College Football's Top 5 Under-the-Radar Games of the Week

Jonathan McDanal@@jdmcdanalContributor IIISeptember 20, 2013

College Football's Top 5 Under-the-Radar Games of the Week

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

    College football's Week 4 menu has such delicacies as Auburn at LSU and Arizona State at Stanford. However, those games are high-profile conference battles that are clearly on the radar.

    If you're looking for great games that have little to do with a national championship but will keep you on the edge of your seat, this piece is for you.

    Here are the top five Week 4 games that do not involve Top 25 teams but are likely to be decided by one possession. They are presented in chronological order of kickoff time.

    *All kickoff times are ET

Marshall Thundering Herd at Virginia Tech Hokies

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    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 21, at noon

    Marshall and Virginia Tech are more evenly matched than they seem on the surface, just like the Hokies and East Carolina were in Week 3. The Hokies are going to bring their usual stout defense to the game, and it will simply be a question of whether Rakeem Cato can find the holes to exploit.

    Marshall isn't likely to be a BCS buster this season, but a great offensive showing could put The Herd in the conversation if things get as insane as they did last season.

Tulane Green Wave at Syracuse Orange

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    Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 21, at 12:30 p.m.

    Tulane travels to Syracuse to attempt to log a win over an AQ team. When Justin Pugh and Ryan Nassib were suiting up for the Orange, this game was out of reach for a team like Tulane—or West Virginia, for that matter.

    This season, Syracuse has been a bit of a disappointment, though it's just a rebuilding season, not anything tot be truly concerned about. However, that doesn't make this game any less of a challenge.

    The Green Wave took a tough loss to the improved South Alabama Jaguars but bounced back a bit against an underwhelming Louisiana Tech. Syracuse enters the game 1-2 with losses to Penn State and Northwestern.

    This game will be tougher than it looks on paper, and the ending may surprise you.

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns at Akron Zips

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 21, at 6 p.m.

    This game makes the list for one reason: Akron came within a few inches of beating the ranked Michigan Wolverines in Week 3. Even if Michigan did play to its competition, you have to give the Zips a lot of credit for nearly beating a lackluster Top 25 team.

    After they finished 169th in the 2012 Sagarin ratings, there is little doubt that Terry Bowden already has this group on the track to success. Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns come to Akron in Week 4, and there is a lot of legitimate hope on the Akron side of the ball.

Eastern Illinois Panthers at Northern Illinois Huskies

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

    When: Saturday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.

    The Northern Illinois Huskies get a lot of respect for the program they've put together in the Mid-American Conference. That respect has been earned, most recently with its BCS bowl appearance at the end of the 2012 season.

    Eastern Illinois doesn't get nearly as much respect for a few reasons, the biggest being that it's an FCS program. People who follow the FBS don't get to see a lot of the Panthers.

    So far this season, they have gone quietly undefeated, starting with a Week 1 win over the San Diego State Aztecs. Eastern Illinois can compete with roughly half of the FBS teams in existence, and Northern Illinois may have bitten off more than it can chew in this bout.

    The only way to find out is to watch.

UTSA Roadrunners at UTEP Miners

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m.

    On its most basic level, this is a perfect opportunity for the casual fan to observe firsthand that UTSA and UTEP are indeed two different teams. That may sound a little abrasive to fans of either team, but it's a perfect opportunity for you to sit your friends in front of the TV and clear the confusion once and for all.

    On the deeper—actual football—level, these teams are incredibly evenly matched, and they're fighting for a place in the Conference USA standings. Both of these teams toppled the New Mexico Lobos in completely different ways, and this should be a classic fire-and-ice battle between polar opposites.

    UTSA is the No. 2 passing offense (No. 8 rushing), and UTEP is the No. 1 rushing offense (No. 11 passing) in C-USA. If you know just two facts heading into the game, those should be the two that persuade you to catch at least half of this game.