Week 4 of the 2022 college football schedule signals one big step towards the normal rhythm of the season.
On tap are 66 total games, only six of which are an FBS vs. FCS matchup. Of the 60 all-FBS affairs, a blessed 23 are Power 5 vs. Power 5 games and 29 – or 48 percent – are in-conference matchups. While each of the ten FBS leagues have at least one matchup on offer in Week 4, the Pac-12 has its entire membership participating in league action.
Want more good news? Of the nine members of the AP’s latest Top Ten that are playing this week, seven will square off with a full-fledged, in-conference opponent. Two of these are ranked vs. ranked matchups.
It’s a great week to have an even better weekend!
Here’s your mental checklist going into Week 4:
(1) After a two-week break, Thursday night college football is back! Just tune in to either/both ESPN and ESPN2 at 7:30pm ET for a double dose of just what the doctor ordered.
(2) Friday night is home to a trio of games that start in one-hour intervals – at 7pm ET (ESPN), 8pm ET (FS1), and 9pm ET (CBSSN).
(3) Week 4’s trio of Ranked vs. Ranked matchups are spread across a Saturday stuffed with goodness: No. 5 at No. 21 is at Noon ET (ABC), No. 20 at No. 11 is at 3:30pm ET (CBS) and No. 10 at No. 23 is at 7pm ET (ESPN).
(4) The Pac-12 owns the late night with three of its four members ranked in the AP Top 25 (plus No. 19 BYU) participating in contests slated to start between 9:30pm and 10:30pm ET.
Thursday, Sept. 22
7:30pm ET – ESPN – West Virginia at Virginia Tech
7:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Coastal Carolina at Georgia State
Friday, Sept. 23
7pm ET – ESPN – Virginia at Syracuse
8pm ET – FS1 – Nevada at Air Force
9pm ET – CBSSN – Boise State at UTEP
Saturday, Sept. 24
Noon ET – ABC – (5) Clemson at (21) Wake Forest
Clemson is only a 7.5-point favorite and is fresh off allowing 256 passing yards to FCS Furman in Week 2 and then 311 to Louisiana Tech last Saturday. Cue up Wake Forest’s No. 22 ranked passing attack and this one is Grade A must-see T.V.
Noon ET – FOX – Maryland at (4) Michigan
The interesting matchup in this one is Maryland’s passing attack taking on Michigan’s young, not yet tested, defense. The Terrapins returned nine offensive starters (including junior QB Tulia Tagovailoa and his top two targets) to a unit that finished 2021 ranked No. 13 nationally in passing yards per game and is No. 20 after three outings this year. Though the Wolverines did finish last season ranked No. 27 in the FBS vs. the pass, they returned only four defensive starters this year – two from the front seven and two from the secondary. Included in the losses were the top three tacklers. Michigan is currently ranked No. 3 in the FBS vs. the pass – but – they’ve earned that mark against Colorado State (ranked No. 100 in pass offense), Hawaii (No. 109), and UConn (No. 128). This matchup will be a solid indicator as to how far the Wolverines can go in 2022.
Noon ET – ESPN2 – (17) Baylor at Iowa State
Noon ET – ESPN – Missouri at Auburn
Noon ET – FS1 – Duke at Kansas
Anyone who claims to have had this one as a Week 4 battle of the unbeatens is likely blowing smoke up your chimney. In one corner, it’s a Kansas club that returned nine offensive starters (including the top two rushers and all but one member of the O-line) to an offense that finished last year ranked No. 89 in rushing. After just three games, Voilà! The Jayhawks are the No. 7 rushing team in America. On the flip side, it’s a Duke team that returned five starters to a defense that was No. 116 vs. the run last season and has improved to a No. 51 rank thus far this year. It’s the same unit that limited Temple to 65 rushing yards in Week 1 and then held Northwestern to 76 in Week 2 only to cough up a whopping 217 ground yards in last week’s win over FCS North Carolina A&T. Tune in to see who’s really for real…maybe.
