Welcome to a weekly in-season series looking at the coming weekend slate of college football games with observations and prognostications of varying degrees. This week, we apologize for being unprepared for BIG NUDE SATURDAY, but we’re pretty sure the games are also good in Week Four.
5 Unbeaten Teams that are (Almost) Legit
California YEAH, I SAID IT. The defense is one of the nation’s best, and sophomore running back Christopher Brown Jr. is off to a solid start with 324 yards and just shy of 5 yards per carry. The North is stacked, and this is by no means a playoff team, but if they can beat Washington on the road, they can get to a high-water mark for the program like 8-9 wins.
Wake Forest Again, not looking for playoff teams, just teams that are good when you maybe didn’t see that coming. Quarterback Jamie Newman is a star in the making (927 yards, 7 touchdowns), and big-play receivers like Sage Surratt (327 yds, 3 TD) will help him out on his slow days.
Oklahoma State New QB Spencer Sanders was always going to settle in with RB Chuba Hubbard (521 yds, 7 TD) and WR Tylan Wallace (390 yds, 6 TD), but this is still a really fast start for the Cowboys. Pokes might already be the second-best team in the Big 12, and beating Texas on the road would strengthen that sentiment.
San Diego State Chance Bell and Jordan Byrd are running wild, and the Aztec defense is one of the nastiest in the nation against the run. Plenty of quarterbacks left on the schedule who can sling it, but they’re still 8-to-9-win good.
Washington State If this is your first time here, I’m sorry for the confusion but COOOOOOOOOOOOOO(also that was an impressive win against Houston as Wazzu has lost plenty of those games against high-powered offenses but I digress)OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUGS.
5 (or More) Unbeaten Teams that Might Be Fradulent
Arizona State What do we know about the Sun Devils? They haven’t really blown out any of their 3 opponents; the defense has only yielded exactly 7 points in all 3 contests; Eno Benjamin is a talented running back; freshman QB Jayden Daniels hasn’t made a spectacular play or a crippling mistake; Michigan State gifted them a win; and they’re 3-0 heading into league play. While there’s definitely things to be excited about, there’s not exactly a lot to inspire confidence, don’t you think?
TCU That dominant win at Purdue had more to do with the lack of a competent quarterback for the Boilermakers than the Horned Frogs just being that much better, in my humble opinion. Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson is a great backfield tandem, and Jalen Reagor is a future pro at receiver, but the 2-QB system and a mostly new defense still need to be truly tested. SMU might provide that this weekend.
Wyoming The win against Missouri is starting to feel like a fluke. QB Sean Chambers has thrown for less 250 yards and he’s not really running the triple option. And, perhaps most importantly, the Cowboys have responded to beat Mizzou by skirting by Texas State and Idaho. They might actually just not be any sort of good.
Virginia Bryce Perkins is doing a pretty good poor-man’s Lamar Jackson, leading the Cavaliers in passing AND rushing. The defense is still great as well, but the Coastal and the ACC in general will not tell us much about how good a team is. It’s going to be crucial for the Wahoos to rout some opponents to show how good they are.
Florida AND Michigan If you want to know why even normally adventurous people like yours truly believe Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma are so far ahead of everyone else, look at the first couple weeks for both of these playoff contenders and tell me how you’d seriously believe they’d win that game.
5 Images from the GAME-WINNING PUNT in Iowa-Iowa State
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) September 15, 2019
5 Reasons Gus Johnson Might Actually, Truly be Saying “Big Nude Saturday”
He’s bored by Ohio State’s uniforms The Buckeyes have been in two of the first 3 Fox noon games, which this season they’ve retrofitted with the name Big Noon Saturday because they’re (allegedly) going to put their best game each week at noon. This can work out, but not if Gus is fed up with seeing scarlet and gray and, well…has some ideas.
He’s making a statement on Big Ten football If I had to watch each week the plodding slog played by the schools with whom Fox has signed a sizeable TV contract with, I too would start trying to spice things up.
He really wants to go on vacation So he likes certain beaches in Europe. Don’t judge.
He’s seeing a fat streaker every time In which case, ya know, maybe security should be listening to him. He’s just trying to help.
