We’ll kick things off with a huge Pac-12 matchup on Friday, as #10 Utah takes on #19 Oregon State at 8:00 p.m. CT. Oddly enough, the lower-ranked squad, Oregon State, is favored in this battle. The Saturday morning matchups intrigue. Colorado, now unranked, takes on the high-powered #8 USC squad led by quarterback Caleb Williams. Also, Kentucky looks to prove itself with a matchup against #22 Florida. The #13 LSU versus #20 Ole Miss contest just misses the mark. Some may have hoped to read about these two SEC teams square-off, but many of us are disappointed in Ole Miss who laid an egg last week against #12 Alabama.
#3 Texas vs. #24 Kansas (+16.5) 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday, September 30 on ABC
The Longhorns have scored 30 points in every contest thus far, and will likely continue to pour it on against the Jayhawks. However, Kansas has scored more than 30 points every game and sport and equally as impressive offense.
Kansas is coming off an impressive win against the BYU Cougars. The Jayhawks displayed a highly efficient offense but came to play on the other end as well. The Kansas defense turned over BYU three times. Not typically known for their defense, the Jayhawks field a top-25 defense in yards allowed. Additionally, Kansas has already recorded six interceptions and eleven sacks.
On offense, the Jayhawks are well-balanced. Kansas quarterback is a bonafide star, he was named the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year. Daniels has thrown for 705 yards and five touchdowns in three games thus far. On the ground, Kansas running back Devin Neal is another star. Neal has already run for 394 yards and five touchdowns. Kansas’ receiving core doesn’t have the big names, but Daniels does a fantastic job of distributing the ball.
The #3 Longhorns certainly deserve their top-5 ranking. Texas came into the season ranked #11, but quickly rose to the top after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide. Against their best opponent thus far, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers dominated through the air with 349 yards and three touchdowns. Ewers is the star player the Longhorns have missed in recent seasons. Ewers, along with his fantastic receiving core, can easily light up the scoreboard. Wide receivers Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell are big plays waiting to happen. While tight end, Ja’Tavion Sanders averaged an absurd 22.3 yards per catch.
The Longhorns defense is a well-rounded unit, led by stud linebacker Jaylan Ford. Ford already has 25 tackles and two interceptions. Since Daniels is a dual threat, Ford must shadow him, sideline to sideline, to halt the running opportunities. Also, watch out for freshman Anthony Hill Jr., the youngster has already recorded sixteen tackles and two sacks.
Both Kansas and Texas are well-balanced squads. Texas is battle-tested, especially after their matchup with Bama in week two. But, the Longhorns haven’t yet faced a quarterback quite like Daniels. The Longhorns must laser in on Daniels. And, this focus begins with the defensive line. As for the Jayhawks, Texas is and will likely be the most difficult matchup of their season. Not many teams have the talent Texas does, thus preparing is difficult for any team in the nation. Kansas is definitely an improved team in 2023, but the Longhorns are ultimately too much for the Jayhawks. Texas possesses too many dominant athletes and a defense that can limit the Jayhawks' vaunted attack.
My pick: Texas wins 34-23
#17 Duke vs. #11 Notre Dame (-5.5) 6:30 p.m. CT Saturday, September 30 on ABC
A week ago, the Fighting Irish let many college football fans down. Notre Dame led Ohio State for a majority of the fourth quarter before a coaching blunder ultimately led to their demise. With a 14-10 lead, the Fighting Irish defended the Ohio State Buckeyes in a goal-to-go situation. However, during the last two plays of Ohio State’s final scoring drive, the Notre Dame defense only sent out ten players to stop the Buckeyes at the most crucial point in the game... yes ten.
Ohio State went on to win after running back Chip Trayanum capped off the long final drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge. After the loss, Notre Dame only dropped two spots in the AP Poll, but the Fighting Irish had the chance to knock off a perennial powerhouse in Ohio State.
Now, Notre Dame faces a premier Duke squad on Saturday. The 4-0 Blue Devils haven’t been ranked this high in the AP Poll since 1994. ESPN’s College Gameday is even making the trip to Durham, North Carolina in preparation for this exciting matchup. The Blue Devils are riding a lot of hype heading into week five. Quarterback Riley Leonard looks to show off his skillset on the national stage. Although Leonard has only thrown for 778 yards and two touchdowns, he’s rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns, proving himself to be an extremely talented dual-threat quarterback in the ACC.
On the other side, Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman has played the Blue Devils twice in his long collegiate career. He’s split those contests, winning in 2021, and losing a season ago. Hartman will be up for his toughest challenge yet, as the Blue Devils only allow 143.3 yards per game through the air. however, even with a spectacular pass defense, the Fighting Irish should come out victorious in this one. Notre Dame is too talented and is coming off an unfortunate loss a week prior.
My pick: Notre Dame wins 28-20