After the heavy buildup to last weekend's thrilling showdown between Alabama and Texas A&M, the slate for college football's fourth week seems relatively light. But there's still plenty of action on tap, including the marquee game of the week between Pac-12 rivals Arizona State and Stanford.
10. Kansas State at Texas, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
The skinny: Texas can't stop the quarterback run, the specialty of Kansas State redshirt sophomore signal-caller Daniel Sams. If Sams and running back John Hubert can use the zone-read to embarrass the Longhorns once again, it could mark the end for Mack Brown. To avoid that, Texas will need a steady ball-control offense that features running backs Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron to shorten the game and pray its defense can make a tackle or create a third-and-long so pass-rush specialist Jackson Jeffcoat can do what he does best. Of course, with all the focus on the ground game, a couple of play-action shots for Kansas State wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson could be just as damaging.
9. Utah State at USC, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2
The skinny: Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton is one of the most exciting dual-threat quarterbacks in college football, but keep an eye on the battle between Utah State center Tyler Larsen and USC defensive tackle George Uko as well. Larsen will be the one of the top centers in the 2014 NFL Draft, and Uko leads the Trojans' resurrected pass rush with three sacks.
8. Utah at BYU, Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2
The skinny: The Holy War won't return until 2017-18, but this last installment before the hiatus features two outstanding mobile quarterbacks in Utah sophomore Travis Wilson and BYU sophomore Taysom Hill, last seen embarrassing Texas with 259 rushing yards. Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy has been bothering opposing quarterbacks but has only one sack to show for it. Van Noy will need to be in top form to bring down the 6-foot-6 Wilson.
7. North Carolina at Georgia Tech, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
The skinny: This is an important Coastal Division matchup. Tech won 68-50 last season in the highest-scoring game in league history. Tech senior CBs Jemea Thomas and Louis Young need to play well. The same goes for UNC DE Kareem Martin and DT Tim Jackson. UNC OT James Hurst vs. Georgia Tech DE Jeremiah Attaochu should be one of the best individual matchups of the weekend. Attaochu was the ACC's leading returning sacker from last season with 10, but he has zero this season after moving to end from outside linebacker.
6. Clemson at NC State, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The skinny: A lot of intrigue for this one. Atlantic Division favorite Clemson always seems to lose at least once to someone it has no business losing to, and division rival NC State shocked an unbeaten Florida State team in Raleigh last season. And the last time the Tigers played in Raleigh, they were ranked seventh but lost by 23. NC State's secondary is a huge concern; senior CB Dontae Johnson (6-2, 195) is solid, but there are questions everywhere else. Can Johnson and his mates keep Clemson WR Sammy Watkins from taking over? NC State QB Pete Thomas has a big arm, and though coach Dave Doeren would prefer to run the ball, he should unleash Thomas because Clemson's secondary can be exploited. NC State OT Rob Crisp is one of the best linemen in the ACC; Clemson DEs Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford are good pass rushers.
5. Boise State at Fresno State, Friday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
The skinny: This looks to be the toughest remaining regular-season test for Fresno State (2-0), which is ranked in the coaches' poll for the first time since 2008. Because these teams are in different divisions, they could meet again in the Mountain West championship game. Fresno State senior QB Derek Carr (6-3, 218) is a legit star (and a legit Heisman candidate if the Bulldogs win this), and he throws to a rising star in sophomore WR Davante Adams (6-2, 212). Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper are effective complementary receivers. Boise State's secondary got torched in the opener against Washington. The Broncos (2-1) need junior DE Demarcus Lawrence (6-3, 245) to apply a consistent pass rush. His battles with Fresno State senior OT Austin Wentworth (6-5, 306) should be good ones. Boise State needs a big game from sophomore TB Jay Ajayi (6-0, 220). Boise State has won seven in a row and 11 of the past 12 in the series.
4. Michigan State at Notre Dame, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
The skinny: After two games in which its offense basically did nothing, Michigan State had an offensive awakening last week. But that was against FCS member Youngstown State. Michigan State's defense is a given. Sophomore DE Shilique Coleman (6-4, 250) is a star on the rise, and his one-on-one battles with Notre Dame senior OT Zack Martin (6-4, 308) will be worth watching. Michigan State senior CB Darqueze Dennard (5-11, 197) is one of the nation's best, and he will be tested by Irish WRs DaVaris Daniels (6-1, 203) and TJ Jones (5-11, 195). Michigan State LBs Max Bullough (6-3, 245) and Denicos Allen (5-11, 218) will be busy against the Irish's rushing attack. Michigan State's offensive line has struggled, which means Irish NT Louis Nix III (6-2, 357) and DE Stephon Tuitt (6-6, 322) should be able to make their presence felt. On paper, this looks as if it will be a low-scoring game.
3. Tennessee at Florida, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The skinny: The marquee game of the day in the SEC features the Volunteers' vaunted offensive line against a stout Florida defense. In particular, watch whether UF defensive lineman Dominique Easley, just 284 pounds but quick and strong, disrupts UT's rushing attack. Center James Stone and guard Zach Fulton, two future NFL offensive linemen, will draw a lot of the duty on Easley. Meanwhile, Tennessee's very best offensive line prospect, Tiny Richardson at left tackle, squares off with UF pass rushers Donte Fowler and Ronald Powell. Another nice prospect matchup to watch: How does Florida's interior offensive line, particularly guard Jon Halapio making his first start of the season coming off a pectoral muscle tear injury, fare against Vols junior linebacker A.J. Johnson? Finally, if heralded Tennessee freshman receiver Marquez North has a big game against UF cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson -- both high-level draft prospects -- you'll know he's for real.
2. Auburn at LSU, Saturday, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
The skinny: Top matchups here include Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson against the LSU pass rush, and AU running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Tre Mason against LSU weakside linebacker Lamin Barrow. Against athletic quarterback Nick Marshall, Barrow will also have some responsibility in quarterback containment. On the other side, Auburn defensive end Dee Ford makes his second appearance of the season against a budding talent at left tackle in LSU's La'El Collins. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, whose stock among scouts is on the rise, gets his first SEC test of the season after feasting on three non-conference foes.
1. Arizona State at Stanford, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, Fox
The skinny: Talk about contrasting styles. The Cardinal wants to play a methodical, punishing style that highlights its powerful offensive line and defensive front seven, whereas Arizona State wants to push the pace. The Sun Devils ran 93 plays against the Badgers, 31 fewer than Stanford has run in its two games. For ASU to impose its will, defensive tackle Will Sutton will have to overpower left guard David Yankey and force Stanford into long, obvious passing downs where Sutton and linebacker Carl Bradford can go after quarterback Kevin Hogan.