Week 4 Predictions – 2023
Last Week: The Buckeyes did exactly what they needed to do against the Hilltoppers, too bad the pollsters were not paying enough attention. Kyle McCord had a great showing in his first formal game as the QB starter as the 3-0 Buckeyes remained steady in the polls. In our staff predictions, everyone is still all-together in the standings, either 8-1 or 7-2. We should start to see some separation this week.
This Week’s Games: College football fans finally get what they have been waiting for all season long .. a weekend with good match-ups. We have 7 games that involve unbeaten teams and for thie first time all year, we should see some shake-up at the top of the polls. The Buckeyes need to get all aspects of their game working against the Irish. Can Notre Dame pull of the home victory and get Coach Freeman the biggest win of his career? …. Florida State travels to face Clemson in a statement game. Will the statement be the Seminoles are for real, or that Clemson is back? …. Is this the week that we find out whether or not Colorado is for real? Can Oregon really be a 3 touchdown favorite? …. Ole Miss travels to Alabama, yet the Tide is barely favored. Do the Rebels have the talent this year to get the coveted SEC road win? …. In what may be the final season for the Pac-12, UCLA and Utah will square off in a game that might set the tone for the conference. Can the Bruins start out the slate with a win?
Buckeye Greats: As in the past, we will continue to include former Buckeye players in our prediction fun and we are thrilled to have Vaughn Broadnax back with us as a regular participant for the ninth straight year.
Here we go with our Week 4 Picks – Good Luck to All – Gregg
(8)Ohio State(-3.5) @ (9)Notre Dame
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): It is sodium pentothal time for the Buckeyes as they visit the Fighting Irish this weekend. The challenge this week will be along the lines of scrimmage. Will the Buckeyes’ defensive line be able to impact the Notre Dame’s offensive line. Notre Dame’s transfer quarterback, Sam Hartman cannot find comfort in the pocket. OSU’s needs JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer to make the plays on a consistent basis that Buckeye fans have only seen glimpses of. Mike Hall and Tyliek Williams have to shine at the same time and be a force against ND’s line. On the offensive side, it’s time to unleash the hounds. Few teams have home run threats at both runningback and wide receiver on the same team. Ohio State has multiple players at both of those positions who are a threat every time they touch the ball. If OSU can avoid the Irish game gremlins, they will win the game soundly. Ohio State puts the echoes back to sleep in Notre Dame stadium with a 35-14 victory.
Coach Rick: I am so happy that this was not the 1st or 2nd game of the season. I am more confident going into this weekend and see OSU winning by 10.
Cory: It’s easy to look at the Western Kentucky game and think Ohio State is finally hitting its stride after uninspiring performances against Indiana and Youngstown State. But, Ohio State should dominate Western Kentucky. The Fighting Irish will be by far the best opponent the Buckeyes have faced this season. As for Notre Dame, their schedule has not been too difficult, yet, however, they did claim a nice road win over North Carolina State. Kyle McCord is starting to look more comfortable at quarterback, but I still have concerns about our offensive line and running game. I don’t like making this pick but playing on the road in a tough environment against a good, motivated team, I just feel like Notre Dame has the edge here. Notre Dame 31, Ohio State 28
Dave: Ohio State 32 Notre Dame 28
Gregg: With no disrespect to Indiana, Youngstown State and Western Kentucky, the Buckeye season starts this week. We have a quarterback, the defense is one of the best in the country and they are hungry to prove they are for real. If the defensive line can keep pressure on Sam Hartman, Ohio State should be able to defeat the boys in the green uniforms. Since losing the first to games in the series back in the 30’s, the Bucks have enjoyed double digit wins in 5 straight games, including two bowl games.I think they will do it again this year. Ohio State 38 Notre Dame 24
Joe-S-U: Ohio State
John: If I take off my Ohio State fan hat and put on my college football analyst hat., look at this game and everything screams Notre Dame win. The Irish look much improved across the board from last year, plus they have added a veteran quarterback form a power five conference school that has plaid in big games before. Three games in, Ohio States preseason questions are still unanswered in my mind. While the defense has looked improved through three weeks, they have yet to play a balanced offense that can put a D on it’s heals. Yes, WKU has a potent passing game but without a running game to complement/balance it the Bucks could simply play pass on every down, especially once they got up a couple of scores. While the O-line looked better last week, they still had trouble with short yardage, and WKU’s D won’t remind anyone of the 85 Chicago Bears. Add in a first year starting quarterback with no prior big game reps, night game in a hostile road environment, and the tea leaves suggest an Irish win. Hope I’m wrong. Notre Dame 31 Ohio State 27
