The Battle for the Iron Skillet very well may be the best game of the weekend, though we’re certainly hoping for a blowout Frogs victory. Following a week loaded with exciting showdowns, Week Four is rather light on intrigue. Sleepy weeks like this tend to be filled with oddities – which games are primed to entertain and surprise?
#7 Texas A&M (-5) vs. #16 Arkansas - September 25, 2:30 PM, CBS
The Razorbacks are looking to take down the entire Southwest Conference this season, having already walked over Rice and smashed Texas. Now they’ll step into the palace of their most famous alumnus with a chance to secure another marquee top-10 win over the Aggies. TAMU meanwhile has held onto that pre-season top-10 ranking despite looking terrible in an escape win at Colorado and two whatever wins over low-tier G5s. Aggie starting QB Haynes King is expected to remain out this week and backup Zach Calzada has been acceptable, if unimpressive, in relief. The A&M defense has been stellar, ranking #3 overall in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play, per CFB-Graphs.com. If the Hogs can generate early points off turnovers or special teams, forcing Calzada to beat them, Arkansas will have a strong case. However, I tend to think this elite defense will sufficiently slow the [name redacted] offense and allow the Aggies to grind out a win that looks more comfortable on the scoreboard than it was on the field.
My pick: Texas A&M wins (-195); Texas A&M covers (-5); Total Under 47.5
#12 Notre Dame vs. #18 Wisconsin (-6.5) – September 25, 11:00 AM, FOX
I’m already bored just thinking about this game, but this is where we are . It’s at the same time as TCU-SMU, so an easy avoid. Can the reincarnation of Jack Coan return to slay the usurper Graham Mertz? Find out on Big Yawn Saturday! I keep getting FSU 2014 vibes with this Notre Dame team – barely surviving games they were expected to win big and everyone knows they aren’t one of the best teams, but if they finish undefeated the Committee will be compelled include them in the Playoff. Whoever wins this game will be unduly considered “good” and I don’t think we’ll be so lucky as to remove the Irish from the national picture yet.
My pick: Notre Dame wins (+195); Notre Dame covers (+6.5); Total Over 46.5
#25 Kansas St. (+190) at Oklahoma St. (-6) – September 25, 6:00 PM, ESPN+
Both these teams are coming off somewhat surprising wins over high-quality G5 teams to enter conference play undefeated. One of these teams will leave this game with hopes alive as a viable contender to reach the Big 12 championship game, while the other is likely eliminated from that consideration.
I imagine this is a sucker bet – “how can an undefeated ranked team be a TD underdog to an unranked team!?” Well, they are on the road and their starting QB is injured, so maybe backing the Wildcats is a square move. This is more about whether Spencer Sanders can Prove It – he and the Cowboys’ offense has been lackluster and vanilla through three games, barely surviving Boise, Tulsa, and FCS Missouri State to open the season, averaging just 24 points per game over that slate. 24 points may be enough to outlast K-State, but I’m counting on Deuce getting loose in Stillwater. Sidenote: it’s disappointing that Disney has sidelined this game on ESPN+; of course the Hateful 8 don’t secure big TV audiences, you won’t even put them on actual TV.
My pick: K-State wins (+190); K-State covers (+6); Total Over 46
San Jose State at Western Michigan (-3) – September 25, 1:00 PM, ESPN+
WMU is coming off its best win in the post-PJ Fleck era, defeating Pitt; SJSU is coming off one of its best seasons ever in 2020, as Mountain West Champions. This very well could be the MWC Champ vs. the MAC Champ when we look back on this season. We think of all the big P5 non-conference matches, but it’s fun to remember these measuring stick games for the G5 as well. This one features top-level G5 QB play, with Kaleb Eleby and Nick Starkel playing at a very high level and are sneaky sleepers for eventually being drafted in the NFL. I think the Spartan defense is the difference maker and forces Eleby into his first INTs of the season and leaves Kalamazoo with the W.
My pick: San Jose State wins (+125); San Jose State covers (+3); Total Under 63.5
Others Receiving Votes
- Tennessee at #11 Florida (-20) – Maybe it’s because this game used to matter when I was a kid (yes, I am very old), but I have a feeling the Vols go into the Swamp and look better than Alabama did there last week, making this game way scarier for the Gators than it should be.
- #9 Clemson (-10) at NC State – Is this the game where Clemson finally turns on the rockets to show off all that potential, or do the Tigers uninspiringly plod past another over-matched opponent, or does the road environment in Raleigh lead to a 2nd loss and likely Playoff elimination?
- LSU (-2.5) at Mississippi State – Leach vs. Orgeron. These teams have already disappointed this season, which one will dive further into despair? An LSU loss here could really push Tigers fans to riot against Orgeron, despite one of the best season ever just two years ago.
- UTSA at Memphis (-3) – Super fun offenses with sneaky excellent talent. Both teams are undefeated including a P5 win. The winner of this game should be ranked.
- Texas Tech at Texas (-7.5) – Will the Longhorns be looking ahead to their trip to Fort Worth next week? I don’t know that we’re ready to put UT on upset alert here, but don’t be surprised if Tech keeps it close and maybe Matt Wells turns down the temperature on his hot seat.
- West Virginia at #4 Oklahoma (-17) – There has been a lot of talk that Spencer Rattler and the Sooners are vulnerable. I’m not buying it, but the Mountaineers are coming off a big ranked win and could take advantage of that alleged vulnerability.