Games to Watch: Week 4

Week 4 is full of incredible games. Here are my games to watch this week!

This might be the most action packed week of college football to date. Tons of ranked teams matchups, even ranked teams vs solid/unbeaten unranked teams, I’ll be honest there are too many games to choose this week. I upped my “Games to Watch” from three games to four, and I’ll even included a few “honorable mentions” that didn’t quite make the cut/hype the other games have. Last week I went 3-0 in my games picks, hoping to continue that streak this week, here are my Games to Watch: Week 4:

Honorable Mentions:

Rutgers at #2 Michigan-

The return of Jim Harbaugh from his 3 game suspension and also Rutgers is 3-0. Rutgers has a shot to go 6-6 maybe even 7-5 but they won’t get one of those wins against this wolverine team Michigan wins big and Jim makes a statement.

19 Colorado at #10 Oregon-

Feels wrong having this as an honorable mention but Colorado had a tough time with Colorado State (who got blowout by a team I’ll mention earlier) needing double OT to win. Oregon is a 21 point favorite, this is the game Colorado needs to prove if they are legit, if not it’ll be a long conference play. Oregon wins.

22 UCLA at #11 Utah-

Like Colorado at Oregon, having this as an honorable mention feels wrong. The PAC-12 is stacked this year, the conference is going out in a blaze of glory. Chip Kelly finally has UCLA in a great place while Kyle Whittingham continues to prove he’s one of the PAC-12’s and college football’s best coaches. I like UCLA with an upset here though.

24 Iowa at #7 Penn State-

Penn State is a legit BIG 10 Championship contender and playoff contender, while Iowa has Brian Ferentz as its OC. This might be a ranked matchup but this is more of a tune up game for Penn State. Penn State wins by at least two scores and Drew Allar has a big game cementing himself as one of the BIG 10’s best QBs. Iowa’s offense scores less than 25 points, making it harder for Brian to keeps his job

4 Florida State at Clemson

12:00PM Kickoff on ABC (9/23)
Current Records:
Florida State: 3-0 (1-0 ACC)
Clemson: 2-1 (0-1 ACC)

This game is a make or break both Florida State and Clemson’s seasons in my eyes. The ACC is incredibly competitive this season (not the best conference in the country, that honor belongs to the PAC-12) and both the Seminoles and Tigers both have looked very beatable (Clemson knows this first hand)
Florida State escaped with a win over Boston College, 31-29. Boston College managed to score 13 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to get it to a 3 point game, even getting the ball with under 5 minutes to go they just couldn’t pull off the upset. Obviously a concern coming into this game with Clemson is the defenses collapse in the 4th against a very meh Boston College team. Boston College has 457 total yards against the Seminoles (305 passing | 152 rushing), 20 1st Downs, and held the ball for 33:50, this is well about the average Florida Sate’s defense has been allowing: 391.3 total yards (268.3 passing | 123 rushing). Offensive Florida State is still rolling behind Jordan Travis, he went 15-24 for 212 Yds and 2 TDs, besides not scoring any points in the 4th agains Boston College, Florida State has scored over 30 points in 9 straight games dating back to last season, they are 9-0 in those games. The last time the Seminoles scored under 30 points was on October 15, 2022, in a 34-28 loss, to who? You guessed it: Clemson.
Since losing to Duke in Week 1 28-7, the Tigers have finally found their offense, granted it has come against opponents like FSC Charleston Southern and FAU (though Charleston Southern kept it close the first half, before being outscored 48-0 in the second half). Last week Clemson thumped FAU, 48-14 behind Cade Klubnik’s 4 total TDs (3 passing | 1 rushing). Since losing to Duke in Week 1, Klubnik has gone 44-64 for 484 Yds and 7 TDS | 1 INT (1 rushing TD). Clemson’s offense now averages 489.3 total yards (272.7 passing | 216.7 rushing). For the Tigers to win Klubnik needs to play smart and safe football against a talented Seminole Defense, and the Tigers need Will Shipley to be the playmaker he is. Defensively the Tigers haven’t had a real test since that Duke game (and first half Charleston Southern), this Florida State team will put yards and points up that for sure.
Last weeks game against Boston College was a product of “looking ahead” for Florida State. While Clemson has improved a lot on offense I still feel they don’t have all the problems fixed (this is reflected in the fact that they are 2-1 and not ranked). Florida State will continue its streak of scoring over 30 points and continue its winning ways, while their defense will hold Clemson to under 25 points.