Josh: For Ohio State, the key will be which version of the team will show up in this game. Will it be the offense that struggled to get a push at the line of scrimmage on offense, or will it be the one we saw for the last 3 quarters against Western Kentucky where they stretched the field, got chunk yards, and let their playmakers make plays. Going on the road to start against Indiana is one thing, but there will be a difference in crowd noise in South Bend than they found in Bloomington, which was a pro-Ohio State crowd. Notre Dame is looking to prove their first 4 games are not a fluke, and actually are a contender for the playoff by letting Sam Hartman sling the ball around the field to make the best play with his receivers. The difference though between their first 4 games, and this one, is the gap at talent level, and although they played Ohio State last year, the defense is a step up, and the offense with the exception of the offensive line is one year more experienced and polished. This game will be a game where the final score matters less than who wins, and I think the Buckeyes will make a statement win on the road and go into their bye week 4-0. Ohio State 35 – Notre Dame 17
Steven: The Buckeyes game against Western Kentucky hit all the right notes. There were rushing touchdowns, multiple scores from turnovers, deep strikes to a number of receivers and Ohio State controlled the game from the second quarter onward. Going against a pass-happy offense such as the Hilltoppers played right into Ohio State’s hands. It gave the Buckeye offense more scoring opportunities than either Indiana or YSU offered. I don’t envision Notre Dame will fall into the same trap. The Irish are making over 100 yards of offense more than the Hilltoppers and it is all from the ground game. Irish running back Audric Estime is averaging 130 yards per contest and will be a focal point of the offense. The Irish passing game is not to be slept on either. Wake Forest transfer QB Sam Hartman is averaging 265 yards and over 3 touchdowns per game. The Irish offense is not to be taken lightly. There are two ways Saturday could go, and one significantly favors the Irish. If Irish coach Marcus Freeman takes the air out of the ball and commits to the run, it could seriously hinder the Bucks’ ability to score, especially if Estime wears down the Ohio State defensive front. The other way this could go would be a shootout, at which point it is anyone’s game. With such an advantage on the ground, I have a tough time thinking we won’t see a tighter game. If Ohio State shuts down the run, and forces Hartman to pass, the Ohio State secondary led by Denzel Burke, will give the Buckeyes a fighting chance to take the game. If the defense stops the run and gives the offense chances to score they will. Ohio State is only second to the Team Up North in scoring defense, but we know this is built upon the backs of some pretty mediocre teams, just as Notre Dame’s offense is. Their three FBS opponents’ defenses average 87th in the country. Saturday will be a tremendous test, but the Buckeyes should be able to keep it close. This is a tossup in my mind, but I really like what I see out of the Ohio State back end. If the D-line continues to improve, stops the run and gets pressure on Hartman, Ohio State can win. It would be a surprise if either team wins with a margin larger than a touchdown, so calling it close… OSU 38-31
Trout: This should be a very close game. After the first 2 week, I was struggling to find a way that the Buckeyes would win this game against the Irish. But after this past week, the Buckeye offense came alive. Granted, it was Western Kentucky. So it is hard to determine if Ohio State is that capable of being consistently that good, or if they were just beating up an inferior opponent. I’d like to think that it is the former. The Notre Dame team will be the best team they played so far in this early system. This isn’t the same Irish team as the Buckeyes faced last year. They have an actual quarterback in Hartman, and I also think Marcus Freeman is finally growing into his own as a coach. I can see this game going back and forth until the very end. With multiple lead changes. However, I think in the end, Kyle McCord and the Buckeye offense do just enough to squeeze by and take down the Irish in South Bend. McCord gets his first signature win, and the Bucks stay undefeated. (Ohio State, 28-24)
GameDay: Kirk Heirbstreit – Ohio State, Pat McAfee – Notre Dame, Desmond Howard – Notre Dame, Vince Vaughn – Notre Dame, Lee Corso – Ohio State
Final Score: Ohio State 17 Notre Dame 14
(4)Florida State(-2.5) @ Clemson
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Florida State really struggled against Boston College last week. Boston College!!!!! They were on the road, but that game should not have been close. Clemson is playing at home and a victory over the Seminoles could be step in the right direction of redeeming their season. I think Will Shipley and Cade Klubnik go off. Clemson upsets Florida State 31-27.
