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MC&J: Texas A&M and Arkansas square off in Week 4’s spotlight national game

The battle between the Aggies and Razorbacks at JerryWorld is one of just two games this week between two ranked teams.

Texas v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 7-8-1 (3-3 National, 4-5-1 B1G)

Season ATS: 22-24-2 (10-9 National, 12-15-2 B1G)

MC&J had high hopes heading into the weekend. Things weren’t looking too bad with Nebraska, Michigan State, and Indiana all covering early. Then Indiana fell apart, followed by Purdue doing pretty much nothing, Ohio State playing down to their competition, and other shenanigans.

Really though, it’s hard to get too mad about going 7-8-1 last week. While we were hoping for more wins, we didn’t really lose much on .500. At least if we can tread a little water as we find out more about teams, we’ll be just fine.

National games:

Texas Tech v. Texas (-7.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC

More often than not it feels like this game is one that is decided by around a touchdown or less. Five of the last six meetings between the in-state foes have been decided by eight points or less, with the only exception being a 49-24 win for Texas in 2019.

Texas rebounded from their loss to Arkansas with a 58-0 win over Rice last week in Casey Thompson’s first start for the Longhorns. We’ll find out a lot more about Steve Sarkisian’s team after this week’s game. The one thing we do know is Texas has Bijan Robinson, who is one of the best running backs in the country.

This isn’t the Texas Tech that you became used to under Mike Leach and Kliff Kingsbury. The Red Raiders can play a little bit of defense. Texas Tech just feels like a little more complete team under Matt Wells, which is why I like them to hang around the Longhorns. Oregon transfer Tyler Shough can sling it, and has formed a strong partnership with wide receiver Erik Ezukanma. This is a fun game that sets the tone for Saturday’s slate of action.

Texas 38, Texas Tech 35

No. 7 Texas A&M (-5) v. No. 16 Arkansas - 3:30 PM EST - CBS

Neutral site games in college football suck, and conference neutral site games in college football suck even harder. Imagine how much fun this game would be if it was played in Fayetteville (or I’d even settle for Little Rock) instead of at JerryWorld.

Texas A&M really has no business being ranked in the top-10 right now. The Aggies barely snuck past Colorado a couple weeks ago in their only game against a team with even the slightest bit of a pulse. Backup quarterback Zach Calzada looked good in his first start last week against New Mexico, but he’ll have a lot tougher test against an Arkansas defense that is playing with the intensity of 30-50 feral hogs right now.

Not matter what their record is, Arkansas seems to give Texas A&M fits. Even though the Aggies have won the last nine meetings in the series, Arkansas has taken three of the last seven meetings to overtime, and two other games have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Razorbacks are playing good football right now, while it feels like the Aggies are just treading water. Arkansas earns their first win over Texas A&M since 2011.

Arkansas 27, Texas A&M 23

No. 9 Clemson (-10) v. NC State - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN

Clemson hasn’t looked the same since Ohio State gave Dabo Swinney’s team the business on the first night of 2021. While it doesn’t help that Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are gone, D.J. Uiagalelei doesn’t look anything like the quarterback we saw when he filled in for Lawrence last year. About the only thing that is working for Clemson this year is their defense, which took a hit after last week when defensive tackle Tyler Davis suffered a torn bicep.

If Georgia Tech can hang with Clemson, I don’t see why NC State can’t. Quarterback Devin Leary has thrown for 794 yards and six touchdowns, while running back Zonovan Knight has 298 yards rushing and a couple touchdowns through three games this year. Aside from struggling in a loss in Starkville to Mississippi State a couple weeks ago, NC State was dominant in wins over South Florida and Furman.

It’s possible that Clemson could finally get things to click and put together a complete performance this week, I’m just not banking on that happening. Even if Clemson wins, I think this game is decided by single digits. In true NC State fashion, they’ll push the Tigers to the limit but come up just short of pulling the upset.

Clemson 23, NC State 20

Louisville (-1.5) v. Florida State - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2

Am I missing something here? Florida State is dreadful, losing their first three games, with one of those losses coming to Jacksonville State. Even though the Seminoles are at home for this one, it’s not like Doak Campbell Stadium has anywhere close to the home-field advantage that it used to.

Louisville did look like garbage in the season-opener against Ole Miss. That could be because Ole Miss is a lot better than we were giving them credit for. The Cardinals bounced back with an impressive win over UCF last week. I just don’t see how McKenzie Milton is going to be able to outduel Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham.

Louisville 34, Florida State 20

No. 24 UCLA (-4.5) v. Stanford - 6:00 PM EST - Pac-12 Network

After pulling one of the biggest upsets of the college football season so far a couple weeks ago when they topped LSU, UCLA couldn’t capitalize on the momentum from the victory, falling to Fresno State last week. The problem was the Bruins couldn’t slow down the pass, as Fresno State threw for 455 yards in the victory. What was confusing when it comes to UCLA’s attack is why they didn’t try to utilize running back Zach Charbonnet more. The Michigan transfer had two touchdowns, but only 19 yards rushing on six carries in the game.

After sending Clay Helton to the unemployment line a couple weeks ago, Stanford beat Vanderbilt in the Brain Bowl. Surprisingly, Saturday’s game will be the first home game of the year for the Cardinal. Tanner McKee has been solid at quarterback for Stanford since taking over in the season-opening loss against Kansas State, tossing five touchdowns and no interceptions.

Even though they have rebounded from their loss to Kansas State, I’m not convinced that Stanford is all that good. UCLA’s loss wasn’t really because what Chip Kelly was trying to do wasn’t working, it was more because Fresno State is a better team than people are giving them credit for. I think the Bruins get back to what they did best in the first two games of the season and win their first conference game of the year by at least a touchdown.

UCLA 38, Stanford 28

West Virginia v. No. 4 Oklahoma (-17) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC

There’s nothing real scientific to my prediction for this game. Oklahoma is favored by more than two touchdowns against a solid team, so it pretty much screams to back West Virginia here. Until the Sooners prove that they can routinely cover big spreads against opponents, I’m going to keep picking against them. It worked last week against Nebraska, so why not go back to the well again?

Honestly though, West Virginia is a better team than Nebraska. The Cornhuskers played one of their best games of the Scott Frost era last week and still couldn’t beat the Sooners. If West Virginia gets the same kind of effort, they’ll likely pull the upset since they are definitely better on defense, and have a strong combo with quarterback Jarrett Doege and running back Leddy Brown.

There’s no question that Oklahoma is overrated. West Virginia is coming off a strong win over a ranked Virginia Tech team. We are going to learn a lot about Oklahoma with this game, and over the next few weeks with Kansas State, Texas, and TCU following this game. Even though Oklahoma notches their ninth straight win over West Virginia, they really make a mess of some things on their way to victory.

Oklahoma 41, West Virginia 34