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Week 4 Football: What to Watch

A look at games that might pique your interest

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Texas Tech at NC State Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thursday night college football is back this week to kick off a truly great slate of games.

But first, a couple notes on the advanced ratings systems we like to reference:

At this point in the season, the Sagarin ratings are better than the SP+ ratings. Prior year ratings weigh way more heavily in the SP+ ratings - and for longer - whereas Sagarin is much more reactionary (without being too hasty) and therefore better represent what we’ve seen on the field to date.

Also, it’s been a common gripe that SP+, like ESPN which bought and now owns it, has an SEC bias. I’ve typically been one to champion the cause of SP+ and tell you that it doesn’t, that it can’t, but when you look at things like Auburn being ranked 34th, Florida 33rd, and/or Texas A&M 11th, you gotta wonder.

Okay, now onto the games...

The Thursday night WVU vs VT game was one I circled before the season started, but it lost some sheen with the Mountaineers being 1-2 (and having lost at home to Kansas) and with the Hokies having lost to Old Dominion. Still, it’s a Thursday night game in Blacksburg between former Big East rivals. The atmosphere will be tremendous.

Also Thursday night, Coastal Carolina takes on a Georgia State team that almost beat UNC (lol) and Illinois is playing Chattanooga for some unknown reason.

The ACC and Mountain West are apparently trying to take over Friday night games this year. Virginia plays at a suddenly resurgent Syracuse in the marquee (I use that term loosely) game of the evening. The two later games are going to be terrible. Air Force plays their second straight Friday night game, this time hosting an awful Nevada team, while Boise State travels to a UTEP program that was the feel-good story of 2021, but is back to being objectively bad at football in 2022.

So I said that this week had “a truly great slate of games”, but so far I’ve just sounded like Dave Doeren previewing UConn. Worry not. Saturday is when the games get good!

Clemson heads to Wake Forest to try and make their first statement win of the season, while the Demon Deacons will look to use that intimidating home crowd (lol) to secure their first win over the Tigers since 2008.

That Clemson-Wake game is one of four games this week between undefeated teams. Two more of those are also in the noon timeslot with Maryland heading to Ann Arbor to face Michigan and... I can’t believe I’m going to write this... Duke playing at Kansas.

Yes. Both Duke and Kansas are undefeated this year. Had you put down that wager before the season started, you’d have made yourself a pretty penny.

There are some other noon games, but nothing really of any great interest, so let’s skip forward to that 3:30pm slot. Florida at Tennessee is the big game in the mid-day slot, although Florida has looked pretty pathetic this year so far. Anthony Richardson was being touted in the preseason as a potential 1st round QB, but he’s played more like a guy who may not even be a 1st stringer at his current level. Offense (and QB play) have not been the issue at Tennessee, but this will really be their first test of the season (sorry, Pitt).

Also at 3:30pm, Texas Tech could do NC State a solid and come away with a big time upset win over Texas, while this would be a great week for Notre Dame to start looking like... well... Notre Dame. Get it together, Irish!

Minnesota at Michigan State should be a great game, but it’s on the Big Ten Network, so a lot of folks won’t see it. Bummer.

I know the excitement was at a ridiculous level last week in Boone and the ending of that game vs Troy was absurd, but this would have been a much better week for College Gameday to come visit. James Madison is in their first year of FBS play under former NC State assistant coach Curt Cignetti (in his 4th overall season with the Dukes, with a 35-5 record). This game could well end up being what decides the Sun Belt East Division this year as both teams look to be above the rest of the league.

Is Geoff Collins getting fired this week? I’d put the odds pretty high. Will Georgia Tech make a run at the coach he’s going up against this week (Gus Malzahn) to replace him? Also high odds.

Arkansas at Texas A&M could be pretty good, assuming Texas A&M remembers that they’re supposed to be good at football. Seriously, since Jimbo Fisher’s first year in College Station, the Aggies have averaged 30.0 points per game or more just once (2020, 32.6 ppg). FIsher’s FSU offenses hit that 30.0 ppg mark in all but his last year in Tallahassee.

At the same time that NC State kicks off against UConn, Wisconsin will be kicking off against Ohio State. I don’t know about y’all, but I’ll be pulling for Doeren’s old program.

Chris Klieman may well be the best coach in Kansas State history (after Bill Snyder’s vampire self, of course), but his team has a heck of a test going to Norman to take on Brent Venables’ apparent Oklahoma death machine.

Boston College beating Florida State in Tallahassee would be hilarious.

Remember what I was saying before about SP+ and Sagarin? Case in point: USC vs Oregon State. Both teams have played well above expectations, but only one of the rating systems is reflecting that level of play.

The late night games aren’t great, but they’re football, baby. Breathe it in!

Go State!

Rankings for SP+ Ratings and Sagarin Ratings listed, respectively, ahead of each team’s name.

Thursday

58/47 West Virginia @ 61/80 Virginia Tech - 7:30pm - ESPN

70/85 Coastal Carolina @ 91/123 Georgia State - 7:30pm - ESPN2

FCS/115 Chattanooga @ 63/52 Illinois - 8:30pm - BTN

Friday

78/90 Virginia @ 49/42 Syracuse - 7:00pm - ESPN

114/117 Nevada @ 51/49 Air Force - 8:00pm - FS1

45/41 Boise State @ 117/155 UTEP - 9:00pm - CBSSN

Saturday

7/11 Clemson @ 42/39 Wake Forest - 12:00pm - ABC

39/44 Maryland @ 5/5 Michigan - 12:00pm - FOX

90/78 Duke @ 81/48 Kansas - 12:00pm - FS1

25/20 Baylor @ 37/19 Iowa State - 12:00pm - ESPN2

FCS/171 Rhode Island @ 30/29 Pittsburgh - 12:00pm - ACCN

57/81 Missouri @ 34/61 Auburn - 12:00pm - ESPN

40/31 TCU @ 38/57 SMU - 12:00pm - ESPNU

100/116 South Florida @ 53/51 Louisville - 12:00pm - ESPN3

33/43 Florida @ 8/14 Tennessee - 3:30pm - CBS

14/8 Texas @ 47/55 Texas Tech - 3:30pm - ESPN

95/103 Middle Tennessee @ 27/34 Miami - 3:30pm - ACCN

18/23 Notre Dame @ 44/62 North Carolina - 3:30pm - ABC

16/22 Minnesota @ 24/30 Michigan State - 3:30pm - BTN

79/64 James Madison @ 54/54 Appalachian State - 3:30pm - ESPN+

20/12 Oregon @ 59/40 Washington State - 4:00pm - FOX

104/113 Georgia Tech @ 41/36 UCF - 4:00pm - ESPNU

116/125 Navy @ 66/58 East Carolina - 6:00pm - ESPN+

21/33 Arkansas @ 11/21 Texas A&M - 7:00pm - ESPN

126/173 UConn @ 19/24 NC State - 7:30pm - ESPN3

15/13 Wisconsin @ 3/3 Ohio State - 7:30pm - ABC

28/28 Kansas State @ 4/4 Oklahoma - 8:00pm - FOX

80/104 Boston College @ 43/38 Florida State - 8:00pm - ACCN

26/7 USC @ 46/26 Oregon State - 9:30pm - PAC12

94/92 Wyoming @ 32/35 BYU - 10:15pm - ESPN2

12/10 Utah @ 48/66 Arizona State - 10:30pm - ESPN

77/53 Stanford @ 35/15 Washington - 10:30pm - FS1