CFB Week 4
College Football TV-Watching Guide – Week 4
This is it. When the schedule was coming together over the last few months all we could do is hope that these matchups would deliver on the promise of an all time Saturday. Here we are staring in the face of SIX ranked matchups, along with the first of potentially two games of ACC championship favorites. Let’s get into it.
12:00 PM: #4 Florida State Seminoles @ Clemson Tigers (+2) – ABC
This is, was, and will be the game of the year in the ACC until further notice. The two teams were nearly identical favorites to win the conference in the preseason, but the first three weeks have created two opposite narratives for the programs this season.
Clemson is still in season-recovery mode after its opening loss at Duke, and a win at home can put the Tigers back on the right track. The ‘Noles won the most anticipated game of Week 1 against LSU, flexing its muscle and announcing themselves as a team that belongs in the elite conversation despite nearly blowing what looked like an easy win at Boston College last time out.
The Tigers rolled past Florida Atlantic in a much needed palette-cleanser for the fan base and offense last Saturday, and desperation is on the side of Clemson this week. FSU has so much talent across the offense, I think the Clemson defensive front will have a tough time covering all the Seminoles’ weapons and getting Jordan Travis uncomfortable in the pocket.
This will also be Cade Klubnik’s biggest game of his career so far, and he will be tasked with keeping up with the Florida State offense all night. One day I believe he will be able to lead the Tigers into a big game and slice through an opposing defense to a massive win, but at this point in his career I don’t have a reason to believe that day will be Saturday.
3:30 PM: #19 Colorado Buffaloes @ #10 Oregon Ducks (-21) – ABC
The Travelin’ Deion Sanders College Football Show rolls into Eugene on Saturday for the first marquee game of the Buffs’ season. It’s going to be the first of two straight games for Colorado to answer the question the nation has for this roster. How good is this team really?
Not to take anything away from the Buffs’ first three games, they went on the road to beat a TCU team that has looked very good since that contest as well as came from behind to win a rivalry game in double-overtime against Colorado State. However, in each game so far Colorado’s opponents have done just as much to give the game away as Colorado itself did to win it.
Bo Nix and Oregon should be the team that has the rightful bulletin board material from the lack of attention the Ducks have received from flying under the radar of Deion Sanders’ storm cloud. The Oregon offense also won’t have to face Travis Hunter who will miss multiple games after an injury sustained last Saturday, making it easier for Nix to dice the Buffaloes through the air.
Oregon will have the overall talent advantage, especially along the lines of scrimmage, as well as the depth to knock Colorado back down to earth. The number Vegas is giving this game should tell you all you need to know. Ducks big.
7:00 PM: #6 Ohio State Buckeyes @ #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+3) – NBC
I’m already starting to hear the typical Notre Dame schedule narrative bubble up again, that they don’t play anyone and shouldn’t be taken seriously as a legit playoff contender. Before the season began, the Irish clocked in at the 18th hardest schedule in the country, ahead of ‘legit playoff contenders’ Texas, Texas A&M, Alabama, Clemson, Washington, LSU, and Georgia. So let’s take that opinion and save it for a year where it actually applies.
QB Sam Hartman has been a revelation for this Irish offense, and it seems like head coach Marcus Freeman is starting to have everything click for him in his second year on the job. The team is averaging 46 points per game in its undefeated start to 2023, but this will be the first offense Notre Dame faces that should be able to stand toe-to-toe with its explosiveness.
As for Ohio State, over the last few years the issue hasn’t been on the offensive side of the ball. The Buckeyes defense is the unit that has cost the team time and time again in big games late in seasons. In 2023, OSU has only allowed two touchdowns in three games (granted the opposition hasn’t been as great between Indiana, Youngstown State, and Western Kentucky).
Kyle McCord will have a great opportunity to prove the doubters wrong in South Bend. After slow starts to the season and fans calling for the back up QB to replace him, a strong performance over a top-10 opponent should solidify his starting spot going forward.
