CFN Final Thoughts Before Week Four
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
Posted Sep 23, 2011

The last thoughts before a big Week Four gets rolling.

Final Thoughts 

Before The Week 4 Games

- Final Thoughts  2010 | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3
- 2011 Fearless Predictions

E-mail Pete Fiutak
Follow me ... Follow me to freedom!
- To all the teams about to change conferences and to the leagues trying to woo them, here's all I ask; just postpone your moves until Tuesday. Let the games be the games for Saturday, let everyone bask in the fun for a few days, and then go make your money grab.

- Really, do you care of East Carolina is playing in Conference USA or the Big East? Really, is it heartbreaking if Texas A&M and Oklahoma State don't play on a regular basis in the near future? Really, aren't you fine with Syracuse and Pitt going to the ACC? Once all the dust settles, and it'll be a while, everyone will just play, and no one will remember or care about any of this.

- Remember the weeping and gnashing of teeth when Boston College and Virginia Tech moved from the Big East? Teams will move. Everyone will be fine.

- The Big 12 might be the most fun conference this year. It'll be a stunner if Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M isn't entertaining, and it'll be disappointing if Missouri doesn't show up to give Oklahoma a push. The league, thanks to the round robin format, will be great every week.

- Didn't Dan Beebe sort of keep the sinking ship afloat? Granted, he made too many PR gaffes as the Big 12 Commissioner, and he didn't kiss Oklahoma's butt enough, but the fact that there's still a Big 12 says something.

- It says Texas didn't want to go to the Pac-12 ... yet.

- What can Oklahoma do now? It can scream and yell all it wants about wanting to be equal partners with Texas, but at this point, Texas can do whatever it wants. Remember, the Pac-12 rejected Texas before Texas could reject the Pac-12. Oklahoma wouldn't have rejected the Pac-12.

- Sorry to drag it down into alignment talk again. I'll be good

- While there are some nice games this weekend, really, it's a stepping stone to next week when the planet stops rotating for Nebraska's trip to Wisconsin. Some tickets are going for $4,000 - for a college football regular season game. A parking pass - A PARKING PASS - is on sale for $150. The hype for this game is off the charts in Husker world, and come game time, good luck getting into Camp Randall without mortgaging the farm. Literally.

- But Nebraska has to show something on the field in a big hurry, and don't let all the points scored so far fool you. If there are any problems whatsoever with Wyoming this week, and if defensive tackle Jared Crick isn't 100%, and if Taylor Martinez can't show any semblance of passing consistency, and if the running game isn't far more effective, all the hype about next week won't mean squat. Wisconsin will win by three touchdowns if it keeps playing like it's been playing and Nebraska keeps playing like it's been playing.

- Alabama, it's time to show you can run the ball against someone other than North Texas.

- Over the last two years it was the pretentiously hip thing to say Trent Richardson was the better back than Mark Ingram - guilty as charged. Eddie Lacy has been a more effective back so far than Richardson.

- When was the last time Arkansas got through September unbeaten? 2003. After beating an Alabama team that finished 4-9, the Hogs went 0-3 in October.

- This is the most important moment for Arkansas since the Clint Stoener game against Tennessee in 1998.

- It'll be interesting to see if ol' Houston Nutt has something goofy in the tank for Georgia. The Rebels have been awful, but there's just enough talent to rise up and put together an out-of-the-blue blasting of someone.

- Want the it-won't-happen-but-it-might upset alert? ULM over Iowa.

- Want the-it-won't-happen-but-it-could upset alert? Western Michigan over Illinois.

- Want the-it-will-happen-and-I'm-too-chicken-to-call-it upset alert? San Diego State over Michigan.

- How bad is the Big Ten that it wouldn't be stunning in any way if all those upsets actaully happened, and how expected it is that Minnesota will probably lose to North Dakota State?

- I've always been a Big Ten apologist, but not this year. This league just flat-out sucks, and everyone is going to forget that it sucks once conference play starts, and then will be reminded how much it sucked after the bowl season.

- I'm so glad Beavis and Butthead are coming back so a whole new generation can grasp the cathartic power of saying something sucks.

- However, no one has looked sharper than Wisconsin. UNLV and Oregon State might be awful, and Northern Illinois is Northern Illinois, but Bucky has been ruthlessly awesome so far.

