College Football Rankings 2012: Ranked Teams on Upset Alert in Week 4

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2012

Week 3 had its share of upsets, nail-biters and the most bizarre eight seconds of football in recent memory to cap off the night.

College-football season is in full swing. With conference schedules rapidly approaching, every squad is out to prove their mettle against their non-conference slate.

Saturday's games feature a handful of intriguing matchups. Many teams will have an upset in mind when they go up against a higher-ranking opponent.

Let's take a look at four teams that better come ready to play in Week 4.


No. 7 South Carolina

Much of this comes down to Connor Shaw's status against the Missouri Tigers. Shaw's shoulder leaves his current status unclear (per Greenville News reporter Willie T. Smith III).

Backup quarterback Dylan Thompson has thrown for 500-plus yards and five touchdowns in his stead, but it's still an issue. The lack of continuity will, sooner or later, catch up to the Gamecocks' offense.

Missouri is still seeking its first SEC win after dropping its Week 2 clash with Georgia. The Tigers scored a huge victory over Arizona State in Week 3, and they will carry some momentum into Williams-Brice Stadium.

The Gamecocks are allowing less than 10 points per game, but they haven't been tested like this. Missouri's spread attack can give a team fits without the proper preparation.

Quarterback James Franklin and running back Kendial Lawrence have both played well through three games, and Franklin has a handful of reliable receivers to throw to.

Shaw's injury could create a letdown, and a distraction, at some point. If it isn't careful on Saturday, South Carolina could suffer a disappointing loss.


No. 6 Oklahoma

Maybe it's just me, but I'm always waiting for the Sooners to fall. It seems inevitable.

The Kansas State Wildcats will carry their No. 15 ranking into Norman, Okla., on Saturday. Neither team has been tested so far, but Kansas State holds a slight advantage in the scheduling department. Not only did it play in Week 3 (Oklahoma didn't), but it did face Miami (Fla.) in Week 2.

The Hurricanes didn't present a challenge, but they're much more dangerous than the Sooners' opponents—Texas El-Paso and Florida A&M.

Kansas State's solid defense and ball-control offense could present a problem for the Sooners. Collin Klein isn't your traditional quarterback, but you won't find a tougher competitor across the nation.

Klein also has John Hubert to lean on out of the backfield, and Tramaine Thompson is averaging just over 16 yards per catch.

Oklahoma has more firepower, but it won't skate by in this one. Landry Jones is inconsistent at times, and he will have to lean on Damien Williams to balance the Sooner attack.

Granted, we said the same things last year. Then, Oklahoma came to town and handed the Wildcats a 58-17 beating in their home stadium.


No. 4 Florida State

This is the game that gets me, because Clemson and Florida State seem to give one game away every year. Something has to give in Week 4, and it's going to be exciting to watch.

The ACC's top-two teams both have high-octane offenses and a plethora of athletes on both sides of the ball. If you want to watch pure, unbridled athleticism, don't miss this game.

This would be a minor upset, but an upset nonetheless. Neither squad has proved its ranking thus far, but the Seminoles bring higher expectations and more talent to the table.

Florida State will lean on dual-threat quarterback E.J. Manuel, but its run game has been dynamic as of late. Chris Thompson and James Wilder Jr. form the quintessential thunder-and-lightning duo, and they seem to improve every week.

Clemson finally has Sammy Watkins back in the mix, and Tajh Boyd is another athletic signal-caller. The Tigers also have Andre Ellington to lean on in the backfield. He's racked up 328 yards and four touchdowns so far this year.

Like I said, neither squad has played anyone. Clemson did beat Auburn, giving it the advantage over Florida State's pathetic early schedule, but this is the first major test for either squad.

If Clemson can score, it has a chance. If not, the Seminoles will stay in the BCS title picture.


No. 5 Georgia

This is the biggest stretch, but it would also be the biggest upset.

The Bulldogs got past Missouri in Week 2, passing their only real challenge so far. Vanderbilt is only 1-2, but it had two very good showings against South Carolina and Northwestern in the first two weeks of the season.

The Commodores must overcome a raucous Sanford Stadium crowd to win this one, but they are a sneaky team. Their defense is allowing less than 15 points per game, and Jordan Rodgers is taking baby steps forward. If Rodgers can't do it, Austyn Carta-Samuels will get a look behind center.

Georgia is 3-0, but it hasn't looked great. It is scoring over 47 points per game, but its defense has been inconsistent at times.

Everyone remembers Todd Grantham and James Franklin getting into it after this matchup last season:

That may not happen again, but the emotion will still be there. Georgia won't pick up an easy win here, and it should fear a trap-game scenario with Tennessee looming in Week 5.