Week 4 College Football Outlook: Tide Begins SEC Gauntlet

Allen SmithContributor ISeptember 23, 2010

DURHAM, NC - SEPTEMBER 18: Desmond Scott #33 of the Duke Blue Devils is tackled by Chavis Williams #55 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Wallace Wade Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina.  The Crimson Tide defeated the Blue Devils 62-13.  (Photo by Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images)
Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images

3 Things I Learned Last Week

1.  The SEC is a pretty weak conference.  This is not a slight against Alabama, I think they are very legitimate, but the rest of the conference is very mediocre.  Which is the main reason Alabama is the favorite in the conference despite losing a ton of players on defense (the most important side of the ball in the conference).  This year’s SEC defensive class isn’t strong, thus the teams that want to get to Atlanta must have offenses that can score.  If you don’t have an offense this year, you have no chance to win the conference.

2.  Expanding upon that, the national landscape is the same way.  The defenses aren’t as strong this year, thus whomever has the strongest offenses will be in the hunt for the national title.  Which is why teams like Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State, are at one level, and everyone else is at another.  I will reserve judgment for Oklahoma and Boise State, until I see more, because both are good, but by mid October we’ll know if the Broncos and the Sooners join the other three at the top.

3.  As soon as Mark Ingram was eliminated from the Heisman race, we had the emergence of....?  No one, then 9 carries, 150 yards, and 2 touchdowns later, Mark Ingram is back in the race.  This week will be important in the Heisman race.  Mallett and Ingram in Fayettville, and Kellen Moore facing Oregon St.  We will look back at this week and say that this game was the lynch pin for the Heisman winner’s campaign.


3 Games To Watch for Week 4

Biggest Game - #1 Alabama at #10 Arkansas - Saturday, September 25 - 3:30 pm EST - CBS

This begins the Tide’s three game stretch that will define how good this team is.  This game will test the defense, Ryan Mallett’s arm will (if given time) exploit the youth of the secondary.  However Arkansas will have to have a run game to keep Alabama’s defense off balance.  Second, Arkansas’s defense will have to contain Alabama’s offense.  In a weird way, Arkansas needs this game to be relatively low scoring, somewhere in the mid 20s to low 30s.  But when it is said and done I think Alabama’s offense will be too much for a shaky Razorback defense, I think Arkansas puts up a fight but Alabama pulls away in the 3rd quarter.


Intriguing Game - #24 Oregon St at #3 Boise St - Saturday, September 25 - 8:00 pm EST - ABC

The only thing that makes this game intriguing is that the whole nation will be watching as the Broncos probably will play their last ranked opponent (Nevada might sneak in later this season).  Secondly, the Beavers have a knack of beating top ranked teams.  I think the spotlight and the fact that for the first time, they are expected to win, could make this game a lot closer than people anticipate.  But I don’t see Oregon State winning this game,  the Broncos are far more experienced and talented.  Oregon State may provide a scare, but I think Kellen Moore will provide ample TDs to combat that.


Upset Alert - #4 TCU at SMU - Friday, September 24 - 8:00 pm EST - ESPN

The only reason I’m putting TCU on upset alert deals more with the emotions of the game.  This is a rivalry game, this is a game on the road, and they are playing against June Jones’s offense.  The Mustangs had Texas Tech on the ropes earlier this season, and I think they could provide a scare for TCU.  Again, like the past few weeks, I’m not saying TCU will lose the game, but I think enough can happen in this game that the upset could happen.