Noon ET – ESPNU – TCU at SMU
Sonny Dykes compiled a 30-18 record as the head coach at SMU from 2017-21 before taking the TCU job at the end of last season. He’s only a two-point favorite to upend his former employer, and now bitter rival.
Noon ET – SEC Network+/ESPN+ – Kent State at (1) Georgia
After finishing 2021 ranked No. 71 nationally in passing yards per game (204.4), Georgia senior QB Stetson Bennett (#13) is No. 8 through three outings this year (317.3). Though the Bulldogs obviously have the meat of their SEC schedule in front of them – when those big numbers ought to be tempered by stiffer defenses – look for Bennett to top the charts for another week vs. a Kent State defense that finished last year ranked No. 116 vs. the pass and is at No. 123 thus far this season. Speaking of the Golden Flashes, did you see their first four opponents in 2022? How about at (18) Washington (a 45-20 loss), at (6) Oklahoma (a 33-3 loss), vs. FCS Long Island (a 63-10 win), and this week – at (1) Georgia. Kent State may be the most battle tested 1-2, and soon to be 1-3 program in the FBS. #SchedulingHallofFame
Noon ET – SEC Network – Bowling Green at Mississippi State
Mississippi State managed only 214 passing yards in its 31-16 loss at LSU last Saturday night, the third fewest since Mike Leach took over in Starkville in 2020. This week it’s Bowling Green – a defense that returned nine starters to a unit that finished 2021 ranked No. 9 in the entire FBS vs. the pass but is off to an awful start this year. Where the Falcons gave up an average of 186.2 air yards last season (including holding Tennessee to 144 and Minnesota to 59), they’ve coughed up an average of 345.7 this year. Only one team, in the entire nation, has been more generous.
Noon ET – CBSSN – Buffalo at Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan senior RB Samson Evans (#22) ripped Arizona State’s defense apart with a 258-yard performance in last Saturday’s stunning upset. This week, he’s suddenly the No. 6 rusher in college football and is matched with a Buffalo D that finished last season ranked No. 110 in the FBS vs. the run and after three outings is ranked No. 113 thus far this year. It’s the same unit that gave up 219 ground yards and two rushing TDs in a Week 2 loss to FCS Holy Cross.
3:30pm ET – CBS – (20) Florida at (11) Tennessee
After three games Tennessee is ranked a stunning No. 5 in the nation in passing, averaging a cool 371.3 yards per game. It places the Vols between Texas Tech at No. 4 and Purdue at No. 6! But – and this is a pretty big “but” – the successes have come vs. Ball State (currently No. 68 vs. the pass), (24) Pitt (No. 74), and Akron (No. 127). Enter stage left Florida – which returned seven starters to a defense that finished 2021 ranked No. 25 vs. the pass and is No. 26 through three outings (which included two ranked opponents) this year – and it’s time to see how for real UTs aerial raid is.
3:30pm ET – ESPN – (22) Texas at Texas Tech
3:30pm ET – Big Ten Network – Minnesota at Michigan State
Even though Michigan State’s passing defense – which finished dead last in the FBS last season and is currently ranked No. 103 – got exposed in its stunning loss at (18) Washington last week, it’s still a solid unit vs. the run. The Spartans returned nine starters, including the top four tacklers, to a defense that finished 2021 ranked No. 15 vs. the run and sits at No. 26 after three outings. It sets up for a solid strength vs. strength matchup, and perhaps an opportunity to rebound, vs. a Minnesota offense quietly ranked No. 2 – in the entire FBS – in rushing offense. While the Golden Gophers did rack up 334 ground yards and four rushing TDs on Colorado in last week’s blowout win, keep in mind that the Buffs are the owners and operators of what’s literally the worst rushing D in college football. Michigan State won’t be easy like Sunday morning.
