2015 Week 4 NCAAF Weekend Preview

September 25, 2015

It didn’t take long at all before the college football gods decided things were getting a bit too predictable at the top of the rankings.

The former No. 2 and No. 6 teams in the country are no longer, falling victim to teams that were dangerous but not expected to actually pull upsets. Several other teams, including current No. 1 Ohio State, struggled as well.

My dad and I tied last week, and it was nothing short of ugly. Both ended up at 1-4 for the weekend, which leaves the overall standings looking like this:

K. Becks: 8-7

Guests: 8-7

This week another one of my former roommates, Trent (also affectionately known as Butch since sometime last year), will join the blog as the guest prognosticator. Trent likes to give me a lot of grief for still writing this blog, so I will take personal pleasure in beating him and regaining the overall lead after this week.

Luckily for Trent, nothing is a sure thing. And this weekend’s games were pretty difficult to predict.

Here is a list of ATC’s top five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more to keep an eye on.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#22 BYU at Michigan (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

BYU was painstakingly close to really receiving some national attention, nearly upsetting then No. 10 UCLA on the road. The Cougars have a front loaded schedule, so a win over the Bruins would have made it difficult not to consider them a playoff contender had they won. Now Bronco Mendenhall’s team must regroup for another tough road battle against a Michigan team that appears to quickly be gaining confidence under Jim Harbaugh.

There are a lot of college football fans around where I live still laughing at Michigan’s season opening loss to Utah. But the Utes are now 3-0 and No. 18 in the country and Michigan has looked pretty good since then as well. The Wolverines are No. 3 in the Big Ten in total defense, stifling their last two opponents and holding them each to a total of seven points. What still needs to come along is the offense, which has been slow out of the gates with Iowa transfer Jake Rudock at quarterback. BYU hasn’t had much trouble moving the football with Tanner Mangum, but the 22-year old freshman does need to be careful not to force throws in this game. Giving Michigan additional chances to score would be giving away the game for the Cougars.

BYU’s offense was held in check to some extent against UCLA, and its yards per play average has dropped each game since the season opener. This is a sign that the Cougars may be human after all, having a tougher time with better defenses. Unfortunately, the Boise State game is a prime example that if the offense does not show up as well, BYU can win despite a good opposing defense. If Michigan’s offense doesn’t show up, they’ll have a tough time defending the Big House. But alas, I think the time difference, which will seem like an A.M. game to BYU, will allow Michigan to get out to an early lead and hang out for a close victory.

My Pick: 27-23 Michigan

Trent’s Take: What’s worse? Being a wolverine or not being able to use your reproductive parts during your college days? Well, since I only used mine a small number of times I guess BYU wouldn’t be terrible. BYU- 24 Michigan- 17

#14 Texas A&M vs. Arkansas [in Arlington, Texas] (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

The annual rivalry between Texas A&M and Arkansas was supposed to be a marquee game this season. But after two straight losses, both of them relative upsets, the Razorbacks are reeling while Texas A&M looks very solid. It’s going to take a complete 180 degree turnaround for Bret Bielema’s team to upset the Aggies in Cowboys Stadium.

It has really been a bit puzzling how Arkansas is 1-2 at this point. The Razorbacks gained over 500 yards with just one turnover, yet could only score 12 points in a loss to Toledo. Last week was easier to explain, as the defense gave up over 300 yards passing to Texas Tech. If Coach Bielema is to avoid to onslaught of public humiliation coming his way, the defense will need to be much better in coverage this weekend. Texas A&M hasn’t really needed it thus far, but Kyle Allen is capable of carving up a less than stellar secondary.

As bad as it has looked, I still think that there is a lot of talent on the Arkansas roster. The two headed monster at running back could go off at any time, and Brandon Allen leads the SEC in passing yards per game. The Razorbacks should be angry, which will only help them in this game. Texas A&M looked decent in the opener against Arizona State, but hasn’t played anyone of note since then and still gave up a lot of points to Nevada. It may seem like a stretch, but I feel okay about going with the upset in this one.

My Pick: 35-34 Arkansas

Trent’s Take: Texas A&M wins this one but it’s close. 24-21. Johnny Manziel, future first ballot Chach Hall of Famer, will also win this Sunday against the Raiders.

#9 UCLA at #16 Arizona (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The game of the week will take place in the desert on Saturday evening when UCLA travels east to take on the Wildcats. The Bruins narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of BYU last weekend, which should serve as a bit of a wakeup call for the now highest ranked team in the Pac-12. Arizona has yet to play strong competition this season, so it will be interesting to see how Rich Rod’s team responds to the big stage for the first time in 2015.