15 Ole Miss at #13 Alabama

3:30PM Kickoff on CBS (9/23)
Current Records:
Ole Miss: 3-0 (1-0 SEC)
Alabama: 2-1 (0-0 SEC)

I never thought I would say this with a Nick Saban coached Alabama team: Alabama honestly looks terrible this season. Ole Miss has a real chance to make a statement this game and challenge Georgia for the SEC title.
I normally start with the away team for breakdowns, but I have to start with Alabama here first. YIKES. Winning 17-3 against a USF team with a first year head coach is honestly embarrassing, even more embarrassing is the fact that USF was in the game till late in the 4th quarter, and had that not played so conservatively they could have pulled off one of the most shocking upsets in recent memory. The Crimson Tides problems all come down to the offense, it’s horrid. Nick Saban finally committed to Jalen Milroe as the starter, after starting Tyler Buchner against USF, and having Ty Simpson come in to spark some life in the offense that same game. Simpson led the Tide with just 73 passing Yds all game, granted it was pretty poor weather conditions. This is a team that returned most of its starters from last year, sans QB Bryce Young (Panthers) and Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brian (Patriots). Tommy Rees left Notre Dame and brought Tyler Buchner with him, and you know its bad when Irish fans were happen when they both left. Defensively the Tide are still solid, allowing 309.7 total Yds a game (189.7 passing | 120 rushing), week 2 against Texas though showed some glaring weaknesses in the secondary, they allowed 2 passing TDs over 30+ yards and a big 50 Yd rush.
Ole Miss is on a roll and a mission this season, that mission win the SEC. I wrote about Ole Miss in my Games to Watch: Week 2, when they played a great Tulane team, a game they won 37-20. Had Tulane QB Michael Pratt played in the game I think it would have been much closer. Ole Miss has probably the SEC’s best and most consistent offense, and its led by QB Jaxson Dart. Darth leads the team in passing 45-68 for 852 Yds and 7 TD | 1 INT, oh he is also the leading rusher for the team with 213 rushing Yds and 2 TDs. Through 3 weeks I would even say he is the best QB in the SEC, up their with South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler and LSU’s Jayden Daniels. On the defensive side of the ball, the Rebels are solid, 350.3 total yards a game (226.7 passing | 123.7 rushing) they also have 5 total turnovers ( 2 INT | 3 FUM). This is a defense I feel, that will create tons of pressure on Jalen Milroe and force him to make dangerous plays, leading to turnovers.
I know I wrote more about Alabama, but there is so much wrong with the Tide this season/through 3 games. The fact Alabama is a 7 point favorite is laughable after their last two weeks. Those problems will not be fixed this weekend, if anything Ole Miss will exploit them and win by a bigger margin than Texas did. Ole Miss wins and Alabama finds itself in a place it has never been with Nick Saban since his first year: a real chance of losing at least 4 games this season,

14 Oregon State at #21 Washington State

7:00PM Kickoff on FOX (9/23)
Current Records:
Oregon State: 3-0 (0-0 PAC-12)
Washington State: 3-0 (0-0 PAC-12)

You might be wondering, “Wil, why do you have this ranked PAC-12 game over Colorado vs Oregon, or UCLA vs Utah?”. My answer, Oregon State and Washington State are the finally two teams left the the PAC-12 starting next season, and they both are having incredible starts to their respective seasons. but me having this game as a “must watch” should tell you just how good the PAC-12 is this season (8 out of the 12 teams in the conference are ranked)
Oregon State is on a 7 game winning streak dating back to last season (last loss was to Washington, 24-21, on Nov. 4, 2022), and are led by Clemson transfer QB DJ Uiagalelei. This season DJ is showing he was not the problem with the Clemson his two years as a starter there, with the Beavers he is, 42 or 68 for 630 passing Yds and 6 TDS | 2 INT, while rusing he has only 38 Yds he has an incredible impressive 4 rushing TDs. The Beaver offense isn’t just Uiagalelei, the rushing attack in incredibly impressive, running backs Damien Martinez (351 Yds, 1 TD) and Deshaun Fenwick (152 Yds, 1 TD). This is an Oregon State team that in continuing their momentum and success from last season. Even the defense has been playing lights out through 3 games (opponents being: San Jose Sate, UC Davis, and San Diego State), allowing 260 total Yds a game (2002.3 passing | 57.7 rushing), while causing 7 total turnovers (2 INT | 5 FUM). This is a team that plays both sides of the both incredibly well.
Washington State through three weeks is an offensive juggernaut. Averaging 535 total Yds a game (397.3 passing | 138 rushing), QB Cam Ward lighting up his opponents. Ward on the season is 78 of 108 for 986 passing Yds (6th most passing Yds in FBS) and 9 TDS no INTS. He is also the teams leading rusher with 95 rushing Yds and 2 TDs, though he is tied for the lead with running back Dylan Paine, who also has 95 rushing Yds and 1 TD. This is a Washington State team that is embracing the “air raid” system is use to run while Mike Leach was the head coach, current head coach Jacob Dickert is playing into the strengths of his team big time. Dickert entering his second full-time season has head coach (interm head coach for 6 games in 2020), as a defensive minded head coach he has his team allowing 363.7 total Yds a game (268.3 passing | 95.3 rushing), with 5 turnovers (2 INT | 3 FUM). I also want to point out this Washington State teams has two big wins under their belts: week 1 they beat Colorado State 50-24, the same team that took Colorado to 2OT this past weekend, and in week 2 they upset then #19 Wisconsin at home.
This will be a fun high scoring game that I believe will go down to the wire. This game is a toss up for me, I can see either team winning, but my gut says Oregon State pulls out the win. That win will be by one score though, something along the lines of: 45-42 or 38-35.

