The most basic purpose of these viewer’s guides is to preview the best college football games happening around the country every weekend in hopes that you’ll actually turn on your TV and watch them.
Perhaps Iowa State football – the beautiful, tragic, awesome enigma that it is – has prevented you from doing so the first three weeks of the season. Understandable. There are, after all, three phases to every Cyclone football gameday: the tailgate, the game, and the tailgate. I don’t know about you, but that’s an entire day for this guy.
That being said, you’re already out of excuses. ISU faces Bye this week (a perennial juggernaut from what I can tell), so your day should be wide open. If you somehow have friends who have chosen to schedule things like a baby shower, child’s birthday party, wedding or the like on Saturday, please find new friends and also don’t go to any of those terrible things.
Get your yard work done Saturday morning, save the housework for Sunday (the NFL is in shambles anyway), crumple up that honey-do list and settle in for these fine week four matchups.
Big 12 Game of the Week
West Virginia vs. (4) Oklahoma | Saturday, 6:30 p.m. | FOX
If these viewer’s guides went up on Thursday mornings, Kansas State-Auburn would have been the obvious choice here.
There weren’t a lot of others to choose from (just Kansas-Central Michigan, actually) but even still, this is a sneaky good matchup. I don’t know how it’s possible, but Clint Trickett leads the Big 12 in passing. At 410 yards per game, the Mountaineers come in at fifth nationally in and also feature a sophomore bruiser in Rushel Shell who’s averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Dana Holgerson’s offense, as it always does, will put up points.
But Bob Stoops’ defense is as good as ever, so something’s got to give. You obviously take performances against Louisiana Tech, Tulsa and a mediocre Tennessee team with a grain of a salt, but OU has allowed four touchdowns through three games – none of them on the ground. With a 45 ppg offense led by Trevor Knight and a defense that will likely force Trickett to keep throwing and throwing and throwing, well… I’d take the over.
It will be a fun atmosphere in Morgantown and it’s a long trip for the Sooners, but they’re on a mission for a National Championship. No slip-ups this early.
Oklahoma: 45 | West Virginia: 33
A Good One
(8) LSU vs. Mississippi State | Saturday, 6:00 p.m. | ESPN
Okay, look, Mississippi State has beaten LSU once since I was a tiny baby. In 22 years, the Bulldogs have either been shut out or held to single-digit points 10 times. Last year in Starkville, the Tigers hung 59 points by way of five rushing TDs. LSU is also pitching a shutout over their last two contests. These are merely facts that I present to you.
So, one of two things is going to happen: 1) This game is going to go astronomically bad for the Bulldogs, or 2) this is the year it all ends.
The argument for Mississippi State in this one could be that a defense allowing just 12.3 points per game could have a decent evening against sophomore QB Anthony Jennings, who has been anything but stellar thus far for LSU. His counterpart on the other hand, Dak Prescott, has been lights out with nine TDs to show for his first three performances for MSU.
If they stay in this game, it will be on Prescott’s capable arm. But, despite an offensive unit that has fallen off since the departure of Zach Mettenberger and Jeremy Hill, the run of dominance should continue for LSU.
It’s just plain daunting to kick that kind of a losing streak.
LSU: 23 | Mississippi State: 17
A Better One
(24) Nebraska vs. Miami | Saturday, 7:00 p.m. | ESPN2
You’ll be flipping back-and-forth with the next game on the list, and yes, I’m asking you to watch Nebraska football – just once and then I promise you’re good for the rest of the year.
If you haven’t been keeping tabs on the Huskers, Taylor Martinez no longer plays QB for this team. I was as surprised to hear this as you are. Instead, Tommy Armstrong Jr., who actually saw plenty of action last year in Martinez’s absence, takes the reins of an offense scoring 47 points per game through its first three weeks. Ameer Abdullah anchors down the ninth-best rushing attack in the country, to which Armstrong has contributed handsomely as well with 258 yards (9.8 per carry) and two scores.
Brad Kaaya and Duke Johnson lead a Miami offense that is mediocre across the board, and keeping up with the Huskers in Lincoln is going to be a tall order. But keep an eye on Phillip Dorsett for the Hurricanes. The WR posted a 4-201-2 line last week against Arkansas State. He is also not Tony Dorsett’s relative in any way, so move along.
Nebraska: 30 | Miami: 24
The Best One
(1) Florida State vs. (22) Clemson | Saturday, 7:00 p.m. | ABC
It’s a National Champion vs. a ranked conference foe, and the defending Heisman Trophy winner is on the bench for the first half. There is absolutely no reason not to watch this thing start to finish.
Jameis Winston (just Google his latest debacle because I don’t the time nor the energy) will be on the sidelines for 30 minutes serving a suspension, which leaves FSU’s offense in the hands of sophomore Sean Maguire. With just an average running game to lean on, this, as you might expect, could be a big problem for Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles.
Clemson did allow 45 points to a mildly impressive Georgia offense earlier this season, so the threat to a (temporarily) disparaged Florida State offense isn’t a huge one. But the Tigers’ passing game, even with a QB controversy that head coach Dabo Swinney swears doesn’t exist, is as good as advertised. Freshman WR Artavis Scott is definitely worth a watch.
Jameis or no Jameis for the first 30 minutes, I’m not messing with the defending champs on their own turf.
Florida State: 35 | Clemson: 24