Three matchups between ranked teams highlight Week 4 in college football.
That includes what is perhaps the most anticipated nonconference game of the season between Georgia and Notre Dame, plus two contests that show conference play is heating up.
The last time these two teams met, in 2017, Georgia’s followers bathed Notre Dame Stadium in a sea of red in what turned out to be a 20-19 victory for the Bulldogs. The rematch means more to the Fighting Irish, and not just because it seeks to avenge the earlier result.
The Irish face some tough road games this season. In addition to Georgia, they must visit Michigan and Stanford, two teams that have gotten off to slow starts. Still, they must win and keep winning. Anything short of an unbeaten season puts them out of the running for a repeat College Football Playoff berth.
The Bulldogs come in with the eighth-best rushing offense in FBS, averaging 286.7 yards, while the Fighting Irish carry the 11th-worst rushing defense (230.5 yards allowed per game). Junior D’Andre Swift, the former St. Joseph’s Prep star, has gained 290 yards on the ground, and his 9.35-yard-per-carry average is fifth in FBS.
Notre Dame’s Ian Book hasn’t had to throw the ball much in two games (29-for-47, 61.7%), but he is fifth in the nation in passing efficiency, gaining 553 yards through the air with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Addressing the possibility of a record crowd of more than 93,000, Book said, “We talk about having a road-warrior mindset, and that’s what it’s going to take for us.”
Each team returns from a week off. The Wolverines want to show they’re not as bad a team as the one that has lost five fumbles and has been assessed 17 penalties in two games. The Badgers want to show they’re every bit as good as the team that has outscored its first two overmatched opponents, 111-0.
Michigan still is trying to work the kinks out of its new spread offense. Quarterback Shea Patterson lost three fumbles in the first two games and led his team to just 14 points in regulation in Army’s near-upset. He faces a Wisconsin defense that has allowed a total of 215 yards thus far.
The Badgers boast Salem High grad and Heisman Trophy candidate Jonathan Taylor. Taylor has rushed for 243 yards in limited action thus far, scoring five touchdowns rushing and three more receiving. Quarterback Jack Coan ranks ninth nationally in pass efficiency, and Quintez Cephus has caught nine throws for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Michigan has not won in Madison since 2001.
Tigers freshman Bo Nix already has had his moment in Texas, leading a game-winning drive in the closing minutes of last month’s victory over Oregon in Arlington. Now, however, he returns to the Lone Star state to play in front of more than 100,000 fans at Texas A&M and its intimidating 12th man.
Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher was the position coach at Auburn when Nix’s father, Patrick Nix, played quarterback there. Fisher called Patrick a winner and told the Associated Press that Bo Nix “will have a lot of intangibles in his blood that some other freshman may not just from the experience of being around” him.
In the second year of his 10-year, $75 million contract at Texas A&M, Fisher could use a signature win over a Top 10 team. The Aggies already have lost to No. 1 Clemson, and have Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana State coming up later, with the latter two on the road in back-to-back weeks.
The leading rusher in FBS is Cowboys redshirt sophomore Chuba Hubbard, a 6-foot-1, 207-pound running back from Canada who already has put up games of 221 and 256 yards this season along with seven touchdowns.
Oklahoma State will count on him to keep the ball away from Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns offense. Ehlinger has passed for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns in three games, and is one of only three major-college quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts and no interceptions.
Everyone knows Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (73.3% completions, 868 yards, 11 TDs, no picks), but did you know the defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown in its last two games, and has gone 27 consecutive drives without an opponent crossing the goal line? The Cardinal could use better play from their defense, which is allowing more than 32 points per game.
In his weekly “Herbie and Pollack” podcast, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who downplayed UCF when it first began its winning ways, says the Knights should be ranked higher and are “a team that the nation really needs to pay attention to” after beating Stanford. Freshman Dillon Gabriel passed for 347 yards and four touchdowns in that game but must deal with a Panthers defense that held Penn State to 17 points last week.
- No. 24 Arizona State does not want to have history repeat itself. A year ago, the Sun Devils upset Michigan State and followed that up with a loss to San Diego State. They knocked off the Spartans again last week and now host Colorado. Said head coach Herman Edwards: “All the warning signs are there. I’m going to talk about it all week, then we’re going to go to the ball yard and find out.”
- After being embarrassed, 48-24, at home last week by perennial Big 12 cellar-dweller Kansas, Boston College faces a Rutgers team that went winless in the Big Ten last year. It’s a Big East reunion; the Eagles and the Scarlet Knights haven’t played since 2004.
- Speaking of Kansas (2-1), here are some numbers as the Jayhawks start their Big 12 schedule against West Virginia: Six conference wins in the last decade, their last three-win season coming in 2009, an average home attendance of 19,424 last season.