3:30pm ET – ABC – Notre Dame at North Carolina
3:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Indiana at Cincinnati
Indiana is 3-0 and ranked No. 24 in the FBS in passing offense. It’s a strength that will be tested vs. a Cincinnati D that finished last season ranked No. 2 in the nation vs. the pass and is at No. 11 through three games this season. It’s key to remember how young the Bearcats’ defense is, returning just five starters and only one member of its secondary from 2021’s stellar unit. This matchup isn’t sexy, but it ought to be a good gauge for how much improvement the Hoosiers have made from their 2-10 mark last season and for what we can expect from UC’s defense moving forward.
3:30pm ET – FS1 – Toledo at San Diego State
4pm ET – FOX – (15) Oregon at Washington State
4pm ET – SEC Network – Tulsa at (16) Ole Miss
The Rebels are 21.5-point favorites in this one, but did you know that Tulsa is ranked No. 1 – in the entire nation – in pass offense? Keep an eye on Golden Hurricane senior QB Davis Brin (#7), after three outings he’s ranked No. 1 in the FBS in passing yards per game, total passing yards, and TD passes.
4pm ET – ESPNU – Georgia Tech at UCF
After limiting (5) Clemson and FCS Western Carolina to 119 ground yards apiece in its first two outings, Georgia Tech opened the flood gates and coughed up 316 rushing yards and six rushing TDs in the loss at (16) Ole Miss last Saturday. It earns the Yellow Jackets (which returned a mere three starters on defense) a No. 106 rank nationally vs. the run, very near the No. 100 finish they achieved last season. Cue up UCF, currently the No. 4 rushing attack in college football, and it may not be a magical trip to Orlando for the Ramblin’ Wreck.
5:30pm ET – Pac-12 Network – Arizona at Cal
7pm ET – ESPN – (10) Arkansas vs. (23) Texas A&M (at Arlington, Texas)
After throwing for 364 yards, three scores, and two picks in the opener vs. FCS Sam Houston State, Texas A&M sophomore QB Haynes King (#13) skidded to a 97-yard, zero-score performance in the loss to App State in Week 2. Last Saturday the Aggies turned to LSU transfer junior QB Max Johnson (#14), who did manage to lead them to a 17-9 win but only completed 10-of-20 passes for 140 yards and one score. The three outings earn A&M a No. 99 rank nationally/No. 13 in the SEC in passing offense. As dismal as that all sounds, Week 4 could be the week when Jimbo Fisher seemingly figures it all out. Against the No. 10 team in the country? Seriously? Well…did you know that the Razorbacks are ranked No. 131 – or dead last in the FBS – vs. the pass? It’s the same group that gave up 325 passing yards to Cincinnati in the opener, 376 to South Carolina in Week 2, and then 357 to FCS Southwest Missouri State in last weeks near catastrophe. Tune in to this provocative edition of “Which is worse?” starring Texas A&M’s QB room and Arkansas’ secondary.
7pm ET – FS1 – Iowa at Rutgers
7pm ET – ESPN2 – Northern Illinois at (8) Kentucky
Kentucky’s 3-0 start has been fueled offensively by its passing game. Where the Wildcats are ranked No. 26 in the FBS in passing yards per game they’re a dismal No. 122 in rushing. This week’s visit from Northern Illinois – which finished last season ranked No. 83 nationally in pass defense and is currently at No. 113 – is an opportunity for Kentucky to further its success through the air. As a side note, while Wildcat senior QB Will Levis (#7) is ranked No. 18 in the nation in passing yards per game, he’s also thrown four interceptions in three appearances (tying him for the third most in the FBS), including two last week vs. FCS Youngstown State. It makes for an interesting matchup vs. NIU sophomore CB Eric Rogers (#12) who’s already posted two picks on the season.
7pm ET – CBSSN – UNLV at Utah State
Tune in to this one to see UNLV junior RB Aidan Robbins (#9) – a transfer from Louisville – take on a Utah State defense that’s ranked No. 128 in the FBS vs. the run. Where Robbins is fresh off hanging up 227 rushing yards and three TDs on North Texas last week, the Aggies allowed 245 ground yards to UConn in the opener, 278 to (2) Alabama in Week 2, and gave up a generous 199 to FCS Weber State in last Saturday’s 35-7 upset loss.