This game has been billed as a duel between two young quarterbacks, and it is one of the rare occasions where I will agree with that sentiment. The quarterback who makes fewer mistakes in this game will likely be on the winning team. Anu Solomon has looked terrific for Arizona, throwing for 10 touchdowns to zero interceptions, albeit against weak competition. Josh Rosen has made some NFL-ready throws already, but it is clear that better competition has made him look like the true freshman he is at times as well. The Wildcats would love to have Scooby Wright back to add to the pressure they will bring on defense, but even without Wright Arizona is one of the most aggressive in the Pac-12.

I think that Arizona will continue the trend of teams that figure something out about Rosen and exploit it. The difference this time will be that UCLA will be unable to overcome it with talent elsewhere. With Miles Jack out, I think that the Bruins will have to rely on Rosen a bit too much, and he’s not quite ready to put the team on his back completely.

My Pick: 44-37 Arizona

Trent’s Take: Which school has the hotter women? It’s close but you know who. Arizona with the upset 35-28

#18 Utah at #13 Oregon (Saturday, 8:30 PM ET)

Another big Pac-12 game takes place on the West Coast Saturday night, as Oregon looks to continue to claw its way back into playoff contention against Utah. The contrast of styles did not work out well for the Utes in 2014, as Oregon easily dispatched of Utah last season. The styles of play have not changed, but Oregon has already been exposed in 2015 and is definitely capable of being beaten in a methodical way.

Defensively, Oregon is still having a lot of trouble against the pass. No team in the Pac-12 has been worse defending it this season, but luckily for the Ducks the Utes are not a typical Pac-12 offense. Utah has thrown the ball fewer times than all but Oregon State in the conference and prefers to chew up clock with a strong running game. Oregon has been serviceable against the run, so this might be the first time the Ducks allow fewer than 28 points in a game this season. Unfortunately for Utah, fewer than 28 points will not win this game.

The transition from Marcus Mariota to Vernon Adams has not been as seamless as once thought, but the Ducks are still capable of putting points on the board. The Utes are a solid football team but aren’t physical enough to knock Oregon completely off its game. Still, this one won’t produce as many points as one might think because Utah is tough on that side of the ball.

My Pick: 30-21 Oregon

Trent’s Take: This one is the hardest to pick…Utah with the upset as well. 28-21. The Mormons are having a great weekend. No dancing or drinking, though, they will celebrate with Bible study.

#19 Southern California at Arizona State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

The Trojans must rebound in a big way Saturday night after a disappointing loss at home to Stanford last weekend, which dropped Southern Cal out of the top 10. Arizona State faded into obscurity to some extent after its season opening loss to Texas A&M, but the Sun Devils have been receiving some love this week and should be a stiff test for the still ranked Trojans.

Cody Kessler did his part for the Trojans last weekend, but the defense did not. Southern Cal fans should be worried that Stanford, which is No. 10 in the conference in rushing yards per game, racked up nearly 200 on the Trojans. Arizona State isn’t a monster on the ground statistically, but have plenty of options that can tear teams up on the ground (Demario Richard and D.J. Foster as options A and B). If Mike Bercovici continues his strong play and opens up the middle of the defense, Arizona State could make it two teams in a row gashing Southern Cal with the run game.

The Stanford game was a mild upset for Southern Cal, but this one could have the same result and it wouldn’t be nearly as surprising. Arizona State plays at a much quicker pace than Stanford and the Trojans were unable to slow down even the Cardinal. If Kessler plays well and the defense plays a bit better, I still think that Coach Sark’s team is capable of winning. But it could go the other way and I wouldn’t even do a double take at the score.

My Pick: 37-35 Southern California

Trent’s Take: I will most likely be asleep before half time for this game because I am an old man. But Southern Cal wins 17-10.

5 Games to Flip To

#20 Georgia Tech at Duke (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Any hangover effect for Georgia Tech from the Notre Dame game will severely decrease the chances that the team gets back on the winning track this weekend.

Western Michigan at #1 Ohio State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Fans may finally see the Buckeyes dip into the playbook; the Broncos can score and will require Ohio State to be better offensively than last week.

Tennessee at Florida (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

There aren’t a lot of good games that will be defensively dominated this weekend, but this is one of them.

California at Washington (Saturday, 5 PM ET)

This is an analysis of who might emerge as the biggest surprise in the Pac-12 this season.

Mississippi State at Auburn (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

The coaching staff and Jeremy Johnson are getting burned at the stake right now, but there is still time for Auburn to turn things around. That starts this weekend.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Zach did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

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