6 Ohio State at #9 Notre Dame

7:30PM Kickoff on NBC (9/23)
Current Records:
Ohio State: 3-0 (0-0 BIG 10)
Notre Dame: 3-0

My “Game of the Week”, a Top 10 match-up between two teams that high National Title hopes, and its a rematch from last seasons opener (Ohio State won, 21-10). The big difference between this season’s match-up and last season is QB play and stability— it has flipped from both teams, Notre Dame has Sam Hartman, while Ohio State took till week 3 to name their starter: Kyle McCord.
Ohio State is in a weird funk I feel this season, don’t let the fact they are 3-0 and ranked #6 fool you. Like I said in the intro it took all of spring, summer, fall camp, and 2 games to name Kyle McCord the starter over Devin Brown. This is an Ohio Sate team that has surpassingly struggled offensively in the first two weeks: 23-3 win over Indiana, 35-7 win over FCS Youngstown State. The Youngstown State score is a little worrying due to the fact they score a whole 7 points in the second half. Last weekend though the they won big over Western Kentucky, 63-10, using all the offensive playmakers that the Buckeye’s always seem to have. The stress of having to fight for the starting job is finally gone, McCord can just play ball, he went 19-23 for 318 Yds and 3 TDs, hitting college football’s best WR and best player Marvin Harrison Junior for 126 Yds and 1 TD, and Emeka Egbuka for 2 TD passes as well. Defensively the Buckeyes under second year DC Jim Knowles, looks much improved through three weeks, allowing 223.7 total Yds a game (140.3 passing | 83.3 rushing), and 7 turnovers (3 INT | 4 FUM). Boy, I bet Notre Dame is thrilled to have Sam Hartman as QB. Through 4 games Same Hartman is 64 of 90 for 1,061 Yds (5th most in FBS) and 13 TDs | no NT. Notre Dame finally has the QB they have been looking for to push them over the edge into National Title contenders. It’s not just Hartman making huge plays on offense, in my “Games to Watch: Week 0”, I pointed out that running back Audric Estime is going to have a big season, he’s killing it so far— 63 carries for 521 Yds and 5 TDs. Hartman also has five skill players over 100+ receiving (4 WRs and 1 TE), Chris Tyree leading the way with an impressive stat line: 8 catches for 216 Yds and 2 TDs. The teams TD receiving leader is TE Holden Staes with 4 TDs. This is a Fighting Irish team that has a scary good offense. Their defense is also equally as strong, 234.3 total Yds a game allowed (126.8 passing | 107.5 rushing) and an outstanding 12 turnovers (5 INT | 7 FUM). This is a defense that is looking to make big plays and take advantage of a young QB who will probably be put into positions where he is playing “hero ball”.
The decision to finally commit to Kyle McCord so late into the season I feel hurts Ohio State. Yes, they have the best wide receiver room in the country and the best player in the country (Marvin Harrison Jr.), but this game might be too much for McCord. I have Notre Dame avenging their 2022 loss to the Buckeyes, winning by at least 2 scores. This game is a sign of how long of season it will be for the Buckeyes (I can see them losing 3 or 4 games), while Notre Dame cements itself as real National Title contender.

-Wil Weddington (@Wil_Weddington)