Bret Bielema is in the booth and they can’t get rid of him This is a coded cry for help, Gus and Joel Klatt are trapped in the worst kind of hell, please some make BERT put some clothes on and go home.
5 (or More) Stone-Cold Locks for Week Four
Record last week – Straight up: 15-10, ATS: 12-13
Houston (+5) at Tulane Yes, the Green Wave are trending up. Yes, the Coogs are not good on defense and have looked a little too slow on offense under Dana Holgerson. Let’s not act like that means, right away in the biggest conference game played in New Orleans in a long time, that the status quo in the American is about to change. But you’ve seen how my advice works out lately, so who knows. Houston 38, Tulane 31
Utah (-4) at Southern Cal It’ll be gritty, grimy, even downright ugly. And 90% of the time, I’d say the Utes get the job done, regardless of a talent disparity. But even coming off the BYU loss, the Trojans are one of those programs where that talent trumps whatever sort of grit and grind Utah might have, even in really good years like the one Utah’s currently having (but again, heed my words at your risk, obviously). USC 35, Utah 28
Air Force (+7) at Boise State Vegas knows. This won’t be easy, but there’s now proof not to be DISRESPECTIN’ THE TROOPS after the Falcons knocked off Colorado. Murder Smurfs will be ready. Boise St 28, Air Force 17
Louisiana State (-24) at Vanderbilt Are the Commodores the best 0-2 team in America? Does it really matter? Only in the question of if they cover. LSU 42, Vandy 17
Boston College (-8.5) at Rutgers Fresh off the embarrassment of getting whooped at home by Kansas…the Golden Eagles can potentially embarrass themselves even more.
WHO HURT YOU BC, WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF Boston College 38, Rutgers 28
Tennessee (+14) at Florida Pretty good week for Dan Mullen’s alleged 2-QB system with Kyle Trask and Emory Jones to start building a rhythm, because the Vols have severely underachieved with the talent they have on offense, and a mean Gator defense will be even meaner after feeling like they got a bit bullied against Kentucky. Florida 31, Tennessee 14
California (+2.5) at Mississippi RANKED CAL, PROCEED TO THE FALLOUT SHELTERS. Shows how much Vegas trusts them that they’re still a road ‘dog against a program with serious issues. Listen to your boy: my gambling advice is bad, but don’t ever bet on the Rebels this season. Let them have all the misery to themselves. Cal 24, Ole Miss 20
Southern Mississippi (+38.5) at Alabama It’s the same question every week with the Tide: do they cover? Alabama 49, Southern Miss 10
Michigan State (-9) at Northwestern That was real embarrassing, Sparty, but I need you to pick your heads up and get back at it because, while it would appear that they’re terrible, I need to make sure that a Pat Fitzgerald team is completely beaten to death right away so that they don’t somehow stumble into winning the Big Ten West again. Help a guy out. Michigan St 28, Northwestern 17
Michigan (+3.5) at Wisconsin The Wolverines are not good on offense. The Badger defense hasn’t allowed a single point all year. Jim Harbaugh refuses to adapt or change because he’s actually not that smart a coach, but as long as he parades around in Bo Schembechler’s getup, he believes he can channel some higher power. He can’t. Even if they win this game in the typical ugly fashion, it proves nothing. The offense has to show something. Let’s bet for now that it has nothing. Wisconsin 21, Michigan 20
Central Florida (-11.5) at Pittsburgh A chance to prove yourself against another Power 5 opponent, Knights! And one that can’t do math, apparently! This is prime letdown territory, so let’s play it safe and say UCF does enough at the end. UCF 31, Pitt 17
Louisville (+6.5) at Florida State It’s a Power 5 conference game, please stop laughing at how ugly it is. Also, if you wanna know how bad it is in Tallahasee, kids are using their lemonade money to get Willie Taggart up outta here. That’s mean and probably some hack parent’s lame idea. Doesn’t mean the ‘Noles don’t stink. Louisville 31, Florida St 28
