Georgia vs. Notre Dame is just the tip of the iceberg in a Week 4 slate that is stacked with Top 25 match-ups. I break down some of this week’s best games. Photo courtesy of Tribune Photo/Robert Franklin
If last night’s Thursday night college game is any indication of how Week 4 is going to go, then go ahead and buckle your seat belts because it’s going to be a crazy ride. Last night saw Tulane make a huge second half comeback against American conference foe Houston, but that is not even the real story-line from this game. Tulane erased a 21 point deficit to take a 31-28 lead mid-way through the 4th quarter. Houston was then able to drive down the field and tie the game at 31 with just over 20 seconds in regulation. After the kickoff, it looked as if Tulane was just going to take a knee and send the game to overtime. BUT NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! Tulane ran a trick play to get them to mid-field with around 11 seconds. Enough time to try and run a Hail Mary, call timeout and kick a game winning field goal. Well Tulane ran the Hail Mary, but they didn’t need to call timeout as QB Justin McMillan found Jalen McCleskey over the middle. McCleskey broke loose from a bad tackle and took the ball 53 yards for the game winning touchdown. Tulane was able to breathe easy there in the “Big Easy” after a miracle finish.
This week’s slate of games might include a few close games and miracle finishes themselves. While a number of Top 25 teams face lesser opponents, six of those ranked this week will face one another in three huge match-ups – and it all starts with a noon game in Madison, WI.
The #13 ranked Wisconsin Badgers host BIG 10 foe #11 Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium at noon on Saturday. Both teams are coming into this week off a bye week, and Michigan fans are hoping that their Wolverines figured a few things out on offense during that break. Michigan has looked rough early on this year on the offensive side of the ball. QB Shea Patterson has been anything but consistent. He looked bad in Michigan’s tight double-overtime win at home against Army two weeks ago. The Badgers defense, on the other hand, has been nothing but consistent as they completely shutdown their first two opponents, not allowing either of them to score and holding them to a combined 215 yards of total offense. Michigan will be by far their toughest test to date, so we will get to know a little bit more about this Wisconsin team on Saturday.
And then at 3:30 on Saturday afternoon, several states south of Wisconsin, down in Texas, there’s a SEC West match-up between Auburn and Texas A&M. The Aggies have not beaten Auburn at home in College Station since joining the SEC in 2012, but Kellen Mond and the Aggie offense looks to change that this week. Both teams have ferocious offenses, but Auburn by far, has the more talented defense. However, the Aggies do have the home field advantage and “The 12th Man” will be rocking. How does that affect the young freshman QB, Bo Nix, for Auburn? Is this the year the Aggies finally beat the Tigers at home?
And then the final of the triple-header, is a Top 10 match-up “Between the Hedges” in Athens, GA. The #7 Fighting Irish of Notre Dame come into Sanford Stadium, looking to spoil the Dawg’s season and get revenge from their meeting in 2017, a game in which Georgia won 20-19 on the road in South Bend. The Bulldogs have looked solid through three games, with no glaring holes in any part of their team. Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift lead the Dawg’s fierce offensive attack against an Irish defense that looked suspect in their opening win at Louisville. This will be only the third match-up between these two schools all-time, and Notre Dame’s first ever visit to Athens. Someone warn the Irish players not to get to close to UGA… just ask that kid from Auburn several years ago.
There are plenty of other great games this weekend, not just these Top 25 match-ups. There are a couple of really good games in the SoCon this week, as Furman gets ready to start conference play with a big home game against Mercer. Here are some of the games to keep an eye on this weekend and my picks for each.
#11 Michigan @ #13 Wisconsin (-3.5) – Noon – Fox
Wisconsin opens as the favorite in this game, and honestly they should be. Michigan has been a little suspect on both sides of the football, while Wisconsin completely destroyed their first two opponents 110-0. Michigan probably should have lost at home two weeks ago to Army and the defense gave up 21 to a Middle Tennessee State team that just got trounced by Duke. I don’t trust Shea Patterson and the Wolverine offense, while on the other side, Wisconsin is playing lights out on both offense and defense. The game is in Madison and Camp Randall Stadium is a tough place to play. I think Wisconsin wins and wins by at least two scores.
Wisconsin – 38, Michigan – 24
#8 Auburn @ #17 Texas A&M (-3.5) – 3:30 – CBS
Like I said earlier, Auburn has never lost in College Station. In the past, the Tigers have been able to go into Kyle Field and block out the crowd. This year though, Auburn has a true freshman QB playing in only his 4th career game and his 1st true road game. We don’t know how well he can handle the Aggie’s crowd. Texas A&M has a really good offense, but which Kellen Mond is going to show up? The one last week against Lamar, or the one two weeks ago that played poorly on the road at Clemson? Kellen Mond does play better at home and for that reason, and the fact that Bo Nix is a true freshman, I’m going to take the Aggies at home, but it’s going to be close.
Texas A&M – 31, Auburn – 28
Louisville @ Florida State (-6.5) – 3:30 – ESPN
Through the first three weeks, it has been clear that this year’s Louisville team is not the same one as last year. First year Head Coach Scott Satterfield has the Cardinals believing they can win games. On the other side, Willie Taggert is just trying to keep the dumpster fire that is the ‘Noles football team from getting any bigger. QB James Blackmon is very inconsistent and the ‘Noles defense can’t stop anyone to save their life. The Seminoles continue to get shredded by opposing offenses, and Louisville has a dynamic one with Puma Pass at QB. I like Louisville to win on the road and send Florida State to 1-3 on the year.
