New writer Andy Normile previews some of week 4’s biggest college football games. With so many games to choose from here are some of the most exciting matchups this weekend. You can check out the full College Football TV UK Guide here
For many college teams, this week sees the start of Conference play. As we get into the meat of the season, this is an opportunity to right division wrongs, beat old rivals and break losing streaks.
This is a chance for teams to show just who this year’s contenders are, who the pretenders are, and who can make comebacks or at least play the role of spoilers after a poor start.
Some of the most intriguing games are reviewed below
Clemson (5) @ Wake Forest (21)
This looks like a key season matchup in the ACC and possibly the Atlantic division title decider, between two unbeaten and ranked teams.
Clemson owned this division for 6 consecutive years between 2015 and 2020. But, they lost the title to Wake last year and although last year in the conference they went 6-2, for the Tigers that felt like a losing season. So they are looking to rebuild and regain their title and playoff berth.
They are led by DJ Uiagalelei, a QB who first showcased his talents two years ago. But, has failed to live up to that early potential (he suffers in comparison to Bryce Young and CJ Stroud) and is very inconsistent.
As in previous title winning years, they have a very strong defence. Led by one of the best DL’s in college football and featuring two potential 1st round picks DT Bryan Breese and DE Myles Murphy.
Wake Forest is the current ACC runners-up. Last year’s loss to Clemson was one of only 3 losses but will have hurt them the most. They have been dominated by the Tigers, losing the last 13 straight encounters.
The key to their success has undoubtedly been the offence, which they regularly rely on to outscore their shaky defence. QB Sam Hartman is just back from injury, and looked a bit rusty but should he get hot, he is one of football’s most prolific passers. He is helped by a talented trio of WR’s Perry, Greene, and Morin.
It should be fascinating to watch the high-octane Wake offence against the stingy Clemson defence. DJ Uiagalelei should score enough points, and maybe even have breakout performance v the Wake defence while the Tigers’ DL should be good enough to disrupt Hartman.
Clemson by 7.
Wisconsin @ Ohio State (3)
This is always a tough conference game, and a chance to see how good Ohio State are, and if they are worthy of their current number 3 ranking. Especially as their opening weekend win over Notre Dame is not looking so impressive. After the Irish’s recent slump in form.
This could also be a potential Big 10 title game preview.
Wisconsin is always a tough team, running the ball and a strong defence being their mantra. They had a surprising loss to an improved Washington St, but could still win a weak Big 10 West division. So far this season their defence has only conceded 24 points. The rushing attack is led by Braelon Allen. The next off the long production line of top Badger RB’s, he already has 332 yards and 5 TD’s for the season.
Ohio State, have an abundance of riches and talent on offense, possibly the best in the country. CJ Stroud is an elite top QB and should go in the first few picks of the draft. Last year RB TreVeyon Henderson was one of the most exciting in the country. Although he hasn’t produced that form yet this year, it is only a matter of time before he does so.
Top WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba is currently injured. But, the Buckeyes have seen standout performances from Marvin Harrison Jr 342 yds 5TDs and Emeka Egbuka 324 yds and 3 TD’s, which maybe shows just highlights how good Stroud is at finding his receivers.
The Badgers will give the Buckeyes a stern test in the trenches. But, Ohio State has too many offensive weapons. The game may be close to start but offence will eventually prevail.
Ohio State by 14
Notre Dame @ N Carolina
These two teams have had contrasting starts to the season, but should match up well against each other.
Notre Dame’s had begun the season with high hopes of returning to the playoffs. But, started badly with a loss at Ohio State, things then got even worse with an unexpected and catastrophic loss at home to Sun Belt conference Marshall. With no Conference title to play for, their playoff hopes are over. However the Fighting Irish are certain to put up a good fight and become spoilers if nothing else.
Opening day QB Tyler Buckner is out injured and replaced by Drew Payne. QB play will need to improve (3 TD’s and 3Int’s so far this season) and they will need better protection from their normally reliable OL. Who so far have conceded 7 sacks. They will need to use their strongest offensive target – TE Michael Mayer, who is one of the best in the sport, and likely to be the first TE taken in the draft. Chris Tyree has looked like the most explosive RB, but his modest stats highlight the problems on the OL.
N Carolina’s season has been spectacular. The Tar Heels are 3-0 thanks to their offence, averaging over 50 points a game. Although it’s worth bearing in mind they have yet to beat a Power 5 team, so this will be an acid test.
Not surprisingly QB Drake Maye has been the breakout player of the season. He already has 930 yards and 11 TD (compare this to ND’s total of 548 and 3 TD’s) spreading his passes. 7 different receivers have over 100 yards each.
However, just as the offence has been good, the defence has been poor. Conceding 61 to Appalachian State, they had a certain amount of luck to come away with the win in that game. Twice the Mountaineers missed two-point conversions attempts.
This should be a close contest, never rule out the Irish, especially when they are down. N Carolina’s luck could finally run out.
Notre Dame by 3
Thanks to Andy for producing the College Football Week 4 preview. You can see more of his work here in the Future!
Feature Image: The State