2019 NCAAF Week 4 Weekend Preview

September 19, 2019

As we near the official end of summer, the action in college football will continue to heat up, with conference play getting into full swing starting this weekend.

Week 4 is packed with exciting matchups and is arguably the biggest weekend of the season thus far in terms of impact on the early College Football Playoff picture. A few ranked matchups along with a couple of games that were very close to being so round out the highlights of the weekend slate.

In the head-to-head prediction game, ATC suffered a second consecutive loss, and an ugly one at that, after starting off Week 1 with a convincing victory. With Phil’s win in Week 3, the guests have now closed the gap to within one:

K. Becks – 10-6

Guests – 9-7

This week my brother, who prefers to be called Versatile Willy for some odd reason (perhaps a shameless plug for his burgeoning resale business), will look to keep the winning streak going for the guests. Opportunities for easy victories appear to be a thing of the past for 2019, as the time is upon us where enough film has been gathered on teams to scout effectively and matchups are generally more even thanks to league play.

Let’s take a look at the games to watch on the final weekend of summer 2019.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

#11 Michigan at #13 Wisconsin (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Big Ten’s first battle between heavy hitters in 2019 takes place in Madison, where the undefeated Badgers will look to stifle a Michigan offense that, while retooled and under new management of offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, has yet to break out this season. Wisconsin can be confident heading into this one, as its defense has yet to give up a single point through two games and is being helped out tremendously by an offense averaging 55 per contest.

Gattis’s offense, which is supposed to bring out the best in dual-threat quarterback Shea Patterson, has not seen the expected results in the passing game yet. Patterson has been efficient, but the rushing attack has been a stronger part of Michigan’s offense, scary considering the cast that the Wolverines are working with this season. If Patterson is able to show why he was on the preseason Heisman watch list, Michigan could surprise a Wisconsin defense that will look to stack the box. But if the running game is relied upon too heavily, Wisconsin’s defense will eat Michigan up and on its own offensive end, is the best in the business at pounding the football and churning up clock.

My Pick: 31-27 Michigan

Versatile Willy’s Take: Wisconsin 20-14

#8 Auburn at #17 Texas A&M (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Two SEC teams that have already been battle tested this season will face off in a crucial early season conference matchup. For the Aggies, a loss effectively ends their chances of making a surprise run to the College Football Playoff. A loss would be similarly sobering for the Tigers, given the schedule ahead that includes road trips at Florida and LSU and home dates with Georgia and Auburn. Youth versus experiences will headline the quarterback matchup, as Bo Nix will look to outduel yet another upperclassman in junior Kellen Mond.

The rise of Nix in the Oregon game is unsurprising to those in the Auburn camp that knew about the true freshman, but it took a furious fourth quarter comeback and botched playclock management on the Ducks’ end for the Tigers to come out of Cowboys Stadium with a victory. The Aggies have shown that their defense, which had to replace some pieces from last year’s stout unit, is similarly skilled this season and has the front line to get to Nix and make him uncomfortable in the backfield. While Jimbo Fisher thinks the Auburn quarterback will one day be one of the best in the country, the time hasn’t arrived yet. Texas A&M’s defense will make Nix look like a true freshman and the older, more experienced Mond will have a solid day on the other side, leading Texas A&M to a victory.

My Pick: 34-28 Texas A&M

Versatile Willy’s Take: Auburn 27-17

#22 Washington at BYU (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

After starting the year with a lackluster offensive performance against Utah, the Cougars have stormed back with two victories against Power 5 programs that has righted the ship and has the faithful in Provo feeling good about its chances in this game. The Huskies fell flat against California two weekends ago, which severely hurt their chances of making it to the College Football Playoff and raised questions about an offense that was supposedly one of the better ones in the Pac-12 this season.

Washington has to be a bit worried about BYU’s defense, which has looked pretty good against both Utah and Southern Cal, a team that one week earlier torched Stanford in the passing game. Jacob Eason is unlikely to make the mistakes attributed to inexperience that the Cougars forced Kedon Slovis into last weekend, but will need to be more accurate than he was against California. The Huskies will be helped by the fact that BYU’s offense still seems to be gaining its footing this season, but the same could be said of the Golden Bears and that game didn’t go as planned. Washington should win this game, but only if its offense performs as it is capable of against the Cougars.

