NCAA Week 4 Football Games To Watch
It's the fourth week of the college football season and there has been no shortage of surprises. The non-conference schedule is finishing up and the conference seasons are beginning.
This is the time of year where the pretenders are separated from the contenders. Every BCS conference but the ACC, with two teams, has three or more undefeated teams so far.
The SEC has six undefeated teams, the Big Ten has five, the Big 12 has four and the Big East and Pac-10 each have three unblemished teams.
Every undefeated BCS team is in action this weekend except for UCLA. There are four games this weekend between undefeated BCS teams.
While there are plenty of college games to be watched each weekend, here is a look at some of the games everyone should keep an eye on.
Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (Potential Upset)
The Rebels have not been tested so far this year, beating Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana to start the season at 2-0. South Carolina bounced back from a loss against Georgia to beat up on Florida Atlantic.
Who needs the win more: Mississippi
The expectations in Oxford are high in Houston Nutt’s second year at Ole Miss. The Rebels are the only team in the SEC West to never play in the SEC Championship game.
After beating eventual champ Florida in The Swamp last season, Ole Miss is favored to win the West by most. A loss early might derail their chances before they even really get started.
Missouri Tigers vs. Nevada Wolf Pack
This was supposed to be a down year for the Tigers, but after beating Illinois and two cream puffs, they sit at 3-0. Nevada was blown out by Notre Dame but played much better against Colorado State. The Wolf Pack is 0-2.
Who needs the win more: Missouri
Nevada needs the win at home for sure, but Missouri cannot fall after two of the big boys in the Big 12 have already gone down to non-BCS schools, As part of the weaker division in the Big 12, the Tigers do not need to be upset.
Saturday and Saturday Night
LSU Tigers vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs got Dan Mullen his first win in the SEC on his first try against Vanderbilt last week. The Tigers have been plodding along at 3-0 but have not overwhelmed anyone.
Who needs the win more: LSU
This year and maybe the next couple of years are rebuilding years for the Bulldogs. Mullen needs time to get his guys in his system.
The Tigers could challenge for the West and have several tough games ahead of them. LSU still has to play Alabama, Ole Miss and Florida. What could be a three-loss team, at worse, could see the wheels come off with a loss in Starkville.
Fresno State Bulldogs vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (Potential Upset)
Cincinnati traveled cross country to carry the banner for the Big East. Fresno State nearly beat Wisconsin on the road and Boise State in a shootout at home.
Who needs the win more: Cincinnati
The Bearcats are the only ranked team in the Big East. The conference needs Cincinnati to keep winning to keep it relevant if the other unbeaten teams go down this early.
The Big East is already under the gun for having an automatic BCS berth. It has not had a real national title contender since Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College all left for the ACC.
South Florida Bulls vs. Florida State Seminoles (Potential Letdown)
This is the first-ever meeting between the Bulls and the Seminoles in football. Florida State is fresh off an upset of BYU. South Florida is undefeated but has to move on after the Big East all-time yardage leader Matt Grothe went down for the season with a knee injury.
Who needs the win more: Florida State
The Seminoles, much like Miami, are getting plenty of publicity as a team back on the radar. After losing to Miami, they barely got by Jacksonville State.
Florida State cannot afford losing to a shorthanded Bulls team. The Bulls could pull the upset by rallying after their star goes down and the Noles might have a letdown after beating the Cougars in Provo.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles vs. Kansas Jayhawks (Potential Upset)
Southern Miss rallied from 17 down in the third quarter to beat the Virginia Cavaliers. Kansas was kept close by Duke for about a half. This game could be a shootout.
Who needs the win more: Both
Kansas has BCS aspirations with Todd Reesing and other stars back this season. The Jayhawks still have to make it though a Big 12 schedule before they can think about the BCS. A loss to the Golden Eagles could turn their BCS dreams into a nightmare.
The Golden Eagles have a chance to pull an upset like fellow Conference USA member Houston did in Week 2. A win over Kansas would help both the Golden Eagles and the Cougars BCS hopes. Since both of them play each other, only one would have a chance at the BCS.
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The Tar Heels are sitting pretty at 3-0 heading into conference play after beating East Carolina last week. The Yellow Jackets were beaten on the road by the Miami Hurricanes for their first loss of the season.
Who needs the win more: Both
The Tar Heels want to become a contender for the ACC Coastal title. North Carolina would like to get off to a quick start with a win in their first conference game. A loss would not be the end of the Tar Heels championship hopes but it would be the end of one undefeated team in the ACC.
The Yellow Jackets could not stop Miami from passing all over them. They also could not pass the ball themselves. Georgia Tech has conference title hopes another loss could end them in September. The pressure will be on Josh Nesbitt and Jonathan Dwyer to lead them.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan Wolverines
Both these teams are undefeated at 3-0 and this is both their Big Ten opener. The Hoosiers have not invoked fear but have not lost easy games like other Big Ten teams. The Wolverines are riding high early and could be a bowl team.
Who needs the win more: Michigan
A win over Notre Dame was nice for Michigan and head coach Rich Rodriguez. The real test becomes in how well you do in Big Ten play. A loss to perennial doormat Indiana will start up the questions of if Rich Rod was the right choice.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (Potential Upset)
The Tide looks like a good pick to get back to Atlanta heading in to this matchup at 3-0 and already having passed a major test. The Razorbacks lost a shootout to Georgia last week to fall to 1-1. Arkansas can score a ton of points and the Alabama defense is the best in college football.
Who needs the win more: Alabama
The Tide wants to get back to the SEC championship game and finish what they started last season. While a loss to Arkansas would not end their chances to play for the SEC title, it would make it harder with games against LSU and Ole Miss still to go.
