Toddy Gurley.
The Bulldogs also have one of the strongest defenses in college football, led by potential All-Americans in nose tackle John Jenkins, linebacker Jarvis Jones and safety Shawn Williams.
Rodgers, Stacy and Matthews are not an easy group to stop, but the Bulldogs defense has the necessary playmakers it needs to slow them down.
Miami Hurricanes at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Paul Johnson's squad will now be looking to atone for that miserable performance when it hosts the Hurricanes in Atlanta on Saturday.
Miami's defense has looked shaky to say the least so far this season. The unit gave up 537 total yards and 32 points to Boston College in the season opener, then followed that up by allowing 52 points and 498 yards to Kansas State a week later.
That defense is going to have to step up in a big way if it hopes to contain Georgia Tech's powerful triple-option offense, which is led by QB Tevin Washington and RB Orwin Smith.
The Hurricanes have a dynamic offensive weapon in budding star freshman running back Duke Johnson. However, if Miami's defense doesn't stiffen up, it could be another long day for coach Al Golden.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Arkansas Razorbacks
After getting obliterated 52-0 by Alabama at home in Week 3, Arkansas' season is now at a crossroads.
This weekend, the 1-2 Razorbacks will host a Rutgers team that is coming off a huge road win against South Florida.
Obviously, Arkansas would love to have injured QB Tyler Wilson back, given how completely lost the offense has looked without him in the lineup. However, his status for the game is still uncertain.
If Wilson plays, it will likely give the Razorbacks the shot in the arm they need to get their season turned back in the right direction.
If he misses another game, though, Arkansas' season could continue to spiral out of control.
Maryland Terrapins at West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia is currently ranked third in the nation in total offense and fourth in scoring offense, averaging 55 points and 612 yards per game.
QB Geno Smith has looked sensational in his first two games, completing 88 percent of his passes for 734 yards and nine touchdowns.
Smith and the Mountaineers will welcome Maryland to Milan Puskar Stadium this weekend.
The Terrapins have some intriguing talent on both sides of the ball such as WR Stefon Diggs and LB Demetrius Hartsfield. However, it remains to be seen if they can actually keep this game as close as the 37-31 loss they had to West Virginia last season.
Baylor Bears at Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
Before the season started, this probably wasn't a game that many college football fans circled on their calendar. However, given the way Louisiana-Monroe has played in the last two weeks—beating Arkansas and coming close to beating Auburn—the Warhawks could definitely make this one interesting.
Baylor's offense lost QB Robert Griffin III and WR Kendall Wright, but the Bears still looked sharp in their first two outings, averaging 53 points per game.
QB Nick Florence has been efficient, and WR Terrance Williams looks like he could possibly be the best senior wide receiver prospect for the 2013 NFL draft.
We haven't yet seen much of highly touted running back Lache Seastrunk, who sat out last season after transferring from Oregon. But this could be the game in which he finally has his breakthrough performance.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Illinois Fighting Illini
Louisiana Tech's offense has looked like an unstoppable force so far this season
The Bulldogs scored 56 points in each of their first two games. However, they're about to face a major step up in competition against Illinois this weekend.
The Illini defense features a ton of future high NFL draft picks such as DE Michael Buchanan, DT Akeem Spence, LB Jonathan Brown and CB Terry Hawthorne.
QB Colby Cameron and his dangerous receiver trio of Quinton Patton, Myles White and D.J. Banks are a formidable passing combination, but the Illini should be up to the task of slowing them down.
The key will be the status of Illinois' injured starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who has missed the team's last two games with an ankle injury.
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