Notre Dame feels like the team that’s going into the matchup with a little more confidence given its stability at quarterback. The Irish (or anybody for that matter) may not be able to stay with Ohio State’s stable of elite receivers, but Notre Dame should feel like they can pressure McCord just enough to knock him off his game. I’ll take the Irish here to win at home and jump into the top 5 of the rankings.
12:00 PM: #16 Oklahoma Sooners @ Cincinnati Bearcats (+14.5) – FOX
- Don’t look now, but after last year’s abject disaster of a season the Sooners are 3-0. Second-year quarterback Dillon Gabriel is completing passes at an 83% rate, much improved from his 62.7% mark a season ago. Cincinnati fell in a typical trap game spot last week against Miami (OH), but have had no issue in the run game averaging over 47 attempts per game at nearly 240 yards as a team. Oklahoma’s first road game of the season might have some shaky moments early, but I trust the Sooners to see it out, letting fans look ahead to another potential monster game against Texas in two weeks.
3:30 PM: #22 UCLA Bruins @ #11 Utah Utes (-4.5) – FOX
- Go with me here, but I’m going to try and compare Utah to Kieran Culkin. I know, pretty nonsensical. Kieran/Utah isn’t the member of the family/conference we all knew and loved for decades, that would be Macaulay/USC/2023 Colorado. Macaulay dominated the space, rising to child-star status in the 90s and rightfully so. But lately, Kieran has been the brother who has soared with award-winning performances in one of TV’s best dramas and having to come out of his brother’s shadow. Make sense? Probably not. But Utah is just fine trucking along with its two-straight conference titles and flying under the radar out west.
7:00 PM: #3 Texas Longhorns @ Baylor Bears (+15) – ABC
- Alright Texas, here you are. You went on the road and took down Alabama, just as a team that is claiming to be elite should do. You struggled against Wyoming a week later, but pulled away late and a win is a win right? Besides, so many top teams struggled last Saturday! Don’t Texas (used as a verb) this game Texas (used as a noun). Previous Texas teams with far less hype and attention would go to Baylor and inexplicably fail to show up and have seasons derailed. Take care of business, and don’t Texas yourself.
THE ‘GET MORE SCREENS’ GAMES OF THE WEEK
3:30 PM: #15 Ole Miss Rebels @ #13 Alabama Crimson Tide (-7) – CBS
- The Alabama QB carousel continues to turn, as Nick Saban will hand the reins back over to Jalen Milroe for a key home game against Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss team. The Rebels are still looking to get star running back Quinshon Judkins back to full health, as he has averaged just about 14 carries per game after hauling it for over 21 times a game last year. The blueprint for beating Alabama is out there, pressure the QB often and force the Tide’s skill position players to try and be stars. I think Alabama’s slide continues and Lane Kiffin gets another one over his old boss.
7:00 PM: #14 Oregon State Beavers @ #21 Washington State Cougars (+3) – FOX
- The only remaining members of the 2024 Pac-12 (Pac-2?) square off in a matchup of two more talented west coast teams hovering below the Colorado hype. DJ Uiagalelei is off to a fantastic start as a Beaver, averaging over 9 yards per pass attempt. The main issue has been the pass defense for Oregon State, which is something the Cougars have excelled at in 2023. Expect a ton of points in this one.
7:30 PM: #24 Iowa Hawkeyes @ #7 Penn State Nittany Lions (-14.5) – CBS
- Penn State gets its first ranked opponent of the season in Happy Valley on Saturday night. The Nittany Lions struggled early with drops and tackling against Illinois, but Manny Diaz’s vaunted defense was able to intercept Luke Altmyer four times to pull away in the end. Expect a defensive rock fight here, with Iowa’s unit looking to put more pressure on PSU’s young QB Drew Allar than he has faced in any game this year. In the end, I think Penn State has too many offensive weapons to spread out the damage and move to 4-0.