After the glorious chaos that ensued last weekend, fans can only hope a loaded slate in college football Week 4 will provide as much entertainment.
There are some huge games on the schedule this Saturday, with No. 11 Michigan taking on No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 8 Auburn taking on No. 17 Texas A&M and No. 7 Notre Dame going into Athens for a date with the No. 3-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
We’ll dive into those matchups and much more examining the top storylines for college football Week 4.
Can Air Force pull off another stunner?
Fresh off their overtime stunner against Colorado last Saturday, the Falcons have a chance to make some more noise Friday night in Boise against the No. 20 Boise State Broncos.
This is an interesting matchup, because the Broncos haven’t faced an offense that can do what Air Force does. We all know the Falcons run a potent triple-option offense that racks up 356 yards per game on the ground (second in the nation). They also can take flight through the air, however, which makes them extremely dangerous.
Boise State’s offense, led by freshman Hank Bachmeier, will need to play mistake-free football against a very solid Air Force defense to avoid getting upset at home Friday night.
It’s Kyle Trask’s team now
A gruesome, season-ending injury to starting quarterback Feleipe Franks stunned the Florida Gators on Saturday night against Kentucky. As Franks was being carted off the field while choking back tears, it appeared the Gators were in big trouble. Then, Kyle Trask stepped onto the field and turned that entire narrative on its head as he led a fourth-quarter comeback win.
With Franks now out for the years, it’s Trask’s team now. Tennessee is coming to The Swamp Saturday, and on paper the Vols should not provide a huge challenge. It’s going to be interesting to see how Trask performs the next couple of weeks before he and the Gators face their biggest tests against Auburn and LSU. For Florida’s sake, we hope his shining performance against Kentucky was a sign of things to come, rather than the exception to the rule.
Time for Shea Patterson to step up, but it won’t be easy
Through two games, Wisconsin hasn’t given up a single point, and the Badgers are first in the nation allowing just 107.5 yards per game. Granted, South Florida and Central Michigan aren’t powerhouses. Yet it’s impossible not to be impressed by the brick wall Wisconsin features defensively.
That’s a wall Shea Patterson will have to scale Saturday as Michigan takes on Wisconsin in Madison. He has yet to show anything special so far this season, throwing just three touchdowns in two games while completing 62.1% of his passes and averaging 7.1 yards per attempt against Middle Tennessee State and Army. Needless to say, Patterson needs to improve if the Wolverines have any chance of beating the Badgers this Saturday.
Is Cal for real?
The California Golden Bears have gone undefeated so far this year and made their first appearance in the top-25 rankings heading into Week 4, checking in at No. 23 in the nation. It’s hard to really gauge how good this team is, though, considering Cal struggled against UC Davis and eked out a win over North Texas last week. The feather in the program’s cap is its one-point win over Washington in Week 2.
Ole Miss isn’t a dominant program, but it will be a huge challenge for Cal this weekend. It’s a road game for the Bears against an SEC team that plays physical ball and can pound the rock. Cal’s defense has been its strength thus far. That strength will be tested in a big way this Saturday in Oxford.
Auburn better be ready for a slobberknocker
Since stunning Oregon in Week 1, Auburn has flown under the radar against some small schools. They’ve gotten little out of the passing game while relying on their potent rushing attack. But that attack will meet stiff resistance Saturday when the Tigers play the Aggies in College Station.
Texas A&M features one of the most physical, dominating defenses in the nation, ranking 18th in total defense while allowing less than 84 rushing yards per game. Travis Etienne can certainly vouch for TAMU’s dominant run defense, which held him to 53 yards on 16 carries a couple weeks back.
Needless to say, this game is going to be an all-out brawl. And it’s one in which Bo Nix will need to step up in a big way as a passer if Auburn is going to win.
Willie Taggart hot seat watch in full effect
Florida State has gone backwards in Year 2 of the Willie Taggart era. Through three games, the Seminoles have blown two leads and nearly lost in the same fashion to lowly UL Monroe in Week 2. And these collapses have nothing to do with dehydration, as Taggart has suggested.
At 1-2 on the season, FSU now prepares to host Louisville in Tallahassee Saturday afternoon. The Seminoles are favored to win by nearly a touchdown (-6.5), and they should. But at this point nobody will be surprised if the Cardinals come into Doak Campbell Stadium and blow out Taggart and Co. That’s just how bad it’s been. His hot seat is blazing, and at this point we’ll be surprised if he does turn things around.
Can BYU keep the upset train rolling?
Two weeks running, BYU has pulled off an overtime upset — once on the road against Tennessee and then at home last Saturday against No. 24 USC. They Cougars are already pulling out all the stops to make it three upsets in a row, going with a retro look in Week 4.
This weekend, the Cougars will have their hands full, though. No. 22 Washington is coming to Provo and has something to prove after falling to Cal a couple weeks back. If BYU is going to continue this awesome trend of shocking upset wins, then Zach Wilson better be ready to pull of some more theatrics late in the game on Saturday.
Stanford in a world of trouble
David Shaw has produced a perennial winner since taking over for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. He won double-digit games five times and has never won less than eight games in a season during his first eight seasons leading this program. That trend appears to be in danger of ending this season. Through three games, the Cardinal are 1-2, and with Oregon coming to town that record stands to fall even further.
The most alarming aspect of Stanford’s fall from grace is that the program features a distinct lack of physicality on both offense and defense. The Cardinal are getting dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and have allowed 45 points in each of their last two games. Justin Herbert and the Ducks must be licking their beaks at the chance to rack up the points on Saturday in Stanford.
Another chance for Texas to prove it’s ‘back’
The Longhorns have been impressive so far this year, going 2-1 and coming oh, so close to beating LSU in a shootout in Week 2. Sam Ehlinger is playing great at the quarterback position, putting up points in bunches.
Texas will host Oklahoma State on Saturday in prime time on ABC. This is a huge game for both programs, but in particular it’s very important for the Longhorns to win. On paper, they have the better overall team. And if they really are “back,” this is a prove-it moment.
Though, if they do win, they’ll have to shut down Chuba Hubbard, who’s been on an absolute tear so far this year.
Moment of truth for the Fighting Irish
Is Notre Dame worthy of the hype? This annual question will be answered quickly in Week 4 as the Fighting Irish take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens.
The last time Notre Dame took the big stage was in Week 1 against Louisville, and while the Irish did win that was not the kind of performance that champions are made of. The Bulldogs are clearly one of the top teams in the nation, so Notre Dame needs to be at its best to have any shot at coming away with a victory.
Georgia features the No. 9 overall defense and allows just 7.7 points per game. Ian Book, who was fantastic against New Mexico in Week 3, will need to have his best game of the season to propel the Irish to 3-0 Saturday night.