Lousiville – 48, Florida State – 31
South Carolina @ Missouri (-9.5) – 4:00 – SEC Network
The Battle of the Columbias. South Carolina travels from Columbia, SC to Columbia, MO to take on Kelly Bryant and the Tigers. The Gamecocks have dominated Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC in 2012. However, Mizzou has Kelly Bryant, former Clemson QB, behind center and Bryant has never been on a team to lose to South Carolina. He was 2-0 as a backup and 1-0 as a starter at Clemson against the Cocks. That’s good news for this Tigers team. The offense is explosive and South Carolina’s defense is just awful. I think QB Ryan Hilinski will help keep Carolina in the game, but they just won’t be able to keep pace with Missouri.
Missouri – 41, South Carolina – 31
Oklahoma State @ #12 Texas (-6.5) – 7:30 – ABC
One word – shootout. Both teams sport great quarterbacks and dynamic offenses, but neither team is great at stopping their opponent. Nobody plays defense in the Big 12. This may be one of those games in which the last team to have the ball will win. The game is in Austin and I think that, and Sam Ehlinger, will be the difference for Texas. I’m going to take the Longhorns in this one.
Texas – 56, Oklahoma State – 48
#7 Notre Dame @ #3 Georgia (-14.5) – 8:00 – CBS
Georgia opens as a huge favorite at home against the Irish and honestly, I think the guys in Vegas are right. Georgia has dominated their first three opponents by an average score of 49-7. Now Notre Dame will be by far their toughest test to date, but the Irish looked sluggish in their opening win at Louisville. They did obliterate New Mexico last week, but the Lobos are not the Dawgs. Georgia’s defense is nasty and Ian Book will probably have to run for his life for most of the game. The Irish are not going to have a warm welcome in their first visit to Athens. Dawgs win big.
Georiga – 42, Notre Dame – 21
And my SoCon games this week:
Mercer @ Furman – 1:00 – MY 40 (WMYA)
Furman gets its conference schedule started this week with a big clash against Mercer here in Greenville. The Paladins are coming off two close losses to FBS schools and Mercer is still trying to figure out what happened last week against Austin Peay. Maybe the Govenors are better than what a lot of people thought, but Mercer was highly favored at home and lost by two touchdowns. QB Robert Riddle will have to have a bounce back game, and I think he will. Furman’s defense is really good and will have to play up to standard against a good Mercer offense. The Paladins have shown though, that they have no problem scoring or playing in a shootout, if need be. I think Furman is just a little better than Mercer at this point and gets the win at home.
Furman – 38, Mercer – 35
Austin Peay @ East Tennessee State – 7:30 – ESPN+
I think this is a fascinating match-up. Austin Peay is coming off a great win on the road at Mercer last week where they upset the Bears. And ETSU is probably still reeling a little from the loss at home to VMI, who hadn’t won a SoCon game in three years prior to last week. The folks in Johnson City better be weary as the Governors look good so far. This could be another potential let down for the Bucs.
Austin Peay – 28, ETSU – 21
Let me know what you think about some of these games and if you agree with my picks or not. Comment below, like, share and follow me on Twitter and Facebook @ The Spread w/ Cameron Tarrant. You can check out the podcast on Soundcloud.com. The Thursday night weekend preview from last night is up, so go check it out!
Upstate High School
Friday night lights will be shining bright here in the Palmetto State. Here are some of the games taking place tonight around the Upstate area.
Woodruff (3-1) @ Chapman (4-0)
Dorman (3-0) @ Hillcrest (3-0)
BHP (1-1) @ Pendleton (1-2)
Eastside (3-0) @ Broome (2-2)
South Pointe (3-0) @ Greenville (3-1)
Travelers Rest (4-0) @ Blue Ridge (2-1) – Go Dogs!
Gaffney (2-1) @ Mauldin (2-1)
Spartanburg (1-2) @ Byrnes (3-0)
Pickens (1-3) @ Berea (3-1)
Clinton (1-2) @ Wren (2-1)
T.L. Hanna (2-0) @ J.L. Mann (0-3)
Week 3 of the NFL season got underway last night with an AFC South rivalry game between Tennesee and Jacksonville. Surprisingly, the Jags got a big win at home with back-up QB Gardner Minshew under center. Minshew had a great game and the Jacksonville defense was able to bend, but not break, against Mariota and the high powered Titans offense. The Jags cruised to a 20-7 win last night.
The Carolina Panthers hit the road for the first time this season as they travel to Phoenix to take on Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. Neither team has a win coming into this game – Carolina (0-2) and Arizona (0-1-1). The Panthers haven’t been great on offense and Cam Newton is questionable for Sunday’s game. The Cardinals are really bad defensively and have several key defensive players that may not be able to play due to injuries. This game may be a sloppy, ugly, low scoring game, but I think Carolina should be able to win this one on the road. Key word is SHOULD.
Other good games to watch on Sunday:
Denver @ Green Bay
Baltimore @ Kansas City
Houston @ L.A. Chargers
L.A. Rams @ Cleveland