College Football 2011: Previews and Score Predictions for Week 4
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
The Auburn Tigers showed in Week 3 that they are still young and have a lot to learn by dropping their road contest at Clemson. After this week's cupcake game against FAU, the road gets real tough for the Tigers.
Alabama, meanwhile, took care of North Texas 41-0 and Troy made it close at Arkansas, falling 38-28.
There are some big-time match-ups this week, so let's get down to it.
Here goes Week 4:
All times Central
College (25-6 season; 7-4 last week):
All Rankings Reflect Latest AP Poll
Notre Dame (1-2) at Pittsburgh (2-1)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 11 a.m.: ABC
Prior to sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees, no Notre Dame starting quarterback had recorded wins over Michigan State and USC and led the Irish to a victory in a bowl game since 1993. That says a lot, considering Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen have played for the South Bend school since '93...but anyway.
The Irish, despite facing the turnover bug in 2011, travel to Pittsburgh in a must-win situation for coach Brian Kelly.
The last four meetings have averaged a 4.5-point scoring differential, including a four overtime game in 2008 that Notre Dame lost 36-33 to the Panthers.
Notre Dame 28, Pittsburgh 23
Georgia (1-2, 0-1) at Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.: SEC NETWORK
Georgia is practicing this week on its FieldTurf practice fields in preparation for the 'Dogs' first SEC road match of the season on the same playing surface at Ole Miss. The Rebels were spanked in Nashville by Vanderbilt last Saturday 30-7, but coach Houston Nutt faces a must win in this cross-division SEC showdown.
The Rebels will make it a shootout at home, but they aren't good enough to be beat Georgia.
Georgia 35, Ole Miss 23
***TUCKER'S PICK 'EM GAME OF THE WEEK***
No. 14 Arkansas (3-0, 0-0) at No. 3 Alabama (3-0, 0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.: CBS
The Razorbacks visit Alabama in the Tucker's Pick 'Em Game of the Week in an SEC West showdown that could have national title implications. They say defense wins championships; Alabama's defense has proven to be nearly impassable in its first three games this season. So expect a low scoring affair in this thriller, from Arkansas at least.
In a game that is sure to be an SEC Classic, Alabama shows its the better team in front of (surely) more than 102,000 fans in Bryant-Denny:
Alabama 20, Arkansas 14
No. 11 Florida State (2-1, 0-0) at No. 21 Clemson (3-0, 0-0)
No. 14 Arkansas or No. 3 Alabama?
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.: ESPN
After a depressing 23-13 loss to America's No. 1 team Oklahoma at home last week, the 'Noles must travel to Clemson to face a rising Clemson Tigers team that is on a hot streak after annihilating Auburn last week. No word yet on whether FSU quarterback EJ Manuel will play after he suffered a shoulder injury in the defeat by Oklahoma. His replacement will be Clint Trickett, who went 7-15 passing for 134 yards and a touchdown last week after Manuel's injury.
Florida State wasn't ranked No. 5 before their loss to the Sooners for no reason; they'll survive Death Valley.
Florida State 27, Clemson 24
No. 7 Oklahoma State (3-0, 0-0) at No. 8 Texas A&M (2-0, 0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.: ABC
I still haven't discovered any type of reason why ESPN's College Gameday won't be in College Station Saturday for this Top-10 showdown. Instead, the network chose No. 3 LSU at No. 16 West Virginia, a move that's left many fans scratching their heads. But anyway, we'll get to that game later in the run-down.
No. 7 Oklahoma State or No. 8 Texas A&M?
The Sooners and Aggies will light up the scoreboard Saturday afternoon in a classic display of Big 12 offense. But the Cowboys just have more scoring potential on offense, so the nod here goes to the 'Pokes and Mike Gundy, 'cause he's forty... four.
Oklahoma State 38, Texas A&M 35
South Alabama (2-1) at Kent State (0-3, 0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.
The Jaguars fell to NC State last week 35-13 in perhaps a moral victory for the program, considering it was the school's first-ever contest against a team in the FBS. The Jaguars will play their second FBS opponent Saturday, 0-3 Kent State, looking for their staple first win over an FBS program.
Chances are good here for the Jags, and I'd love to give them the edge, but the Golden Flashes have still playing football at a higher level than the Jaguars for some time. They'll fend off USA Saturday.
Will South Alabama upset Kent State?
Kent State 21, South Alabama 10
Kansas State (2-0, 0-0) at Miami (1-1, 0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.: ESPNU
Kansas State recorded its first shutout since 2006 last week with a 37-0 win over previously mentioned Kent State. Miami did nearly the same, winning 24-6, but the Hurricanes' victory came over Ohio State. The 'Canes had five players on their roster that were missing in the season-opening loss at Maryland, and they proved beneficial against OSU. Jacory Harris showed that he still has what it takes to be a good quarterback against the Buckeyes (16-23, 2 TD), but he still struggled with interceptions, throwing two on the day.
