By Stewart Mandel
September 24, 2010
College Football Pickoff: Week 4
Saturday, Sept. 25
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 1 Alabama (3-0) at No. 10 Arkansas (3-0)
It's the first time since 1979 that two top 10 teams have met in Fayetteville, so you can understand why the locals are a wee bit excited. Arkansas star Ryan Mallett, fresh off a 380-yard performance and game-winning touchdown at Georgia, will rack up some yards against Alabama's defense -- but expect Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to run (Hog) wild all afternoon.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 24 Oregon State (1-1) at No. 3 Boise State (2-0)
Give Oregon State credit for creativity: What better way to prepare for Boise State's blue field than by creating one of your own? Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot more than paint to hide the holes in Oregon State's secondary, which Broncos QB Kellen Moore is sure to find. Meanwhile, Boise's tenacious run defense is well suited to contain Beavers star Jacquizz Rodgers.
7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 12 South Carolina (3-0) at No. 17 Auburn (3-0)
Did you see that Auburn-Clemson game last weekend? There had to be a lot of sore bodies in the Tigers' training room Sunday. Now comes South Carolina and star freshman running back Marcus Lattimore, who has a knack for wearing down defenders. Look for the Gamecocks' offense to exploit a few Auburn breakdowns and contain elusive Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton.
9:15 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 22 West Virginia (3-0) at No. 15 LSU (3-0)
The Tigers and Mountaineers have a lot in common: They're both undefeated, nationally ranked teams with coaches (LSU's Les Miles and WVU's Bill Stewart) who keep their fan bases in a constant state of panic. West Virginia has some explosive playmakers (Noel Devine, Tavon Austin, Jock Sanders) but Tigers star Patrick Peterson will be the difference-maker on defense and special teams.
10:30 p.m. ET (FSN) No. 5 Oregon (3-0) at Arizona State (2-1)
The Ducks beat their first three opponents by an average score of 63-4. If they do it again this week, we might as well book them a flight to Glendale. More likely, Vontaze Burfict and the Sun Devils will be the first defense to reign in LaMichael James and Co. But Oregon happens to have the nation's top-rated defense right now as well, and this might be its week to shine.
7 p.m. ET (ESPNU) Kentucky (3-0) at No. 9 Florida (3-0)
This certainly has the makings of a letdown game for the Gators, wedged as it is between trips to Knoxville and Tuscaloosa. Quarterback Mike Hartline has Kentucky's offense clicking, but Florida's defense has absolutely silenced the Wildcats the past two years, holding them to five and seven points, respectively. Florida might not romp, but can certainly win ugly (again).
10 p.m. ET Cal (2-1) at No. 14 Arizona (3-0)
Both teams have a recent history of week-to-week schizophrenia, so it wouldn't be surprising if Arizona comes out flat a week after upsetting Iowa and Cal looks like an entirely different team a week after getting hammered at Nevada. But the Bears' defense is suspect, and Arizona's pressure will likely cause problems for terminally erratic QB Kevin Riley.
3:30 p.m. ET (NBC) No. 16 Stanford (3-0) at Notre Dame (1-2)
It's abundantly clear by now that Notre Dame's defense has not gotten any better with the arrival of offensive guru Brian Kelly. That's not a good omen with one of the nation's top quarterbacks, Stanford's Andrew Luck, coming to town. The Cardinal are also more physical than the Irish, which should be a factor down the stretch if it's another close one.
3:30 p.m. ET (BTN) Temple (3-0) at No. 23 Penn State (2-1)
It doesn't get any bigger than this for Temple, which is 3-0 for the first time since 1979 and heading to coach Al Golden's alma mater. While Penn State's running game is in shambles, Temple's Bernard Pierce had 169 yards last week against UConn. But the Owls' offensive line will encounter more resistance from Penn State's defense, and QB Rob Bolden is poised for a breakout game.
Noon (ESPN) NC State (3-0) at Georgia Tech (2-1)
UPSET SPECIAL: Vegas apparently has not jumped on the Russell Wilson/NC State bandwagon -- but I'm ready to drive the bus. The Wolfpack look vastly improved in Tom O'Brien's fourth season, while Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets have regressed, losing at Kansas and barely escaping suspension-depleted UNC. I'm taking NC State. But be warned: I'm 0-for-4 so far on Upset Specials.
Record Last Week: 5-5               Record This Season: 21-9

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