Sam’s Section: Ohio State-Notre Dame, Colorado-Oregon headline loaded Week 4

Clemson defensive tackle Tyler Davis (13) celebrates with safety Khalil Barnes (36) after a fumble but the play was called back during an NCAA college football game against Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Sep. 16, 2023, in Clemson, S.C. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/AP Photo.

After an underwhelming Week 3 in terms of hyped-up matchups, there are six ranked matchups on Saturday, along with other exciting games. In this week’s edition of Sam’s Section, we’ll preview all the games worth watching on Saturday. 

No. 4 Florida State at Clemson (12 p.m. ET, ABC) 

When the preseason AP Top 25 came out, attention immediately went to this matchup when I looked at the Week 4 schedule. Clemson suffered a tough loss during Week 1 at Duke, and many are questioning whether the Tigers’ reign as the top program in the ACC will continue. Florida State is the highest-ranked team in the conference, with their best chance at the College Football Playoff in nearly a decade. Jordan Travis will be in a quarterback battle with Cade Klubnik. It’s a prove-it game for both teams. Clemson will have a number next to its name and be back in the ACC Championship conversation if they defeat the Seminoles. Florida State is coming off a two-point win at Boston College, arguably the worst team in the conference. Clemson has won seven in a row against the ‘Noles, but trails in the series 20-14. If Florida State wins, it would be the first time they have won in Death Valley since 2001. 

No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) 

Colorado is the talk of the nation in regards to college football, with head coach Deion Sanders, his son and starting quarterback Shedeur, and CB/WR Travis Hunter. However, the team will be without Hunter after suffering an injury after being hit out of bounds in Week 3’s double-overtime victory over Colorado State. Both Shedeur Sanders and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix are Heisman Trophy candidates, making them among the best quarterbacks in a loaded Pac-12 Conference. Oregon has won the last three games against the Buffaloes and nine of the past 10 games in the series. I can see this game being a shootout with two prolific offenses and Hunter’s absence weakening Colorado’s secondary. The Ducks are the No. 2 ranked scoring offense, while the Buffaloes are No. 15. 

No. 22 UCLA at No. 11 Utah (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) 

Despite losing Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet to the NFL, UCLA is back in the top 25 through the first three weeks. The Bruins did not find much difficulty beginning the season 3-0, but they will open its final Pac-12 schedule on the road against Utah, the defending champions. UCLA has lost five of the last six games against the Utes and has not won in Salt Lake City in eight years. That could change if quarterback Dante Moore can lead the team to victory over Utah. For Utah, everything relies on whether quarterback Cam Rising can make his season debut after missing the first three weeks due to the ACL injury he suffered at the end of last season. 

No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 13 Alabama (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+) 

Alabama saw its 128-week streak of being in the top 10 of the AP Poll end when the rankings updated on Sunday afternoon, falling to No. 13 after struggling for some time with South Florida last week. Questions have been raised about whether current offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is a good fit for the program. Jalen Milroe, who was surprisingly benched for Tyler Buchner last week, has another opportunity to prove he’s the guy at quarterback on Saturday against Ole Miss, who doesn’t have any quarterback problems with Jaxson Dart leading the way. Alabama has won seven straight against the Rebels, with the last time coming at home in 2015. The Tide’s home record against Mississippi is 28-2 (after vacations and forfeits). If Ole Miss pulls the upset off in Tuscaloosa, we might have to start considering them for the SEC West spot in the SEC Championship. 

Oregon State linebacker Calvin Hart Jr. (2) and defensive back Jaden Robinson (4) celebrate a missed field goal during the second half of an NCAA college football game against San Diego State, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Corvallis, Ore. Photo by Mark Ylen/AP Photo.

No. 14 Oregon State at No. 21 Washington State (7 p.m. ET, FOX) 

This game will be the first time that both Oregon State and Washington State will face off with both teams being nationally ranked. They’re the two left behind in the collapse of the Pac-12, but this game could show what they can bring to another Power 5 conference. Oregon State saw its eight-game losing streak come to an end in Corvallis last season, and they’re the favorites in Pullman this week. There’s a lot to like about Clemson transfer D.J. Uiagalelei, who has found new life as the Beavers’ starting quarterback. The game will be decided with Oregon State’s offense against Washington State’s defense. 

No. 6 Ohio State at No. 9 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC/Peacock) 

The biggest game of Week 4 comes in South Bend as Ohio State rematches with Notre Dame after the Buckeyes won in Columbus last season. I’m a fan of Sam Hartman, who transferred to Notre Dame after a successful career leading Wake Forest. Running back Audric Estime has been arguably the best at his position in the country, carrying for over 116 yards in the last three games with at least one touchdown in each game. In the team’s blowout win over Central Michigan, Estime ran for 176 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Ohio State’s offense is extremely talented, with All-American wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. However, the Buckeyes’ offense didn’t show its potential without C.J. Stroud until last week, when they beat Western Kentucky 63-10. This top-10 matchup will feature so much talent on both offense and defense on each team, especially at the offensive skill positions. 

No. 24 Iowa at No. 7 Penn State (7:30 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+) 

Beaver Stadium will have its annual White Out as Penn State hosts Iowa, seeking to avoid three-straight losses to the Hawkeyes. Iowa’s offense is now being led by former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara, who only has 417 passing yards through three games. There’s a reason to be excited about in Happy Valley, with Drew Allar becoming the starting quarterback. Along with a running back duo of Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton, the Nittany Lions may have its best offense in years. Fourteen of the last 31 games between the two teams have been decided by one possession. Penn State looked lost on offense at Illinois despite scoring 30 points for the 10th-straight time, the nation’s longest active streak. 

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