7:30pm ET – ABC – Wisconsin at (3) Ohio State
The nature of college football is cyclical, something that’s especially true where personnel turnover is concerned. It means that unless a program is stacked to the gills with top-ranked recruits who can seamlessly fill gaps when eligibility runs out, a team that is struggling can be more young than bad. Wisconsin may be a perfect example of this in 2022, especially defensively. The Badgers finished last year ranked No. 8 in the FBS in scoring defense, No. 13 vs. the run, and No. 19 vs. the pass. This season, as luck would not have it, only three starters and only two of the top ten tacklers are back. Though they ought to improve as the season progresses, the Badgers’ youth may be exposed vs. an Ohio State team that not only recruits at a higher level but that returns six starters to an offense that finished 2021 ranked No. 1 in scoring and No. 3 in passing.
7:30pm ET – SEC Network – Vanderbilt at (2) Alabama
7:30pm ET – Big Ten Network – Florida Atlantic at Purdue
After racking up 424 air yards in its narrow loss at Syracuse last Saturday this week Purdue draws Florida Atlantic, the same unit that coughed up 345 air yards and four passing TDs to Ohio (University not State) in a Week 1 loss. Where the Boilermakers are currently ranked No. 6 in the FBS in pass offense, the Owls are No. 113 in Pass D. Keep an eye on Purdue senior QB Aidan O’Connell (#16), the No. 4 QB in the land.
8pm ET – FOX – Kansas State at (6) Oklahoma
9:30pm ET – Pac-12 Network – (7) USC at Oregon State
10:30pm ET – ESPN – (13) Utah at Arizona State
10:30pm ET – FS1 – Stanford at (18) Washington
OFF THIS WEEK (5)
- Big Ten: Nebraska
- Big 12: (9) Oklahoma State
- C-USA: UAB
- Independents: Army
- MWC: Fresno State
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (7)
- Ball State at Georgia Southern
- Charlotte at South Carolina
- Florida Atlantic at Purdue
- New Mexico at LSU
- Northern Illinois at (8) Kentucky
- Arkansas State at Old Dominion
- Toledo at San Diego State
REUNITED…And it feels so good
- Kent State at (1) Georgia (only-ever meeting in 1998)
- Tulsa at (16) Ole Miss (last played in the 1964 Bluebonnet Bowl)
- Middle Tennessee at (25) Miami Fla. (last played in 1932)
8: (3) Ohio State has won 8-straight over Wisconsin (last loss in 2010)
8: (19) BYU has won 8-straight over Wyoming (last loss in 2003)
8: Louisiana has won 8-straight AT ULM (last loss there in 2004)
13: (5) Clemson has won 13-straight over (21) Wake Forest (last loss in 2008)
22: (2) Alabama has won 22-straight over Vanderbilt (last loss in 1984)
- East Carolina has NEVER beaten Navy at home (0-4)
- Kent State has NEVER beaten a current SEC member (0-16)
- Mississippi State has NEVER lost to a current MAC member (2-0)
- New Mexico State has NEVER beaten Hawaii (0-10)
- (16) Ole Miss has NEVER beaten Tulsa (0-3)
- UTEP has NEVER beaten Boise State (0-6)
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
THE BAYOU BUCKET – Rice at Houston – Saturday, 6pm ET, ESPN+ – series started in 1971 – Houston leads 32-11 and has won six-straight.
The Owls and Cougars’ campuses are located a mere five miles apart in Houston, Texas – also known as the Bayou City. The first game between the two, in 1971, was also Houston’s first-ever league game as a member of the Southwest Conference. The 1995 contest was the final SWC game in history. The trophy, a gold bucket attached to a massive wooden base, was first awarded in 1974. Houston has captured the Bucket 30 times vs. Rice’s 10. The two have plans to meet again in 2023.