Regardless, Saturday afternoon in Miami, he'll manage to lead the 'Canes to enough points to beat the visiting Wildcats.
Miami 31, Kansas State 20
Middle Tennessee (0-2, 0-0) at Troy (0-2, 0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.: CBS
Finally playing in front if its home crowd, Troy faces off against Sun Belt rival Middle Tennessee in the Battle for the Palladium. The Trojans have faced two BCS opponents in their first two games, falling off late in their 43-19 loss at Clemson in Week 1 and threatening Arkansas late in the game last week in a 38-28 decision for the Razorbacks. Middle Tennessee has also played two BCS opponents in its first two games, falling to Purdue 27-24 before being throttled by Georgia Tech 49-21.
Troy has owned this rivalry the last five years, and they'll continue to do so for a sixth.
Troy 41, Middle Tennessee 24
Vanderbilt (3-0, 1-0) at No. 12 South Carolina (3-0, 1-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 6 p.m.: ESPN2
South Carolina message boards blew up this week with fans disgruntled by the fact that some other Gamecock followers were fearing an upset by Vanderbilt. Sure, the Commodores are coming along strong under first-year coach James Franklin, and a win here would shake up the race for the SEC East considerably. But since Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks will be at home for a night game, I'm going with the preseason pick by most to win the SEC East to dash Vandy's hopes of a division title.
Did I just say "Vandy" and "Hopes of a division title" in the same sentence?
South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 24
No. 15 Florida (3-0, 1-0) at Kentucky (2-1, 0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 6 p.m.: ESPN
Will Muschamp picked up his first SEC win over Florida's bitter SEC East rival, Tennessee, last week in Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Muschamp and the Gators travel to Lexington, Kentucky Saturday night looking to bring their SEC record to 2-0. That task doesn't appear to be too hard to accomplish, based simply off a few glimpses of the teams' performances in recent contests. Kentucky's offense ranks 11th in the SEC, ahead of only Ole Miss, who lost 30-7 last week at Vandy.
Making matters worse, the Gators' defense ranks 3rd in the SEC and 7th in the nation.
Florida 31, Kentucky 13
Florida Atlantic (0-2, 0-0) at Auburn (2-1, 1-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 6 p.m.: FSN
Auburn experienced its 17-game win streak come to an end last Saturday in Clemson; the Tigers missed tackle after tackle in a display of athletic and fundamental domination by the Clemson Tigers. Something is up with the defense at Auburn under Ted Roof; the Tigers rank only ahead of Kansas, North Texas and Kent State in total defense, and they rank dead last (120th) in stopping third-down conversions. The Tigers allowed host Clemson to convert 14-of-18 third downs last week, including a stretch where the home Tigers converted 10 straight.
Auburn takes a breather this week against FAU, but if the Tigers' mistakes aren't fixed after this one, it could be a long season.
Auburn 52, Florida Atlantic 17
Louisiana Tech (1-2, 0-0) at Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 6 p.m.: ESPNU
Mississippi State will hit the field against Louisiana Tech Saturday following a depressing loss to LSU last Thursday night. The Bulldogs might play a little drowsy at the start of this one; their hopes of challenging LSU and Auburn in the SEC West standings were decimated in the first two weeks of conference play. But the 'Dogs are still a fantastic football team, and their athletes will excel over the Bulldogs.
Did you know Tony Franklin, former Troy and Auburn offensive coordinator, coordinates the offense at La Tech now?
Mississippi State 38, Louisiana Tech 21
No. 2 LSU (3-0, 1-0) at No. 16 West Virginia (3-0, 0-0) **COLLEGE GAMEDAY
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at 7 p.m.: ABC
LSU leap-frogged back over Alabama in this week's AP Poll following a 19-6 victory last Thursday over Mississippi State at Starkville, with the pollsters showing that the two will likely continue to flip-flop in the rankings (barring losses by either team) until their (possible) No. 1 vs. No. 2 match in Tuscaloosa on November 5th.
But the Tigers travel to Morgantown for the first time in school history Saturday to take on the 3-0 Mountaineers in a game that won't come easy. LSU brings a 35-game non-conference regular season winning streak into coal-mining country, hoping to avoid a loss at the hands of the Mountaineers.
The Tigers won the first-ever meeting between the two 20-14 last year in Baton Rouge.
LSU 23, West Virginia 13
Tucker Sargent is a senior at Troy University in his home state of Alabama. "Tucker's Pick 'Em" started in 2009 on Facebook, with 10 games of interest being picked each week. Opinions are not meant to offend anyone. Visit Tucker's blog or follow him on Twitter here.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?