Week 3 is in the books, and we were shown a brand new star in the making, an FCS team continue to beat up the big boys, the top dog escape its kryptonite, and other top teams gain some footing. Now we roll into week 4, and we have some juicy conference match-ups in line that can set the tone for the season. Here are my Top 5 games to watch in Week 4 of the college football season:
1. No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 8 Michigan State
A great Big Ten battle starts off the Saturday action between two teams who have largely exceeded expectations so far this year. Wisconsin had far from its best performance last week against Georgia State in a six-point victory, but it still has to be ecstatic about its spot in the rankings after beginning the year outside of the top 25.
The Spartans, on the other hand, ride a lot of momentum back home into East Lansing after knocking off Notre Dame in primetime. This should be a good defensive battle, and though the teams are in separate divisions in the Big Ten, it could have a lot of conference championship game ramifications down the line due to the anticipated tightness of the conference. One thing to monitor is who gets the starting job at quarterback for the Badgers. Bart Houston got off to a good start to the year but struggled mightily against Georgia State, leaving freshman Alex Hornibrook to take over. That switch had good results, and it could carry over into Saturday’s contest.
2. No. 17 Arkansas at No. 10 Texas A&M
Arkansas began the season unranked, but a big upset win over TCU sandwiched in between victories over Louisiana Tech and Texas State have people wondering just how good Bret Bielema’s squad truly is. That question will become a lot clearer in this one as the Razorbacks get a very tough assignment in the road against the Aggies.
Texas A&M has looked like a legitimate Playoff contender early in the season with several playmakers on defense and a good quarterback in Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight. Now, it starts digging into the meat of its SEC schedule with this one. This game should stand as a measuring-stick contest for each of these teams.
The sample sizes are simply too small this early in the season to make any final judgments, but both teams are looking good though only one will wake up Sunday morning undefeated and at the top of the SEC West. And, if it is as good as last year’s overtime matchup, it should be a very fun contest.
3. No. 12 Georgia at No. 23 Ole Miss
At the same time, two SEC opponents looking to rise from the middle of the pack to the top will also square off. It’s been a tough start to the year for Ole Miss, a very good team having to endure a brutal schedule. Its two losses came against the current No. 1, Alabama, and a team that was ranked as high as No. 2 previously in Florida State. Now it might be make or break time, as the Rebels get a chance for a quality win to save its season.
Georgia’s passing defense has been so-so in the early going, so it might be an opportunity for Chad Kelly to break out. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are looking to get out of a rut since their impressive opening win against North Carolina. They won each of their last two games, but those were by a combined three points against Nicholls and Missouri. The win over Missouri took a last-second touchdown to avoid the upset. hese are both good teams, but Ole Miss is playing better than its record indicates, while Georgia has been worse. Something’s got to give in this clash, and we should learn a lot about how good each truly is.
4. No. 7 Stanford at UCLA
The Cardinal has to be on upset watch here on the road against a UCLA team that has been playing some good football. The Bruins’ only loss was by just a touchdown in Texas A&M to open the season. That was then followed up with wins over UNLV and BYU. Last year’s edition of this game was not close, with Stanford taking care of business on its home field 56-35. But with the site shifting to Los Angeles and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen pulling off a couple of very strong performances in the last two games, this is an intriguing possibility for the most memorable game of the weekend.
5. No. 19 Florida at No. 14 Tennessee
Is this the SEC East championship game? At the very least, it’ll go a long way to determining the division champ. The Vols are better. They’re more talented, they’ve got the experience, and they’re at home in one of the program’s biggest games in a long, long time. However, the team was more talented, experienced and were at home against Appalachian State, too, but it was one right bounce away from losing.
Outside of a Virginia Tech turnover-fest in the second half, the Vols haven’t played anywhere near the level they’re supposed to over the first three games with an offense that doesn’t seem in sync and with way too many empty drives. The Gators have won 11 straight since then finding various ways to make Volunteer fans feel sad including wins by a grand total of two points over the last two years. You never, ever, ever, ever, ever mess with a streak.