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College football Week 4: The most intriguing game in each conference

Matt Zenitz09/24/21
Article written by:On3 imageMatt Zenitz


RB Will Shipley and QB D.J. Uiagalelei are hoping to have a better performance against Georgia Tech this season. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

Each week, On3 takes a look at the most intriguing matchup in each Power 5 conference, along with a Group of 5 game worth keeping an eye on.

Here’s our Week 4 edition; our game of the week — Notre Dame-Wisconsin — is covered here.

All times are Eastern.

ACC: No. 9 Clemson (2-1) at NC State (2-1)

Time/TV: 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Clemson’s struggling offense has scored just two touchdowns in two games against FBS teams. NC State’s defense, meanwhile, has given up just three offensive touchdowns in games against USF, Mississippi State and Furman. Clemson sophomore QB D.J. Uiagalelei hasn’t thrown for more than 178 yards this season and didn’t have any touchdowns in the Tigers’ games against Georgia and Georgia Tech. Clemson enters as a 10-point favorite.

Big Ten: Nebraska (2-2) at No. 20 Michigan State (3-0)

Time/TV: 7 p.m., FS1

This is another chance for Michigan State to continue proving it belongs in the conversation as one of the better teams in the Big Ten. Spartans RB Kenneth Walker III, a transfer from Wake Forest, leads the nation in rushing (164.3 yards per game) and has been a driving force behind Michigan State’s wins over Northwestern, Youngstown State and then-No. 24 Miami. Nebraska has played better since a sloppy season-opening loss to Illinois. Wins over Fordham and Buffalo were followed by a 23-16 loss to No. 4 Oklahoma last week. Michigan State is a five-point favorite.

Big 12: Texas Tech (3-0) at Texas (2-1)

Time/TV: Noon, ABC

The hot seat has cooled some for Texas Tech coach Matt Wells, but this will be the Red Raiders’ first test against a Big 12 opponent. A big part of Texas Tech’s early success has been a much-improved defense, which ranks ninth-best nationally in games vs. FBS opponents (248.5 yards per game). It comes after the Red Raiders ranked 81st nationally last season in total defense (427.7 yards per game). Texas Tech will be facing Casey Thompson, who will be making his second consecutive start at quarterback for Texas. Aided by Thompson, the Longhorns bounced back from a 40-21 loss to Arkansas in Week 2 with a 58-0 win over Rice last week. Texas is a 7.5-point favorite over Tech, which has lost three in a row to the Longhorns.

Stanford is 2-0 since Tanner McKee became the starting quarterback. McKee’s counterpart will be Dorian Thompson-Robinson in Week 4. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Pac-12: No. 24 UCLA (2-1) at Stanford (2-1)

Time/TV: 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network

People around the football world still very much view UCLA as a top contender in the Pac-12 despite last week’s loss to Fresno State. This could be a tough matchup, though. Stanford is 2-0 since turning to Tanner McKee as its starting quarterback, with wins over USC (42-28) and Vanderbilt (41-23). McKee has accounted for three touchdowns in each of those games without any interceptions. UCLA is a 4.5-point favorite.

SEC: No. 7 Texas A&M (3-0) at No. 16 Arkansas (3-0)

Time/TV: 3:30 p.m., CBS

It’s time to find out whether Texas A&M is going to be OK with Zach Calzada as its starting quarterback. Although Calzada threw three touchdowns in last week’s 34-0 rout of New Mexico, the challenge will be much greater this week. Arkansas is rolling in Year 2 under Sam Pittman, with wins over Rice (38-17), then-No. 15 Texas (40-21) and Georgia Southern (45-10). Led by defensive coordinator Barry Odom, the Razorbacks held Texas to 256 yards during the Week 2 win over the Longhorns. Offensively, Arkansas is eighth nationally in rushing offense (282.3 yards per game), but Aggies coordinator Mike Elko’s defense has allowed just two touchdowns through three games. A&M is a 4.5-point favorite.

Group of 5: San Jose State (2-1) at Western Michigan (2-1)

Time/TV: 2 p.m., ESPN+

Western Michigan beat Pitt 44-41 last week and is looking like a potential top contender in the MAC. Now, the Broncos — predicted to finish third in the MAC West — meet the 2020 Mountain West champs. In the win over Pitts, Broncos QB Kaleb Eleby passed for 337 yards and three touchdowns. San Jose State’s past two games have been a 30-7 loss to USC and a 17-13 victory over a Hawaii squad that’s 1-3. Western Michigan, which will be without coach Tim Lester because of a positive COVID-19 test, is a three-point favorite.