It was a quiet week atop the rankings and a tough week for Notre Dame’s friends in the Atlantic Coast Conference. That league may still have the defending champs and the odds-on favorite to repeat in their title quest but the rest of the conference is looking awfully rough right now.
The Week’s Biggest Loser: The ACC
The ACC launched their own network this summer and probably can’t wait for basketball season to begin. North Carolina in the return of Mack Brown was becoming a bright spot then lost on the road to Wake Forest. Syracuse was supposed to be a quality and team again and have been out-scored 104-26 over the last two weeks. Pitt couldn’t find a way to win at Penn State in a close game. NC State was soundly beaten by West Virginia. Furman nearly toppled Virginia Tech. Citadel actually toppled Georgia Tech. Worse than all, Boston College was blown out at home by a Kansas program that won their first Power 5 road game since 1732.
The Week’s Biggest Winner: Iowa Hawkeyes
Kirk Ferentz moves to 4-0 against Iowa State’s Matt Campbell in this in-state rivalry. This should move the Hawkeyes up the polls and put them in position to feel good about contending in the Big Ten West. They still have some difficult games remaining (at Michigan, Penn State, at Wisconsin, at Nebraska) which includes several tough ones on the road.
18 Stripes Top 20 Poll
|1||Clemson||3-0||41-6 Win vs. Syracuse|
|2||Alabama||3-0||47-23 Win vs. South Carolina|
|3||LSU||3-0||65-14 Win vs. Northwestern State|
|4||Ohio State||3-0||51-10 Win vs. Indiana|
|5||Georgia||3-0||55-0 Win vs. Arkansas State|
|6||Oklahoma||3-0||48-14 Win vs. UCLA|
|8||Notre Dame||2-0||66-14 Win vs. New Mexico|
|9||Auburn||3-0||55-16 Win vs. Kent State|
|10||Texas||2-1||48-13 Win vs. Rice|
|11||Florida||3-0||29-21 Win vs. Kentucky|
|13||Utah (+2)||3-0||31-0 Win vs. Idaho State|
|14||Penn State (-1)||3-0||17-10 Win vs. Pittsburgh|
|15||Virginia (-2)||3-0||31-24 Win vs. Florida State|
|16||Oregon||2-1||35-3 Win vs. Montana|
|17||UCF (+1)||2-0||45-27 Win vs. Stanford|
|18||Iowa (NR)||3-0||18-17 Win vs. Iowa State|
|19||Washington State (NR)||3-0||31-24 Win vs. Houston|
|20||Arizona State (NR)||3-0||10-7 Win vs. Michigan State|
OUT: USC, Iowa State, North Carolina
IN: Iowa, Washington State, Arizona State
This was one of the more boring weekends for the top teams with the exception of Florida who lost quarterback Feleipe Franks for the season but was able to hold off a scrappy Kentucky team. This should push the door wide open for Georgia to breeze to the SEC East title, one would think.
This week I’m most interested in that group of teams from 13 through 17. That feels like a really nice collection of teams that aren’t being talked a lot of about but could find themselves making a push for a major bowl game later in the season.
It seems like every week, no matter what, the last 2 or 3 teams in the weekly poll are merely placeholders for someone to take their spot soon. Surely no one believes in Arizona State after a 216-yard performance in East Lansing that somehow landed them a victory? But as we must admit someone has to be in that ranking so if not ASU then who?
By the way, here are the latest SP+ rankings for the Irish opponents:
#40 Virginia Tech
#72 Boston College
#120 New Mexico
#127 Bowling Green
You can read Brendan’s latest win probability matrix to give you a good idea of how the Irish are moving really close to a projected 10 wins this season. That looks really fun but to date the schedule is looking much softer than it did during the pre-season. For a history-drenched program like Notre Dame it does feel kind of gross to cheer on more projected wins based solely on our opponents beginning to suck.
We can throw a lot of blame at Stanford for torpedoing the schedule as they’re free falling and might lose their third game in a row this weekend with a bowl game looking unlikely at the moment. Yes, unlikely! That’s a tough one for the Trees who we thought would be the third game of a challenging road game trident in 2019.
Worse still for schedule strength matters, no one really looks poised to move up the rankings much except maybe Virginia? The Hoos look like a strong candidate to run away with the ACC Coastal Division right now.
We’re in the meme game.
Week 4 Games to Watch
Utah (-3.5) at USC – It’s early, this is Utah’s first conference game after all, but if the Utes win this one their odds of winning the Pac-12 South will go through the roof. They can probably absorb a couple losses along the way and still take this division. The Trojans as home dogs feels about right, as does this line. Utes 27-23.
Michigan (+3.5) at Wisconsin – Well, well, well Michigan was favored in every game at one point before the season began and that ended quickly. I’m normally pretty antagonistic towards Wisconsin but that pales in comparison to the Wolverines. Let’s go big. Badgers 34-19.
Auburn (+4) at Texas A&M – There are games that you look at and think that’s a schedule loss in the SEC. This is one of those for Auburn. By the way, this is the second of five teams currently in the top 8 that A&M has to face. If they don’t win this one at home then 7-5 is looking like the absolute best they can do absent a massive upset to someone like Alabama or Georgia. Aggies 24-20.
Washington (-6) at BYU – This has been a nice little run for BYU who toppled Tennessee in Knoxville and turned around with an overtime thriller over USC. This ends a brutal stretch to open the season and unfortunately this energy high will catch up to the Cougars. Although, I’m sure this will be a very close game. Huskies 28-24.
Oregon (-10.5) at Stanford – The Ducks have lost 3 straight in this series, including some brutal defeats which has to stick in their craw. The Cardinal are at perhaps an all-time low physically and emotionally in the David Shaw era. I predict pain. Ducks 41-20.
Oklahoma State (+5) at Texas – I haven’t been picking many outright upsets this season. We also haven’t heard much from the Fighting Gundy’s as they’ve won some pretty blah games while flying under the radar. It’s time for some craziness in the Big 12. Cowboys 45-40.