Week 4 of the college football season has the Southeastern Conference in the spotlight as a couple teams try to break long losing streaks to their opponents, and a few coaches face referendum games with their fanbases.
No. 10 Texas A&M vs. No. 17 Arkansas at Arlington, Texas.
No. 14 Tennessee-No. 19 Florida probably has the most pressure on one team — hello, Volunteers. No. 12 Georgia-No. 23 Mississippi has star power with Nick Chubb, Chad Kelly and the potential for a bunch of points. But we’ll go Razorbacks and Aggies, who have gone to overtime each of the last two seasons.
It’s very early, but the winner has to feel as if it could be the team in the SEC West to push Alabama. That’s especially the case of the Aggies, who could come out of this 2-0 in conference with both wins coming away from College Station.
A game inside the game to watch: Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, maybe the best defensive player in the country, against Arkansas left tackle Dan Skipper, a 6-foot-10 NFL prospect. Garrett gets moved around and the Aggies’ other end, Daeshon Hall is good, too. It’ll be interesting to see if the long reach of Skipper helps can fend off Garrett, who has three sacks.
Chubb is averaging 121 yards rushing per game and has scored three touchdowns. Solid work, but not exactly stuff that will get him into the Heisman Trophy conversation.
He has a good chance to grab attention in Oxford, Mississippi. The Rebels’ run defense ranks near the bottom of the SEC at 4.99 yards allowed per carry, but Kelly and the Rebels are hard to slow down.
The Bulldogs, who have won 10 straight against Ole Miss dating to 1997, are going to need to score some points and control the ball. No doubt coach Kirby Smart took note of how Alabama ran for over 300 yards against the Rebels last week. It’s a perfect setup for Chubb to go off and re-enter the Heisman discussion.
NUMBERS TO KNOW.
8 — Number of consecutive games of at least 200 all-purpose yards by Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. Also, the seventh-ranked Cardinal have beaten UCLA eight straight times. Stanford visits the Bruins in the Rose Bowl.
11 — Tennessee’s losing streak to Florida. If the streak reaches 12, with the Gators’ set to start a backup quarterback in Knoxville, the locals might be ready to run coach Butch Jones right out of town.
24 — The number of plays 20 yards or more that Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is responsible for in three games. He has six runs of at least 20 yards, tied for second most in the nation, and 18 passes of 20 yards or more, third-best in the country. Jackson and the third-ranked Cardinals travel to Marshall.
OFF THE RADAR.
East Carolina will try to run its winning streak against Virginia Tech to three games and its streak against Atlantic Coast Conference opposition to seven in a row when the Pirates visit the Hokies.
The Pirates already have one ACC victory this season. They beat North Carolina State. ECU also has the nation’s second-leading receiver in Zay Jones, who caught 22 passes — one short of the NCAA record — last week against South Carolina.
COACH IN NEED OF A WIN.
Auburn has lost seven straight home games against Power Five competition, the second-longest streak in the nation to Kansas’ nine straight. Any time your team is mentioned with Kansas football, things are not great — that’s where Tigers coach Gus Malzahn is right now.
The Tigers host No. 18 LSU and are in danger of falling to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the SEC while playing all the games at home. Malzahn needed to improve on last year’s 7-6 record, so this is no way to start.
And if Malzahn’s team can spring the mini-upset, the temperature rises for LSU coach Les Miles, who will have a team that was considered a serious playoff contender with two losses before October.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP