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Stan Becton | | September 20, 2021

The college football fan's guide to Week 4 games

College football rankings: Penn State jumps four more spots in latest AP poll

Week 4 of college football features intriguing storylines and captivating matchups amongst some of the nation's best teams. Last week did not disappoint and this week looks to continue the unpredictable 2021 season.

Two matchups feature two ranked teams this week: No. 12 Notre Dame at No. 18 Wisconsin and No. 7 Texas A&M at No. 16 Arkansas.

Week 4 preview: Top games to watch 

No. 12 Notre Dame at No. 18 Wisconsin | 12 p.m. ET | FOX

Notre Dame has three wins on the season, but none of them have come easy. The Fighting Irish now head to Madison to face a Wisconsin team in the midst of a bounce back from a season-opening loss. 

Notre Dame QB Jack Coan has been inconsistent so far, but he will make his return to play against his former team. His replacement at Wisconsin, QB Graham Mertz has yet to throw a touchdown this season. While the quarterbacks are sure to dominate the headlines of this top-20 matchup, this game may come down to the play of the supporting casts.

Players to watch: QB Jack Coan (ND), TE Michael Mayer (ND), DE Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (ND), LB Prince Kollie (ND), S Kyle Hamilton (ND), QB Graham Mertz (WIS), RB Jalen Berger (WIS), LB Jack Sanborn (WIS), CB Caeser Williams (WIS) 

SMU at TCU | 12 p.m ET | FS1

One of the nation's best quarterbacks through three games is SMU's Tanner Mordecai. Mordecai leads the nation with 16 passing touchdowns, including a spectacular walk-off Hail Mary last week. He'll lead the 3-0 Mustangs into Fort Worth, Texas, to take on rival TCU for the "iron skillet."

The Horned Frogs are coming off an early-season bye with a 2-0 record. A defense led by All-American CB Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson will look to shut down SMU and secure the win.

Players to watch: QB Tanner Mordecai (SMU), TE Grant Calcaterra (SMU), S Isaiah Nwokobia (SMU), QB Max Duggan (TCU), DE Khari Coleman (TCU), CB Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (TCU)

WATCH: SMU stuns Louisiana Tech with 33-yard last-second touchdown

No. 7 Texas A&M at No. 16 Arkansas | 3:30 p.m. ET | CBS

Arkansas' surge in the rankings has the chance to continue this week when they visit Texas A&M. The Razorbacks already took down a ranked Texas team once this season and they'll get the chance to do it again Saturday. 

The Aggies enter the game facing their first ranked test of the season. They'll have to do so with second-string QB Zach Calzada under center for the third straight game. In his first start last week, Calzada threw 275 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. As Calzada continues to find his footing, he'll have the help of the nation's top scoring and passing defense.

Players to watch: QB Zack Calzada (TAMU), RB Isaiah Spiller (TAMU), DT DeMarvin Leal (TAMU), DB Leon O'Neal (TAMU), RB Trelon Smith (ARK), RB Raheim Sanders (ARK), WR Treylon Burks (ARK), LB Bumper Pool (ARK), DB Jalen Catalon (ARK)

Rutgers at No. 19 Michigan | 3:30 p.m. ET | ABC

After three games, Rutgers is undefeated for the first time since 2012. They'll head to Ann Arbor to take on an undefeated Michigan. The Wolverines have opened the season with an average margin of victory of 35.6 points. Led by RB Blake Corum, Michigan has rushed for 350 yards per game this season.

The last time the two teams met in 2020, Michigan defeated Rutgers in three overtimes. With both teams entering this year on a hot streak, this year could be tightly contested again.

Players to watch: QB Noah Vedral (RU), RB Isaih Pacheco (RU), LB Olakunle Fatukasi (RU), LB Tyshon Fogg (RU), QB Cade McNamara (MICH), RB Blake Corum (MICH), DE Aidan Hutchinson (MICH), DB Daxton Hill (MICH)

RANKINGS: All major college football polls

Big Week 4 questions

Will a new team crash the Playoff party?

After last week's big-time wins by Cincinnati and BYU, the chances that a new team makes its first appearance in the College Football Playoff increased. 

BYU defeated its third straight Pac-12 team to open the season, the last two of which were ranked. As an FBS Independent, the Cougars play four teams from the Pac-12, Big 12, and ACC during the remainder of the season. With just one team left on the schedule that received votes in this week's AP Poll, BYU has a chance to run the table.

Cincinnati defeated a solid Indiana team this week. As a top-10 team, the Bearcats have the best chance to make the Playoff. With a game against Notre Dame up next, Cincinnati can make a statement in its next outing.

No. 17 Coastal Carolina also finds itself undefeated after three games and in the latest rankings.

While teams affiliated with just five conferences have made the College Football Playoff in its seven-year history, 2021 may finally be the year someone breaks the mold.

SCHEDULE: Full FBS TV schedule and times

What ranked team will get surprised next?

In each of the first three weeks of the college football season, three ranked teams have fallen to unranked opponents. In a week with fewer high-profile matchups, keep an eye out for the underdogs. In addition to the aforementioned matchups, look out for teams like Georgia Tech and Stanford as possible teams to give ranked opponents a scare.

AP Poll Ranking Coaches Poll
Alabama 1 Alabama
Georgia 2 Georgia
Oregon 3 Oklahoma
Oklahoma 4 Oregon
Iowa 5 Texas A&M
Penn State 6 Iowas
Texas A&M 7 Clemson
Cincinnati 8 Penn State
Clemson 9 Cincinnati
Ohio State 10 Notre Dame
Florida 11 Florida
Notre Dame 12 Ohio State
Ole Miss 13 Ole Miss
Iowa State 14 Iowa State
BYU 15 Wisconsin
Arkansas 16 BYU
Coastal Carolina 17 Coastal Carolina
Wisconsin 18 Arkansas
Michigan 19 Michigan
Michigan State 20 North Carolina
North Carolina 21 Michigan State
Fresno State 22 Oklahoma State
Auburn 23 Auburn
Kansas State 25 Fresno State

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