Week 4 Preview: Big 12 showdown; Hot seat watch in SEC
There is a sense of impending mayhem going into this weekend of college football.
Eleven ranked teams play road games against unranked foes, including six from the top 10. The odds are good that some touted playoff contender is going down.
Five things to know about Week 4, one with potential to reshape the trajectory of the season.
No. 16 TCU at No. 6 Oklahoma State.
The first big game of the season in the Big 12 could be a typically high-scoring affair. The Horned Frogs are averaging 56 points per game and TCU is averaging 49. Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph is leading an offense that has looked nearly unstoppable. Last week, Oklahoma State had four players with 100-plus yards receiving in a game.
TCU coach Gary Patterson is one of the best in the conference at figuring out ways to at least slow down these high-powered Big 12 offenses, but ultimately whether the Frogs can keep up will likely come down to quarterback Kenny Hill. He has been turnover-prone in the past. That can’t happen against Rudolph and the Cowboys, especially in Stillwater, where Oklahoma State has won four straight against TCU.
Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State.
Coming off a dominant victory against LSU, the 17th-ranked Bulldogs and Fitzgerald hit the road to face a Georgia defense that might be the best in the Southeastern Conference outside of Alabama. Maybe including Alabama.
A second straight victory against a ranked team (Georgia is 11th) and another big outing for Fitzgerald will bring back memories of 2014, when Mississippi State surged to No. 1 in the country behind Dak Prescott. Fitzgerald is a similar player: A powerful runner and developing passer. He is averaging 261 yards of total offense per game and accounted for 12 touchdowns.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
13 – Consecutive victories for Southern California against California. No. 5 USC faces the surprising Bears (3-0) in Berkeley.
18 – Rushing touchdowns for Oregon, most in the nation. The 24th-ranked Ducks visit Arizona State.
30 – No. 20 Florida’s winning streak against Kentucky, the longest in SEC history. The Gators are at the Wildcats, who are 3-0.
33 – Years since Vanderbilt beat Alabama. The top-ranked Tide visit the Commodores (3-0), who have lost 21 straight to Alabama since 1984.
UNDER THE RADAR
UCF at Maryland.
The Knights are one of three teams from the state of Florida (No. 12 Florida State and No. 14 Miami are the others) that hasn’t played since the opening week because of Hurricane Irma. Way back when, they opened the season by scoring 61 points against Florida International.
Maryland opened the season by beating Texas in Austin, a victory that looks even better after watching the Longhorns challenge USC.
One or both of these teams might be pretty good. Or maybe neither. It should be interesting to find out.
HOT SEAT WATCH
It seems like about two-thirds of the coaches in the SEC are on the hot seat.
The Texas A&M-Arkansas game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, features a couple of coaches whose fans are running out of patience. It seems every week there is more drama for coach Kevin Sumlin to deal with at A&M. Bret Bielema has had only one winning SEC record since arriving as coach in Fayetteville in 2013, and the Razorbacks could be on the way to another ho-hum season.
The winner gets a temporary reprieve.
The loser gets a week of fans blasting them on talk radio.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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