College Football: Who to Root For — and Against — in Week 4

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Fans were treated to the first major upsets of the college football season this past weekend. After an easy first two weeks, the third week of college football proved to be much more difficult for top teams across the nation.

Not only did two top 10 teams lose at home, Alabama to Ole Miss and USC to Stanford, but also No. 1 Ohio State looked terrible and narrowly beat Northern Illinois in Columbus. Safe to say, things are beginning to shake up.

Hopefully this is how Utah fans feel during Saturday's game.

Kevin Cline

Hopefully this is how Utah fans feel during Saturday’s game.

Before getting into the other games around the country, it’s time to focus on the Ducks for a moment. This weekend is huge for Oregon, as the No. 13 Ducks face off against No. 18 Utah in Eugene.

Oregon desperately needs to win this game in order to stay relevant in the Top 25 polls and the race for the Pac-12 title.

Duck fans will need to root on the green and yellow to their best ability this weekend; break out the jerseys, the hats, the lucky charms, and even the face paint if you have to — this is a big weekend for this 2015 Ducks’ team.

This weekend’s college football schedule looks like another cakewalk for many top teams; in fact, the only two games featuring ranked teams are both in the Pac-12.

Also keep in mind that unranked teams pull off upsets every year — college football is extremely unpredictable. With that said, here are a few games to keep your eyes on this weekend:

As mentioned above, aside from the Duck game, No. 9 UCLA heads to Tucson to take on No. 16 Arizona in the only other ranked vs. ranked game this weekend. Oregon doesn’t play either of these teams in the regular season, but that doesn’t make this game irrelevant.

As hard as this may be to write, let’s root for Zona this weekend. Why? Well, a UCLA loss will once again make Oregon the highest ranked team in the Pac-12 — and if the Ducks do beat Utah — it’s unlikely Arizona would jump the Ducks in the polls.

With USC losing last week, the race for the Pac-12 South got a lot more interesting. Also, ESPN’s College Gameday will be there, and fans are always at their rowdiest for ESPN.

If Arizona can upset the No. 9 Bruins this weekend, things will get a shake up even more. I’m a fan of chaos, and hopefully the Wildcats can do some damage for our benefit.

This guy wants an upset.

Kevin Cline

This guy wants an upset.

Sticking with the Pac-12, I believe another game that could surprise people is No. 21 Stanford at Oregon State. Some of you might root for the Beavers as long as they’re not playing the Ducks, but I have a hard time bringing myself to do that.

However, this week I am going to make an exception. OSU might be our in-state rival, but I cannot stand the Cardinal and always root against them.

Also, if they lose this weekend, that will give them two losses on the season — one being a conference loss — which will make their run at the Pac-12 title much more difficult and will drop them back out of the polls.

Hopefully, the Beavers can channel some magic at home like they did last year against then-No. 6 Arizona State, 35-27.

OSU will be severely out-matched in this game, but if freshman quarterback Seth Collins can make some plays in the option game and the Beavers limit mistakes, I think they can pull off the upset. I’ll be rooting against Stanford for the rest of the season. Feel free to join me this weekend.

Things can get scary in Lubbock.

Google

Things can get scary in Lubbock.

As mentioned earlier, there aren’t many challenging games for top teams this weekend. However, one intriguing game is No. 3 TCU at Texas Tech.

Last season, TCU beat the Red Raiders 82-27, and set a Big 12 record for points in a conference game in the process.

But that was last year. This time, it’s a home game for a Texas Tech team looking to avenge its blowout loss.

The Horned Frogs haven’t performed up to expectations this year and could be susceptible to a let-down in their Big 12 opener against one of their rival schools.

I haven’t been sold on TCU at all this year, and I believe they will drop a game and miss out on the College Football Playoff once again by season’s end. If they were to lose this weekend, it’s almost certain they would drop out of the top 10, and more importantly, fall behind the Ducks in the rankings and playoff race.

The Red Raiders have looked impressive so far this season and have the motivation to avenge their beat down last year as they prepare for the game this week. Ideally, TCU goes down this weekend, falls out of the top 15, and has their playoff dreams crushed. Duck fans, root for Texas Tech this weekend — Fight, Raiders, Fight.

Even though things are slowing down after the craziness of Week 3, Week 4 still has a lot of potential for upsets.

First and foremost, it’s paramount the Ducks get a win at home — but also pay attention to other games around the nation — it’s about to be upset season. Check back Wednesday for the next ”Who To Root For — And Against.”

Go. Ducks.

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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Nik Brownlee

Nik Brownlee

University of Oregon alumnus and Duck football fanatic. Born in Eugene and raised in Autzen Stadium, sports are the foundation for who I am. Passionate about fitness, the outdoors and making people laugh. If I'm not talking about sports, chances are I'm listening to my music too loud.

  • MAITAIDUCK

    We really only need to worry about our Ducks and the preparation’s up to the Game. I have a feeling Oregon now that the team is a much better opponent will play up to the competition and I clearly have no idea why these young men play this way but they do as in up or down to the teams they play. Oregon is still a very talent loaded team and they will be in their 4th game and should actually dominate Utah. It will be the defense’s turn to show the nation they are for real and DP’needs to show he’s capable of getting his D up to the challenge and if he doesn’t then it clearly looks like they should of given that job to Coach Neal who I believe is a better Coach than DP and has been the whole time here. Its time for Oregon’s D to start playing at the level of the offense if this school should want to reach the playoff’s as well as winning it all. Otherwise this could be a regrettable season for Duck fans.

