Arizona State-Stanford, Michigan State-Notre Dame Top Week 4 Schedule
Clemson-N.C. State on Thursday; Boise State-Fresno State on Friday
A 58-game schedule for the 4th week of the college football season features a ton of ho-hummers, but some big games are sprinkled into the mix.
Stanford hosts Arizona State in what is arguably the biggest game of the week. The Cardinal return home after an unimpressive 34-20 win at Army in which the defense allowed 284 yards rushing. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils are lucky to be 2-0 after the crazy finish to Saturday night's 32-30 home win over Wisconsin in which the officials fouled up the last 15 seconds of the game, preventing the Badgers from attempting a game-winning field goal.
Wisconsin got the ball back with 1:36 to play at its own 17 after a punt and moved into position for a game-tying 30-yard field goal attempt with 18 seconds left. But with no timeouts remaining, the Badgers ran a play to set the ball up between the hash marks. QB Joel Stave ran left, took a quick knee and placed the ball on the ground. He then backed off the ball and tried to begin preparations to spike it on the next to play to stop the clock. But an ASU player jumped on the ball and wouldn't get up; other players and officials couldn't comprehend what just took place; Stave couldn't rally his own troops to the line and he was powerless to call a time-out without incurring a penalty that would have run out the clock anyway; so the final seconds ticked away to :00 with nothing more happening. The officials ran off the field and the dazed and confused home crowd at Arizona State hesitantly celebrated the weird win.
PAC-10 officials reprimanded the officials on Monday and released a statement that basically reiterated what I wrote early Sunday morning.
A booth reviewed clearly should have occurred if for no other reason than to let the officials get their heads straight. The proper ruling, to the dismay of ASU fans, likely would have been a delay of game penalty against Arizona State for the delay tactic of laying on the football - a 5-yard penalty would have been assessed and Wisconsin would have had an untimed down to kick a short field goal.
But the admission that Wisconsin was screwed doesn't alter the outcome. The Badgers could be 3-0 right now instead of 2-1 and still in the hunt for the national title. The potential game-winning field goal would have been attempted from just 32 yards out - less than that if the appropriate delay of game penalty had been called.
Wisconsin will have to shake it off and regroup for its Big Ten opener vs. Purdue in Madison on Saturday. Meanwhile, Arizona State heads to Stanford with a unblemished record and a showdown with the Cardinal.
Stanford dropped from 1st to 2nd in my Congrove Computer Rankings as a result of last weekend's action, and Arizona State slipped from 18th to 19th. The Cardinal were the computer's preseason favorite to win the national title and they are projected to win this game by 14.16 points.
Briefly keeping the focus on the PAC-12, embattled USC coach Lane Kiffin will look to prove the computer and other naysayers wrong when his teams hosts Utah State on Saturday. The computer actually has the Aggies favored to win by 1-1/2 points while bookmakers opened betting with USC giving 7 points.
UCLA catches its breath with a home date versus New Mexico State as 41.61-point favorites. The Bruins trailed Nebraska 21-3 in the 2nd quarter before scoring 38 unanswered points en route to a 41-21 win at Lincoln.
Oregon, which took over the No. 1 spot after annihilating Tennessee 59-14 and has won its first three games by an average of 49 points, is idle this week. The Ducks' hurry-up offense doesn't appear to have missed a beat under new head coach Mark Helfrich who moved up from Offensive Coordinator when Chip Kelly went to the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. Oregon returns to action on the 28th to host California.
Elsewhere, 3rd-ranked Oklahoma and No. 5 Oklahoma State join Oregon on the idle list. 16th-ranked Arizona and 25th-ranked South Carolina are also among the 23 teams that get the week off.
Colorado winds up catching an unexpected three weeks rest. The Buffs had this past Saturday's game against Fresno State postponed due to the heavy flooding that has ravaged the region for days, and now the team has its schedule bye week. The Buffaloes head to Oregon State on September 28. Right now, there isn't a clear open window for a makeup date with the Bulldogs.
Speaking of Fresno State, that team returns to action on Friday at home against Boise State, renewing what used to be the WAC's best rivalry game. The computer favors the Bulldogs by 3.16 points to send the Broncos to their second loss of the season.
