After several near upsets in Week 3, let's look at the top matchups on tap for Week 4.
All times in Eastern Time.
No.12 Notre Dame (3-0) @ No.18 Wisconsin (1-1)
9-24-21, 12:00 PM, FOX
The LJ Game of the Week
We are jumping right into the action this week with a collision of two Top 20 teams in Madison. Even though the Irish may be going into one of the most hostile environments in the country, their starting quarterback Jack Coan has a ton of experience in that stadium, as he was the starter for the Badgers in 2019 before being replaced by Graham Mertz. Both teams are built through the trenches, but the X-factor is Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton, who may be the best player in the country. Hamilton lines up all over the field, as he does a little bit of everything at free safety. Expect a low scoring game where both teams look to establish a run game with their explosive backs.
Keys to the Game:
The Badgers moved the ball down the field against a top 10 Penn State team in the season opener, but Graham Mertz and the offense missed on several opportunities to get points on the board, and it eventually caught up to them. If Wisconsin wants to avoid starting the season with a second loss at home, they need to capitalize on the opportunities they get. The Badgers star tight end Jake Ferguson has not been able to get into the end zone through the first two games, and he will have to find a way to break that streak, but that is easier said than done as he will be matched up against Kyle Hamilton. For the Irish, their offensive line has struggled out of the gates, and they need to get things going if they expect to move the ball against the electric front seven that the Badgers feature. Due to the offensive line inconsistencies, Notre Dame has struggled to get their ground game going. The sophomore sensation Kyren Williams has been able to create his own space on the ground though, but he will be facing a much sounder and discipline defense than he has faced throughout the first three games. Wisconsin has out rushed their opponents by 460 yards through two games this season, whereas Notre Dame has been out rushed by 136 yards through three games. If this trend continues, the Irish could have a rough afternoon at Camp Randall.
Players to Watch:
No.32, RB Kyren Williams, Notre Dame
No.87, TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
No.14, FS Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
No.6, RB Chez Mellusi, Wisconsin
No.19, OLB Nick Herbig, Wisconsin
No.57, ILB Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin
Score Prediction: 27-23, Wisconsin
No.7 Texas A&M (3-0) @ No.16 Arkansas (3-0)
9-24-21, 3:30 PM, CBS
If the first matchup featured too much passing for you, you're in luck because the Aggies and Razorbacks are two of the best passing defenses in the country, and both teams’ quarterbacks have struggled with consistency in the passing game. This matchup between A&M and Arkansas is the definition of an old school SEC showdown. Arkansas is a team that likes to utilize a bevy of different backs, as there have been five different Razorback rushers to have at least 14 carries in the team’s first three games. The Aggies on the other hand love to utilize their two feature backs, Isaiah Spiller and Devin Achane, who are one of the best tandems in the country.
Keys to the Game:
This game is not as much of a question as to which offense makes more plays, rather it is a question of which defense makes more plays. These teams have a combined 19 upperclassman starting on the defensive side of the ball, so there is experience for both teams. Whichever defense creates more negative plays and turnover should like their chances in this one. The Aggies will try to get the ball into the hands of their star backs early and often, and they will live in third and short yardage situations if the Razorback defense allows them to. On third down and in the red zone, the junior tight end Jalen Wydermyer is a matchup nightmare, as he is a 6’5” 260 unicorn that runs a 4.7, which gives linebackers and defensive backs nightmares. The Aggies are an offense built to thrive on third and short, but they have not lived up to their usual production, only converting on 49% of their third downs. Even though the Aggies have been solid on third down, there is much room for improvement. On the other side of the ball, wideout Treylon Burks is one of the best deep threats in the country, but he has not had the production many scouts would have hoped for due to the style of play Arkansas runs. Regardless, Burks will have to create chunk plays through the air in order for the Razorbacks to escape with a win, but he is going up against a defense that has only allowed 211 passing yards through three games.
Players to Watch:
No.28, RB Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
No.85, TE Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
No.8, DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
No.16, WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
No.1, SS Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
No.30, LB Bumper Pool, Arkansas
Score Prediction: 16-6, Texas A&M
Other Games to Watch
No.9 Clemson (2-1) @ NC State (2-1)
9-25-21, 3:30 PM, ESPN Score Prediction: 41-16, Clemson
No.25 Kansas State (3-0) @ Oklahoma State (3-0)
9-25-21, 7:00 PM, ESPN+
Score Prediction: 34-27, Kansas State
West Virginia (2-1) @ No.4 Oklahoma (3-0)
9-25-21, 7:30 PM, ABC
Score Prediction: 38-23, Oklahoma