By Stewart Mandel
September 20, 2012
College Football Pickoff: Week 4
Friday, Sept. 21
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) Baylor (2-0) at Louisiana-Monroe (1-1)
Baylor's defense is as porous as always, setting up for another big night for Warhawks quarterback Kolton Browning (388.0 yards per game). But quarterback Nick Florence (378.5) and the Bears' offense -- averaging 53.5 points to date -- have far more firepower than the two SEC foes (Arkansas and Auburn) ULM took to overtime. Baylor won't need overtime in this one.
Saturday, Sept. 22
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 10 Clemson (3-0) at No. 4 Florida State (3-0)
FSU's defense may rival Alabama's for the title of this year's most dominant unit. It's unrealistic to think the 'Noles will completely shut down Clemson's explosive offense, but pressure from defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Cornelius Carradine will cause Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd to make mistakes. FSU counterpart E.J. Manuel may struggle, too, but he'll get help from running back Chris Thompson.
7:50 p.m. ET (FOX) No. 15 Kansas State (3-0) at No. 6 Oklahoma (2-0)
Bill Snyder is known for his history with juco transfers, but Bob Stoops has unleashed this year's brightest juco gem. Running back Damien Williams is averaging 12.95 yards per carry. His emergence gives quarterback Landry Jones the play-action threat he needs to unleash the deep ball and run Stoops' home record vs. ranked teams to 15-0.
7:30 p.m. ET (NBC) No. 18 Michigan (2-1) at No. 11 Notre Dame (3-0)
Denard Robinson must haunt Notre Dame defenders' dreams after his scorching performances the past two years. But the Irish's increasingly athletic defensive front is better equipped to contain him, which should take some heat off their battered secondary. And Notre Dame should be able to run the ball against Michigan's 80th-ranked rushing defense (allowing 4.3 yards per carry).
10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 22 Arizona (3-0) at No. 3 Oregon (3-0)
Rich Rodriguez's Wildcats cracked the AP Poll thanks to a 59-38 upset of Oklahoma State in Week 2, but that masked the fact Arizona's extremely thin defense allowed 636 yards. That doesn't bode well against Oregon's ever-explosive offense. Expect another big game from SI cover boy De'Anthony Thomas, who's averaging 15.3 yards per touch.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 2 LSU (3-0) at Auburn (1-2)
LSU's Zach Mettenberger will make his first SEC start, and that might provide some smidgen of concern. But for the most part, LSU should be able to do what it does best: Pound the ball with its deep backfield (45.7 attempts per game) and let its front four tee off on struggling Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier. Through Week 3, Frazier doesn't rate among the nation's top 100 passers.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) Missouri (2-1) at No. 7 South Carolina (3-0)
Both Missouri quarterback James Franklin and South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw are dealing with shoulder injuries, so this game may come down to how effectively the teams employ their other weapons. Gamecocks star Marcus Lattimore (4.9 yards per carry) should find success. Mizzou won't be as fortunate against South Carolina's fourth-ranked rushing defense (1.6 ypc).
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) Oregon State (1-0) at No. 19 UCLA (3-0)
We now know the Beavers' near-shutout of Wisconsin Sept. 8 was at least partially a byproduct of the Badgers' offensive dysfunction. The Bruins, averaging 622 yards per game, should have more success thanks to quarterback Brett Hundley. Oregon State counterpart Sean Mannion could cause problems, but the Beavers don't have enough firepower to keep up.
7 p.m. ET (ESPNU) Rutgers (3-0) at Arkansas (1-2)
You wouldn't think the tire fire that is Arkansas football could spiral any further than last week's 52-0 defeat to Alabama -- but losing at home to a mediocre Big East team would definitely qualify. The Scarlet Knights showed mettle in pulling out a 23-13 road win at USF, and their defense is legit. But Tyler Wilson's expected return should rescue the Hogs.
Thursday, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN) BYU (2-1) at No. 24 Boise State (1-1)
Five days after a heartbreaking 24-21 defeat to archrival Utah, the Cougars turn around and face Boise State on the Blue, where the Broncos are 75-3 since 2000. That's a tall task. But even in last week's defeat, BYU allowed just 245 yards, and it ranks seventh nationally in total defense (3.7 yards per play). It will shut down Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick.
Record Last Week: 6-4               Record This Season: 19-11

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