Week four’s ranked teams potentially on upset alert
Some teams do better as the hunters instead of the hunted.
This Saturday will be the ultimate measuring stick for several programs. Some have everything to gain, while others got everything to lose. Now it’s time to find out who are the real contenders and separate the overrated pretenders.
The 2020 season is trending towards the year of the underdog and with every team dealing with pandemic complications there’s a lot of uncertainty. Last week a ranked team lost and another came close. It’s just a reminder that it’s still any given Saturday and games are played on the field instead of on paper.
No. 24 Louisville at No. 21 Pittsburgh: This will be the first time these two teams have ever clashed as ranked opponents. Pittsburgh is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2016. Not to mention the Panthers currently have their highest ranking in the AP Poll since 2010’s preseason. Pittsburgh senior quarterback Kenny Pickett has been on fire through the first two games, with five total touchdowns. Plus the Panthers’ defense has left the last two opposing offenses scoreless in the second half. Meanwhile, Miami dealt Louisville a reality check last week. The Cardinals didn’t fall out of the rankings, but were humbled in prime time on national television. Scott Satterfield’s team has the talent on offense to light up the scoreboard and want to prove they’re still top-25 caliber. It remains to be seen if Pittsburgh can handle the spotlight or if Louisville can handle adversity. Something has to give and Saturday’s matchup has all the ingredients of an ACC shootout. Keep in mind that after every loss last season Louisville responded with a win.
West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma State: The Cowboys got somewhat exposed against Tulsa and nearly gave the Big another black eye for a second-straight week. Mike Gundy’s quarterback Spencer Sanders went down with an injury in the first quarter and the Pokes limped all the way to the finish line. The reigning FBS leading rusher Chuba Hubbard had 23 carries against the Hurricanes, but still couldn’t surpass the century mark. The Cowboys looked sloppy on offense without their starting signal-caller and suffered three turnovers. West Virginia on the other hand looked sharp on offense against inferior competition. Jarret Doege had a fantastic performance and threw a touchdown pass to three different players. Plus the Mountaineers had two rushers with that went over 100 yards and scored multiple touchdowns. West Virginia’s offense has the explosiveness to challenge Oklahoma State’s secondary. Considering the Mountaineers have lost five-straight to the Cowboys, Neal Brown will be using that as motivation for his team. Expect a dogfight.
No. 5 Florida at Ole Miss: This is the most intriguing matchup of week four. Everyone knows Lane Kiffin is the SEC’s most hated coach, but they have to respect his past experience and success in the league. The Gators are entering the season with their highest ranking since 2012. Florida fans believe in Kyle Trask and haven’t had so much admiration for their quarterback since Tim Tebow. However, Trask won’t be sneaking up on anyone this time around and opposing Defensive Coordinators will come with a game plan to contain him. Dan Mullen may very well have his most talented defense since he arrived back in Gainesville. Still, the Gators will have a tough time scouting which Rebel quarterback will start, or if Kiffin plans on using more than one. Kiffin does know offense. Both John Rhys Plumlee and Matt Corral are effective signal-callers, but have different skill sets. Plumlee is the better runner and Corral is the better passer. Ole Miss has nothing to lose and everything to gain. This will only be the Gators second time in the last 41 years that they open the season outside the state of Florida. As quiet as it’s kept, Florida lost 1989’s season opener to Ole Miss.
NC State at No. 20 Virginia Tech: It’s unfortunate that the the Hokies have yet to play a game and the ACC is entering its’ third Saturday of play. There’s also a lot of unknown about Virginia Tech that College football fanatics need to find out sooner than later. This will be the first time since 1995 that Bud Foster won’t be orchestrating the Hokies’ defense. Not to mention the unit’s star safety Caleb Farley opted out of the season last month. It’s no mystery that Virginia Tech’s defense needs to be elite again. Justin Fuente is facing a crucial fifth season in Blacksburg and there’s some pressure to take his team to the next level. He already named Hendon Hooker, who scored 18 touchdowns last season his starting quarterback. The Hokies been sitting at that No. 20 spot in the AP Poll for the past two weeks and now it’s time for them to solidify their ranking. However, NC State is no pushover and looked impressive on offense in the win over Wake Forest. The Wolpack scored eight more points on the Demon Deacons than the No. 1 Tigers did and they have momentum. Virginia Tech has won the last four meetings over NC State, but the two teams haven’t played since 2015.
Mississippi State at No. 6 LSU: There’s a lot of people out there who think the Bayou Bengals top-10 ranking is a bit premature. After all, LSU lost a Heisman Trophy winner, both Coordinators and half of their roster to NFL. Most of the remaining experienced players like Ja’Marr Chase, Kary Vincent, Tyler Shelvin and Neil Farrell have opted out of the season. Not to mention defensive linemen Justin Thomas and TK McLendon entered the transfer portal. Ed Orgeron will have a completely different team when they take the field on Saturday. Although the Bayou Bengals will be inexperienced in a ton of places and might have depth issues, everyone is expecting new quarterback Myles Brennan to keep the wheels rolling because of the talent around him. Mississippi State will also look unfamiliar with Mike Leach running his ‘Air Raid’ offense. It would be a tall order for any coach in their first year, having to open the season at Death Valley against the reigning National Champs. However, Leach does have one of the best running backs in the SEC in Kylin Hill. The 1,000-yard rusher will take a ton of pressure of new Bulldogs quarterback K.J. Costello early on. Costello has been in big games before. What benefits the Bulldogs is the SEC doesn’t really know what to expect out of Leach.
Florida State at No. 12 Miami: Throw out the record books and the rankings when these two teams renew their legendary rivalry. Currently the Hurricanes look like world beaters after their first two games, while the Seminoles are coming off a humbling loss and will be without their head coach on Saturday. Miami’s offense has exceeded expectations thus far and D’Eriq King looked legit in the win over Louisville. Not to mention running back Cam’Ron Harris is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games. However, this game will be won in the trenches. Miami’s offensive line has a boat load of experience, but Florida State’s defensive line is one of the best units in the ACC. The Seminoles’ defense is what will keep this game close. It was an eye-opener that Miami’s defense allowed Louisville to score 28 second half points. The Seminoles had the week off and watched that game live and in the film room, so they should be well prepared. A lot of the players from both rosters played high school ball together and are familiar with each other. Expect the unexpected in this matchup and emotions will be high. No doubt the Seminoles need a win for their coach.