Many teams will start conference play in Week 4 of the college football season, but others will play nonconference matchups against seemingly easier competition.
Is there potential for an upset that will shake up the Top 25? You know it. But the odds of one happening appear to be lower than in most weeks, given the slate of games on the Week 4 schedule.
Speaking of this week’s matchups, let’s take a look at some predictions for every team ranked in the AP Top 25 poll.
Afterward, we’ll get into some more detail on some of the biggest matchups of the weekend.
No. 25 Arizona State at No. 5 Stanford
Whether earned or not, Arizona State won a huge Week 3 matchup against then-No. 20 Wisconsin. The game-ending circumstances won’t be overturned—the Sun Devils are 2-0 heading into a pivotal Week 4 matchup against Stanford.
The Cardinal aren’t coming off their best performance, struggling while 30-point favorites against Army in Week 3. This week, the competition ramps up.
Is this year’s Stanford team ready to impose its will on the Pac-12 again?
Look for the Sun Devils to seriously threaten a Cardinal defense that has looked beatable to this point against weaker competition. Arizona State won’t be able to stop the well-balanced Stanford offense, though.
The Sun Devils lose this one in a shootout.
Prediction: Stanford 42, Arizona State 34
Auburn at No. 6 LSU
The Auburn Tigers won three games in 2012. After three weeks in 2013, new head coach Gus Malzahn has his version of the Tigers on a three-game winning streak. All of that is positive and all, but is his team ready to take a big step by upsetting LSU in Week 4?
The other Tigers of the South are heading into this matchup with a new-look defense and a revamped offense led by coordinator Cam Cameron. In LSU's new system, quarterback Zach Mettenberger has looked excellent to this point.
Malzahn is 2-2 as an offensive coordinator matching up against LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis. However, Chavis has stifled the coach in their last two meetings—most recently in 2010, while Malzahn was engineering Auburn's Cam Newton-led offense.
Expect LSU to improve on Les Miles’ 39-2 record while playing in Death Valley on Saturday night.
Prediction: LSU 38, Auburn 24
Michigan State at No. 24 Notre Dame
Two ugly games in a row have the Notre Dame Fighting Irish ripe for an upset when the unranked Michigan State Spartans descend on South Bend.
Uncharacteristically, the Irish have had problems controlling the line of scrimmage this season. Michigan and Purdue both limited them to fewer than 100 yards on the ground, making Tommy Rees beat them with his arm—the results have been varied.
The Spartans boast the top defense in the nation—albeit against cupcake competition to this point. If they shut down Rees and Notre Dame struggles to run the football again, this game could end in upset for the Fighting Irish.
Expect Rees to do enough late to win the game with a big play in the fourth quarter, keeping the Irish upbeat heading into a difficult stretch of their schedule.
Prediction: Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 12