It’s the final weekend of September as the SEC officially joins the 2020 college football season. That means expected contenders Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU — among others — take the field for the first time.
There are two games between ranked teams this week: Auburn-Kentucky and Cincinnati-Army. Here’s what you need to know for Week 4:
Week 4 preview: Top games to watch
This could be the most intriguing matchup of the day. It’s the first week in the SEC, but both teams can’t risk falling behind much before facing (perhaps) more difficult challenges.
A lot of this game — and Auburn’s entire season — will depend on QB Bo Nix. He led the Tigers as a freshman last season to a 9-4 season and a win against rival Alabama.
From the other side, Kentucky’s offensive line could easily take this over thanks to center Drake Jackson, tackle Landon Young and tackle Darian Kinnard.
Good luck, Myles Brennan. He takes over for Heisman winner Joe Burrow after leading the Tigers to a national championship. Other talented players are gone, too, but it starts at quarterback. LSU also has two new coordinators, but it has so much talent that it will come down to how quickly the players can grow. At least they get to start at home.
Then again, there’s also a new look at Mississippi State, where Mike Leach gets to work with transfer QB K.J. Costello.
Though the defending national champions are on CBS in their season opener, don’t forget about this one.
This is the first time a ranked Army team plays against a ranked team since Nov. 16, 1996, when No. 22 Army met Donovan McNabb and No. 19 Syracuse. That was a 42-17 win for Syracuse.
Also, though Army beat Navy in 2016 when the Midshipmen were No. 25 in the CFP rankings, the Black Knights haven’t defeated an AP ranked team since 1971 — No. 19 Air Force.
Texas QB Sam Ehlinger should be ready for a big day. He already passed for 426 yards and five touchdowns in the opener against UTEP. And now he faces a Texas Tech team that gave up almost 600 passing yards to Houston Baptist.
It’s Big 12-only for these two the rest of the season. Watch this if you like points and not punts.
FBS NEWS: Schedules, updates related to COVID-19
You always want to be careful reading too much into one or even two games. Florida State has to regroup after a shocking home loss to Georgia Tech in Mike Norvell’s debut two weeks ago, while Miami won big against dangerous UAB and at ranked Louisville. “Is Miami back?” will continue to be asked even if the ‘Canes win this, but Miami will gladly pick up its fourth win in a row in the series if it can.
D’Eriq King has been a star for Miami after transferring from Houston. In two games, King has 469 passing yards and four touchdowns without an interception while adding 92 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Jose Borregales, a transfer from FIU, has already made a difference, too. He was 4-for-4 on field goals against Louisville, including a 57-yarder.
Norvell won’t be at the game after testing positive for COVID-19.
With no Hawai’i football (at least so far), this late kick for BYU will satisfy any night owl on Eastern time.
BYU crushed Navy 55-3 in its only game way back on Sept. 7, a rout that looks better after the Midshipmen rallied from 24 down to stun Tulane last week. The Cougars’ next game against Army had to get postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing, but now they’re back. BYU totaled 580 yards vs. Navy and even outgained the Midshipmen on the ground, 301 to 119.
Though BYU’s dominance grabbed attention, Troy also won big in its only game (47-14 at Middle Tennessee). Trojans QB Gunnar Watson passed for 248 yards and Troy rushed for 240 yards in the teams’ first of two scheduled meetings. They’re set to meet again on Nov. 21.
FOLLOW IT ALL: Live scoreboard, stats
Big Week 4 questions
What can we expect from the SEC this season?
The two presumed frontrunners, Alabama and Georgia, will have new full-time starters at QB. Georgia will go with JT Daniels or D’Wan Mathis. ‘Bama’s Mac Jones did play a bit last year after Tua’s injury, but this season will start with him. He had 1,503 passing yards and 14 touchdowns with three interceptions in 2019. But Alabama is Alabama, so the Tide will have a strong ground game with Najee Harris and should be better defensively. In Georgia, the Bulldogs may have the top defense in the country.
After those two, though Florida and LSU are close in the polls (Florida is fifth and LSU is sixth), but the Gators are probably the bigger threat. Florida brings back QB Kyle Trask and DC Todd Grantham should have the defense great again. But, again, it’s all about finding a way to beat Georgia. The Bulldogs have won the last three.
RANKINGS: All major college football polls
Do we know how the polls could look with the Big Ten back?
Big Ten teams will be eligible to return to the AP rankings on Sunday, though the conference won’t start playing games until Oct. 23-24. That’s quite a bit of time to see 0-0 teams receive votes. For comparison, No. 1 Clemson could be 5-0 by the time any Big Ten team starts its season. And Big Ten teams will play only nine games total (the last game during a championship week format, were East 1 plays West 1, East 2 plays West 2, etc.).
With all those unequal records, expect some different polls. Just look at the Coaches Poll. Big Ten teams have already returned to that Top 25. Ohio State had two first-place votes…and is No. 10. There’s plenty of uncertainty going forward how AP voters will rank teams, especially as we get deeper into October and a sizable portion of Top 25 teams (of the non-Big Ten kind), will be about halfway through their seasons.