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Week three of the college football season brought us some much-needed excitement thanks to Alabama, Ohio State, and Lamar Jackson. Week four is looking real nice too with some good matchups. We have Tennessee looking to end a long losing streak against Florida, Stanford traveling to UCLA to establish dominance in the PAC-12, Georgia and Ole Miss, LSU and Auburn playing for their head coaches, and Wisconsin/Michigan State. Instead of focusing on the marquee matchups everyone will already be watching, let’s preview five other games that should catch your interest.
TCU AT SMU
When: Friday at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN
The Battle for the Iron Skillet starts off our college football weekend tonight in what should be a good one. SMU held their own with TCU last year for three and a half quarters before TCU’s depth kicked in and won by 19. This year, expect more of the same competitiveness out of the Ponies. They have some things going for them this year, which includes the 25th ranked pass efficiency defense, 28th best red zone defense, 20th best rushing offense, and they rank 21st in turnover margin. All good things you’ll need to beat a much more talented team like TCU.
The only bad thing for SMU? Their 3rd down defense is allowing opponents to convert 41.5 percent of the time, ranking 87th in the country, while TCU’s 3rd down offense is converting 57.1 percent of the time, good for 5th in the country.
Colorado AT Oregon
When: 4:30 p.m. on PAC12 Network
Here’s a fun stat for you: Colorado has the 4th best defense in the country, allowing just under 240 yards per game. It’s a good mix of stopping the run and the pass, where they rank 45th in run defense and 5th in pass efficiency defense. Oregon brings the 8th best rushing attack in the land to this game. It’s a lot more evenly matched up than people think. Oregon has a good 3rd down O and red zone O, but CU counters with a good 3rd down D and red zone D. The only big advantage CU has in this game is their defense against Oregon’s, who is ranked 82nd in the country (also, CU has the 26th best offense in the land, if you were wondering).
Oklahoma State AT #16 Baylor
When: 6:30 p.m on FOX
Baylor is kind of an anomaly. They sport the 8th best and 7th best offense and defense in the country respectively. However, their first three opponents were Rice, SMU, and Northwestern State. The good thing for them? Their pass defense seems to be improved from year’s past, and they probably won’t need to rely on their 70th ranked run defense in this one because Okie Lite doesn’t run the ball well at all, coming in hot with only 98 yards rushing per game, good for 119th in the country. OSU has a run defense that’s about middle tier, and they’ll be facing a stout rushing attack. Both teams know they have to win out to have any sort of shot at the playoff.
#17 Arkansas AT #10Texas A&M
When: 8:00 p.m. on ESPN at Jerry World
No matter what happens when these teams get together, you can be sure it’s going to be a fun one. A&M has won five straight in the series, and the games have gone to overtime in the last two years. A&M sports the better offense, but Arkansas doesn’t care about that. They will play smash-mouth football and run the ball down your throat and milk the clock. The matchup to watch here is Arkansas’ 21st ranked run defense against A&M’s 24th best rushing offense, and who wins the 3rd down battle.
The downside to Arkansas’ offense (and A&M’s too) is they aren’t great at converting on third down, and A&M has one of the better 3rd down defenses in the country (and that guy named Myles Garrett). So if A&M gets Arkansas in those 3rd and 5 or more situations, watch out. A&M also is really good in the red zone on defense, only allowing three TDs in 11 opponent trips.
Pittsburgh AT North Carolina
When: 2:30 p.m on ESPNU
Why do I like this game so much? Because I like points. Points are fun, and these two teams will put up some points because of how bad their defenses are. Pitt’s D has the edge, despite holding the title of 85th best defense in the country. UNC’s rushing defense is porous; it’s almost like they don’t care about it. Pitt is another team like Arkansas that wants to run the ball and stay ahead of the chains because their 3rd down offense is real bad, converting only 31.1 percent of the time.
If Pitt can keep up by scoring TDs in the red zone, and there is no reason they can’t (they have scored 11 TDs on 12 trips this season), this one will be a barnburner, because Pitt is a firm believer in letting the other team get six points when they let them inside the 20..
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