Michigan St. brough the onions to the table. Iowa St.-Kansas St. brought us a very entertaining game in Kansas City. Arkansas brought us a heartstopper. What's in store for week four?
Miami (FL) travels to Pittsburgh (7:30pm Thursday, ESPN) and its really the Big East's last week to get any high quality OOC wins. Both teams come off subpar performances from week two, Pitt in a win vs. New Hampshire and the 'Canes in their sloppy loss at the 'Shoe in Columbus. The turnover battle will bear watching here, but so will Dion Lewis as he has barely over 100 yards rushing over the 1st two games.
TCU at SMU (8pm Friday, ESPN) in the "Battle for the Iron Skillet" will be worth watching as a pair of high scoring offenses battle. SMU is much improved over the first few years of June Jones' run as head coach and TCU will be constantly reminded that the 2006 team, after going to Oklahoma and winning in Norman, lost at SMU 21-10. One dimension that previously hasn't been seen by Jones' offenses is the presence of a running game, but SMU has averaged 165.3 yards on the ground per game, many of them coming against UAB (247) and Washington St. (140) in wins. TCU, meanwhile, is averaging nearly 280 yards per game in ground and, of greater importance, have only allowed 172 rushing yards total against their two FBS opponents (Oregon St. and Baylor).
The most interesting game of the early afternoon slate appears to be Georgia Tech at NC State (12pm, ESPN). NC State came up with a powerful statement against Cincinnati while Georgia Tech bounced back from the loss at Kansas with a big ACC win at Chapel Hill. We know Tech's ground game is their bread and butter and the Wolfpack won't be a swinging gate, though this will be the 1st time this season they'll allow 100+ rushing yards in a game. Russell Wilson makes the Pack go, but he can't regress into the Wilson we saw against UCF (10 of 30, 105 yards, 1 TD).
Stanford at Notre Dame (3:30pm, NBC) and Alabama at Arkansas (3:30pm, CBS) provide a dynamic duo during the mid-afternoon slate and lucky for all of us, we don't need the right internet provider or the right affiliate to see these games. No excuses. Andrew Luck has been able to roll through two of his three opponents (struggled vs. UCLA somehow, but they've improved) and like Denard Robinson, looking good versus the Irish helps you look good for the Heisman. The Irish have been throwing the ball all over the yard, but more out of necessity as the Irish have been involved in a pair of close games.
Meanwhile, the Tide have been waiting for the Razorbacks and this could be a stretch of three straight games for the Tide against top 10 teams. The Hogs finally showed their worth with a great win between the hedges in Athens. Ryan Mallett has rolled along, but the Tide are the defending champs and its amazing how, across the board on offense and defense, they are statistically the best (17th passing O, 13th rushing O, 6th in fewest points against). Could be the Tide's world and we're just living in it.
To get your early primetime workout, you might want to head over to Nevada at BYU (6pm, mtn). BYU has come back to earth defensively and the offense still hasn't settled on a QB. The ground attack for the Cougs is still solid and its the one thing that the offense can hang its hat on (147.7 ypg) but the passing game is just inept (155.0 ypg). Nevada's offense has bee remarkably consistent (49, 51 and 52 points in their three wins) and the pistol offense has done what it does best: open holes for the ground game, allow for play-action and run/pass options for QB Colin Kapernick.
In primetime, three great games with South Carolina at Auburn leading off (7:45pm, ESPN). South Carolina is enjoying their best start under Steve Spurrier (yes, they've been ranked higher) and Auburn is 3-0 with close wins over Clemson and Mississippi St. The ground game is excellent for both teams, but the edge is the efficiency of QB Stephen Garcia. His ability to manage the game will be the difference here.
Boise St. gets the Gameday treatment hosting Oregon St (ABC, 8pm). The Beavers will be up for this game coming off a solid victory over Louisville. Quizz Rodgers got his motor running with 132 yards on the ground, but the Bronco defense will be stout (they allowed -21 to Wyoming last week) so the Beavers ability to get James Rodgers involved will be important. What needs to be said about the Broncos offense? It rolls along, Kellen Moore doesn't make mistakes and keeps the ball in the Broncos' hands. The Beavers need their defense to force turnovers to keep them in this one.
Final one to pay attention to is West Virginia travelling to LSU (ESPN2, 9pm). Two of the heartiest fan bases around plus the atmosphere of a night game in Baton Rouge should make this an electric game. West Virginia's offense looked better vs. Maryland, but if LSU can generate any type of pass rush on the Mountaineers, Geno Smith could be forced into bad plays. LSU isn't the dynamic offense it has been in prior seasons, but its defense is still excellent. Should be a fun one.