Southern Methodist (+9.5) at Texas Christian Golden Skillet means something. Ponies are off to a red-hot start led by Texas transfer QB Shane Buechele, but if Gary Patterson can find a way to slow down Rondale Moore, he should be able to scheme up enough plays for the Frogs. TCU 34, SMU 28
Appalachian State (+3) at North Carolina Not the typical bounce-back game against a smaller school. But Mack Brown’s kids keep rising to the challenge. It’s a matter of finally avoiding a slow start. Let’s say, regardless of that, that they find a way when it counts. UNC 35, App St 28
Auburn (+3.5) at Texas A&M A rather important aspect of this matchup is, for all the progress Aggie QB Kellen Mond has shown, that growth looked stunted at Clemson 2 weeks ago. The other time Mond’s struggled that much? Against this same Tiger defense. The wrecking crew up front and a couple spectacular plays by Bo Nix and Boobie Whitlow are enough when you have AUBURN JESUS, Y’ALL. Auburn 27, Texas A&M 21
Kentucky (+6.5) at Mississippi State 2 stout run games, 2 teams coming off tough home losses, 2 teams opening league play being led by fearless backup QBs. Entertainment factor actually should be pretty high, but the ‘Cats appear to have a few more weapons out wide thanks to the emergence of Ahamd Wagner Kentucky 27, Mississippi St 24
West Virginia (-4.5) at Kansas The clear-cut 2 worst teams in the Big 12 might not even be all that bad! We’ll learn more about that in the coming weeks, but let’s say for right now that Les Miles rides the momentum and pulls another rabbit out of the hat. Kansas 35, West Virginia 34
South Carolina (+9.5) at Missouri Do you trust the Tigers to cover, or even to just win the dang thing? Last year’s freak monsoon can’t take all the blame for Barry Odom, and some sloppy moments from last week against an FCS opponent have to be cleaned up. Ryan Hilinski’s no slouch for a freshman QB, but Kelly Bryant’s been spectacular so far and will make enough plays. Mizzou 38, South Carolina 28
Oregon (-10.5) at Stanford It went south so fast for the Cardinal, even after QB K.J. Costello returned last week at UCF. Speaking of QBs, there’s not going be much shame in losing a close game against Auburn at a neutral site to open the season with the way Justin Herbert’s playing right now. The Heisman, heck, maybe even the playoff, are not out of the question if the Ducks keep cruising while also getting healthier. Oregon 38, Stanford 21
Baylor (-26.5) at Rice Army, Wake Forest, Texas and now the Bears. That’s all Power 5 teams in non-conference games for the Owls with a combined one loss to Michigan.
…way to try hard, I guess? Baylor 38, Rice 7
Oklahoma State (+6) at Texas So we know the Pokes can score. But can they get enough stops, especially against a Longhorn offense that is straight flames. Sam Ehlinger hasn’t gotten a big game from his top receiver, Collin Johnson, and is still posting Heisman numbers. When they can get some more bodies behind Keaontay Ingram carrying the ball, not even a team with guys like Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace will be able to keep up with them. Still probably not going to be able to keep up Saturday night. Texas 45, Oklahoma St 35
Nebraska (-13) at Illinois Being in the clearly-worse division means a Husker team completely capable of slipping on every banana peel will have one in front of them each week. Ya sure you just don’t want to come back to the Big 12? Nebraska 38, Illinois 24
Notre Dame (+14.5) at Georgia You’re basically asking bettors to take the ‘Dawgs to win by 3 scores in order to cover. And this is supposed to be the game of the week. I’m starting to believe this isn’t actually a great week of games. Which is unlike how I’ve never believed the Irish were going to win this game and get to the playoff. Georgia 31, Notre Dame 17
Colorado (+7.5) at Arizona State Never mind, this week’s great! #Pac12AfterDark is always enhanced by suddenly handing rankings to teams that maybe don’t deserve it. “They’re 3-0 and at home” doesn’t work when plenty of Sun Devil teams have been in this exact spot in a conference opener. Colorado 31, Arizona State 28
California-Los Angeles (+18.5) at Washington State (Copious jolly laughter) Coo-oo-ougs. merrrr-y Wazzu! Wazzu 42, UCLA 14