4-Down Territory: From Nooners to Primetime--Contenders & Pretenders Start to Be Revealed in Week 4


First Down: Nooners: Maryland at (4) Michigan 12:00 FOX: Is Maryland for real at 3-0? Then again based on Michigan’s opening slate one could ask the same thing of them. Michigan’s offense has shown good balance and this is J.J. McCarthy’s show at Quarterback. Maryland is far better than the teams Michigan has faced so far and they have some real talent on offense. Maryland is riding a 5-game winning streak dating back to last year. The last team to beat them? Michigan……..Kent State at (1) Georgia 12:00 ESPN: Georgia finally gave up their first TD of the year with their substitutes in late in the 4th quarter at South Carolina. The UGA subs should be in early again. As good as the Dawgs’ defense has been, they have been lethally creative on offense.…..(5) Clemson at (21) Wake Forest 12:00 ABC: Clemson’s hold on the ACC Atlantic Division was cracked by Wake Forest last year. Wake QB Sam Hartman gives Wake a chance in this one as he will likely be the best QB on the field. But as a unit the Tigers’ defense may be the difference in this matchup……Central Michigan at (14) Penn State 12:00 BTN: Central Michigan’s offense likes to throw the ball and has a very good running back, but they will be facing a multiple front/blitz scheme with a talented secondary. And when Penn State has the ball they should be able to move the ball on the ground and through the air.……Rhode Island at (24) Pitt: With a freshman QB Nate Yarnell that started the season at 4th string, Pitt put together a run-first gameplan that got the win last weekend. Yarnell was efficient hitting 9 of his 12 passes. Against FCS opponent Rhode Island the Panthers should able to rely on the ground game again this week.


Second Down: Big Day Games: Duke at Kansas Noon FS1: A game in Lawrence between Duke and Kansas is a big deal….but in September? Kansas got people’s attention with an OT win at WVU and followed it up with a win at Houston. Duke’s big win was at Northwestern. Both teams are riding their offenses to their undefeated starts. Expect a lot of scoring. In November 2019 Duke beat Kansas 68-66 on the hardwood, that should give both offenses something to shoot for on the gridiron…….(20) Florida at (11) Tennessee 3:30 CBS: Can either of these teams realistically challenge Georgia in SEC East? That is a question for another day. This game matters again for the first time in a while. Tennessee has settled in on QB and they’ve done a great job avoiding turnovers. Florida’s QB has been more generous. The Gators will need to find a more consistent pass game and avoid the big turnovers to win this one……(22) Texas at Texas Tech 3:30 ESPN: The Longhorns need to start fast and play a full 60 minutes this week—something that eluded them against UTSA last week. The Longhorns let RB Bijan Robinson lead the way and one suspects they are just fine with that……Notre Dame at UNC 3:30 ABC: Despite the 1-2 start, the Irish defense has been strong. They will need to lean on the defense once again……James Madison at Appalachian State 3:30 ESPN+: No one has been more entertaining this season that App State. JMU is in their first year as an FBS school and what better way to make a Sun Belt statement than to upset the favorites?


Third Down: Primetime Part 1: Iowa at Rutgers 7:00 FS1: Rutgers is 3-0 behind a stout defense and a power run game. Points should come at a premium as Iowa’s offense has struggled. This is a big game for Rutgers, a primetime win over Iowa would serve notice that they have taken an important step forward……Vanderbilt at (2) Alabama 7:00 SEC Network: Alabama is playing defense the way Saban likes defense to be played. Will Anderson may be the best defensive player in the country and this week Saban called his energy “infectious.” Unless Vandy can quarantine him from the rest of the players on the field this will be a long night for Vandy…..(10) Arkansas vs (23) Texas A&M 7:00 ESPN: Another week, another ranked opponent for A&M....this time at the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium. Starting with Miami last week, the Aggies face a run of 5 ranked teams in 7 weeks. The defense continues to play well, but the Arkansas run game will be a big challenge, especially with the elusive QB the Hogs bring to the game. On offense the run game continues to be a problem. The razorbacks’ stout run defense does not look like the easy antidote to cure those ills.


Fourth Down: Primetime Part 2: Wisconsin at (3) Ohio State 7:30 ABC: Wisconsin’s defense is strong once again and they will face their biggest test against the Buckeyes. WR Marvin Harrison is a size and speed match-up nightmare who is emerging as a star. On offense Wisconsin will face a new and improved Buckeye defense. The scheme is more variable and complex than the past few years and that has allowed the athletes to play fast. But Wisconsin hopes to neutralize that by leaning on a mix of run and play-action to hold the ball and wear down that defense……..(7) USC at Oregon State 9:30 Pac 12 Network: The confidence for the Men of Troy remains high. The questions for USC are largely on the defensive side of the ball. Look for Oregon State to be aggressive on offense to keep that unit off balance. This game could be a tricky one for USC. If the Beavers can steal a possession or two with turnovers they could make this a long night for ‘SC…….Stanford at (18) Washington 10:30 FS1: QB Michael Penix got it done for UW last week against Michigan State. This is one of those infamous Pac 12 trap games, just when it looks like a PAC 12 team has playoff momentum, they stub their toes. Stanford is good enough on offense to move the ball. But they will need to get TDs in the red zone to pull this one out. For UW they will need to have their heads on straight after a big win.


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