- Check that. LSU has been close to perfect, too.

- It's early, and stats are always going to be skewed and a bit off, but no matter how you might want to slice it and dice it, if you played Oregon and Mississippi State and you're still No. 3 in the nation against the run, you're really, really good.

- Remember when West Virginia's running game actually worked?

- No player in America has more pressure on his shoulders this week than Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith. He needs to be legendary for WVU have any shot of getting past LSU. If he is, and the Mountaineers pull it off, it's Game On for a shot at the BCS Championship. This is a game fore legitimacy, and it could be a huge, giant, heaping help of EAT THIS to the idea that the Big East is over.

- If there aren't a slew of West Virginia babies named Geno popping out nine months past 11:45 on Saturday night, it means the Mountaineers didn't beat LSU.

- Is Colorado vs. Ohio State meaningless because Colorado is bad, Ohio State is bad, or both are bad?

- Why is Vanderbilt 3-0? Ten interceptions. Going into this week only one other team, NC State, had more than six.

- Be VERY, VERY, careful, South Carolina. The passing game has been just shaky enough, and the team just flaky enough, to gag away the season by giving the Commodores a few more picks to add to the total.

- Bill Belichick – speed up the treadmill. That walk you're doing in A Football Life doesn't seem to be having any effect. Maybe try an incline?

- It's not getting any notice, but Texas Tech is throwing the ball as good or better than it ever did under Mike Leach. After two games, the Red Raiders have completed 70-of-87 throws for 794 yards and ten touchdowns with no picks. Even so, this is still just the fourth most efficient passing game in America.

- Wisconsin is No. 3, Baylor is No. 2, Georgia Tech is No. 1.

- Georgia Tech is averaging 22.52 yards per attempt. No one else is averaging more than the 13.08 of Baylor, and only three other teams are averaging more than ten.

- North Carolina is one of those teams. The Tar Heel – Yellow Jacket ACC showdown might be the most entertaining game of the weekend.

- Georgia Tech is scoring on a touchdown pass more than once every five passes.

- This week's week late fun stat: Murray State QB Casey Brockman's line in the 58-27 win over Tennessee State. 45-of-67, 600 yards, seven touchdowns, and a pick for a passer rating of 173.9.

- By the way, last week, Texas Tech's Seth Doege's passer rating against New Mexico after completing 40-of-44 passes for 401 yards and five scores: 205.

- Georgia Tech's Tevin Washington completed 4-of-7 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas for a passer efficiency rating of 348.2.

- Sorry. I'm back now.

- Considering New Mexico State lost its starting quarterback, Andrew Manley, to a torn ACL, and San Jose State has yet to win a game against an FBS team under head coach Mike MacIntyre, this might be the most depressing game in the history of organized sport.

- Wait. Sorry. That's next week when New Mexico State goes to New Mexico. But that will have to be at a whole other level of bad to match last year's disaster.

- If you were my close, personal friend and you were going off to Vegas to legally "invest" what little money you might have left, I'd suggest taking a look-see at East Carolina -14 over UAB, Western Michigan +12 over Illinois, Army -4 over Ball State, Oregon -15 over Arizona, and my Five-Star, Master Lock Pick of the Millennium For This Week, Indiana -5 over North Texas.

- By the way, I went 4-9 with these picks over the first three weeks. This is the Spinal Tap drummer of college football selections. You name the calamity and I've been on the wrong side of the selection.

- If you're enough of a college football nutjob to stay up until 4:30 in the AM EST to get through Oklahoma State vs. Tulsa - I couldn't have been the only one - fire up the caffeine for UC Davis at Hawaii. If the Warrior passing game can be the Warrior passing game again, 80 points and 800 yards passing between the two teams are possible..

By Richard Cirminiello 

Arkansas' Bobby Petrino vs. Alabama's Nick Saban is college football's version of Boris Spassky vs. Bobby Fischer. The chess match alone makes the game in Tuscaloosa a must-see event.

If Oklahoma State at Texas A&M isn't one of the five best games of 2011, it'll be a surprise. With so many offensive playmakers at Kyle Field, this has the ingredients of a classic showdown that produces at least 75 points.

