College Football Predictions Week 4: Which Ranked Teams Will Fall?
This week promises to be the most entertaining week of the college football season so far.
With conference play starting and many teams having their signature game of the non-conference slate, it is time to separate the contenders from the pretenders.
It is time to find out who has a legitimate chance at going to the BCS title game and who should just make plans for the Gaylord Bowl.
It is the "week of separation" in college football. Which five teams will be separated from their goals Saturday?
No. 25 Georgia Tech
I am not really sure why Georgia Tech is even considered a Top 25 team.
Yes, they are 3-0, but they have victories against the powers of Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee and Kansas.
Yes, they are averaging 424 rushing yards a game but they are averaging this in an option-heavy offense and against three of the worst rushing defenses in college football.
Even though the Tech offense had a record-setting day against the Jayhawks, we have to remember that the Jayhawks are one of the worst BCS conference teams and that even most Kansas fans consider football season to be the "fall basketball recruiting period."
In the preseason ACC predictions on the Bleacher Report, Georgia Tech was picked to finish fourth in the Coastal Division and was picked to finish behind the Tar Heels of North Carolina.
North Carolina is also undefeated and has three impressive wins over James Madison, Rutgers, and Virginia. The wins against Rutgers and Virginia are better than any of the wins that Georgia Tech has so far.
North Carolina also has a balanced attack on both offense and defense. The Tar Heels have the 50th best passing attack and the 42nd best rushing attack in all of college football. They also have the 32nd best defense as far as points allowed and have a solid rush and pass defense.
I believe the Tar Heels' defense can hold the Yellow Jackets to below 200 yards rushing, and the offense can easily win the time-of-possession battle.
The Tar Heels also barely lost to Tech last season, even though over half of their defense was suspended and they were missing key players on offense.
I believe that UNC players playing this season are more talented than the ones playing last season against the Yellow Jackets, and this will help the Heels win this game by at least one score.
No. 14 Arkansas
Over the past four years, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide have lost just two home games.
One of these games was to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators and the other game was to Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers.
This tells us that the only way you really have a chance to beat Alabama at home is if you have one of the greatest dual threat quarterbacks in the history of college football.
Even though I like the way Tyler Wilson has played this season, he is by no means a dual-threat quarterback and I am not sure if he is prepared for playing a team as good as Alabama on the road.
So far this season, Arkansas has had three home games against Missouri State, New Mexico and Troy. These are teams that are only known because they played Arkansas.
Alabama, on the other hand, is known as one of the greatest football programs in history, having one of the best coaches in the game, having one of the best home field advantages in football, having one of the best rushing games in football and having the best secondary in football.
I think Alabama will get out to a big lead early and force Arkansas to become one dimensional.
This works in Alabama's favor because they have corners and safeties that are much better than the wide receivers and tight ends on Arkansas. Arkansas' schedule may have prepared them for a WAC championship, but it in no way prepared them for the horrors of the SEC.
Much less the horrors of playing at Alabama.
No. 8 Texas A&M
Texas A&M has had one of the more efficient offenses in the country so far this season.
But the Texas A&M offense has been efficient against the fighting "30 for 30's" of SMU and the Vandals of Idaho. This week, the A&M defense has a big test against a Big 12 power in Oklahoma State.
In Oklahoma State's one game against good competition, their defense shut down what should be one of the best offenses in the nation in Arizona.
The Arizona and Texas A&M offenses are very similar, as they both like to force the ball downfield and hope that their passing game can set up the running game.
If Oklahoma State can hold Arizona's attack to only 14 points, then why should an unprepared A&M team be expecting to have tons of success against the Cowboys' defense?
It also needs to be pointed out that the Oklahoma State passing attack is the best in the nation.
Weeden has a passer rating of 157 so far this season, and he has two of the best receivers in the nation in Justin Blackmon and Tracy Moore. Both of these receivers average over 12 yards a catch and will be able to stretch the field against a suspect Aggie secondary.
I think Oklahoma State has the firepower and the defense to win in College Station.
No. 21 Clemson
Last week, Clemson had their "signature win" at home against Auburn. But why is this even considered a big win?
I understand that Auburn is the defending national champion from the SEC, but they do not even have close to Top 25 talent this season.
They lost a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback in Cam Newton, one of the best defensive linemen in the nation in Nick Fairley and lost 16 of their 21 starters overall.
Auburn is also a very young team, and very young teams will always struggle in environments as hostile as Death Valley.
Expect Clemson to come back down to earth this week against Florida State.
Remember that this is the same Clemson team that struggled to win against Troy and Wofford. Even though Boyd has flourished against Troy, Wofford and Auburn he has never played a defense close to the caliber of Florida State.
Florida State will be able to get pressure just using their front four and will be able to confuse Boyd with their different coverages.
Florida State's defense kept them in the game against the best offense in the nation in Oklahoma. To compare Clemson's offense to Oklahoma's would border on treason, and an angry FSU team should cruise to a victory in Death Valley.
No. 16 West Virginia
A West Virginia offense that was barely able to squeak by Maryland will now face one of the best defenses in college football in the LSU Tigers.
It is hard to underestimate how good the LSU defense has been so far this season.
LSU is giving up only 12 points a game—even though they faced the high-powered offenses of Oregon and Mississippi State, who are averaging a combined 56 points per game when they play teams other than LSU.
LSU only gives up 48 yards rushing a game—even Oregon and Mississippi State average 246 rushing yards a game when they do not play the Tigers.
So when good teams play LSU, they can expect to score about 44 points less than they usually score, and run for about 198 yards less than the usually run for.
Their is no reason to think that LSU defense will not shut down West Virginia's offense.
The WVU offense only averages about 79 yards rushing a game, so the LSU front four should absolutely devour the WVU offensive line.
Even though the Mountaineers have a great passing game, they do not have favorable match ups against the speed of LSU's defensive backfield.
LSU's defense should control this game, and as long as LSU's offense can manage the game, the Tigers will win in Morgantown.