College Football Picks Week 4: Ranked Teams on Upset Alert This Weekend
There aren't many ranked college football teams in danger of losing in Week 4, but there are a few on upset alert.
Upsets happen every week, and sometimes they can happen when you least expect them to.
Michigan almost lost a stunner to Akron in Week 2, winning 28-24 thanks to a late touchdown run by Fitz Toussaint. This was a game the Wolverines should have won blindfolded, but as it was, the team barely escaped an embarrassing loss.
Then UCLA went into Memorial Stadium and upset the Nebraska Cornhuskers with a huge second-half performance by Brett Hundley and the Bruins offense.
So which teams will rise up and play better than expected?
Here's a closer look at a few underdogs that will give ranked teams a run for their money in Week 4—if not win the game outright.
Arizona State (23) at Stanford (5)
It's time to take Arizona State seriously after the Sun Devils knocked off Wisconsin.
Defensive tackle Will Sutton leads a formidable defense that is tough against the pass but is susceptible to getting gashed in the running game. Stanford loves to run the ball, so this is a matchup that could determine the outcome of the game.
Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly is the big X-factor in this contest.
The junior has been outstanding thus far in 2013, completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 652 yards with five touchdowns and one interception.
He's a pure pocket passer who loves to spread the ball around. In two games, he's completed a touchdown pass to five different receivers, and Stanford will have trouble keeping them all covered.
The Cardinal will look to out-muscle the Sun Devils, but if Kelly can get his offense going, then Arizona State can pull off a huge upset to move to 3-0.
Auburn at LSU (6)
Nobody expects Auburn to have a chance at beating the mighty LSU Fighting Tigers at Tiger Stadium.
But to think that Auburn has no shot of winning would be a mistake.
Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne comprise one of the nation's most underrated duos at the running back position. They have combined to rush for 372 yards on 74 carries this season, and Gus Malzahn isn't afraid to lean on them heavily when Nick Marshall struggles behind center.
Marshall has been a bit up and down this year, throwing four touchdowns and three interceptions. But he's always one big play away from breaking a game wide open, and he has a few explosive receivers at his disposal.
Which top team is in the most danger of losing in Week 4?
LSU should win. It is the better program and it has the better overall roster and the home-field advantage that is so critical in college football.
But there are two Tigers in this fight, and Auburn won't go down easily.
Michigan State at Notre Dame (22)
The Fighting Irish will be fighting for their BCS-bowl-game lives this week after falling to Michigan in Week 2 and nearly getting upset by Purdue in Week 3.
Notre Dame hasn't looked good on defense this year, which is problematic considering defense is the strength of the program. Even counting the six points allowed against Temple to open the season, the Irish have allowed 20 points and 372 yards per game.
Against the Spartans in Week 4, it will be interesting to see if Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix and the rest of the Fighting Irish defenders can stop the run. Michigan State has rushed for 629 yards and five touchdowns in three games this year.
But the real battle on Saturday will be between Tommy Rees and the stifling defense of Michigan State. The Spartans have been dominant on the defensive side of the ball this year, allowing just 12 points and 177 total yards of offense per game.
Given Rees' propensity to turn the ball over (26 interceptions in his career), Notre Dame could be in deep trouble against Michigan State this weekend.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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