While here at LFHS we are celebrating Homecoming week, most college football programs have got a few weeks before they enjoy their own Hoco festivities. As for now, most teams are breaking into their conference schedule. The CFB season really gets rolling on Saturday, with some barnburners-of-matchups available to enjoy.
About Last Week…
Generally speaking week three saw some unusual play and even some upsets. As I said last week, I would be amazed if my picks were as successful as that first go round. This rung true in week three as I was 10-6 (62.5%), and a depressing 2-2 in the previewed games. It was a wild Saturday, considering Wisconsin, Auburn, USC, and Nebraska’s unexpected demises among many others.
Although the Rutgers/Kansas picked score was humorous, my more broader predictions that were central to that game weren’t even close to reality (very sad day for the bottom of the Big Ten).
Overall, those scores didn’t come to fruition at all, except for OSU/TSU, which carried out exactly the way I said it would as far as momentum and scoring. Overall picks record and win percentage this season is now 26-9 (74.3%).
That concludes coverage of Week 3. Time to proceed to the preview of Week 4. Let’s do this!
Noon Game of The Week:
#8 Notre Dame @ Wake [Not Lake] Forest
When: 11:00 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? Nope.
Where: BB&T Field (Winston-Salem, NC)
Series History: ND 48-37 in 2017 (ND leads 3-0 all-time)
After waking up early after an excited yet tiring night of Scouts football, and College GameDay getting you primed for the day, we start our slate with Notre Dame’s first road trip after a long home stretch to open the season. This should have resulted as comfortable as it sounded and sadly, it mostly wasn’t. The Irish picked up a big convincing win in the renewal of their rivalry against the Michigan Wolverines to open the season, in one of the most hyped games all year. While this positive look received national attention, troubles flickered onto the radar in a surprisingly close not-loss over Ball State (!) and a narrow win over SEC-bottom feeder in Vanderbilt.
Notre Dame presents a powerful defense that can shred opponents, and a quality running game. The main factor in their season fluctuation thus far has been redshirt junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush is very Denard-Robinson-like (fantastic athlete, less fantastic quarterback) with slightly less explosiveness and much less speed. The man continuously scares defenses on broken plays to score big, and leaves Notre Dame fans with fear every time he throws the ball.
The Demon Deacons of Wake Forest meanwhile, have suffered the only loss between these two teams. That was a close offensive shootout against a decent conference foe in Boston College. Wake Forest boasts a fast offense that can mess with almost any defense led by a solid running game. ND coach Brian Kelly has recognized this as a major concern going into this game.
Considering the cancelling out of powerful defense and speedy offense when Wake Forest has the ball, this game will almost entirely depend on the Demon Deacons’ defensive backfield, more specifically the amount of opportunity given to Brandon Wimbush. If Wake Forest can block even a decent amount of passes, they will be quick to shut down ND’s passing game entirely. They also have to worry about covering and being safe for those first defensive waves Wimbush escapes, not to suffer an exceeding amount of yards per carry from him. I really believe that Wake Forest can make this happen, but some early turnovers for the Wake Forest offense will pull the crowd out of it and give just barely enough breathing room for the Irish. This will be one of those rare ugly wins that will send Notre Dame to a lower AP ranking for the week, though (I know, it’s hard to expect an unfavorable look for ND in the AP poll).
Notre Dame Wins, 34-28
Other Noon Games of Note:
Nebraska @ #19 Michigan (FS1) (Per TFS NFL Previewer Michael Raupp’s Unbiased Pick)
#23 Boston College @ Purdue (ESPN2)
Afternoon Game of The Week:
#22 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama
When: 2:30 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? Yes. 50% and peaking around kickoff. No storms.
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Series History: Bama 27-19 in 2017 (Bama leads 8-2 all-time)
This game’s legacy has been carried by some unexpectedly close results to start it’s modern era (when Texas A&M joined the SEC), trademarked by a Johnny Manziel upset over the Crimson Tide in 2012. That has slipped away over time though, as last year Alabama increased their win streak in the series to five.
Yeah, and about Alabama…There is really little to say. Bama is currently Bama. Tua Tagovailoa is an unreal true sophomore quarterback leading a machine of a team. With Nick Saban’s dynasty that is solidifying his position as a generational legend, his program is the one exception to the “every team has position gaps” rule. They just don’t happen at this five-star-recruiting conveyor belt. It’s just the way it is, and now it’s probably the most dominant we’ve seen since AJ McCarron was under center in the early 2010s. They’re coming off of a 170-28 2018 total score to enter their first real test in this conference opener. It’s cliché, but this tide truly does seem to be unstoppable
The thing is, if there is any team that has something to say about Bama around this time of year, it’s A&M. The Aggies have gone undefeated besides a close loss against a phenomenal Clemson team (in which a lot of moral wins can be extracted). This team made their message on a national stage, that they can make big plays and get their shot at glorious victory. Credit can be given to Jimbo Fisher for rebuilding this team at a rapid pace, and Kellen Mond for establishing a solid offense.