It's too bad that Florida State QB EJ Manuel appears to be a scratch for this weekend's trip to Clemson. Even if he winds up playing at 85%, the game loses a lot of its luster when a key player is injured.

Maybe Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will never truly turn around QB John Brantley. However, he has been a big reason why playmakers Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are beginning to maximize their potential.

Does the losing coach of the Georgia-Ole Miss even bother watching film Sunday morning. Of course, but coaching futures might be at stake with Mark Richt and Houston Nutt in the same building.

Stop the Coach of the Year voting on Sept. 25 if James Franklin's Vandy beats South Carolina to get the Commodores to a 4-0 start.

Whether or not Georgia Tech is for real will begin being answered this weekend. The Yellow Jackets are piling up points like a pinball machine, but North Carolina has the tilt mechanism on defense to slow them down.

If West Virginia beats LSU in primetime on Saturday night, does it help their chances of becoming team No. 14 in the SEC? It's obviously not that simple, but the Mountaineers would love to show that they can keep up with one of the league's premier teams of 2011.

When Colorado visits Ohio State, the game will be a little extra special for leading Buffs rusher Rodney Stewart. He grew up about 25 miles from the ‘Shoe, yet didn't get much love from the local schools because of his diminutive size.

Having already quieted the Penn State offense, Temple turns its attention to Maryland. The Owls defense, namely LB Tahir Whitehead and DE Adrian Robinson, has been fantastic this month.

Syracuse better be very, very careful when it hosts Toledo. The Rockets are battle-tested following back-to-back games with Ohio State and Boise State, and won't become unglued by the Carrier Dome crowd.

How in the world does BYU bounce back from its demoralizing loss to Utah? It won't against a UCF team that has more to gain by getting a nationally televised game on Friday night.

Isn't it about time for Cal to, well, be Cal, and lay an egg in Washington? It's usually around now that the Bears turn raised expectations into a reduction in their quality of play.

Without much attention, Frank Solich has Ohio off to a great start this month. The Bobcats are eyeing a 4-0 mark if it can get past Rutgers on the road.

By Matt Zemek

UCF-BYU: This game is still intriguing, as it was expected to be when the season started. However, it's intriguing at this point because neither team is playing close to its potential.

FLORIDA STATE-CLEMSON: This game sets up well for Clemson, given the less-than-complete health of FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel. Florida State didn't (and doesn't) need Manuel to be a prime pocket passer; it DOES need Manuel to be able to run like the wind. The Tigers are playing Florida State at the right time - it's really rather obvious. So, then, there's only one question to ask: How are the Tigers going to blow it this time?

NOTRE DAME-PITTSBURGH: Notre Dame can throw. Pittsburgh can't defend the pass. It only gets worse for the ACC, doesn't it?

EASTERN MICHIGAN-PENN STATE: If Penn State isn't vigilant............

LOUISIANA-MONROE vs. IOWA: If Iowa isn't vigilant............

WESTERN MICHIGAN-ILLINOIS: If Illinois isn't vigilant.............

VANDERBILT-SOUTH CAROLINA: If Stephen Garcia doesn't wake up... well, no, Carolina still won't lose. What WILL happen, though, is that Marcus Lattimore will get 40 more touches, and with Auburn on the slate the following week, the Gamecocks will suffer in the long run. This is a game in which Garcia needs to play well... not for the sake of this particular clash with the Commodores, but for the sake of managing Number 21's valuable body for the entirety of the SEC season.

VIRGINIA TECH-MARSHALL: Marshall stopped West Virginia's ground game. The Thundering Herd knocked off Southern Mississippi at home. Yes, Marshall rolled over for Ohio, but that's partly because the Herd was looking ahead to this game. Logan Thomas - understandably, one might add - is taking a long time to learn how to become a college quarterback. This game has the makings of another uncomfortably close contest against a Conference USA for the Hokies.

NORTH CAROLINA-GEORGIA TECH: The loser of this game can basically kiss away any shot at an ACC Coastal title, and will also have a very tough time maintaining positive morale throughout the season. No pressure, guys.

TOLEDO-SYRACUSE: If Toledo plays the way it did against Boise State, the ACC is going to get kicked in the teeth yet again.

