Week Four Lowe Down: Auburn, Okie State pull upsets

Matt Lowe

September 20, 2019 at 4:34 pm.

Welcome to Week Four of The Lowe Down.

It’s hard to believe we are a quarter of the way through the regular season. But time sure flies when you’re having fun.

Following this week, we will finally begin to see which teams have the potential to be postseason contenders, as a number of key inner-conference matchups dot the slate.

Can Wisconsin be a challenger in the Big Ten? Will Oklahoma State come out of nowhere and potentially challenge in the Big 12? Can Auburn or Texas A&M mount a charge in the SEC West? And can Notre Dame hang with Georgia? Or will it be another big-game flameout for Brian Kelly and the Irish?

Questions abound. And those questions will be answered over the weekend. But remember this: teams tend to hit their stride in October not September. And if a team loses a game early on, there’s still time to go on a run and be a College Football Playoff contender.

The overall season record is 34-5. To the games we go…


Friday, September 20

No. 10 Utah (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) at USC (2-1, 1-0 Pac-12) 8:00 p.m. CT  ****Upset Special

Utah is led on offense by dynamic dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huntley and veteran tailback Zack Moss, but the Utes’ defense, which possesses one of the nation’s top defensive lines, will need to bring its A-game when it meets a dangerous USC squad in the Coliseum. Despite throwing three interceptions last week, including the one that sealed an overtime loss to BYU, Trojans’ true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis has the look of a future star. Sure, he’s made his share of rookie mistakes, but the spotlight doesn’t seem too big for him. It will be paramount for USC to establish a running game with physical tailbacks Vavae Malepeai (58 carries 272 yards, four scores) and Markese Stepp against the always-tough Utah run D. But the dynamic receiving trio of Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown will need to make plays in the passing game if the Trojans hope to get back in the win column.  And if you want to throw a stat at your pals, check this out: the last time Utah beat USC in the Coliseum was in 1916, while World War I was raging. Yep, I’ll roll with history.

The Lowe Down: USC 27, Utah 24

Air Force (2-0, 0-0 MW) at No. 20 Boise State (3-0, 0-0 MW) 8:00 p.m. CT ****Upset Special

Over the years, these two teams have played some fantastic games and don’t be surprised if that’s the case once again Friday night. True freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier has been instrumental in hard-fought Boise State wins over FSU and Marshall, and he’ll need to be on point once again against an Air Force defense that’s made tremendous strides under coordinator John Rudzinski. Rudzinski’s unit is tough and disciplined and it will make Bachmeier and the Broncos offense earn everything they get. But a major factor for the Falcons will be bottling up a Boise rush attack that features true freshman George Holani (216 yards) and junior Robert Mahone (215) and enters that game averaging 173 yards per contest. If they can do that, they’ll have a chance to win considering their ability to dominate the run game (353.5 ypg) and control the clock with electric quarterback Donald Hammond III and speedy tailback Kade Remsberg.

The Lowe Down: Air Force 27, Boise State 26


Saturday, September 21

Tennessee (1-2, 0-0 SEC) at No. 9 Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC) 11:00 p.m. CT

Losing star quarterback Feleipe Franks for the season is a tough pill to swallow for the Florida faithful. But you have to like how backup Kyle Trask came in and played in a hard-fought win over Kentucky. The 6-foot-5, 239-pound redshirt junior, who despite a four-star ranking out of high school has stuck with the team (and not entered the transfer portal like so many other QBs that can’t wait their turn) he signed with, completed 9-of-13 passes for 126 yards and led the Gators to three fourth-quarter scoring drives in a pressure-packed game that looked in doubt at the start of the final quarter. One thing I’m looking for here with Florida — who could be without star defensive end Jabari Zuniga (ankle), standout corner CJ Henderson (ankle) and big-play wideout Kadarius Toney (shoulder) — will be how well it responds off a big win with a new QB. Sometimes getting a pat on the back all week in class after a big victory can expand the ego. Regardless, look for the Vols to put up a good fight.