    • Nik Brownlee

      While watching Ole Miss v Bama, I couldn’t help but think, “man, if we had this type of defense, the Ducks would be unstoppable.” It isn’t even about star talent on that side of the ball (we have plenty of 4 star guys at a variety of positions) we just aren’t physical for whatever reason and I agree I think it falls on the coaching. Those Ole Miss defenders, especially the defensive backs, fly in and make tackles and take pride in that “Landshark defense”; while Oregon has been a poor tackling team for years now. I like DP, I do, I just think we need a change of culture and scheme on that side of the ball. You can’t consistently win if you don’t tackle well.

      Also, I can’t stand how we play up and down to our competition. Give up 42 at home to EWU, then hold MSU to 31 on the road.. I think we beat Utah in Eugene also. Thanks for reading, and as always, Go Ducks!

      • B1GDuckFan

        I often think the same thing. Being a B1GDuckFan, My alma mater is PSU and if it weren’t for our defense, things would have been much worse for us these past years. To the point, the B1G and the SEC are traditional defensive powerhouses and while watching the games, I often wonder, why don’t the Ducks have a defense like this. Granted, I am a football neophyte (albeit, a professional fan) but I conceded the issue to the innovative offensive style Oregon plays in conjunction with a bend-don’t-break (BDB) defense system. I’ve read the articles here on Fish Duck about the BDB and see it’s merits, but with the depth on the offense, doesn’t make sense to keep the opponent off the field (i.e. the offense doesn’t really need a breather)?

        I, too, like DP and wish him success, but we don’t have a true, Mariota-like X-factor this year, which places us in the realm of just, “a good football team,” and not an elite team. That’s a shame, since arguably, which have more offensive weapons than last year (minus the X-factor). If this is the case, year in and year out, the defense has to perform Top 20 to assist the missing X-factor (think of Alabama last year – they had a good QB, but not a Mariota). Again, I know it’s more than just the eye test, as it’s ultimately a team that wins and loses and when you have complex offensive systems driving the effort, I’m ignorant as to which defensive scheme would work best. But, I do believe you have to tackle, sometimes. :)

        • duckusucker

          No, we don’t have a Mariota, but (Adams aside), we haven’t appeared to draft a guy remotely w/his skills for a couple of years. That forced us to go outside the program for Adams, and led to all the time crunch problems of his getting up to speed.
          I think we have the tools to have a very good D. But there is a noticeable lack of toughness and grit: when was the last snot-bubbler tackle you recall?
          And I hate to single anyone out, but #17 Juwaan Williams, during that long TD catch and run, was running directly at the WR after the guy made the catch. Instead of knocking the guy into Sunday, Williams dove for the guy’s feet, instead taking out his two fellow Duck would-be-tacklers (running in from opposing lateral positions) as if they were bowling pins. Ugh.

  • duckusucker

    Utah will be a severe threat.
    Severe.
    This exactly is the type of team to give our D a big headache: a devastating runner who can tote it 35+ times/game, wearing out the LBs and linemen (and corners/safeties who come up and have to tackle a power back all day). And an experienced, smash-mouth O line.

    Special teams that will score if coverage isn’t perfect on both KOs and punts.

    Either a tall QB w/lots of experience or a shifty, very fast guy: different players that make it hard to scheme.
    “Physical” teams have given us trouble in the past. I’m NOT saying we’re “soft,” just that styles make football games, as well as boxing matches, and teams that can keep possession and that have excellent run-stopping Ds do very well against the Ducks.

    I think we should start Lockie because no way is Adams @ 80% going to be good enough. Jeff showed he has plenty of skills and a Mariota-like aversion to mistakes.
    If Lockie doesn’t perform, Adams can be sent in…….

    • Nik Brownlee

      I honestly don’t know what to think about our QB situation (which I believe is the clear weakness offensively so far), and agree 100% about the physical team and good defenses. Whoever shows they can actually complete a deep pass with consistency gets my vote to start. We are certainly more talented than Utah, we just need to execute and play a complete game. And we haven’t yet this season in my opinion. I still think the Ducks win this game, and still probably win the Pac-12, I just think there will be more close games this season as opposed to previous ones under Marcus. Thanks for reading!

      • duckusucker

        Good points. I think UT is a distinct threat. I think Helf made a mistake in keeping a wounded Duck as QB throughout the Mich St. game. I hope he goes with Jeff, assuming Vernon’s still not 100%. He said the situation remain unchanged from last week’s game so I’d assume from that Jeff will start.
        From what I’ve read, VA’s injury isn’t likely to heal for several months.
        One thing that is a little scary: lack of offensive half-time adjustments. This is a recurring problem. When the D crowds the line and takes away both options, there hasn’t been a Game Plan B to take advantage of the schemes that created the problem. It has been frustrating to see us run and run and run and get 3-and-outs repeatedly in key games.
        Hopefully, the passing game will be able to do something about that…