Coach Rick: The only thing I see Clemson has going for them in this game is they are playing at home. I have FSU winning by 14 in this game.
Cory: Before the season this game looked like the main one that would determine the ACC. Now, I am not so sure. Clemson struggled against Duke and while the Tigers have won their last two games those wins came over Charleston Southern and Florida Atlantic. The offense’s failures don’t just lie with quarterback Cade Klubnik, running back Will Shipley has to be better, as well. Clemson’s offensive struggles go back to last season and it’s starting to look like this may just be who they are now. Florida State 28, Clemson 10
Dave: Florida State 38 Clemson 21
Gregg: It has been 10 years since Florida State was able to come in and defeat the Tigers in Clemson. That was back when the Seminoles were paying Jameis Winston to play, of course it was illegal to do that then. Today most of the players are paid but Dabo has never embraced the transfer portal or the NIL and Clemson has not been the same since. The Tigers may stay with FSU for the first half but QB Jordan Travis takes over in the second half. Florida State will be reminded of the close lose last year and come home with the victory. Florida State 31 Clemson 17
Joe-S-U: Florida State
John: It’s early in the season, but there are two burning questions here: 1) Is unranked Clemson at 2-1 really as bad as they looked in their week 1 loss to Duke?, and 2) Which FSU is the real one – the one that trucked LSU in week one or the one that squeaked by an average Boston College last week? My guess is that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle for both these teams. I think the Tigers are better than what they showed in week 1 (the last two games against basically average FCS opponents don’t really tell us anything) and I’m not sold on FSU being a top 5 team just yet. Go on the road and beat Clemson in Death Valley and I’ll start to buy in. Clemson 27 Florida State 21
Josh: Going into week 3, I think everyone would have picked Florida State, but the way Boston College was able to put pressure on the Seminoles now gives this outcome a little more flavor. Clemson already has a loss week 1 to Duke, but since that game, they have blasted Charleston Southern, and defeated FAU last week 48-14. Jordan Travis for Florida State will be the X-factor for this game, and the challenge will be for him to rebound after last weeks ho-hum performance. In my preseason bold predictions, I predicted Clemson to win this game, but Florida State would get revenge in the ACC Championship game, and if I want to be a man of my word, I will have to stick with it. I think Clemson wins this game at home in a close one. Clemson 28 – Florida State 24
Steven: While FSU seems to have been caught looking a bit past Boston College last week, they still managed to pull out a victory. This week, the Seminoles will be going against a statistically stout Tiger defense, but as we know, this early in the season, numbers may be a bit deceiving. The Tigers are 8th in the nation in total defense, but they lost to the only good team they have faced this season (Duke). Florida State’s first three games have come against much stiffer competition and while their results have been a bit inconsistent, they are the overall better team. Even traveling to Death Valley shouldn’t be enough to stop Florida State. Look for FSU QB Jordan Travis to light up the Clemson defense. FSU doubles up the Tigers 42-21.
