Photo Source: USA Today

Week 4 College Football Marquee Matchups

We hit 4 of 5 last week. Let’s see how we do with our Week 4 College Football Marquee Matchups:

#22 Texas A&M at #1 Alabama – 12:30pm ET
Line: Alabama -26

There’s a new sheriff in town at College Station, and he goes by the name Jimbo Fisher. Through Fisher’s short tenure at Texas A&M so far this season his impact on the culture of the program has been significant. The Aggies only loss came against #3 Clemson on opening night where the Aggies lost on a failed 2-point conversion attempt to seal the game for the Tigers. Jimbo hasn’t necessarily inherited the easiest schedule to start his new job as his Aggies will head on the road this week to face the #1 team in the nation, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Bama under new starting QB Tua Tagovailoa has been annihilating every opponent they’ve encountered so far this season, outscoring their opponents 170-28 through the first three weeks of the season. If Texas A&M wants to keep this game close on the road, they need to do what they do best, and that controls the clock. The Aggies are 6th in the nation for an average time of possession this season, possessing the ball for 36:36 per game so far. Jimbo Fisher is still pursuing his first significant victory as the head of the snake at the program with the nicest facilities in college football, and this week will not be the week he gets it done. While the Tide will win the game, they will not cover the spread. Since joining the SEC, the Tide have beaten the Aggies in five of their six meetings against each other. Their lone defeat coming to a Heisman winning Johnny Football led Texas A&M squad. Nick Saban and Crimson Tide have struggled against the spread when facing a team that controls the ball for more than 32:00, with a record of just 8 wins and 14 losses. A&M averages well over that mark, and will keep the game closer than many may expect, and definitely cover the 26-pt spread.

Prediction – Bama 45-33 Texas A&M

#17 TCU at Texas – 4:30pm ET
Line: TCU -3

Texas leads the all-time head-to-head series against TCU 62-25. However, TCU has won four consecutive matchups as the Longhorns have been in rebuilding mode. Behind true Sophomore quarterback, Sam Ehlinger and second-year head coach Tom Herman, the Longhorns program finally looks to have some life again. The Longhorns are fresh off a blowout victory against a ranked opponent in USC. Meanwhile, the Horn Frogs are fresh off a defeat against #3 Ohio State. The Longhorns are great defending against the run, while they struggle to defend the ball through the air. USC’s QB JT Daniels completed 63% of his passes against the Longhorns this past weekend. If TCU stand-out QB Shawn Robinson can find his accuracy early on in the game, it could be a long night for the Texas secondary. TCU is always explosive in the passing game, and possess multiple speedsters out on the edge that can break for a big play at any moment. While blowing out USC always looks great on paper, the victory isn’t as impressive as it has been perceived. The Trojans offense isn’t very good and is led by a true Freshman at QB. The TCU offense will be the most electrifying unit the Longhorns have seen so far this season. The Longhorns will feed off their crowd and playmaking ability of their star quarterback for the early part of the game. However, once TCU settles down, they’re offense will be too much for Texas to contain. TCU will win and cover the 3-point spread.

Prediction: TCU 31-27 Texas

#7 Stanford at Oregon – 8:00pm ET
Line: Stanford -1.5

This matchup may ultimately decide who wins the Pac-12 North division. While the winner will still have to play Washington, this game will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in either team’s opportunity to win the conference and advance to the College Football Playoffs. Since Stanford head coach David Shaw has taken over coaching duties, the Cardinals are 4-2 against Oregon. That includes wins in the past two meetings, in which the Cardinals won by a combined 67 points. The matchup will host two completely different styles of offensive strategies. The Cardinals are going to run a pro-style offense, looking to pound the ball early and often with their preseason Heisman front-running RB Bryce Love. While the Ducks are going to look to spread the field and air it out with their bona fide superstar quarterback Justin Herbert. Herbert is going to need to be accurate, and able to throw into tight windows all throughout the game for the Ducks to have a chance. The Stanford Cardinals defense has been the best in the country thus far this season, allowing only 7.7points per game. The big question mark this game will be the health of running back Bryce Love. Love has been banged up all season and had to miss last weeks game with a knee injury. If Love can’t produce as he is expected too, then Oregon could take advantage and win this game, but if Love is anywhere near himself, then the Cardinals should be able to contain Herbert enough to steal a win in a hostile environment. Oregon’s defense gives up far too many big plays, and Love is the type of playmaker who can capitalize on any open field he may be given. The Cardinals will win this game and cover the spread.

