Weeks like this are when college football can get really weird.
Only two games match ranked teams, both in the Pac-12. Most of the top-10 teams are huge favorites, playing at home. Upsets seem unlikely, but weird stuff can happen. And what better place than West Texas if you’re looking to get weird.
No. 3 TCU visits Texas Tech for what seems the most likely spot for a top-10 team to take a loss this week. Stanford’s win at USC last week marked the season’s first victory for an unranked team against a top-10 team. There were 12 such upsets last year, half the total of the previous four seasons (24) combined.
That potential upset in West Texas is one of the things to watch in Week 4 of the college football season.
The Horned Frogs had their way with the Red Raiders last season in Fort Worth, beating Texas Tech 82-27. It was just the seventh time since 2000 an FBS team scored 80 points, and only the third time it happened in a conference game.
The Red Raiders (3-0) are off to a nice start under third-year coach Kliff Kingsbury and coming off a payback victory against Arkansas last week. The Red Raiders offense might be better suited to keep up with Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs this time around, but that defense is still very shaky.
Tech is allowing 6.17 yards per play, tied for eighth in the 10-team Big 12 and about a yard and a half worse than TCU (4.84).
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No. 8 LSU is heading North to take on Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. It is the first time the Tigers will play in the state of New York since they beat Fordham at the Polo Grounds in 1942.
The 1,200-mile trip is the fourth longest in LSU football history and might be the toughest part of the deal for LSU and star running back Leonard Fournette. Syracuse has its first 3-0 start since 1991, but against sketchy competition. Injuries will force the Orange to play walk-on quarterback Zack Mahoney, a junior college transfer who was fifth on the depth chart in preseason.
Significant injuries for top teams continue to pile up.
This week No. 9 UCLA lost star linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Fabian Moreau, heading into its matchup at No. 16 Arizona. Jack is a huge loss because his versatility and athleticism allows the Bruins to keep him on the field for any down and distance.
Wisconsin running back Corey Clement will be out four to six weeks because of sports hernia surgery. That should be a manageable problem for the 22nd-ranked Badgers this week against Hawaii. Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal, who have combined for 339 yards and four touchdowns with Clement sideline for much of the first three games, will get the bulk of the carries.
The Ole Miss defense took a hit with the loss of hard-hitting safety Tony Conner (knee surgery) for at least four weeks. The third-ranked Rebels hope A.J. Moore, Chief Brown and Zedrick Woods can fill in.
The quarterback situations for No. 12 Alabama and No. 1 Ohio State have not yet been resolved, adding intrigue to otherwise uninteresting games for both. Both starters in the No. 18 Utah (Travis Wilson)-No. 13 Oregon (Vernon Adams) are uncertain to play because of injuries. Auburn has a new No. 1 in redshirt freshman Sean White when it faces Mississippi State. Purdue and South Carolina also made quarterback changes this week.
There are 13 former Mid-American Conference coaches currently coaching at other schools, including some of the most successful in the business: Alabama’s Nick Saban (Toledo); Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (Bowling Green); Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (Central Michigan) and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel (Toledo).
Five former MAC coaches will be facing MAC teams this week, in most cases hoping to avoid being upset.
Western Michigan is at No. 1 Ohio State.
Massachusetts is at No. 6 Notre Dame.
Ohio is at Minnesota, coached by Jerry Kill (formerly Northern Illinois)
Northern Illinois, coming off a close loss at Ohio State, is at Boston College, coached by Steve Addazio, whose tenure at Temple started when the Owls were in the MAC.
The other game is Bowling Green at Purdue, but there is a twist on that one. The Falcons are the favorites against Darrell Hazell’s Boilermakers.