NCAAF Week 4 Weekend Preview

September 24, 2010

The common belief is that the teams in the SEC are always beating each other up, thus knocking each other out of contention for a national championship. This weekend is the start of the beatings that will likely ensue for the rest of the season in that conference. High profile SEC matchups (Alabama vs. Arkansas and South Carolina vs. Auburn, to name a couple) will result in at least two of the SEC’s seven currently undefeated teams to suffer their first loss of the season. At least one Top 15 team will go down. Thanks to the top teams in the conference beating on each other this weekend, there will likely be a major shakeup in the rankings come Sunday. They branded two weekends ago Monster Saturday, but this weekend could be as monstrous as any in the SEC. After tomorrow, we will have a much clearer picture of who are the contenders and who are the pretenders down South.

Top 5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#1 Alabama at #10 Arkansas (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Last year, the Alabama defense shut down Ryan Mallett on their way to a 35-7 drubbing. This year the Razorbacks should be in a much better position to challenge the Tide. For Arkansas, it all starts with the turnaround on defense. A team that ranked last in total yards per game given up last year now ranks second in the SEC, behind only Alabama. Alabama is still very strong on defense, which should make it hard for Ryan Mallett to do a whole lot more than he was able to last year. If the defense for Arkansas is as improved on defense as the statistics suggest, they should keep this game close enough for Mallett to give them a shot at winning.

My Pick: 27-17 Alabama

#12 South Carolina at #12 Auburn (Saturday, 7:45 PM ET)

I was pretty sure that Clemson was going to be able to knock off Auburn last weekend, and if it hadn’t been for Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker being injured the entire second half, they may have won that game. That is why am very confident that South Carolina will be able to do what their rivals could not last Saturday night. I don’t think it was Clemson’s defense that lost them the game. They just couldn’t find a way to score points in the second half when they needed to. South Carolina has the tendency to have the same problem, but I believe that they won’t even need to score that much in order to beat the Tigers.

My Pick: 24-13 South Carolina

#24 Oregon State at #3 Boise State (Saturday, 8 PM ET

Oregon State was able to keep the game against TCU close thanks to a couple of interceptions thrown by Andy Dalton. If the Beavers want to upset the number three team in the nation, they are going to have to force turnovers yet again. Boise’s Kellen Moore was able to lead Boise over Virginia Tech thanks in part to the fact that he took good care of the football. If he is able to do that again, then the talent on the Broncos roster will probably be the difference in this game. Oregon State has gone as far as to practice on a blue field this week in preparation for the Smurf Turf, so if that doesn’t say anything about the impact of playing in Boise for opposing teams, I don’t know what does.

My Pick: 44-28 Boise State

#22 West Virginia at #15 LSU (Saturday, 9 PM ET)

Although they are 3-0, LSU doesn’t really look like one of the best teams in the SEC this season. Even though they average over 28 points per game scoring, their passing game hasn’t been all that productive. West Virginia, on the other hand, has had a surprisingly good passing game so far. This game will likely be a battle between LSU’s defense (which has been solid) and West Virginia’s offense, in particular the passing game. If this game were in Morgantown, I may go the other way with my pick. However, at home, LSU is going to need a collapse similar to the one they had against North Carolina in the second half in order to lose this game.

My Pick: 30-17 LSU

#5 Oregon at Arizona State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

Arizona State did a nice job in Madison last weekend, coming within a blocked extra point of overtime with Wisconsin. This weekend the Sun Devils face an entirely different offensive attack. Oregon has been putting the pedal to the metal offensively in all three of their games this season, scoring an average of sixty-three points per game. It would be one of the shockers of the entire season if the Sun Devils were able to beat Oregon, and I’m not saying that it’s going to happen. Just keep an eye on this game if Arizona State is still hanging around in the second half.

My Pick: Oregon 44-17

5 More to Flip To

#16 Stanford at Notre Dame (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

I think Charlie Weis could have started 1-3 with this schedule too…

Temple at #23 Penn State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Temple looks to be the class of the MAC. They have the capability of making this one interesting.

UCLA at #7 Texas (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

UCLA handled a Texas team last week. Can they make it two in a row?

Kentucky at #9 Florida (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

If this game wasn’t being played at The Swamp, I would give Kentucky a much better chance of winning this game. Still, I think they at least have as much of a chance as Tennessee did last week.

California at #14 Arizona (Saturday, 10 PM ET)

The Pac-10 is weird. Arizona looked great last weekend, and Cal looked terrible. It could be the exact opposite this weekend, and I wouldn’t even be all that surprised.

Storylines for the Weekend

North Carolina is cooked

Oh, how the tables have turned on the Tar Heels. Three weeks ago, they were getting ready for a game with the LSU Tigers, hoping that a win would be a proving point that they were one of the better teams in college football this season. Now, thanks to multiple suspensions handed out by the NCAA, the Tar Heels may just want to make it a goal to finish with a winning season. If North Carolina loses this weekend at Rutgers (which I believe they will), they will have a hard time not thinking of the 2010 campaign as a lost season. This is a sad but good example of what can happen when players receive improper benefits and are caught.

The Heisman race will begin to take shape

Right now, the Heisman bubble is still very fluid. After this weekend, we should have a better sense of who is really competing for college football’s top individual prize. Ryan Mallett and Mark Ingram face off, which will undoubtedly result in one gaining a leg up on the other. Kellen Moore will get his second (and possibly last) shot to perform in front of a national audience to make his case as a Heisman contender. Terrelle Pryor has a chance to pad his stats against an Eastern Michigan team that is just plain bad. We’re still weeks away from really knowing who is fighting for the bronze bust, but the conversation is becoming more relevant.

– K. Becks

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