OREGON-ARIZONA: Arizona finishes the back end of its Stanford-Oregon double. It's not hyperbole to view this game as the season for the Wildcats. If UO goes thermonuclear on Bear Down University, it would not be unreasonable to ask Mike Stoops to find a new gig.

SAN DIEGO STATE-MICHIGAN: Why is Michigan even favored here? If Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman wore gold helmets and were coached by Brian Kelly, you know the Vegas line would be dramatically different. And oh, one other thing: San Diego State's players will want this game something fierce.

UCLA-OREGON STATE: Yes, this really could be the battle for last place in the Pac-12. Could anyone have imagined thinking this, let alone saying it, three years ago?

USC-ARIZONA STATE: USC is playing with some house money, given that it can't play in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Arizona State played down to Arizona State's standards in a typical stomach-punch loss to Illinois; a failure to win here will apply a flamethrower to Dennis Erickson's seat of authority.

OKLAHOMA STATE-TEXAS A&M: Why did Oklahoma State fail to win the Big 12 last season? Simply stated, it lost two weapons-grade shootouts against Nebraska and Oklahoma. In this contest, however, a calculator's delight would clearly favor OSU. Texas A&M needs to toughen up, muck it up, and basically turn this tilt into a Southwestern street fight. This is not an original piece of analysis, but in Kyle Field, Brandon Weeden has to be as mature as his age. Weeden's experience is a trump card that the Cowboys need to maximize this season. When OSU signal callers revert to "only" 21 years of age in future seasons, it won't be as easy to pitch the ball around the ballpark.

ARKANSAS-ALABAMA: Last year was Arkansas's big chance to stem the Crimson Tide. The fact that a certain Knile Davis is out of the Razorbacks' lineup will make it extraordinarily difficult for Woo Pig Sooey to win in Tuscaloosa. Arkansas - like every other Alabama opponent this season - will need to pry three or more turnovers from the Tide's less-than-spectacular offense to gain a realistic path to victory.

MISSOURI-OKLAHOMA: The school that wanted to join the Big Ten last year then had half a foot in the SEC's door... only for the Pac-12 to reject Oklahoma (and Texas, of course), thereby bringing Mizzou back to the Big 12. Everybody's happy, right? The "Big 12 Desire To Abandon Bowl" is some kind of story; how rich that these schools meet this week after THAT particular set of realignment dramas.

As for the on-field action, this is a game in which Landry Jones must shine. Oklahoma is coming off a physically punishing and mentally draining war against a Florida State team that deserves a lot more praise than what it has received over the past week. Because OU spilled the tank against the Seminoles, the Sooners - though miles better than Missouri on the raw merits - could be susceptible to a letdown. Since the defense did the heavy lifting for the Sooners last week, Jones and the offense need to step to the forefront this week. That's part of the economy of a championship season... if it can be forged: Different players and different phases of football need to do their part, within the context of individual games but also within the ebb-and-flow of the full campaign.

LSU-WEST VIRGINIA: This game was sexy and important enough before West Virginia became a prime candidate for the SEC, a possibility enhanced by Missouri's pullback to the Big 12 (made possible by the Pac-12's rejection of the Oklahoma and Texas schools). This game will feel like a West Virginia audition for the big time in many more ways than one. Yet, while the Mountaineers might be positioned in a unique spotlight, this tilt - to borrow a tennis term - is on LSU's racquet. The Tigers have the roughest, toughest, baddest, maddest, hootinest, tootinest, slobberknockingest steamroller of a defense you ever did see... and they're coached by Les Miles, who is not going to sail through a season without drama. LSU is talented enough to dominate yet unpredictable enough to combust on any given night. West Virginia is going to be along for the ride, one way or another.
Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter:

- The loss of defensive end Jake Bequette is absolutely huge for Arkansas. With him, the Hogs stood a chance against Alabama. Without him, the game will be over by the start of the fourth quarter. This one's boring, and that's exactly how Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban wants it.

- Oklahoma State is an underdog because it's on the road, and that's the only reason. Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon BOTH make cases for legitimate Heisman contention, and the Cowboys roll Texas A&M in College Station.

- The Desperation Bowl between Ole Miss and Georgia in Oxford is one of the most intriguing games of the weekend. The loser of the game (Houston Nutt, I'm looking in your direction) will be lucky to have a job at season's end. If the Rebels do lose - which at this point is almost a certainty - Nutt may not make it through the bye week two weeks from now.

