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College Football ’18: Week 4 Top 25 previews

Top 25

Each week, The Game Haus will preview every college football game featuring teams in The Associated Press Top 25. We’ll also give an expanded look at three Top 25 matchups especially worth watching.

Here we go with those Top 25 games for Week 4 (all times Eastern):

Key Games

No. 22 Texas A&M (2-1) at No. 1 Alabama (3-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Aggies: They may be in the Top 25, but this is a Herculean task for Jimbo Fisher’s crew against friend Nick Saban. A&M has dropped five in a row in the series, including the last two at Alabama by a combined score of 92-14.

Scouting the Crimson Tide: It’s safe to say they are currently the most balanced team in the nation after outscoring their first three opponents 170-28. Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State fans might argue, but the Tide remain the class of the country and that won’t change this weekend.

Winner: Alabama

No. 7 Stanford (3-0) at No. 20 Oregon (3-0), 8 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Cardinal: Brian Shaw’s squad has scored 101 points while winning the last two meetings, but this one expects to be more difficult. Star running back Bryce Love will be back after missing last weekend with an undisclosed injury. Just how effective he will be remains to be seen.

Top 25
Photo by collegesportsview.com

Scouting the Ducks: This is the first real test for Oregon, which dominated the likes of Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State. Quarterback Justin Herbert has thrown 12 touchdowns in those three games, and playing the game at Eugene might be the advantage that’s enough to give the Ducks a victory.

Winner: Oregon

No. 18 Wisconsin (2-1) vs. Iowa (3-0), 8:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Badgers: Did Wisconsin learn its lesson from last week’s surprise loss to BYU – at home? Perhaps, but at the very least it will be focused. The Badgers allowed 191 yards on the ground last week, and Iowa will want to pound the ball as well. Wisconsin, though, has won four straight at Iowa City.

Scouting the Hawkeyes: A victory here should get them into the Top 25, but they should be ready for an angry Wisconsin team. Iowa has allowed just 24 points in its three games and having the home crowd on its side should help give the Badgers all they can handle.

Winner: Wisconsin

The Rest

Florida Atlantic (2-1) at No. 16 UCF (2-0), 7 p.m., Friday

The Skinny: UCF received an extra week of rest with a Hurricane Florence-related postponement Saturday. The Knights probably won’t need it against Lane Kiffin’s Owls, who don’t seem to be the same caliber of team that went 11-3 in 2017. Not after losing 63-14 at Oklahoma to open this season.

Winner: UCF

No. 10 Penn State (3-0) at Illinois (2-1), 9 p.m., Friday

The Skinny: With Ohio State lurking next week, there is the slight potential of a trap game for the Nittany Lions. As talent goes, these teams are night and day. They also have not met since 2015. Expect James Franklin to have his Penn State crew ready to avoid any type of misstep.

Winner: Penn State

Nebraska (0-2) at No. 19 Michigan (2-1), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: With six touchdown passes in the last two games, Shea Patterson appears to be getting more comfortable in Michigan’s offense. Nebraska has its issues on both sides of the ball as the Scott Frost honeymoon period has been anything but. The Wolverines have lost three of the last four in the series, but these teams haven’t met since 2013.

Winner: Michigan

No. 2 Georgia (3-0) at Missouri (3-0), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: South Carolina tried to tame the Bulldogs at home and failed, now it’s another upstart’s turn in Mizzou. The Tigers last started 4-0 in 2013, but Georgia appears way too strong for that to happen again. The Bulldogs have won the last four games between the teams and that streak should continue against Drew Lock and Co.

Winner: Georgia

No. 23 Boston College (3-0) at Purdue (0-3), Noon, Saturday
Top 25
Photo by boston.com

The Skinny: Last season, BC averaged 25.7 points. Through three games this year, it’s at 52.7. The competition hasn’t been all that good but the Eagles are soaring high to begin 2018 and now land in the Top 25. This will be a solid test even though Purdue is trying to avoid its first 0-4 start since 1982.

Winner: Boston College

 

No. 8 Notre Dame (3-0) at Wake Forest (2-1), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: Nothing has really come easy for the Irish, who won their three games by a combined 20 points. Now, they embark on their first road contest of 2018. Notre Dame has won each of the previous four meetings with the Demon Deacons, whose lone defeat came in a hard-fought battle against newly ranked Boston College last week.

Winner: Notre Dame

No. 3 Clemson (3-0) at Georgia Tech (1-2), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Tigers have won three consecutive games in the series and allowed 17 points to the Yellow Jackets in the last two meetings. Tech’s option attack is averaging 392.6 rushing yards, but obviously faces a daunting challenge against the best defensive line in the country.

