NCAA Football: 5 teams on upset alert in Week 4

Now that all of us are probably recovered fully from a crazy Week 3, particularly with Alabama getting upset by Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa, we can now prepare for Week 4.

This weekend just so happens to give us some more excellent games with major upset potential, with one even having College Football Playoff aspirations on the line and another featuring a team with a major chip on its shoulder.

That said, let’s dive right in.

Here are the five teams who should be on upset alert.

No. 5: Oklahoma State

The Cowboys enter Week 4 with a 3-0 record and at No. 24 in the rankings, but also haven’t faced anything remotely close to top-of-the-line competition. Their three wins have come against Central Michigan, Central Arkansas (an FCS program) and Texas-San Antonio, and Oklahoma State has outscored its opposition 125-35.

Which is why the Cowboys could be in for a rude awakening as they open conference play on Saturday against the Texas Longhorns who, despite being 1-2 on the season seem to have found their answer at quarterback in redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard.

Texas also suffered a heartbreaking loss at home last weekend, falling to California 45-44 after a missed extra point late in the fourth quarter that could have tied the game.

Thus, it really isn’t surprising that Texas are only 3.5-point underdogs heading into this game, also set to be played at Austin.

There’s still work to be done all over the place, but this team is starting to find its legs with Heard under center and could serve as a cruel wakeup call to an Oklahoma State squad that basically opened its season against three cupcake teams, at least by Big 12 standards.

No. 4: Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets’ powerful offense came out on a role to start the season, defeating Alcorn State and Tulane en route to outscoring both teams by a combined 134-16. Then, they lost to Notre Dame 30-22 despite the Fighting Irish playing their backup quarterback, and Georgia Tech will find itself on upset alert again this week when they pay a visit to Durham to take on the Duke Blue Devils.

Though this may look like a rebound game for Georgia Tech on paper, don’t be so sure about that. Duke are 7.5 point underdogs and, like their opponent, are 2-1 on the year. Also, like Georgia Tech, Duke’s offense reigned supreme over its first two games in outscoring its opponents 92-7 before losing 19-10 to Northwestern last weekend.

But No. 20 Georgia Tech’s defense is going to have to be in full lockdown mode on Saturday, as Duke is also a team that likes to run the ball and ranks 33rd in the nation in rushing offense, Moreover, the Blue Devils rank 13th in the nation in total defense and fourth in points allowed per game. Long story short, this game could easily be a nail-biter from beginning to end and with home field advantage, Duke has to be considered as a team that could pull off the upset.

No. 3: Texas A&M

There’s no other way to say it. The No. 14 Aggies have looked like the best team in the SEC so far this year. The offensive attack, led by sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen, has looked strong and balanced over three games, and the defense is slowly coming together with sophomore defensive lineman Myles Garrett and his nation-leading 5.5 sacks in the driver’s seat.

But like the other two teams preceding them on this list, Texas A&M has had the privilege of not playing top teams for most of the season, save for its season opener against Arizona State. By having cupcake games against Ball State and Nevada following that, being 3-0 at this point in the season isn’t exactly a surprise.

Thus, although the Aggies are 7.5 point favorites entering this weekend’s game against SEC rival Arkansas, a game set to be played at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium and basically home field advantage for them, this absolutely reeks of a trap game. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is angry after dropping two games in a row to Toledo and then Texas Tech, particularly after feuding with Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury earlier this week, and the team’s offense could be due for a big game against a Texas A&M defense that, though improved, ranks 79th in the nation in stopping the run. Unless Alex Collins can be stopped, look for this game to be close from start to finish and one that could see Arkansas give the Aggies a wake-up call.

No. 2: UCLA

After beating BYU by the skin of their teeth last weekend, UCLA has a game this weekend that is an absolute must-win in terms of keeping pace in the College Football Playoff race, not to mention in the Pac-12. The No. 9 Bruins are heading to Tuscon to play the No. 16 Arizona Wildcats, a team that currently ranks fifth in the nation in total offense and could be getting back its top defensive player in linebacker Scooby Wright.

Words cannot stress how important this game is for UCLA. As I mentioned in my weekly player spotlight, quarterback Josh Rosen’s numbers have dropped in each of the Bruins’ first three contests, his bottom being completing just 11 of 23 pass attempts for 106 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions against BYU. Were it not for Myles Jack intercepting BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum’s pass late in the fourth quarter, thus killing a Cougars drive, BYU easily could have rallied to win the game and improve to 3-o.

But Jack won’t be available this weekend, having suffered a season-ending knee injury yesterday. Thus, though three-point favorites, the Bruins’ defense is going to have a hell of a time stopping Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon while the offense may have Wright to contend with. Unless the defense can function well without Jack, this game being an Arizona upset is a borderline certainty.

No. 1: TCU

After its offense sputtered in a 23-17 season-opening victory against Minnesota, TCU rebounded nicely with big wins against SMU and Stephen F. Austin, outscoring both teams by a combined 126-44. School will officially be in session this weekend, however, as the No. 3 Horned Frogs will pay a visit to Lubbock to take on their Big 12 rivals, the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

This game is a must-see for one reason. Both teams run an air-raid offense, with the passing game featuring heavily while the running backs also impress. Both teams are also undefeated thus far, with Texas Tech ranking fourth in the nation in total offense right behind TCU, who ranks third. Sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ 1,029 passing yards rank sixth in the country, with his nine touchdowns, 129 rushing yards and four rushing scores being an added bonus. Right behind him, ranking eighth, is TCU’s Trevone Boykin, who has thrown for 985 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 148 and two, but has also thrown an interception in every game this season.

These teams are just so incredibly similar, especially in that they both score a lot of points and have defenses that are not their best assets, with TCU ranking 54th in total D and Texas Tech ranking 116th. The Red Raiders are seven-point underdogs coming in, but are also coming off of a major upset victory over Arkansas. Simply put, the momentum is at their backs.

Unless TCU’s defense can suddenly come together and Boykin can break his interception streak, having thrown at least one in seven consecutive games dating back to last year, the Big 12 could have a new big man on campus if the Red Raiders’ powerful offense can just overwhelm the Horned Frogs from the start and its defense can just come together and take the wind out of TCU’s sails.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports

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