Week Four Lowe Down: Bama rolls, Iowa pulls upset

Matt Lowe

September 21, 2018 at 4:29 pm.

Sep 15, 2018; Oxford, MS, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) drops back to pass against the Mississippi Rebels during the first quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Photo Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 15, 2018; Oxford, MS, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) drops back to pass against the Mississippi Rebels during the first quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Photo Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week Four of The Lowe Down.

Is this it? Is this the weekend we finally see Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for a full game?

The answer to that question will likely have more to do with Texas A&M’s performance than the Crimson Tide’s. But Bama’s first three games have been over at halftime so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Regardless, the Alabama offense looks unstoppable with No. 13 directing it. And right now the Crimson Tide looks like a lock to win the national title yet again.

The record two weeks ago was 15-6, which brought the yearly record to 35-10.

To the games we go…

Friday, September 21

FAU (2-1) at No. 16 UCF (2-0) 6:00 p.m. CT

There’s no doubt in my mind that UCF is the best college football team in Florida at the moment. The Knights offense, which is led by dual-threat quarterback McKenzie Milton and big-play tailback Adrian Killins, is efficient running and throwing and their defense, despite losing NFL draft picks Shaquem Griffin and Mike Hughes, still possesses a number of really good athletes that can run and hit, most notably middle linebacker Pat Jasinski and safety Kyle Gibson. FAU, which features tremendous tailback Devin Singletary and athletic signal-caller Chris Robinson, has reeled off two wins since being smoked by Oklahoma in the season opener. But I’m not sure the Owls have the firepower to hang with UCF for four quarters in what should be a wild environment.

The Lowe Down: UCF 48, FAU 28

In other Friday games:

No. 10 Penn State 42 at Illinois 14

Washington State 20 at USC 27

Saturday, September 22

No. 2 Georgia (3-0) at Missouri (3-0) 11:00 a.m. CT

Everyone touts Drew Lock as the top quarterback in America. Personally, I don’t see it. Yes, he’s a good player. And yes, his stats are always shiny. But I haven’t seen him beat a top-notch defense while he’s been the starting quarterback of the Tigers and I don’t think that streak will end against Georgia. The Bulldogs are a powerful team offensively and defensively, and rest assured they’ve studied what Lock’s strengths and weaknesses are after allowing the Mizzou offense to total 28 points a season ago. Look for D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield to have big days on the ground to spearhead a UGA rout.

The Lowe Down: Georgia 45, Missouri 14

No. 22 Texas A&M (2-1) at No. 1 Alabama (3-0) 2:30 p.m. CT

So far this season, Alabama has only needed quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for basically a half due to its opponents being completely overmatched. Will this game be any different?  I’ll have to see it to believe it. But Texas A&M could make the game interesting if quarterback Kellen Mond plays like he did against Clemson — and the Aggies can milk the clock and eventually wear down Alabama’s defense due to the Crimson Tide’s quick-strike ability on offense. Look, no team is going to shut down Bama’s offense with 13 behind center. It’s just too good. But if a team can speed up the clock, control the ball and score, it could hang around. Also keep an eye on adjustments defenses make on Tua moving forward. I fully expect teams to start bringing pressure right at him to force him to his right. Problem is, if the pressure doesn’t get there, he’ll pick a D apart. He can also do the same when a team is playing zone. Either way, defensive coordinators have their hands full.

The Lowe Down: Alabama 42, Texas A&M 17

No. 17 TCU (2-1) at Texas (2-1) 2:30 p.m. CT

TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson proved his dynamic playmaking ability in a hard-fought loss to Ohio State last week by accounting for 315 yards of total offense. It will be interesting to see if he, and his team, can bounce back with another high-energy effort against a Texas team that has to be feeling good about itself after stomping USC last week behind a productive day from quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who passed for 233 yards and two TDs and ran for 35 yards and a score. Ehlinger has the potential to be a really good player if he continues to hone his decision-making process. Expect scoring, but the Longhorns could squeeze out a win here if they can limit the Horned Frogs success on the ground like they did last week in the win over the Trojans (minus five rushing yards).