Prediction: Stan 27-17 Oregon

#18 Wisconsin at Iowa – 8:30 pm ET
Line: Wis -3

BYU could have possibly just awoken the bear. Wisconsin was terrible offensively last week against the Cougars. The offensive line couldn’t control the point of attack, the passing game was extremely pedestrian, and the defense couldn’t come up with any key stops, yet the game still came down to a field goal late to decide the outcome. Head Coach Paul Chryst’s business-like approach has been successful, and now the players have received the spark they need to kick things into gear. The Badgers offensive line is NFL good, and running back Jonathan Taylor is a deadly Heisman candidate caliber talent. Expect the Badgers to get back to the formula that has made them successful the last decade, and that’s to pound the ball on the ground. On the flip side, the formula that the BYU Cougars used to take down Wisconsin this past week, could be the exact reason that the Hawkeyes have a shot at winning this game. Iowa matches up well on the offensive and defensive line, which should allow them to compete for the entire game without wearing down. They possess a savvy veteran QB in Nate Stanley who won’t be the difference maker, but he’ll protect the ball well, and avoid the mistakes that could cost them the Hawkeyes the game. Iowa has one of the nation’s best pass-rush, which already has 12 sacks on the season for the nations second-ranked defense. Wisconsin is fresh off a tough loss and will show up to Saturday’s showdown with a chip on their shoulder. Iowa will be ready to go blow for blow and have the home crowd to use to their advantage. Expect this one to be a grind it out affair that won’t be decided until late in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Wisconsin 26-20 Iowa

Arizona State at #10 Washington – 10:30pm ET
Line: Wash -17

Arizona State spoiled the Washington Huskies bid for a College Football Playoff selection last season with their 13-7 upset victory in Tempe. This go around the Sun Devils will have to travel on the road to a hostile environment awaiting in Seattle, Washington. The Huskies have zero margin for error after their opening day loss to the Auburn Tigers from here on out through the rest of the season if they want to be considered for a spot in the playoffs. The Sun Devils, led by new head coach Herm Edwards led the nation through the first two weeks of the season in defense against the run. Last week in a loss to San Diego State they didn’t play with the same edge defensively, giving up far too many big plays. If ASU expects to have any shot at winning this game on the road, their front seven will have to play like they did the first two weeks of the season to contain Washington running back Myles Gaskin. The Sun Devils will rely heavily on quarterback Manny Wilkins, who attempted 48 and 46 passes in the past two games. Washington possesses an ultra talented secondary, and for ASU to be successful throwing against them, they’ll need to get big plays from their superstar receiver N’Keal Harry, whose fifth place in school history for career receptions. ASU has won 11 of the past 12 meetings, but don’t expect more of the same this season. Washington should handle this up and down Arizona State defense and contain their one-dimensional offense. Expect the Huskies to cover the spread.

Prediction: Wash 34-13 ASU

Florida at Tennessee – 7:00pm ET
Line: Florida -4.5

While both teams seem to be in program rebuild mode, one of the greatest rivalries in college football is still must-see-tv. Florida and Tennessee have a new sheriff in town, as Florida has seen their program taken over by former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, Tennessee has handed the reigns to former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. The Vols have had glaring issues with getting pressure on their opponents’ quarterback thus far this season. Something they must find a way to create this Saturday. The Gators by no means have anything close to a consistent passing attack. Sophomore quarterback Felipe Franks is completing less than 50% of his passes on the season. Since the Tim Tebow era, the Florida Gators have struggled to find consistency at the quarterback position, and have had to rely solely on defense in recent years. The only problem with that, the Gators defense hasn’t been its usual self throughout the early portion of the season. The Gators are getting pummeled on the ground. The Kentucky Wildcats went on the road to Gainesville and put up 303 rushing yards against this Florida defense. The lone bright spot of the Vols offense thus far has been Sophomore running back Ty Chandler, who put up 158 yards last week on 12 carries should be a huge part of the Volunteers game plan. If he can be effective, and they can get a pass rush on Gators QB Franks, the Vols should win this game at home.

Prediction: Vols 24-20 Gators

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