Week four is important in college football because it is the beginning of conference schedules for the last week of non-conference games for a lot of teams.
The Miami Hurricanes are playing Middle Tennessee State before their bye week next week. Following their bye week, they play eight consecutive conference opponents.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has some big games between conference opponents as well as non-conference games this week. Who should you be rooting for in each matchup? Let’s discuss it.
Thursday, September 22
West Virginia @ Virginia Tech; 7:30 p.m.
The only Thursday night game is between neighbors West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Both of these teams have struggled this season. The Mountaineers will be playing their second ACC team of the season after losing a nail-biter to Pittsburgh to open their season.
The Hokies lost their opener to Old Dominion, then beat Boston College and Wofford. Miami plays Virginia Tech on the road in their second ACC game of the season, so the Hokies’ next three games could determine how hostile of a crowd they will face in Lane Stadium.
If Virginia loses this game and the following two games, the Hurricanes will likely play in a much quieter environment on the road and give them an easier game against a key division rival. I will be rooting for that.
Friday, September 23
Virginia @ Syracuse; 7 p.m.
Cross-conference games are interesting for a team from the Coastal division because it has been looked at as the weaker part of the conference. Coastal teams winning these games would be great for that building up this side of the conference. But it also helps our rivals’ conference record.
Virginia nearly lost to Old Dominion last week and go on the road to play a scorching hot Syracuse team who has the Cavaliers' former offensive coordinator on staff. Brennan Armstrong and the Virginia offense have struggled to put up points this season and I hope they do again this week.
Saturday, September 24
Clemson @ Wake Forest; Noon
In the biggest ACC game of the season to this point, Clemson travels to Salem, North Carolina to take on Wake Forest. This is the first game this season between two ranked ACC teams.
The Tigers have been on top of the conference for what seems like forever at this point. Wake Forest may be one of, if not the most likable Power Five team in the country. With Sam Hartman returning two weeks ago, he should be ready for a matchup against Clemson.
Before last season, the Tigers had been to six consecutive conference championship games. The Demon Deacons unthroned them before losing to Pittsburgh in the title game. Having Clemson miss a second-straight ACC Championship game hopefully begins this week.
Rhode Island @ Pittsburgh; Noon
Speaking of Pittsburgh. The Panthers play their final non-conference game against Rhode Island. The reigning ACC Champions shouldn’t be in a battle with an FCS opponent unless they get caught looking ahead to their conference schedule and Georgia Tech next week.
Duke @ Kansas; Noon
In maybe the most surprising battle of undefeated teams in the country, Duke and Kansas face off in a game that feels more like it should be a game between their basketball teams, not football.
The Blue Devils have wins over Northwestern and Temple while the Jayhawks have beat West Virginia and Houston. So no one can say they have had easy roads to their 3-0 records.
This would usually have the feel of a really ugly bowl game in mid-December between fringe six-win teams. But the fun of this game is that not many would have expected two struggling Power Five programs to sit at a combined 6-0 through three weeks.
Is either of these teams likely to win eight games? I don’t believe so. But winning this game gets them halfway there. Kansas is a program that goes up and down so consistently while Duke, with a new coach, could find momentum. Let's squash that and root for the Jayhawks.
South Florida @ Louisville; Noon
After losing a close game to Florida State last week, Louisville takes on their second team from the Sunshine State in as many weeks.
South Florida also lost a nailbiter to a Florida team, losing by a field goal to the Gators. With a little confidence, don’t be surprised if the Bulls come out and give the Cardinals a good game.
South Florida is a fun team to root for and is a 14.5-point underdog to a 1-2 Louisville team. I want those points and will be cheering for the Bulls.
Notre Dame @ North Carolina; 3:30 p.m.
I’m not wasting your time. Is there a single Hurricanes fan out there that would willingly root for Notre Dame? This win wouldn’t help North Carolina in the ACC standings enough to get me there. Go Tar Heels. Make the Fighting Irish fall to 1-3.
Georgia Tech @ UCF; 4 p.m.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets gave Clemson three-quarters of good football to begin their season. Since then, they have struggled. But I love rooting against UCF.
The confidence in their program to put themselves on the same level as the big THREE programs in the state has made them kind of unlikeable. They aren’t on my list of teams I dislike, but I will root against them in games where I don’t have a horse in the race. And the Yellow Jackets aren’t a team I hold strong enough feelings for to consider rooting for or against.
The NC State Wolfpack, currently ranked 12th in the country, has yet to play a strong opponent. After beating East Carolina by just one point in their opener, they won their next two games easily.
This week, they get another game that shouldn’t be difficult. They take on a 1-3 UConn team that beat Central Connecticut 28-3 for their only win. A game like that at home shouldn’t be much of a contest unless they get caught looking ahead to Clemson next week.
Boston College @ Florida State; 8 p.m.
The Florida State Seminoles have won their first three games and face a team this week that somehow still wouldn’t be that impressive of a win. With wins over LSU and Louisville, there is no real way of knowing how good they are. And a win over Boston College would still not tell us much.
If the Seminoles move to 4-0 with two wins over ACC teams, they would be loud and cocky heading into a run of three consecutive games against ranked opponents. I want to see them go from 3-0 to under .500 in four weeks. Come on Florida State, lose to an opponent you have no business losing to.