Friday, September 23, 2016

Spread Offense, Week 4: For You Fall Wedding Enthusiasts...

By Pat Luhta, @PLuhta

At, I understand that the majority of the audience here are Ohio State Buckeyes fans. Some of which, many months ago, looked at OSU's 2016 schedule and said to themselves "Oh look, a bye week on September 24th, what a perfect time to have our wedding!"

This article here is the counterpoint to that thought process though. Without going into detail of the short-sightedness of thought that everyone at your wedding is also OSU fans, the point is that just because your favorite team is on a break, doesn't mean the college football world stops turning. There are a bunch of great games this weekend and many of your guests will be huddled together by a TV or a smartphone at your reception, oblivious to the wedding reception festivities while racking up the bar tab as they silently wonder why someone would pick a wedding time during the SEC on CBS game of the week.

Here are the highlighted games of week 4, as conference games start becoming regular and the stakes become higher.


Two Noon games to start the college football day off on the right foot.

#24 Ole Miss has become the new "Clemsoning", 2 losses this season due to completely melting down. First, a 28-6 lead in the 2nd quarter in week 1 against Florida State which resulted in a 45-34 loss, then this past weekend again Alabama which saw them blow a 24-3 2nd quarter lead on their way to a 48-43 loss. They face a Georgia team this weekend that has been doing the opposite of them, the #12 Bulldogs are 3-0(somehow) with 2 wins coming on 4th quarter comebacks(UNC, Mizzou) and the other win being a 2 point win against Nicholls State. They haven't been impressive, but they've won while Ole Miss has looked unbeatable at times, yet has lost twice. Here's Chad Kelly and Ole Miss' last shot at any season salvaging, if they can lock up Nick Chubb and get themselves a big home win then their reputation may start to change. But right now, it's tough to put much stock into the 2016 version of"Clemsoning".

Also at noon is a inter-division B1G game as #8 Michigan State hosts #11 Wisconsin. The Spartans came out and laid a beatdown on Notre Dame for 3 quarters last weekend, they went conservative which led to Notre Dame making the score look closer than the game was. They will have to turn right around and play the same kind of game if they want to remain unbeaten though, as Wisconsin's defense seems up to the task. The big issue with the Badgers though is they may be without star RB Corey Clement again this week, huge advantage to Michigan State if he cannot play. The Badgers rely heavily on Clement, as witnessed in their week 1 win against LSU, while they looked rather unflattering against Georgia State without him. If MSU can continue to play offense like they did against the Fighting Irish then Wisconsin will have to get creative in order to score points and pull this game out.

We then head to the 3:30 games, where once upon a time this was a nationally meaningful rivalry game. Back in the 90's, Phillip Fulmer's Tennessee Volunteers and Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators had 2 of the top programs and they would meet every year in a big time grudge match. Players like Peyton Manning, Danny Wuerffel, Tee Martin, and Jesse Palmer were all involved in these games as was Jamal Lewis, Fred Taylor, Peerless Price and Ike Hilliard. The past decade though hasn't shown much of a rivalry. Tennessee had fallen off once Fulmer was let go and after a few national championships under Urban Meyer, Florida has also been struggling for national recognition. Add in that Florida has won 11 straight games and this once proud rivalry has turned into just another game. This year could be the rekindling that this rivalry needs though, both teams being 3-0 and ranked in the top 20. The #19 Florida Gators will turn to new starting QB Austin Apply now that Luke Del Rio is out as they look to continue their winning streak in Knoxville against the #14 Tennessee Volunteers. With Del Rio out, Tennessee's defense will do whatever they can to pressure the new starting QB and suffocate the Gators' offense.

They'll also need their own QB, Josh Dobbs, to play a real good game against a stout Florida defense. They'll also need to get it going early, in all 3 games so far they have come out sluggish and that could hurt them big time in this game. While this has been a 1-sided rivalry with Florida winning 11 straight, 4 of those wins have come by 1 point so expect a close game that comes down to the final play here.

The 8pm prime time game gives us a look at the Stanford Cardinal again, as last week they had no issues with putting away the USC Trojans.The #7 team in the country will be on the road this time and going up against USC's cross town rivals, the UCLA Bruins. The focus as usual will be on RB Christian McCaffrey who looks to continue his Heisman campaign on a national stage. UCLA will need their standout QB Josh Rosen to have an electric game for them, which he is more than capable of. Last year's game between these two teams produced a 56-35 final score, with players like McCaffrey and Rosen on the field do not be surprised to see another high scoring game.

And at 9pm, we have another SEC game to highlight. The #17 Arkansas Razorbacks and the#10 Texas A&M Aggies will be heading to AT&T field in Dallas (Arlington) in a battle of 2 ranked teams that people are still trying to figure out if they are a contender or not. Arkansas notched a huge win in week 2 over TCU in overtime, while A&M had a big win in week 1 over UCLA, but both teams are still on the fence when it comes to national respect. Both teams can prove themselves here with a win, Texas A&M has a QB in Trevor Knight that just seems to play better as the situation gets tighter. Arkansas is more balanced, as all Bret Bielema teams seem to be, but also has a QB in Austin Allen that puts his team on his shoulders whenever they need a big drive and score. Both teams are averaging over 34 points a game and will be on a neutral field indoors, this game is a catapult for the winner going forward and will bring them that respect and attention that they deserve.

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