California Golden Bears vs. Oregon Ducks (Potential Upset)
California went into Big Ten country and put a beatdown on Minnesota in their new stadium. The Bears have the preeminent running back in the country, Jahvid Best.
Oregon has gotten more talk over a check that Chip Kelly sent to a disgruntled fan over the Boise State loss. The Ducks busted Utah’s BCS dreams and have turned things around after the ugly events in Idaho.
Who needs the win more: California
California has a chance to do something that has not been done since 2001, the last time USC did not win or tie for the conference title. The Bears cannot afford to look ahead with a date the Trojans after this game. A loss to Oregon could ruin California’s Pac-10 title dreams in the first conference game of the season.
Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
Miami is believed to be back after beating Florida State and Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech has comeback nicely after losing to Alabama in the first game of the year and beat Nebraska last week.
Who needs the win more: Both
The Hokies have been one of the best teams in the ACC since they joined. A win over Miami would show that their title is not going to be taken away by a Miami team on the comeback. Virginia Tech also gets this game in Blacksburg, where they are so hard to beat.
Miami would love to go in to Blacksburg and show anyone who doubts them that they are truly back. After beating three ranked teams in three weeks, it would be hard to argue that they are not the best team in the ACC. The Hurricanes have to keep focus and not look ahead to the Oklahoma game next week. A win over the Sooners and Miami becomes a national title contender.
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Clemson Tigers (BCS Implications)
TCU had no problem beating Texas Southern last week. Clemson took care of Boston College in its ACC opener. This is TCU's second trip to ACC territory after beating Virginia in their first game of the season.
Who needs the win more: TCU
After Utah’s loss, TCU is the only Mountain West team with a chance at the BCS. A loss versus Clemson will end their BCS dreams along with BYU and the Utes. TCU has to run the table to make it to one of the big games.
Pittsburgh Panthers vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack
Pittsburgh is one of three teams undefeated in the Big East heading in to Week 4. North Carolina State has not lost since they went down to South Carolina to open the season.
Who needs the win more: Pitt
Pitt, like the rest of the Big East, could use a win over a big time non-conference opponent. The Panthers need to take any win they can get for their conference. In a weekend that will likely see South Florida go down, Cincinnati and Pitt need to keep winning to give the Big East some good national exposure.
Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats outlasted Louisville in a shootout last week. The Gators now have the nation’s longest winning streak after the Utah loss and their win over Tennessee. Do not sleep on Kentucky. Remember when LSU went to Lexington ranked No. 1 in the country?
Who needs the win more: Florida
Kentucky is undefeated heading in to its first SEC game of 2009. The Gators have bigger dreams than just an SEC championship. Florida could still make it to the National Championship Game with a loss but if the fall this early it will be a hard climb back to the top.
Colorado State Rams vs. BYU Cougars
Colorado State has a win over Colorado and a perfect record. BYU got their BCS dreams busted by Florida State last week.
Who needs the win more: Colorado State
It might be a stretch, but an undefeated Colorado State team might have a slim chance at a BCS game. They would have to beat the Cougars and the Horned Frogs to even have a chance.
The Cougars will be interesting to watch no matter which team wins just to see how they bounce back from the Florida State loss. BYU might mail in the rest of the season if they lose this game.
Boise State Broncos vs. Bowling Green Falcons (BCS Implications)
Boise State won a wild game against Fresno State to keep its BCS hopes alive. Bowling Green lost to Marshall last week and has not won since the first week of the season against Troy.
Who needs the win more: Boise State
The Broncos hope to head back to the BCS once more and are the best shot the WAC has. A Boise State loss ends any hope of a BCS game. The Broncos have to win every game on the schedule to make their dreams come true.
Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Arizona State has beaten two cream puffs to start the season at 2-0. Georgia has taken care of business since losing in Week 1 to Oklahoma State on the road. Georgia has proven it is a very good football team. It is not yet known how good Arizona State is.
Who needs the win more: Both
The Sun Devils can bring back a great win for the Pac-10 over one of the top SEC schools. Arizona State will have to do it between the hedges if they do win.
Georgia would love to beat a quality non-conference team after the Oklahoma State loss. The Bulldogs are one of only two SEC schools to lose a non-conference game. Tennessee is the other.
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
The Hawkeyes have looked shaky at times this season but they have beaten everyone they have faced. Penn State has not been tested this season but has a chance at revenge over an Iowa team that cost them a title shot last season.
Who needs the win more: Both
Iowa would love to win the Big Ten and a win over Penn State would help. The Hawkeyes have as good a chance as any other team in the conference.
Penn State wants payback after a last-second field goal took them out of the national title picture last season. The Nittany Lions are in position to challenge for a national championship again this year. They do not want to let the Hawkeyes ruin their season two years in a row.
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Houston Cougars (BSC Implications)
The Red Raiders dropped a close game to Texas last week for their first loss of the season. Houston is riding high after beating Oklahoma State and is undefeated.
Who needs the win more: Houston
No Conference USA team has ever played in a BCS game. Houston has a chance to change that this year. This will be the Cougars second Big 12 opponent this season. Houston has done well so far upsetting Oklahoma State on the road. The Cougars have to win out to break down the BCS wall for Conference USA.
Another game to keep an eye on is Notre Dame taking on Purdue. The Irish continue their tour of the Big Ten and have to keep winning to keep Charlie Weis in a job.
Washington is back in action after upsetting USC. The Huskies take on the Cardinal of Stanford in what could be a letdown after a big win. Everyone will get a chance to see how Washington handles success.
Four other undefeated teams in action this weekend are Texas, Texas A&M, Wisconsin and Auburn. None of these teams look like they will have a hard time putting away their foe, but anything can happen in college football.
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