By Stewart Mandel
September 25, 2009
College Football Week 4
Saturday, September 26
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 9 Miami (2-0) at No. 11 Virginia Tech (2-1)
While QB Jacory Harris has been the star so far for the 'Canes, Miami will want to lean on running backs Graig Cooper and Javarris James against the Hokies' 107th-ranked rushing defense. Miami's pass defense looked equally vulnerable against Florida State, but Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor has yet to show he can deliver for a full game.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) Iowa (3-0) at No. 5 Penn State (3-0)
Iowa's defense is good enough to slow down the Nittany Lions, and the game certainly has upset potential. But Penn State's student section -- which has supplanted the Cameron Crazies as the most creative in college sports -- won't let that happen on the night it's implementing some new twists to its ever-intimidating "White Out."
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) Arkansas (1-1) at No. 3 Alabama (3-0)
Razorbacks QB Ryan Mallett, the nation's top-rated passer, will provide the toughest test to date for Alabama's third-ranked defense. He'll rack up some yards. But Arkansas' D lacks the athletes to slow down the Crimson Tide's balanced attack. Expect a big game for Alabama QB Greg McElroy, who will burn the Hogs with play-action.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 6 Cal (3-0) at Oregon (2-1)
If ever there were a "trap game," Cal is looking at it. A week before the Bears get USC, they must survive raucous Autzen Stadium. But despite what last week's Utah upset might indicate, Oregon's offense (particularly QB Jeremiah Masoli) is still struggling to get in synch. A breakout performance is unlikely against Cal's top 25 defense.
3:30 p.m. ET No. 15 TCU (2-0) at Clemson (2-1)
The TCU pass-rush is as fast as ever, with All-America defensive end Jerry Hughes (4.5 sacks) leading the charge. That doesn't bode well for Clemson QB Kyle Parker, with his 47.4 completion percentage and four interceptions. The Frogs' offense might not fare much better against a Tigers defense that suffocated Boston College, but turnovers may be the difference.
9:15 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Texas Tech (2-1) at No. 17 Houston (2-0)
This should be an interesting sight. Houston, whose offensive coordinator, Dana Holgorsen, came from Texas Tech, runs virtually the same exact "Air Raid" offense as the Red Raiders, thus far with similar results (50 points per game). The Raiders have better athletes but face a tough turnaround from last week's Texas loss; the Cougars are coming off a bye week.
Noon ET (ESPNU) USF (3-0) at No. 18 Florida State (2-1)
Jim Leavitt's team has been awaiting this opportunity ever since the program's 1997 inception. However, in an incredibly unfortunate turn of events, four-year starting QB Matt Grothe suffered a career-ending ACL tear last week. Redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels will be making his starting debut against some very fast pass-rushers in an unfriendly setting.
7 p.m. ET (ESPNU) Arizona State (2-0) at No. 21 Georgia (2-1)
The Sun Devils, led by linebacking trio Mike Nixon, Brandon Magee and Vontaze Burfict, lead the nation in total defense (149.5 yards per game). Their wins, however, have come against Louisiana-Monroe and Idaho State. Georgia QB Joe Cox and stud WR A.J. Green have helped the Dawgs average 46.5 points the past two weeks against SEC foes South Carolina and Arkansas.
Noon p.m. ET No. 22 North Carolina (3-0) at Georgia Tech (2-1)
The Yellow Jackets were my preseason favorites in the ACC -- but the luster is quickly wearing off. Both Clemson and Miami were able to demystify Paul Johnson's triple-option, and the Tar Heels' speed-built defense -- ranked No. 6 in the country with 198.7 yards per game allowed -- should be able to manage more of the same.
Noon ET (FSN) Southern Miss (3-0) at No. 20 Kansas (3-0)
Upset Special: The Jayhawks picked the wrong week to engage in a multiple-round altercation with the KU basketball team. The Golden Eagles bring the nation's second-longest win streak (eight) and a top 20 offense to town. While coach Mark Mangino has downplayed the incidents, you've got to think they've affected the Kansas players' game-week preparation.
Record Last Week: 8-2               Overall: 16-14

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