Trout: I think Dabo and the Tigers’ stranglehold on the ACC is done. They haven’t been great in two seasons, and they were embarrassingly bad in their season opener. Although I don’t believe that Florida State is going to be an actual contender for the CFP, I do think they are the better team. I could see the game being releavetly close going deep into the second half. The Seminoles will eventually be able to pull away and win by a few scores. Florida State pulls off the win, and ruins any chances of Clemson making the playoffs. (Florida State, 35-21)
Final Score: Florida State 31 Clemson 24 OT
(19)Colorado @ (10)Oregon(-21)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Colorado showed great resilience against the Colorado State Rams coming back from behind double digits in the fourth quarter last weekend. However, the Buffaloes’ best player, not named Shedeur Sanders, is out. Oregon will have the Autzen stadium crowd and the horses to out pace Colorado. Oregon hands Colorado its first loss 34-27.
Coach Rick: The perfect dream season comes to an end this weekend for Colorado. I have Oregon winning by 10.
Cory: Colorado is for real, we’ve seen enough of them at this point to know that. Traveling to Eugene this week we will get to see if they are playoff caliber, or not. Oregon has playoff aspirations of their own but the PAC 12 is looking surprisingly strong this year. Obviously, Colorado has to deal with WR/CB Travis Hunter, the standout who makes plays all over the field. He will miss a few weeks after a late hit last week. That said, I’m excited to watch this quarterback battle between Sheduer Sanders and Bo Nix. Expect a lot of fireworks in this one. Oregon 42, Colorado 35
Dave: Oregon 28 Colorado 21
Gregg: It has been a great story, a fun story and interesting story for the Buffalos, but this week, they will play a team with a pulse. Colorado could barely beat a winless Colorado State team at home last week, it will be a different task to play in Niketown this week. Both teams feature QB’s that transferred in from other schools, both should be getting a Heisman look after the first month play. It will be interesting to see how the media handles Deion after Colorado lose these next two weeks, I hope he enjoyed the ride. Time to go back to Aflack commercials. Oregon 45 Colorado 20
John: Anyone tired of the Buffs yet? They answer for me is a resounding yes. As I said in my rant last week, Sanders essentially kicking his whole squad to the curb and portalling in an almost new roster is bad for college football, and I hope they loss every game from here on out. Fortunately, the schedule is about to get a lot tougher for the Buffalos, and the loss of two-way stud Travis Hunter hurts a lot. Look for the Ducks to quack early and often in this one. I think they cover the 21 point spread. Oregon 42 Colorado 17
Josh: Shedeur Sanders proved last week that he didnt need Travis Hunter to make a difference and win against an upset minded Colorado State. This weeks game though, on the road, and playing in a game that is earlier in the day against an Oregon team that is trying to hype up their own Heisman candidate with Bo Nix, this game I expect to go back and forth and defense will be optional until we get to the second half. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Colorado in the lead at halftime, but I do question the talent gap between these two schools, and as charismatic as Deion Sanders is, he is still coaching a team that is a year or 2 away from his team. Oregon 49 – Colorado 35
Steven: Anyone tired of the Buffs yet? – The Buff’s play some pretty entertaining ball, but this weekend will be the first where they meet a real defense. Colorado doesn’t run the ball, so the Ducks will be able to concentrate on limiting Buffalo QB Shadeur Sanders and his 417 yards per game. Colorado will be without receiver/defensive back Travis Hunter due to a rough hit he took in the Colorado State overtime win. The loss of Hunter, an electrifying 2 way player will be felt on both sides of the ball. The Duck’s QB Bo Nix is efficiently throwing for about 300 yards per contest and has 8 touchdowns and no interceptions this season. He leads an offense that is second in the nation in scoring, which does not bode well for a shorthanded Colorado defense. Even so, a loss in Eugene, especially a close one, may not dispel the hype train that is Coach Prime, as it may end up being as good of a loss as a team could get this year. Quack Attack 45-24.
