By Stewart Mandel
September 23, 2011
College Football Pickoff: Week 4
Saturday, Sept. 23
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 2 LSU (3-0) at No. 16 West Virginia (3-0)
First the Tigers came out and stuffed Oregon. Then they did even worse to Mississippi State. This week, Dana Holgorsen's pass-happy attack will present a different challenge. Quarterback Geno Smith will make plays, but West Virginia's inability to run will allow LSU to generate pressure with its front four and force bad throws. Morris Claiborne and the LSU secondary will take advantage.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 14 Arkansas (3-0) at No. 3 Alabama (3-0)
Alabama's loaded and experienced defense will cause problems for Bobby Petrino's normally explosive attack, particularly if Ronnie Wingo and the Razorbacks fail to establish the run. The Tide will be facing an underrated Arkansas defense, and quarterback AJ McCarron may struggle, but Nick Saban will ride running backs Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 7 Oklahoma State (3-0) at No. 8 Texas A&M (2-0)
In three games, Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden has thrown for 388, 397 and 369 yards. Running back Joseph Randle has gone for 129, 121 and 128. Oklahoma State's powerful offense is a machine at this point, but Cyrus Gray and the Aggies know how to move the ball, too. And A&M's 15th-ranked defense inspires more confidence than the Cowboys' 92nd-ranked unit.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 11 Florida State (2-1) at No. 21 Clemson (3-0)
Florida State seems more susceptible to a hangover following last week's emotional loss to Oklahoma than Clemson does following its victory over Auburn. Quarterback E.J. Manuel's health is a concern, but FSU's defense is still dominant -- much more so than Auburn's, which Clemson scorched last week -- and Tajh Boyd and the Tigers will come back to earth against relentless pressure.
8 p.m. ET (FX) Missouri (2-1) at No. 1 Oklahoma (2-0)
Say hello to Henry Josey. Missouri's sophomore tailback ascended the depth chart two weeks ago due to injuries in front of him and proceeded to rush for 94 yards against Arizona State and 263 against Western Illinois. Oklahoma's stout secondary will keep him out of the open field, however, and Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles will do their thing against Mizzou's defense.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Vanderbilt (3-0) at No. 12 South Carolina (3-0)
The Commodores' blitz-heavy defense has generated a nation's best 10 interceptions. Knowing quarterback Stephen Garcia is fully capable of delivering more, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier will once again ride running back Marcus Lattimore (178 yards per game), who can wear down Vandy's defense. Meanwhile, Spurrier's defense should contain Commodores quarterback Larry Smith.
10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 23 USC (3-0) at Arizona State (2-1)
This is a matchup of two ostensibly talented teams that often can't get out of their own ways: Arizona State has committed more penalties (24) than 99 of the nation's 120 teams, and USC (21) isn't far behind. Quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Matt Barkley will both put up big numbers. It's a virtual tossup, so the edge goes to the home team.
Noon (ESPN) North Carolina (3-0) at No. 25 Georgia Tech (3-0)
The Yellow Jackets have scorched their first three opponents to the tune of 59 points and 675 yards per game, but the Tar Heels' talented defense is a steep step up from Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee and Kansas. UNC can rein in Tech quarterback Tevin Washington's deep-ball frenzy, but the Heels don't have the offensive firepower to keep up.
3:30 p.m. ET (FSN) Cal (3-0) at Washington (2-1)
Cal is 9-14 on the road since 2007, and it needed overtime to survive Colorado in Boulder two weeks ago. Washington quarterback Keith Price has emerged as a budding star after throwing for 11 touchdowns in three games, and running back Chris Polk (120.7 yards per game) has been solid as always. If they can manage to play semi-decent defense, the Huskies should prevail.
Noon (BTN) San Diego State (3-0) at No. 22 Michigan (3-0)
UPSET SPECIAL: Will Brady Hoke's former team give its former coach his first Michigan loss? Aztecs running back Ronnie Hillman, the nation's second-leading rusher at 165.7 yards per game, will certainly do damage against Michigan's mediocre defense, and quarterback Ryan Lindley can hit on the play-action. It's always possible Denard Robinson will win the game on his own, but if not...
Record Last Week: 7-3               Record This Season: 19-11
Week 4 Preview
Source:SI previews the best of Week 4, including Oklahoma State-Texas A&M, LSU-West Virginia and more.

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