Thursday night's game features the ACC's Tigers of Clemson traveling to Raleigh as a 14.50-point favorite over N. C. State in the conference opener for both schools. The Wolfpack are 2-0 after rallying to edge FCS member Richmond in their last outing. Both schools are coming off bye weeks.
Both of the SEC Tigers go paw-to-paw as No. 4 LSU has its SEC opener at home against a revived Auburn team. New head coach Gus Malzahn has Aubie off to a 3-0 start, equalling the win total of the entire 2012 season. Auburn snapped a 10-game SEC losing streak last weekend with a 24-20 win over Mississippi State to cap a 3-game homestand. LSU is a 22.16-point computer choice in the battle.
Notre Dame will be trying to avoid its 2nd loss when it hosts Michigan State as a 14.03-point computer pick. The Irish survived 31-24 at Purdue last week after falling at Michigan in their previous game. Notre Dame leads the series 47-28-1, but the Spartans have won 6 of the last 11 meetings in spite of dropping 3 of the last 4.
Texas has already dropped two games and hosts Kansas State on Saturday. The Longhorns are a projected 10.38-point winner, but the computer also had them winning by 5.81 at BYU and 11.25 over Ole Miss, and Texas lost both of those games by 19 and 21 points, respectively.
Here are some other games to watch this week, along with the computer's pick:
Wyoming (-5.11) at Air Force
Rutgers (-11.96) vs. Arkansas
Florida (-15.47) vs. Tennessee
BYU (-13.38) vs. Utah
Georgia Tech (-11.56) vs. North Carolina
Houston (-3.65) vs. Rice
Indiana (-0.87) vs. Missouri
West Virginia (-6.14) vs. Maryland at Baltimore
San Jose State (-1.74) at Minnesota
San Diego State (-0.32) vs. Oregon State
Northern Illinois has opened with wins at Iowa and Idaho. The Huskies play their home opener this week against FCS member Eastern Illinois before hitting the highway again for consecutive road dates at Purdue and Kent State. Their first home game against a school from the FBS ranks is October 12th vs. Akron. By the way, Eastern Illinois is one of the 13 FCS schools to have defeated a FBS school this season, winning 40-18 at San Diego State in the season opener for both teams.
FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams were 13-2 vs. FCS schools last week and are now 68-13 on the year (.840) and 804-78 (.912) since 2003. FCS teams won just 10 games all season a year ago.
106 FBS schools will play a total of 110 games against FCS foes in 2013. Clemson and Georgia Tech each face two such schools.
Georgia State will play 3 FCS teams and has already lost two of those games. The Panthers host Jacksonville State on Saturday as a mere 1.37-point computer pick.
Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
8/29: Towson 33, Connecticut 18
8/29: Southern Utah 22, South Alabama 21
8/30: Samford 31, Georgia State 21
8/30: North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21
8/31: Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20
8/31: Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46
8/31: Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 18
8/31: McNeese State 53, USF 21
9/7: UT-Chattanooga 42, Georgia State 14
9/7: Maine 24, Massachusetts 14
9/7: Nicholls State 27, Western Michigan 23.
9/14: Fordham 30, Temple 29
9/14: Bethune-Cookman 34, FIU 13
Eastern Washington, McNeese State and North Dakota State also had wins vs. FBS teams last year.
Ohio State - Won 15 straight overall. Hosts Florida A&M (FCS) on Saturday.
Northern Illinois - Won 21 straight at home and 17 straight vs. conference foes. Hosts Eastern Illinois (FCS) on Saturday.
LSU - Won 44 straight regular season nonconference games. Hosts Auburn on Saturday.
Michigan - Won 17 straight home games. At Connecticut on Saturday.
Oregon - Won 16 straight road games. Idle this week.
Southern Miss - Lost 15 straight overall. Idle this week.
Akron - Lost 28 straight road games, 24 straight FBS games and 16 straight conference games (MAC). Hosts Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.
Kansas - Lost 22 straight FBS games, 21 straight conference games and 20 straight road games. Hosts Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
UNLV - Lost 23 straight road games. Hosts Western Illinois (FCS) on Saturday.