My Pick: 31-22 Washington

Versatile Willy’s Take: Washington 31-14

Oklahoma State at #12 Texas (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

The offensive performances expected out of this one Saturday evening is something along the lines of the LSU/Texas game two Saturdays ago, only on steroids. While the Cowboys are still a bit of an unknown nationally given the competition Mike Gundy’s squad has played thus far, there is little doubt that Oklahoma State will put plenty of points on the board. Texas’s pass defense is currently last in the Big 12 allowing 330 yards per game, and Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders is only going to get better as he becomes more comfortable running the show.

On paper, there isn’t any reason why the Cowboys can’t come into DKR Memorial Stadium and shock the Longhorns, effectively ending any chance of a College Football Playoff bid for Tom Herman’s team. The issue is that Sanders is making his first start for Oklahoma State in a hostile Big 12 environment and will be matched throw for throw by senior Sam Ehlinger. If not for Ehlinger, there would be serious questions being asked about this Texas team, primarily because of the defense but also due to lack of options in the running game. Gundy is a good enough coach to keep this one close, but his quarterback is probably still a year away from being able to go on the road against a Top 15 program and come away with a surprise victory.

My Pick: 45-34 Texas

Versatile Willy’s Take: Texas 30-20

#7 Notre Dame at #3 Georgia (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The first of two road games that will likely make or break Notre Dame’s season takes place in Athens, Georgia on Saturday night. Not surprisingly given the competition it has played thus far, Georgia’s offense is No. 7 nationally in total yards per game and its defense is tied for No. 9 nationally in yards allowed per game. Kirby Smart understands how important this season is, with a squad ready-made to compete for a national title. But getting by a hardworking Fighting Irish team is necessary before the Bulldogs can focus on the task that has been unsuccessfully completed in previous seasons under Smart.

Notre Dame’s offense should be able to challenge the notion that the Georgia defense is Top 10 in the country, but if the Fighting Irish are unable to stop the Bulldogs in the running game, it won’t matter. Georgia currently has five rushers with over 100 yards on the ground through three games, led by D’Andre Swift with 290 on the season. The Fighting Irish are No. 113 in the country in time of possession but have still managed to score 50 points per game, so Georgia can stifle any hopes of an upset by taking care of the football and keeping it out of the hands of Ian Book & Co. Georgia’s defense isn’t one where the opposition can expect to score every time it has the football, so limiting Notre Dame’s chances will be the key to victory.

My Pick: 34-28 Georgia

Versatile Willy’s Take: Georgia 21-17

5 Games to Flip To

#23 California at Mississippi (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

It’s obviously far too early to argue that Cal is for real, but the Golden Bears have worked their way into the Top 25 after a surprise 3-0 start. If Ole Miss can stop the run, it will have a shot at knocking off the Pac-12 squad because Cal still can’t pass.

Michigan State at Northwestern (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The loss to Arizona State last Saturday at home is just another example that Mark Dantonio’s teams don’t have enough offensive firepower to compete for national titles. The rebound game won’t be any easier against Pat Fitzgerald’s bend-but-don’t-break defense.

Southern Methodist at #25 TCU (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Mustangs have been rolling on offense this year, albeit against less than stellar defenses, but will have the opportunity to prove their worth against the Horned Frogs on Saturday, which boast the Big 12’s top overall defense in terms of yards allowed per game (209.5)

#16 Oregon at Stanford (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

The Cardinal haven’t looked very good defensively this season, especially against the pass (consecutive losses allowing over 340 yards through the air). Although this rivalry has been interesting most years, Justin Herbert could end up having a field day.

Colorado at #24 Arizona State (Saturday, 10 PM ET)

For the second year in a row, a victory over a ranked Michigan State has thrust the Sun Devils into the national conversation. The Buffaloes are no slouch, however, so keeping the momentum going at home may be tough.

In the past, I’ve asked readers to let me know if they’d like to be guests on Around The Corn to make weekly college football picks. And while that invite still stands (email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or message me on Facebook or Twitter if interested), the truth is that I’m basically asking friends and family on a weekly basis. Writing is a passion of mine, as is commenting on sports. But sharing those two passions with others are what has always made this worthwhile. So tell me what you think of the site and let me know what could be done better, or what would make you come back without prompting. I’d really appreciate it.

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