Trout: I am picking the Ducks, but I think it’ll be very close. I don’t really know how good the Buffaloes actually are, but it’s clear that Deoin has this team moving in the right direction. Oregon isn’t a great team, but they definitely are a team that will be competing for the final PAC 12 title. COlorado will put up a good fight, matching blow for blow with the Ducks for a while. However, the Ducks are able to pull away towards the end and win by a score. Oregon wins and serves Coach Prime his first loss. (Oregon, 33-27)
Final Score: Oregon 42 Colorado 6
(15)Ole Miss @ (13)Alabama(-7)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Does Jalen Milroe pull a Kellie Bryant and shut it down for the season after not seeing the field this past weekend. His alternatives were just putrid. At least Milroe has the ability to use his legs. Alabama is currently in a vulnerable state and appear to be wounded for the year. Ole Miss and Lane Kiffen can provide the estocada to the shoulder blade of the SEC’s biggest bull(y). If Milroe does not play, Ole Miss will win. With that said, Ole Miss upsets Alabama in their house 28-24.
Coach Rick: Mississippi does not have a defense and Alabama appears not to have an offense. I will go with Alabama to win by 7.
Cory: While Jalen Milroe was not great to start the season, the options behind him are even worse. Following the loss to Texas, the Crimson Tide decided to bench their original starting quarterback and go with Tyler Buchner against South Florida. Buchner was so bad (5 of 14 for 34 yards) against the Bulls that he got benched for the third string quarterback, Ty Simpson. Simpson did little to impress, and now Alabama is back to Milroe. While Milroe did not play great against Texas he is still their best option. Ole Miss and Lane Kiffin come to Tuscaloosa with upset ambition, but I just don’t see it happening this week. Alabama is incredibly tough at home and I think Saban will have the team motivated after their mediocre performance last week. Alabama 35, Ole Miss 17
Dave: Alabama 21 Mississippi 18
Gregg: I have already commented that the days of Clemson dominance are over. Are we starting to see that for Alabama as well? The Tide offense is just not up to it’s normal standards starting with the offensive line. And somehow Saban has created a quarteback controversy. But the bottom line, they may not have a signal caller that is playoff ready or even SEC West capable. You don’t normally say this about Alabama but this is basically a must win for the Tide. I not only not see them covering, I think they lose outright, Ole Miss 27 Alabama 14
John: The Tide aren’t used to losing in September. It doesn’t help that they have quarterback issues three weeks into the season. Neither QB that played in the Tides 17-3 lackluster win against USF really impressed. I think Bama catches a big break that this one is being played in Bryant-Denny Stadium. If it were a road game, I think there would be a much greater likelihood of an ‘Ole Miss win. As it is, I think the Rebels keep is close, but Bama survives. Alabama 24 Mississippi 17
Josh: This week, Nick Saban announced that Jalen Milroe will be the starting quarterback moving forward for the season after the Crimson Tide avoided a weird scare on the road against South Florida. Ole Miss on the other hand is coming in looking like a traditional Lane Kiffen offense with a potent passing game with Jaxson Dart, Both teams are giving up over 300 yards of offense a game, but the Rebels have the advantage on offense. I think we might be looking at the end of the Nick Saban era, and Alabama loses their second game before the calendar turns to October. Ole Miss 42 – Alabama 28.
Steven: There’s trouble in Tuscaloosa, and it starts with a capital “Q”, and that rhymes with “U” and that stands for “Uh Oh!”. The Alabama QB job seems to have become a game of “1-2-3 not it!”, and not in the “I don’t want it” sense, but more like “I’m just not it”. None of the Tide quarterbacks have done enough to take hold of the job, and frankly have collectively been dreadful through 3 games. Overall, Alabama is 70th in the nation in passer rating and 101st in yards per game. When thinking of the high standard Alabama has created over the last decade, for QB play in particular, the fall-off has been precipitous and baffling. Overall, the entire Tide offense has struggled to find an identity. Alabama at least has not had as much a fall from a defensive standpoint. They are top 50 nationally, giving up a little over 300 yards per contest. These are certainly not numbers one would expect from a Saban coached Alabama team. Mississippi is scoring a ton, but they have played some dreadful teams. Unless there is a huge turnaround, this weekend could see Alabama post their first consecutive home losses in a long, long while. Paul Finebaum’s head may explode. Phyllis may have an aneurysm. Mississippi 34-22.