The Lowe Down: Texas 33, TCU 31

Florida (2-1) at Tennessee (2-1) 6:00 p.m. CT

Will this rivalry ever get back to where it was in the ‘90s? That’s tough to say. But don’t underestimate the importance of this game to the players and fans. Regardless of the state of either program, winning this game matters. And whichever team has the most success stopping the run will ultimately determine the outcome. The Vols enter this matchup averaging 221.3 ypg on the ground behind sophomore Tim Jordan. Conversely, Florida, behind Dameon Pierce and Jordan Scarlett, is averaging 185 ypg. Just two weeks ago, Florida gave up 303 yards on the ground to Kentucky. That’s a whole lotta yards. And that will be the reason why the Vols get a big W.

The Lowe Down: Tennessee 23, Florida 17

No. 14 Mississippi State (3-0) at Kentucky (3-0) 6:00 p.m. CT

The Bulldogs curb-stomped the Wildcats 45-7 last season in Starkville, so it will be interesting to see what happens in Lexington Saturday night. Mississippi State is a physical team on both sides of the ball and features All-SEC-caliber players such as quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, tailback Aeris Williams, offensive guards Deion Calhoun and Darryl Williams, defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons, end Montez Sweat and safeties Mark McLaurin and Jonathan Abram. But Fitzgerald’s continued development as a passer will ultimately be the biggest factor in whether the Bulldogs can be a true SEC West title contender. Kentucky features the SEC’s best tailback (Benny Snell) and a rugged offensive line, but the outcome of this game will be determined by whether or not the Wildcats can hold up against State defensively. If the ‘Cats can contain the Bulldogs rushing attack and maybe force a turnover or two, then they could give the visitors a scare due to their ability to run the ball offensively.

The Lowe Down: Mississippi State 23, Kentucky 20

No. 7 Stanford (3-0) at No. 20 Oregon (3-0) 7:00 p.m. CT

It’s been a few years since the Ducks owned the Pac-12, but they can make a statement early on by downing the slightly favored Cardinal. For that to happen, quarterback Justin Herbert, a big (6-6, 231), physically gifted athlete, will need to perform at a high level — operating behind a veteran offensive line — against a physical, savvy Stanford defense that’s only allowing 7.7 ppg. Oregon’s defense isn’t nearly as good as its opponent’s so it will be crucial that the Ducks put up some points early in the contest. Heisman runner-up Bryce Love will be back in the lineup when the Cardinal takes the field in Eugene, and he should have his share of success squaring off against a Ducks defense that has yet to be tested against good competition.

The Lowe Down: Stanford 27, Oregon 23

No. 18 Wisconsin (2-1) at Iowa (3-0) 7:30 p.m. CT

Kinnick Stadium is a tough place to play and you can rest assured the Hawkeyes will be ready for the Badgers Saturday night after they were thumped 38-14 in Madison a year ago. Like usual, Iowa features a standout offensive line and a rugged defense, led by ends Parker Hesse and Anthony Nelson, but quarterback Nate Stanley is quietly one of the nation’s best signal-callers and tight end Noah Fant is a scoring machine. Look for all the aforementioned to have big games in an Iowa victory.

The Lowe Down: Iowa 23, Wisconsin 17

Arizona State (2-1) at No. 10 Washington (2-1) 9:30 p.m. CT

The honeymoon for new Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards is over after upsetting Michigan State a couple of weeks ago. Now he’ll really get an understanding of where his team is against a Washington team that’s probably the most complete in the Pac-12. Look for quarterback Jake Browning and tailback Myles Gaskin to have big games offensively for the Huskies.

The Lowe Down: Washington 34, Arizona State 10

In other Saturday games:

Nebraska 17 at No. 19 Michigan 38

No. 8 Notre Dame 37 at Wake Forest 27

No. 23 Boston College 45 at Purdue 30

No. 3 Clemson 34, at Georgia Tech 17

Kansas State 14 at No. 12 West Virginia 45

FIU 20 at No. 21 Miami 34

South Carolina 23 at Vanderbilt 20

Army 13 at No. 5 Oklahoma 47

Texas Tech 20 at No. 15 Oklahoma State 46

Arkansas 10 at No. 9 Auburn 56