We’ve reached the point of the college football season where most teams enter conference play facing opponents they’re more familiar with. This seems to predict less surprising results. But this is college football after all. There will always be surprises on Saturday.
The hard part is determining when and where they will come. Week 4 offers plenty of opportunities with seven matchups against ranked opponents and several other interesting matchups.
The USA TODAY Sports college football team — Scooby Axon, Jess Evans, Paul Myerberg, Eric Smith, Eddie Temanos and Dan Wolken — weigh in on their bold predictions this weekend.
Alabama gets back on track against Mississippi
Look for Alabama to right the ship at the quarterback position against Ole Miss. Now that Jalen Milroe is back at QB1, it will give the Tide more versatility at the position, and Nick Saban won’t continue to play musical chairs with his signal callers, especially after the dismal failure that was the South Florida game. Saban knows that another loss would effectively eliminate them as national title contenders, so going with Milroe makes the most sense at this point. – Scooby Exxon
Colorado’s Deion Sanders is finally tasting defeat
Deion Sanders actually made me eat a lot of crow. What he did in his first season in Colorado was hugely impressive and there’s no denying that the Buffaloes are the story of the 2023 season. However, they will lose this week. Frankly, they’re lucky to enter Autzen Stadium with a 3-0 lead – after watching his team take an 11-point lead, Colorado State coach Jay Norvell came out bold when presented with a chance to win the game by two goals. -Converting points in the first overtime. But take nothing from the buffalo; They powered through the door that Norville had left open. The effort seems to be taking a lot out of them, and they’ve lost two-way powerhouse star Travis Hunter in the process. Hunter’s presence will be missed, especially in the secondary, where Bo Nix, No. 11 Oregon hand Dax Sanders and No. 19 Buffaloes their first defeat. – Jess Evans
Clemson keeps playoff hopes alive against Florida State
You can make a bold prediction based on any of the seven matches between the ranked teams on an action-packed Saturday. I’m going to score Clemson a borderline upset at home against Florida State after seeing the Tigers’ offense step up over the past two weeks and the Seminoles struggle to hold off Boston College with a very close win. Could it be that FSU isn’t quite ready to take the next step and become the new ACC power? We’ll find out on Saturday. But I think Clemson finds a way to control the tempo and get the kind of wins that should refill the program wagon. – Paul Myerberg
Notre Dame gets a memorable defeat of Ohio State
You may not know every word to the Notre Dame Victory March, but you should know one of its most famous phrases – Awaken the Echoes. And that’s exactly what will happen Saturday night in South Bend when the Fighting Irish take on No. 4 Ohio State. This is a chance for Notre Dame to announce itself as a national title contender. The Fighting Irish have a huge advantage at the quarterback position with Sam Hartman behind center and should be able to move the ball consistently. On the other hand, the Buckeyes have an inexperienced signal caller in Kyle McCord facing one of the toughest environments in college football, and it all adds up to one of those special nights where Notre Dame becomes the biggest story of the weekend after a big win. – Eric Smith
Get ready to dance safe in the Penn State-Iowa clash
I’m going to give you a bunch of bold predictions involving the showdown between Penn State and Iowa on White Out night in State College. The Nittany Lions will win it, and there will be at least one safety scored in the game. Well, this first one isn’t that bold. Things don’t often go according to script in this series, but home-field advantage should help PSU survive what will certainly be a defensive struggle. As for the second, safeties don’t happen often, but the Hawkeyes had one last week on special teams and famously had two in a game last season — a contest they won without scoring a touchdown. And who can forget the famous 6-4 tennis match the two teams staged in 2004, in which Iowa State preserved the win — also without a TD — by surrendering the second safety in the final moments. There will probably be at least one touchdown this time around — we wouldn’t be so bold — but this game is a good candidate for a two-pointer. – Eddie Temanos
Lane Kiffin leads Mississippi State past Alabama
There are plenty of reasons to believe this is the week Alabama comes out on the field and plays like Alabama. Nick Saban has done this many times before, and Lane Kiffin probably didn’t help himself with comments claiming Travaris Robinson was now calling Alabama’s defense instead of coordinator Kevin Steele, which Saban denied. Why would Kiffin move the pot this way, especially when he’s 0-for-3 against Alabama? Who do you know? But sometimes the game is simple, and Ole Miss will win because it has a much better quarterback and offense. Alabama’s performance last week at South Florida was even more troubling than its loss to Texas, and now the Tide returns to Jalen Milroe at quarterback. Milroe, who did not play last week, is clearly the best option for Alabama but still looks very limited as a passer. If Ole Miss can score an early score and force Alabama to play from behind, this will be the year Kiffin upsets his old boss. -Dan Wolken