Trout: Any other year, I would pick Alabama without question. However, this Crimson Tide team is offensively challenged. They struggled with South Florida last week, only winning by the skin of their teeth. I just don’t think they are good enough to beat the Rebels. I am not a huge fan of Lane Kiffin and I don’t really think Ole Miss will do much this year, but they are a team that can be fiesty. Alabam doesn’t have the. offense power to compete with that. Their defense might keep them in the game.I can see it be a close game initially, and then the Rebels getting a few scores ahead. I don’t think the Tide will be able to answer. Ole Miss wins and gives Saban and the Crimson Tide their second loss of this early season. (Mississippi, 38-24)
Final Score: Alabama 24 Mississippi 10
(22)UCLA @ (11)Utah(-4.5)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): There is a possibility that Utah’s QB Cam Rising may return this weekend. If he does, he may add more potency to an already potent offense. I am still on the fence with UCLA and this game will certainly provide a sample of where they belong. I am going with Utah at home 34-21 over UCLA.
Coach Rick: I think Utah is the real deal this year. I have Utah winning by 14.
Cory: We have yet another big PAC 12 game this week, and it features UCLA visiting Utah. The big question of this game is: Will Utah quarterback Cam Rising make his first start this season? Or will the Utes continue to work with backups. Rising is coming back from an ACL injury, and even if he’s not 100 percent having him in the lineup would be a big boost to Utah. That said, we cannot ignore UCLA and what they’ve done with Dante Moore, who is a true freshman starting at quarterback. Moore was very highly recruited, including by Ohio State, but he is not a one-man team. The Bruins feature a strong running game in addition to Moore. The only thing I am afraid of with Rising is that they bring him back too early and that he’s not ready to play. UCLA should not be underrated. I like them to pull the upset this week. UCLA 30, Utah 28
Dave: Utah 32 UCLA 21
Gregg: Utah is still may favorite to win the final Pac-12 title, with or without Cam Rising. I am concerned about how Coach Kelly will call this one. Utah 34 UCLA 27
John: Pac 12 games are always hard for me to pick, as I admittedly watch very little west coast college football. Afternoon and early prime time games always seem to run up against a good Big Ten or SEC game that I’d rather watch, and by the late night games I’m usually done. I know the Ute’s are a little banged up coming in to this one, but the game is in Salt Lake City. When in doubt, I usually default to the betting favorite, especially when the favorite is playing at home. Utah 38 UCLA 31
Josh: The biggest story line going into this game is if Utah will get Cam Rising back. The Utes have not look overly impressive on offense, but Kyle Whittingham’s defense is what defines the Utes. UCLA enters this game undefeated, bot not challenged in the same way Utah has been with their non-conference schedule. This will be the first Power 5 team the Bruins will play, and even though Chip Kelly is still one of the best offensive minds, I don’t think this team is ready yet to win this game. Utah 24 – UCLA 17.
Steven: This one will be close. The Utes are working with their second string quarterback and the Bruins are putting up a ton of yards this season. UCLA quarterback Dante Moore is top 50 in the nation in passing yardage but is only completing 60% of his passes. Look for the Ute defense to harass him all day and force him into some ugly turnovers. This one should come down to who can control the line of scrimmage and establish the run. This highly favors UCLA, currently 3rd in the nation in rushing. Calling the upset UCLA 28-22.
Trout: I am picking the Utes to win. I don’t know much about the Bruins, they might be good this year. However, in recent years, UCLA starts off strong, but tends to struggle as the season goes on. What I do know is that Utah has been a solid team the past few years. Taking Ohio State down to the wire in 2021, and knocking off the favored USC Trojans in the PAC 12 championship last year. I don’t think it will be a complete blowout, but I do think the Utes will win by a few scores. The game may be close to begin with, but I see Utah progressively wearing down the Bruins, and pulling away. Utah wins, and remains one of the teams to beat in the PAC 12. (Utah, 34-21)
Final Score: Utah 14 UCLA 7