The Lowe Down: Florida 24, Tennessee 17

No. 11 Michigan (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 13 Wisconsin (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) 11:00 a.m. CT

After Army ran all over Michigan in Week Two, I have a hard time believing the Wolverines will be able to slow a powerful Badgers rushing attack that is paced by another strong offensive line and Jonathan Taylor, a grizzled veteran and one of the nation’s premier running backs. Junior Jack Coan has settled in nicely as the team’s starting QB, and the return of Quintez Cephus, along with the continued growth of tight end Jake Ferguson, has spiced up the Whisky passing attack. I really like the Wolverines receiving corps, which is led by Nico Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black, but I don’t think they are being used properly. Remember, offensive coordinator Josh Gattis— who had never called plays prior to this season — was brought in from Alabama to add some life to the passing offense. But it still appears that Jim Harbaugh has his fingerprints all over Big Blue’s O, which doesn’t bode well in games like this.

The Lowe Down: Wisconsin 30, Michigan 20

No. 8 Auburn (3-0, 0-0 SEC) at No. 17 Texas A&M (2-1, 0-0 SEC) 2:30 p.m. ****Upset Special

Securing the ball and maximizing opportunities will likely determine the outcome of this critical SEC West matchup. Yeah, it sounds cliché but it’s the truth. Both teams are solid defensively and it could be a struggle for either squad to establish a rushing attack due to the strong run D each team plays. That means quarterback play could play a major factor in who wins. If that’s the case, the edge goes to Kellen Mond over Bo Nix simply due to experience. But Nix is no ordinary freshman and the return of big-play wideout Seth Williams — the hero in the Oregon victory — gives the Tigers a game-changing weapon in the passing attack. But Mond has a special weapon of his own in Jhamon Ausbon. The Tigers have been poor on punt coverage this season, and special teams might decide this game. In fact, I think it will. The Aggies may have a slight edge as far the kickers go, but Auburn’s Christian Tutt is a tremendous punt returner who is absolutely fearless. And he could be a wildcard in a matchup of two pretty evenly matched teams.

The Lowe Down: Auburn 20, Texas A&M 18

Oklahoma State (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) at No. 12 Texas (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) 6:30 p.m. CT ****Upset Special

Texas better get its scoring pants on because Oklahoma State, like LSU, is going to put points on the board. Led by exciting quarterback Spencer Sanders (622 yards passing, seven TDs), the nation’s leading rusher, Chuba Hubbard, and All-American wideout Tylan Wallace, the Cowboys enter the matchup with the Longhorns averaging 49 points an outing. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and rangy wideout Collin Johnson are a lethal combo, but the Longhorns don’t really have a great running option other than Ehlinger, which isn’t good for his long-term health. Okie State has won four straight games in the series and looks to make it five in-a-row Saturday night. And I think they will.

The Lowe Down: Oklahoma State 46, Texas 42

No. 7 Notre Dame (2-0) at No. 3 Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) 7:00 p.m. CT

One thing I’ve learned over the years about football, or any sport for that matter, is that when a team is given no chance to win, they sometimes do the impossible and win. Entering this much-anticipated matchup between two of college football’s biggest powers, the Irish aren’t even expected to give the Bulldogs a game, much less keep it close. Now will that happen? Uh, I’m leaning towards Georgia in a route. But the Irish, led by quarterback Ian Book, are a veteran team that should have added incentive to prove they can play with anyone. Now will that be the case Saturday night? We’ll see.

The Lowe Down: Georgia 34, Notre Dame 17

In other Saturday games:

Southern Miss 17 at No. 2 Alabama 56

No. 4 LSU 36 at Vanderbilt 10

No. 23 Cal 24 at Ole Miss 18 ****Upset Special

No. 15 UCF 37 at Pitt 17

No. 22 Washington 23 at BYU 20

SMU 17 at No. 25 TCU 37

South Alabama 17 at UAB 20

South Carolina 23 at Missouri 27

No. 16 Oregon 34 at Stanford 21

Charlotte 10 at No. 1 Clemson 55

Colorado 23 at No. 24 Arizona State 27

UCLA 17 at No. 19 Washington State 48