College Football moves into Week 4 with another strong lineup of games. The picture is becoming clearer game-by-game which teams will be in contention to triumph in their respective conferences and which teams will be in the discussion for the College Football Playoff come the end of the season. In this weekly preview, we look at the most intriguing games in Week 4 of college football action:
North Carolina State Wolfpack (2-1) @ No.12 Florida State Seminoles (0-1)
Nobody knows what Florida State is. They opened the season against the best team in the nation (Alabama) in a relatively tight loss, lost their starting quarterback (Deondre Francois) in that game and then had two games cancelled courtesy of Hurricane Irma hitting the Sunshine State. There is no doubt they are extremely talented: Derwin James is the most versatile defensive player in all of college football and future Top 10 draft pick at safety, Tarvarus McFadden is a superb corner, Auden Tate a big play threat at wideout and freshman Cam Akers is going to be a superstar halfback. But there are questions, namely how Francois’ replacement James Blackman will play. Blackman is a true freshman, and while both Jameis Winston and Francois himself have succeeded in recent years as young quarterbacks under Jimbo Fisher, Blackman is a wildcard. The Noles are 11 point favourites for this game, but how the freshman plays against a tough Wolfpack defense will likely decide the game.
NC State fell to South Carolina in Week One, but have prevailed over two weaker programs in Marshall and Furman to get their season going. Their schedule from this point is stacked in a crowded ACC. A popular sleeper team in the preseason, Ryan Finley is a solid quarterback but can sometimes struggle against heightened competition and needs to play strongly to upset the Seminoles. End Bradley Chubb leads a defensive front that has four senior players capable of putting heat on a quarterback: Chubb is the best of them, but look out for super-athlete Kentavius Street who reportedly ran a 4.6 40-yard dash at a weight in excess of 280lbs. My favourite player on the team is Jaylen Samuels. Part-running back, part-receiver, part-fullback, part-tight end, Samuels does a bit of everything offensively and his potential matchup with James is mouthwatering and worth a watch.
In a somewhat bold prediction, I think the Wolfpack can pull off an upset if this game can remain within one possession game.
(US Viewers: 12pm ET Sept.23)
(British Viewers: 5PM BST Sept. 23)
No.16 TCU Horned Frogs (3-0) @ No.6 Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-0)
Oklahoma State might have the best offense in the entire NCAA. Mason Rudolph leads the Cowboys, and the senior is a prolific college quarterback with NFL size and some good traits. His arm is inconsistent and he often under throws his excellent wide receivers, but Mike Gundy’s play design is exceptional and Rudolph is able to pick apart the weaker defenses in the Big 12. Of the aforementioned wideouts, James Washington is the most special. Listed at 6-foot, Washington plays bigger and is able to go up and get the football on contested catches. He catches literally everything thrown his way and blends possession receiving skills with explosive downfield routes and is a quarterback’s best friend. If Oklahoma State continue their early season form they will romp through their schedule until ‘Bedlam’ on November 4th: the Cowboys rivalry with the Oklahoma Sooners is one of the best games every year, and could decide which of the Big 12 pair finds themselves in the College Football Playoff.
For now, however, their attention will be fixed firmly on the Horned Frogs. Kyle Hicks is a good all-around running back, equally comfortable catching the football as running in TCU’s up tempo offense, but sophomore Darius Anderson is toting the rock more often and being pretty successful in doing so. Kenny Hill is unpredictable, but at his best he can keep pace with Ok State in what should be a shootout worthy of the most chaotic of Western Movies.
Expect at least 70 points, at least 3 Rudolph passing touchdowns and an eventual Cowboys victory in Stillwater as two undefeated ranked Big 12 teams do battle in Oklahoma.
(US Viewers: 3.30pm ET Sept.23)
(British Viewers: 8.30PM BST Sept. 23)
No.8 Michigan Wolverines (3-0) @ Purdue Boilermakers (2-1)
Ordinarily a standard Big 10 battle in which the Wolverines would be heavily favoured, the Boilermakers are suddenly one of college football’s most entertaining teams. Purdue pushed Louisville close in Week One, beat a very good Ohio team handily and then crushed Missouri 35-3 last week. Behind the newfound success is Jeff Brohm, brought over from Western Kentucky to a richly deserved higher profile job. Brohm engineered the Hilltoppers into one of the Group of 5’s best teams with perhaps the best passing attack in all of college football, but has shown he is more than an Air Raid artist, dramatically improving the Purdue team in all areas into a legitimate Big Ten sleeper contender.
They will have to prove their mettle against a Michigan team with more questions than answers right now. Jim Harbaugh continues to bring in a staggering level of talent in each recruiting class but Wilton Speight is unconvincing at quarterback and their are some chemistry problems that lie unresolved. Unconvincing against Air Force last week, the Wolverines will be wanting to dispatch Purdue in strong fashion to get going this year. Their defense looks to be strong once again, and former top recruit in the nation Rashan Gary leads another outstanding defensive line that rotates heavily to keep players fresh.
Michigan *should* have enough to beat Purdue. However, if Speight struggles and Brohm’s Boilermakers get going, another upset is a rather prosperous possibility.
(US Viewers: 4pm ET Sept.23)
(British Viewers: 9PM BST Sept. 23)
No.17 Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-0) @ No.11 Georgia Bulldogs (3-0)
The Running of the Bulldogs headlines the Saturday Night lineup. Both Mississippi State and Georgia have started the season well and this should be an excellent SEC contest.
Georgia boasts a tremendous duo at running back, with seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel both legitimate NFL prospects come draft time. Michel is a more effective receiver and change-of-pace option, while Chubb has battled back from an awful knee injury (suffered during his sophomore year) to be one of the most productive running backs in NCAA history: he is on track to finish as one of the top-5 leaders in career rushing yards in SEC history. Jake Fromm may continue over a returning Jacob Eason at quarterback; both are solid signal-callers who can get the job done, but if fully healthy Eason should start. Defensively, the Bulldogs boast a brutal linebacking corps with Lorenzo Carter particularly excelling in 2017.
Miss. St. are coming off an upset victory over LSU and are beginning to pickup some national buzz as potential SEC contenders. Nick Fitzgerald is a complete quarterback: athletic, big, powerful arm and accurate enough to get scouts talking about a potential NFL future. His rushing skills are beautifully utilised by Dan Mullen who has previously developed both Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott into outstanding college quarterbacks, and he appears to be once again working his magic with the junior Fitzgerald. Martinas Rankin is one of the premier left tackles in the SEC (even though he may play center in the NFL) and their defense is fully-stocked with athletic, well-coached individuals that have evolved into a strong unit.
Both teams will look to run down the throat of their opponents however difficult it may prove, and if either proves successful they should prevail. I think Fitzgerald just gives Miss. St. the slight edge in a close encounter.
(US Viewers: 7pm ET Sept.23)
(British Viewers: 12AM BST Sept. 24)
Go LIKE us over on Facebook – Click Here!
Top Week 4 College Football Games