- LSU isn't going to win any style points this season, but with a defense like the Tigers have, it won't matter. Their visit to Morgantown to play West Virginia will play out exactly like last Thursday's game against Mississippi State. Hang around with D, don't do anything stupid, and then put it away in the fourth.

- Wait a minute...LSU and WVU in Milan Puskar Stadium - where alcohol is sold? Nobody in that stadium will even know what the outcome of the game is, so will it even count?

- Pitt makes an impression on its new conference by taking down Notre Dame. It's not a huge impression, but it'll do.

- Georgia Tech has scored on its first offensive play every game this season. That streak won't continue, but they will put up boat loads of yards on a solid North Carolina D. The Yellow Jackets average - AVERAGE - 675 yards of offense per game. That's 74 more yards per game than Oklahoma State, the second-best offense in the country. While everybody is fawning over Virginia Tech, Clemson and Florida State, don't sleep on the Yellow Jackets. Paul Johnson's crew rolls North Carolina and announces itself as a legitimate ACC Championship contender.

- Expansion is a hot topic and I get that, but please - PLEASE - give it a rest this Saturday. Leave Saturday's for football and take care of the business side on the other six days of the week.

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me on Twitter @russmitchellcfb

Have to agree with Sallee more expansion talk. At least until Sunday.

FLORIDA STATE-CLEMSON: E.J. Manuel's not playing. In fact, with the slate the Seminoles have after Clemson, it wouldn't surprise me if Manuel takes off a month. But he'll be missed in this contest. Clemson's Dabo Sweeney scared us a bit with his exuberance on the field after the big Auburn win. FSU's D line will control this game.


EASTERN MICHIGAN-PENN STATE: Yeah every game counts in CFB. Snoooooooooooore.

LOUISIANA-MONROE vs. IOWA: Louisiana Monroe isn't that bad, and Iowa has seen better days. Still, there's no way Iowa should lose this game.

WESTERN MICHIGAN-ILLINOIS: ILL-INI. Win this game and Illinois is 4-0 for the first time in 60 years.

VANDERBILT-SOUTH CAROLINA: Navy's offense is unique - hard to prepare for in 6 days. They ran it to perfection last week, and SC took them too lightly. Vandy has none of that. While the 'Dores have not been run on yet, expect that to change on Saturday.

NORTH CAROLINA-GEORGIA TECH: Lose this game and your playing for second place. Expect some serious smash-mouth football in this game. Our favorite kind of football. We'll be watching.

TOLEDO-SYRACUSE: Toledo's got a team this year, fellas. Better show up Orange in the dome, 'cause Toledo's not going away and they're not going to roll over.

OREGON-ARIZONA: Stoops' program appears to be going in the wrong direction.

SAN DIEGO STATE-MICHIGAN: This isn't Brady Hoke's San Diego State.

UCLA-OREGON STATE: UCLA is bad, but OSU might be worse. Home field will be the difference.

USC-ARIZONA STATE: How is ASU a favorite in this game? We've been following the Sun Devil program closely for years now, and absent one or two exceptions, they've consistently let us down. We have little faith in their ability to win the big game; as such, we'll take the dog and visiting Trojans - particularly for a night game.

OKLAHOMA STATE-TEXAS A&M: This game comes down to the A&M rushing attack of Gray and Michael...if Sherman's boys can march on the ground and control the clock, A&M will win. If not, they lose.

ARKANSAS-ALABAMA: With an NFL QB, a full compliment of RBs, playing at home, against a worse defense, Arkansas lost. Now on the road in front of 100,000+ loud, crazy Bama fans, with its QB starting his first SEC game, without RB Knile Davis, no DE Jake Bequette, and offensive tackles that can't block...

MISSOURI-OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma is better than last year...Missouri is worse.

LSU-WVU: LSU's defense might be the fastest, meanest and most intuitive we've seen in years. Last week against MSU, in Starkville, LSU had a staggering 15 Tackles for Loss. The secondary hits like linebackers, and the backers hit like tanks. If that wasn't enough, it has true freshman making a contribution. This might be the best defense to ever step foot in Morgantown. Good luck with that, Geno.