College Football Games To Watch: Week Four
Notre Dame is off this weekend, but the SEC does kick off its 2020 season, the Big 12 is back in action after a week off and there are a couple of huge games in the ACC. Despite no Fighting Irish this weekend, my dance card will still remain full on Saturday.
Irish Breakdown made its predictions for a huge game in the ACC between Louisville and Pittsburgh, and we also made predictions on a big game in the SEC between Mississippi State and the defending champion LSU Tigers.
There are five other games I’ll be watching, here’s what they are, and why:
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS at #3 OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Line: OU -27.5
I’m not looking at this game as a possible upset, but more about wanting to learn more about these two teams. Kansas State dropped its home opener against Arkansas State (35-31), which is not a great way to build on its 8-5 campaign in Chris Klieman’s first season. Kansas State beat Oklahoma last season, so the Sooners will be looking for some payback. How do the Wildcats handle that, and can they avoid getting embarrassed en route to an 0-2 start.
For Oklahoma, this is the first time in a long time we are seeing them take the field with a quarterback we don’t know much about. Former five-star recruit Spencer Rattler passed for 290 yards and four touchdowns (14-of-17) in a 48-0 blowout victory over Missouri State in his first career start. He looked really good in the win, but again, it was Missouri State, a team that went 1-10 at the FCS level in 2019.
Oklahoma’s receivers and defense also impressed in the opener, but again, it was Missouri State. A matchup against Kansas State will tell us a lot more about Rattler, the new wideouts and the Sooner defense.
#5 FLORIDA GATORS at OLE MISS REBELS
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Line: Florida - 13.5
This is another noon game that intrigues me, and we have a lot to learn about both teams. Florida is getting a ton of preseason hype after going 11-2 last season, but I’m not still not sold on the Gators. Could they be great this season? Of course, but their 11-2 was a lot like Notre Dame’s 11-2 season. They went 1-2 against opponents that finished ranked in the Top 25 last fall, although their losses were more competitive than Notre Dame’s.
Kyle Trask had a solid first season as the starting quarterback, and he’s expected to make a big jump in year two. Florida will need it, as the offense is what keeps the Gators from being a title contender in the East. If Trask and the unproven wideouts step up this season the Gators could be a legit SEC title contender, but I need to see it first.
Ole Miss begins the Lane Kiffin-era after going 4-8 in the final season for Matt Luke. It will be interesting to see how Kiffin uses the talent of both Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee at quarterback. Beyond that, unless Kiffin is a miracle worker this could be a long season for the Rebels.
#23 KENTUCKY WILDCATS at #8 AUBURN TIGERS
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Network: SEC Network
Line: Auburn -7.5
Kentucky enters the season ranked after going 18-8 the last two seasons, but I’m not sold on the Wildcats being a legit Top 25 team. I’ll be curious to see how quickly they fall out once the Big Ten and Pac 12 teams start getting involved (although I have no clue if the Pac 12 will ultimately be included).
Auburn is the reason I’m intrigued by this game. The Tigers went 9-4 last season and lost competitive games against LSU (23-20), Georgia (21-14) and Minnesota (31-24), a trio of Top 10 teams. Auburn returns a lot on offense, and we’ll see if head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chad Morris can get talented sophomore quarterback Bo Nix to the next level.
If Malzahn can figure out how to properly use Nix this offense could end up being very good. Auburn has a lot of weapons around Nix, but it will have to rebuild its offensive line, and its defense lost six starters, but ultimately this season will be about Nix. If he takes a bit step forward the Tigers will challenge for the West crown.
#8 TEXAS LONGHORNS at TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Line: Texas -17.5
This one is really simple, will Texas improve on defense, or not. I think quarterback Sam Ehlinger and the Texas offense will be outstanding this season, and they impressed in the opener, a 59-3 victory over UTEP. The Longhorns racked up 689 yards (9.3 YPP) in the win and Ehlinger was brilliant, but it was UTEP.
I don’t think much of Texas Tech’s defense either, so I expect the Longhorns to move the ball and score. The reason this game intrigues me is it’s our first chance to truly see if the Texas defense has gotten any better.
If Texas doesn’t improve on defense they will be good, but won’t be legit Big 12 title contender. If the defense does improve under new coordinator Chris Ash, we could see the Longhorns battle Oklahoma for the Big 12 crown. I’m not going to believe in the Texas defense until they prove it, and the Texas Tech game will be their first test.
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES at #12 MIAMI HURRICANES
Time: 7:30 PM ET
Line: Miami -11.0
Florida State is such a hot mess right now. Offseason turmoil, players calling out the first-year head coach and a wide receiving corps that seems to be in revolt. Oh, and they lost their opener at home against a Georgia Tech team that went 3-9 in 2019 and dropped a game to UCF a week later by a 49-21 score.
Oh, and that first-year head coach - Mike Norvell - won’t be coaching this weekend because he tested positive for COVID-19. What a mess.
Miami has looked darn good in the first two games of the season. They should mental toughness in the 31-14 season-opening victory over UAB, and they were even more impressive in the 47-34 victory at Louisville.
On paper, this should be a beatdown by the Hurricanes. But let’s be honest, Miami still has a lot to prove and this is a big-time rivalry game, so the on paper aspect needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We should learn a lot more about both teams today.
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