Games to watch in Week 4 of college football season

Ross Fisher, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 24 Double Coverage flipbook.

No. 12 Notre Dame at No. 18 Wisconsin

Sept. 25, 11 a.m. CT, FOX

Perhaps the most anticipated encounter in Week 4 is the Midwestern showdown between two historic college football powerhouses. Wisconsin looks to upset the Fighting Irish with the home field advantage. The Badgers are coming off of a bye in Week 3 and enter the contest as favorites, despite losing to Penn State 10-16 in Week 1. The last time the Badgers took the field in Week 2, Wisconsin took care of business against Eastern Michigan 34-7, where four Badger running backs rushed for touchdowns. Wisconsin’s Chez Mellusi is one to keep an eye out for as Mellusi rushed for well over 100 yards and a touchdown in both of Wisconsin’s matchups this season. Notre Dame will meet the Badgers in Chicago as 3–0, despite scares in both of its first two matchups. The Fighting Irish squeaked by Florida State and Toledo in games they were expected to win but nonetheless made difficult for themselves. Notre Dame won by a mere three points in each. In Week 3 however, The Fighting Irish picked up a more convincing win against Purdue. Notre Dame’s Jack Coan is the player to watch on Saturday as the quarterback has thrown for over 800 yards and eight touchdowns this season. A win for either program would make a major statement.

No. 7 Texas A&M at No. 16 Arkansas

Sept. 25, 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS

If the most intriguing matchup fails to be Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin, then it certainly is this SEC battle. Saturday’s matchup will mark A&M’s second time playing at an NFL venue this year. After taking on Colorado at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, the Aggies will play another “away” game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Both teams enter the weekend 3–0, but the Aggies are the favorites despite being on the road. Head coach Jimbo Fisher and program will still be without starting quarterback Haynes King, but sophomore Zach Calzada started confidently under center last weekend. Calzada threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns as A&M cruised to a 34-0 win over New Mexico. Junior running back Isaiah Spiller also impressed against New Mexico, running for over 100 yards and one touchdown. Arkansas has had three convincing wins this season, including one against Texas. After a shaky start against Rice, the Razorbacks pulled away to win 38-17, also beating Georgia Southern 45-10 in Week 3. However, Arkansas’ best display of the season was its 40-21 demolition of then-ranked No. 15 Texas at home. Arkansas’ key area of strength lies with middle linebackers Bumper Pool and Grant Morgan, as well as roaming safety Jalen Catalon. Aside from a tough secondary, running back Trelon Smith and redshirt sophomore quarterback KJ Jefferson have proved themselves this season on the offensive side of the ball. Jefferson has emerged as a real dual-threat this season, scrambling for 180 yards and two touchdowns, and picking up four touchdowns and 632 yards through the air.

Villanova at No. 6 Penn State

Sept. 25, 11:00 a.m. CT, Big Ten Network

Both the Wildcats and the Nittany Lions enter Saturday’s all-Pennsylvania affair 3–0. Penn State matches up against Villanova as heavy favorites, after knocking off ranked opposition for the second time this season. The Nittany Lions held off then-ranked No. 12 Wisconsin 16-10 on the road in Week 1, and last weekend triumphed over then-ranked No. 22 Auburn 28-20 at home. The Penn State crowd has proved to be a huge advantage in Happy Valley — last week fans packed Beaver Stadium in all-white, playing a major role in Saturday’s win. Senior wide receiver Jahan Dotson has proved to be an asset for the Nittany Lions this season, amassing 245 yards through the air and three touchdowns. For Villanova, Penn State is by far the biggest test on its 2021 schedule. The Wildcats cruised to lopsided wins against Lehigh and Bucknell in Weeks 1 and 2, and narrowly beat Richmond in Week 3. Villanova’s key man is graduate student quarterback Daniel Smith, who has eight passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns already to his name this season.

No. 14 Iowa State at Baylor

Sept. 25, 2:30 p.m. CT, FOX

Iowa State faces a conference matchup against Baylor on Saturday, entering Waco as the favorites. Yet, Baylor is certainly a team to be weary of for the Cyclones. Iowa State will take its first snap against the Bears after losing to intrastate rival Iowa at home in Week 2. Last weekend, the Cyclones bounced back in a dominating performance, beating UNLV 48-3. Breece Hall is the guy to watch for Iowa State, as the junior running back has picked up four touchdowns this season on 238 yards. Baylor heads into Saturday 3–0, after cruising to a couple of comfortable wins in Weeks 2 and 3. Baylor beat down on weaker oppositions in Texas Southern and Kansas, scoring 111 points across the two games. The Bears, however, were disappointing in their season debut win against Texas State. Senior running back Abram Smith has been the standout for Baylor so far, rushing for 366 yards and five touchdowns.

No. 25 Kansas State at Oklahoma State

Sept. 25, 6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN+ 

Perhaps one of the more leveled playing field contests in Week 4, Kansas State at Oklahoma State is another Big 12 matchup with plenty of promise. Stillwater, Oklahoma, is never an easy place for opponents to play on the road, making Oklahoma State slight favorites in this one. The Cowboys offense has struggled to get going this season, and despite being 3–0, zero wins have been straightforward so far. Oklahoma State just barely held off Boise State on the road last weekend. The Cowboy to watch will be senior linebacker Malcom Rodriguez, who has forced two fumbles this season and leads the team with 36 total tackles. On the other side of the ball, look out for Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn has proved plentiful this season, rushing for five touchdowns and 371 yards. The Wildcats are looking to raise hell on the road with an upset, and look to keep their momentum going ahead of tough matchups with Oklahoma and Iowa State. Kansas State’s most impressive win this season came in Week 1, when the Wildcats beat Stanford 24-7.