Three weeks into the season and we've seen many supposed national title contenders lose a game already. I'm sure it's a been a long time since Ohio State, USC and Oklahoma have all had losses this early in the season. Other teams that were supposed to make some noise on the BCS scene have also already lost games including Oregon, Utah, Oklahoma State and BYU. There aren't many games this week that will make you freak out in anticipation of watching them (our game being an exception of course) and that's likely the reason that Gameday is going to be at the Iowa at Penn State game. It really is a dull overall slate this week. Gameday should be in Blacksburg as that looks like the best game of the week, but I guess they don't want to give VT too much love by featuring them twice this early in the season.
Remember, rankings listed are that of the AP until the BCS rankings come out and all times listed are Central. That said, here's the Top 5 non-Bama games of Week Four...
OLE MISS (4) at SOUTH CAROLINA
Thursday, September 24th - 6:30 pm - ESPN
Ole Miss has risen to a #4 ranking based on preseason expectations, beating up on Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana and whole bunch of teams ranked ahead of them losing (USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech.) When the Rebels roll into Columbia on Thursday, it'll be the first time they've played someone with a pulse this season. South Carolina's played in a snorefest with NC State, a shootout with Georgia and then had a breather with Florida Atlantic this past weekend. I don't imagine South Carolina will win this game, but they'll certainly be the most formidable test Ole Miss has had so far. Also, we play both of these teams back to back in mid-October so this one is a no brainer to check in on as a Tide fan.
CALIFORNIA (6) at OREGON
Saturday, September 26th - 2:30 pm - ABC/ESPN Gameplan
Cal begins conference play at Oregon this week and really needs a win to establish themselves as Pac-10 frontrunners after USC's slip up at Washington last weekend. Cal's three games so far have been against Maryland, Minnesota and Eastern Washington. Eastern Washington is the obvious cupcake of the bunch and even though Minnesota and Maryland aren't elite teams, Cal is to be commended for scheduling two BCS conference teams for their out of conference games. Wins over Minnesota and Maryland certainly look better than beating up on Sun Belt teams. Minnesota put up more of a fight than expected, but Cal still won by two TDs. Speaking of TDs, Jahvid Best had all five of Cal's TDs against the Golden Gophers. So far this year Best has rushed for over 400 yards and 8 TDs. Not too shabby. Oregon is beginning to find their feet again after their opening weekend debacle against Boise State. They've knocked off Purdue and 18th ranked Utah to hopefully get their season back on track.
MIAMI (9) at VIRGINIA TECH (11)
Saturday, September 26th - 2:30 pm - ABC/ESPN/ESPN Gameplan
Apparently everything worth watching this Saturday comes on at 2:30 pm. Thank goodness for DVRs and the "last channel" button. This is the only game of the week featuring two ranked teams. Virginia Tech has nearly climbed back into the Top 10 after we knocked them out of it in week one. Three of their first four opponents have been ranked and two of them (Alabama and Miami) have been in the Top 10. Oddly enough, all four of Miami's first four opponents are currently ranked or were ranked at the time they played. This is another crucial battle in the Coastal Division of the ACC. These two teams look to be the best in the conference right now and based on the early returns, it's likely that whoever wins this one will be the favorite the rest of the way to win the division. It'll be interesting to see how Jacory Harris fares against the VT defense.
IOWA at PENN STATE (5)
Saturday, September 26th - 7:00 pm - ABC
Pop a couple of No-Doz folks, it's a Big 10 game! I know Iowa's come to life a bit after their opening weekend scare from FCS opponent Northern Iowa, but this just doesn't strike me as a Gameday type of game. I'm guessing it's getting so much attention since Penn State is a whopping 1-6 against Iowa in the 21st century. A loss here would derail the Nittany Lions' national ambitions and probably deal a decent blow to their conference hopes as well. This will be Penn State's first decent test after playing Akron, Temple, and Syracuse to open the season. It's not a game I'm personally thrilled by, but it should tell us something about what Penn State's bringing to the table this year.
TEXAS TECH at HOUSTON (17)
Saturday, September 26th - 8:15 pm - ESPN2
Houston is the new media darling for BCS busting now that BYU and Utah have bitten the dust. Boise is the most likely candidate to actually do it, but Houston is a buzz team after knocking off Oklahoma State in week two. A C-USA BCS buster would definitely be different. If they actually run the table they'll have three BCS teams on their resume (Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Mississippi State.) Texas Tech is looking to bounce back after last week's 34-24 loss to Texas. I imagine this'll be a scoring extravaganza. Should be a fun one.