College football Week 4 primer: Heisman watch, upset picks, predictions and more | NCAA Football

The college football season barrels into Week 4, and Sporting News is ready for the action.

The Week 4 college football schedule features just two matchups between ranked teams, but they’re big ones. No. 16 TCU travels to No. 6 Oklahoma State, and No. 11 Georgia meets No. 17 Mississippi State.

MORE: Week 4 Top 25 schedule

We’ll get you ready for Week 4 with five things to watch, including Saquon Barkley’s many talents, two SEC coaches on the hot seat, a few MAC coaches on the rise and some ridiculous streaks on the line this week. 

Heisman Watch 

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley gets the primetime stage this week in a road trip to Iowa, and it’s another chance for him to flash those receiving skills. 

Barkley scored a 46-yard touchdown against Pitt on a seam route and took a swing pass 85 yards for a score against Georgia State last week. Barkley has put up 548 total yards and five scores in Penn State’s first three games — which puts him on pace for more than 2,000 total yards of offense this season. He has also averaged 11.2 yards per touch.

Penn State coach James Franklin said Barkley’s emergence in the pass game is a product of two factors.

“We’ve gotta do a better job between the tackles, that’s part of it,” Franklin said on the Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday. “The other part of it is we knew going into the season we were going to need multiple ways of getting him the ball. Let’s be honest. Every defensive coordinator is going to each week saying, ‘We’ve got to do everything we can to limit the impact Saquon Barkley has in the game.'”

Barkley can make a statement to Heisman voters by helping the Nittany Lions pass a road test at Iowa. He totaled 211 yards and two scores in last year’s game, including a 44-yard touchdown reception. 

Coaches on the spot  

The loser of the Texas A&M-Arkansas game will be in big trouble. At least, that’s the perception heading into Saturday’s game at Jerry World.

Kevin Sumlin can’t afford to lose this one. The Aggies already had the embarrassment of blowing a 44-10 lead to UCLA in the opener, and the Aggies have won their last five head-to-head meetings against the Razorbacks. 

Arkansas, meanwhile, already lost 28-7 to TCU this season. Bret Bielema is 26-27 since arriving in Fayetteville, and the front half of that was spent cleaning up a mess. Still, the Hogs have bounced around from 8-5 to 7-6 — a loss here would make getting back there an uphill climb.

At least the uniforms are cool. Nothing beats those old Oilers unis.

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Upset alert  

There are two undefeated Mid-American Conference teams left, and both have hot coaches who are sure to move up the ranks.

Toledo won a 54-51 shootout against Tulsa at the Glass Bowl last week and takes their high-powered offense on the road to face Miami (Fla.) at Hard Rock Stadium. Quarterback Logan Woodside told SN in July the Rockets believe they can win any game, and that’s a product of the culture created by coach Jason Candle. The Rockets have the offense to hang around in this one.

Then there’s Eastern Michigan, which beat Rutgers 16-13 last week and faces Ohio, Kentucky and Toledo the next three weeks. The Eagles are 3-0 under coach Chris Creighton, which isn’t bad considering the program nearly folded a few years ago.


Oklahoma State is an 11.5-point favorite against TCU, and will test the Horned Frogs with an on-fire offense. Three Cowboys receivers — James Washington, Marcell Ateman and Jalen McCleskey — have at least 10 catches, three touchdowns and average 14 yards per catch. Mason Rudolph has so many options in the passing game. TCU’s Kenny Hill will try to keep up, but he’ll have to play better than he did against Arkansas.

TCU has lost the last three games at Oklahoma State by an average of 18.7. If the Horned Frogs win, however, then they’ll be seen as the primary Big 12 competition to Oklahoma, who plays the Cowboys and Horned Frogs in back-to-back games on Nov. 4 and 11.

MORE: Week 4 CFP, bowl projections

Think about it … 

College football lends itself to some incredible streaks. 

Mississippi State hasn’t won at Georgia since 1956. Mississippi State beat Georgia in Starkville in 2010 and 1974, but they have lost the 11 trips to Athens.

Vanderbilt hasn’t beat Alabama since Sept. 29, 1984. That’s a streak of 21 consecutive games. 

Kentucky has lost 30 straight games to Florida, the longest active losing streak to an opponent in the FBS. The Wildcats beat the Gators on Nov. 15, 1986. 

Mississippi State is on the road, but you have to figure if either the Commodores or Wildcats find a way to win, then the goal posts are coming down. 

As they should.