I think that the underlying home-field advantage role that has been had on A&M’s performance in the big one thus far this year is one that should be appreciated. The Aggies have to head into Tuscaloosa for the win. Although some early scores by the offense will put some hope in the hearts of CFB fans, by the end of the third quarter, this game will be far less engaging. I wish I could get people excited for a big surprise Saturday afternoon, but Bama’s performance thus far this year prohibits me from another option. At least you won’t be distracted from dance festivities later in the afternoon?
Alabama Wins, 42-17
Other Afternoon Games of Note:
#3 Clemson @ Georgia Tech (ABC)
Kansas State @ #12 West Virginia (ESPN)
Night Game of The Week:
#18 Wisconsin @ Iowa
When: 7:30 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? No.
Where: Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, IA)
Series History: Wisconsin 38-14 in 2017 (Wisky leads 46-2-43 all-time)
I know, I know, all of the attention lies in Eugene for Stanford/Oregon, but this is just an all-too familiar setup to fly under the radar and deliver a Big Ten Classic. The setup is just all too familiar.
Wisconsin brings in another team of a huge offensive line, underrated shifty running backs, and cornerbacks in hoodies. Although Wisconsin has carried some high expectations into 2018, they suffered a loss at home to BYU that has brought some scars to the Badgers’ fate this season. Despite that result, they head into Iowa City as the heavy favorite…which is exactly the problem.
Warning: as said in the essentials, this game will be played under the lights at Kinnick Stadium. This place has been known for delivering unexpected upsets year in year out, as the fans of the Hawkeyes make it loud and intimate. Is it the pink visitor’s locker room? Maybe. Is it Iowa blowing away expectations and stepping up fearlessly to the favored opponent? Probably. Between beating an undefeated Michigan team in 2016 to stunning an Ohio State team 55-24 (!) in 2017, the Hawkeyes are unafraid to make the unexpected expected, especially at Kinnick at night.
This game will be a classic Big Ten Football game, with low scores, strong running, and an exciting ending. I believe Iowa will come out at 100%, and start things off in their favor, but Wisconsin will make the upset difficult by the end of the game.
This will be something to keep your eye on just in case something happens, and you may want to catch the fourth quarter. Otherwise, dance on. Iowa will receive at least some votes for the AP poll after this one. As for Wisconsin, their Big Ten Championship goals will remain entirely ahead of them, and they won’t be entirely eliminated from the playoff picture just yet, just escaping Kinnick with a close victory.
Wisconsin Wins, 32-31
Other Night Games of Note:
Florida @ Tennessee (ESPN)
#24 Michigan State @ Indiana (BTN)
#7 Stanford @ #20 Oregon (ABC)
Late Game of The Week:
Arizona State @ #10 Washington
When: 9:30 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? Nope, but it’s Seattle so maybe.
Where: Husky Stadium (Seattle, WA)
Series History: ASU 13-7 in 2017 (ASU leads 20-16 all-time)
PAC 12 After Dark presents the winner of last week’s featured matchup vs. the winner of week two’s featured matchup. It’s like a tournament! (I know, my apologies for lack of team diversity down here but there is a not a lot of options for this section).
The Huskies come off of an encouraging victory from the likes of Utah to come home and take on Herm Edwards’ Arizona State team which continues to make noise. The Sun Devils have had a vastly encouraging start, with an upset over Michigan State and a touchdown pass away from still being undefeated. I guess this whole thing might not be a joke after all?
This game is gonna be an edition of “Post-Dance College Football” that will be worthy of attention. Although Washington remains the favorite and boasts some serious offensive positivity, ASU will be primed to rebound and bring their own energy (especially on offense) on the road with them. This is gonna be a fun time.
Washington’s defense will be a key factor to this game, as they have had encouraging defensive performance, the likes of which unseen even among some of the best Husky teams. This group will get the crowd yelling with some key stops early, and will swallow any chance of an ASU breakout performance. The Sun Devils will make an exciting shootout out of the final minutes, and if they get a win, it will be within a seven point lead. Unfortunately for them, they will fall just short and potentially leave Edwards with another night of insomnia.
Washington Wins, 38-35
Enjoy your Homecoming Saturday, everyone!
Weather Source: weather.com