THE BLACK DIAMOND TROPHY – West Virginia at Virginia Tech – Thursday, 7:30pm ET, ESPN – series started in 1912, West Virginia leads 29-23-1 and won the most recent meeting, last season, snapping a three-game losing skid.
Though the series dates back 100-years, the Black Diamond Trophy (which honors the “region’s history with the coal industry”) didn’t become a part of the rivalry until 1997. The Mountaineers and Hokies have shared a conference home twice; in the Southern Conference from 1950-64 (meeting ten times) and in the Big East from 1991-2003 (meeting 13 times consecutively). Virginia Tech has taken the Black Diamond home seven times vs. the Mountaineers’ four. As of now, the duo doesn’t have any future dates booked.
THE CHANCELLOR’S SPURS – (22) Texas at Texas Tech – Saturday, 3:30pm ET, ESPN – series started in 1928 – Texas leads 54-17 and has won four-straight.
The Chancellor’s Spurs debuted in 1996 – the first-ever year of both the new Big 12 conference and Texas and Texas Tech each employing a university system chancellor. The Longhorns have worn the Spurs home 20 times vs. the Red Raiders’ six.
THE IRON SKILLET – TCU at SMU – Saturday, Noon ET, ESPNU – series started in 1915 – TCU leads 51-42-7 but SMU has won two-straight.
Legend has it that the tradition of the Iron Skillet began in 1946 to prevent vandalism a year after fans wreaked havoc on both campuses resulting in thousands of dollars in damage. As to why the schools selected a piece of cookware, there’s a myth that it all started with a detested/celebrated (depending on which team you support) account of a SMU fan who was frying frogs’ legs in a skillet at a tailgate. Though the awarding of the pan died out over the years it was revived in 1993 when a replacement Skillet was re-introduced to the rivalry. TCU has won 20 of the new frying pans vs. SMU’s seven. The two schools have only missed playing each other four times (in 1986, 1987, 2016, and 2020) – in the last 100 years (or since 1921) and are scheduled to meet thru 2024.
THE SOUTHWET CLASSIC TROPHY – (10) Arkansas vs. (23) Texas A&M (at Arlington, Texas) – Saturday, 7pm ET, ESPN – series started in 1903 – Arkansas leads 42-33-3 and won last year’s game snapping a nine-game losing streak.
Though Texas A&M didn’t join former fellow Southwest Conference member Arkansas in the SEC until 2012, the Southwest Classic kicked-off in 2009 when the Aggies were still in the Big 12. The two shared membership in the old SWC for 76-years (1915-91). Apart from a home-and-home in 2012-13 and the 2020 game in College Station the two have met in Arlington, Texas every year since 2009. The Aggies have won nine Classics vs. Arkansas’ four.
THE WOODEN BOOT – Louisiana at ULM – Saturday, 8pm ET, ESPN+ – series started in 1951 – Louisiana leads 31-25 and has won four-straight and seven of the last eight.
Referred to as “The Battle of the Bayou,” ULM and Louisiana have played annually since 1997 and from 1953-71 under their previous names. In 1999, Northeastern Louisiana University (NLU) became Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) and the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL) became Louisiana (Lafayette). The Wooden Boot trophy debuted in 2002 – the Ragin’ Cajuns have won the Boot 13 times vs. the Warhawks’ seven.
Though (25) Miami Fla. is a 26.5-point favorite over Middle Tennessee this Saturday (3:30pm ET, ACC Network) the Hurricanes are 0-2 all-time vs. MTSU. But wait! There’s more! Did you know that the Blue Raiders (who were called “the Teachers” in both previous meetings) scored a 25-0 victory at Miami in 1931 and repeated the feat with a 7-0 win in Murfreesboro the next season? It all adds up to one fantastic factoid: not only have the Hurricanes never beaten Middle Tennessee, but they’ve also never even scored a single point on them.