Winner: Clemson

Florida International (2-1) at No. 21 Miami, FL (2-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: These Miami neighbors haven’t played since 2007, but the matchup won’t lack for storylines. There’s the 15-minute travel time between campuses, FIU coach Butch Davis facing his old team and the memories of the 2006 brawl between the schools. The Hurricanes won the previous two meetings by a combined score of 58-9

Winner: Miami

Tulane (1-2) at No. 4 Ohio State (3-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
Urban Meyer (Photo by si.com)

The Skinny: Ohio State didn’t miss a beat during coach Urban Meyer’s three-suspension. Fresh off the heels of their 40-28 win over then-No. 15 TCU, the Buckeyes welcome Meyer back to the sidelines for another expected one-sided affair even without star defender Nick Bosa.

Winner: Ohio State

 

No. 13 Virginia Tech (2-0) at Old Dominion (0-3), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: After last weekend’s game versus East Carolina was postponed because of Hurricane Florence, the Hokies return to action for a favorable road contest. This game could follow the same form as last season when Virginia Tech rolled to a 38-0 home victory over the Monarchs.

Winner: Virginia Tech

Kansas State (2-1) at No. 12 West Virginia (2-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Like UCF and Virginia Tech, Hurricane Florence kept the Mountaineers from playing last weekend at North Carolina State. They return to host Kansas State, which has dropped the last two in the series, but only by a combined six points.

Winner: West Virginia

No. 17 TCU (2-1) at Texas (2-1), 4:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Bouncing back from a frustrating defeat to Ohio State won’t be that easy for the Horned Frogs. Though they’ve outscored Texas 153-33 during a four-game winning streak in the series, the Longhorns have recovered from an opening loss to Maryland and looked good in last weekend’s 37-14 home rout of then-No. 22 USC.

Winner: TCU

McNeese (3-0) at No. 25 BYU (2-1), 6 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
Photo by si.com

The Skinny: The Cougars enter the Top 25 after stunning then-No. 6 Wisconsin 24-21 in Madison. Three of BYU’s scoring drives lasted at least 9 1/2 minutes and its defense did enough to stymie the Badgers. Now, the Cougars shift their attention to one of the better programs in the FCS.

Winner: BYU

 

No. 14 Mississippi State (3-0) at Kentucky (3-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: It was 2014 when the Bulldogs last opened a season 4-0, but the Wildcats are waiting to prevent that from occurring again. Mississippi State has scored 150 points in three games, so Kentucky will have its hands full while trying to go 4-0 for the first time since 2008.

Winner: Mississippi State

Louisiana Tech (2-0) at No. 6 LSU (3-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: With its impressive victory over Auburn, LSU has now beat two top 10 teams already this season. These Tigers seem for real, especially on offense, which was a question mark coming into the campaign. The good times should keep coming in this first meeting with the Bulldogs since 2009.

Winner: LSU

Army (2-1) at No. 5 Oklahoma (3-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: These teams have not met since 1961, with Oklahoma leading 2-1 in the series. The Sooners are 4-2 all-time against service academies, and enter this contest after taking care of business at Iowa State. Quarterback Kyler Murray is making Sooner fans quickly forget about Baker Mayfield.

Winner: Oklahoma

Texas Tech (2-1) at No. 15 Oklahoma State (3-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Talk about making a statement. The Cowboys did with a 44-21 home victory over Boise State last weekend that knocked the Broncos out of the Top 25. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius is no Mason Rudolph, but he’s done a solid job running Oklahoma State’s offense. Texas Tech has dropped nine straight to the Cowboys.

Winner: Oklahoma State

Arkansas (1-2) at No, 9 Auburn (2-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
Photo by auburntigers.com

The Skinny: The sting of that last-second loss to LSU might linger, but the Tigers should be able to bounce back. Arkansas has suffered back-to-back defeats to Colorado State and North Texas over the last two weeks and yielded 108 points while losing the last two meetings with Auburn.

Winner: Auburn

 

No. 24 Michigan State (1-1) at Indiana (3-0), 7:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Spartans will have had two weeks to regroup from their loss at Arizona State. They’ve also won 15 of the last 18 in this series, but did lose at Indiana in overtime in 2016. The Hoosiers last started 4-0 in 2015, but Michigan State has had too much time to prepare for that to happen again.

Winner: Michigan State

Arizona State (2-1) at No. 10 Washington (2-1), 10:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: History hasn’t been kind to the Huskies in this matchup with losses in 11 of the last 12 meetings. The Sun Devils fell out of the Top 25 after losing at San Diego State last week, and lost 44-18 when these teams last met at Seattle in 2016.

Winner: Washington

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