Week Four Lowe Down: Tech stuns TCU, Zona wins

Matt Lowe

September 25, 2015 at 4:13 pm.

Sep 3, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon (12) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at Arizona Stadium. Arizona won 42-32. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon (12) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at Arizona Stadium. Arizona won 42-32. (Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports)

Welcome to Week Four of The Lowe Down.

Well, I’ll have to admit, it’s been a struggle so far in the early going of the college football season to actually tell what in the world is going on. And a lot of it has to do with quarterback play, injuries and just plain ol’ miscalculation.

Here are a few things we do know approaching the end of the first quarter of the season…

Urban Meyer is frustrated with his quarterbacks.

TCU has lost seven starters (in some shape, form or fashion) on defense since the season began.

Auburn’s got major questions everywhere, but especially offense after quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who looked like a future star a year ago, was yanked after three games for poor play.

Alabama’s vaunted defense continues to have problems with spread teams with good athletes on the perimeter.

LSU will be a tough out with that running game and defense, but can Brandon Harris beat a team with his arm?

Notre Dame keeps losing starters and continues to win.

Texas A&M seems like the real deal.

Arkansas can’t run the ball with the biggest offensive line in college football.

Northwestern is the surprise of the Big Ten so far.

Texas still hasn’t stopped anyone on defense.

USC is, well, still a team that’s good but nothing more.

Last week’s record was 11-4, bringing the weekly record to 50-11. To the games we go… 

Friday, September 25

No. 21 Stanford (2-1) at Oregon State (2-1) 9:00 p.m. CT Weather: Partly cloudy, mild

Although Oregon State has looked like an average team at best through three games, the Cardinal must be careful in this matchup following a big 41-31 win at USC. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan is listed as questionable (ankle), and the Beavers have been known to pull an upset or two at home — especially at night. The Cardinal should get the win, but it won’t be easy, especially with dynamic dual-threat quarterback Seth Collins running around making plays. He’s a player.

The Lowe Down: Stanford 23, Oregon State 19

Saturday, September 26

No. BYU (2-1) at Michigan (2-1) 12:00 p.m. ET Weather: Clear, warm

After knocking off Nebraska on the road and No. 20 Boise State at home, BYU came within a whisker of knocking off No. 10 UCLA (24-23) in Pasadena behind another solid game from quarterback Tanner Mangum.

Mangum, who took over for Taysom Hill after he was injured in the opener against the Huskers, has played brilliantly for the Cougars despite the fact he’s a true freshman. And although he was picked off during what appeared to be the game-winning drive against the Bruins, his teammates have full confidence in his abilities.

“He’s a champion; he’s a leader; he’s a captain; and he’s going to come back from it,” BYU receiver Mitchell Juergens said.

After giving up 24 points to Utah in the opener, Michigan’s defense has allowed 14 in its last two games. And despite the fact that the Wolverines are still getting shaky QB play from Jake Rudock (five picks, 3 TDs), Jim Harbaugh’s physical offense seems to be resonating with the UM players, which will equate to a big win for the Wolverines in the Big House.

The Lowe Down: BYU 16, Michigan 26

Tennessee (2-1) at Florida (3-0) 2:30 p.m. CT Weather: Scattered showers, hot

If the Vols want to end their 10-game losing streak to the Gators then it needs to come this year. The reason? In my opinion, Jim McElwain will get that Florida program back on track in a hurry.

The key to this game is simple: Tennessee must have success in the passing game to beat the Gators in The Swamp. Florida’s front seven is too talented for the Vols to run wild so it will be critical for Josh Dobbs to hit some passes early to soften up the defense. That should open up more opportunities for Jalen Hurd in the run game.

The same could be said for the Gators. With pass-rushing ace Curt Maggitt out for the Vols, Florida QB Will Grier should have some chances to make some plays in the passing game squaring off against a suspect Tennessee secondary. Whichever passer can make the most of the big-play opportunities will likely decide the outcome of the game.

The Lowe Down: Tennessee 27, Florida 23

No. 3 TCU (3-0) at Texas Tech (3-0) 3:45 p.m. CT Weather: Cloudy, slight breeze, warm

Not many analysts are giving Texas Tech a shot against No. 3 TCU, but the Red Raiders could surprise here just due to the simple fact that the Horned Frogs have been awful on D.

We all know the Red Raiders can score, and they will, but Gary Patterson’s club has lost seven starters on defense to injury/suspension/leave of absence and that could be a major factor in this spot on the road.

Throw in the fact that Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes (1,029 passing yards and 9 TDs; 3 picks) has been on fire through the team’s first three games, and all signs lead to one of the first major upsets of the year.

The Lowe Down: TCU 44, Texas Tech 47

No. 14 Texas A&M (3-0) vs. Arkansas (1-2) (Arlington, Texas) 6:00 p.m. CT Weather: Dome

Arkansas struggles on offense, and defense, are puzzling. It’s almost like the Razorbacks have lost their team identity (power running game, play-action passing, hard-nosed defense).

Now some of that could be in correlation to the hire of new offensive coordinator Dan Enos, formerly the head coach of Central Michigan. Enos’ teams were known for passing while he was in the MAC (which teams aren’t ?), but Bret Bielema’s style is all about running it down your throat and taking shots downfield with play-action.

Entering the weekend, Arkansas currently ranks 79th in rushing offense (171 yards per game). Seriously? With the biggest offensive line in college football? 79th? Dude!

If Arkansas wants to turn its season around, it will have to get back to pounding the rock on the ground. Regardless, Texas A&M, with its terrific offense and awesome pass rush, is the better team and it will show here.

The Lowe Down: Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 21

Mississippi State (2-1) at Auburn (2-1) 6:30 p.m. CT Weather: Partly cloudy, mild

Like Arkansas, Auburn has a team identity crisis. Ever since Gus Malzahn has been on the Plains, whether as a coordinator or head coach, his teams have scored and scored in bunches — which has covered up some of the programs defensive deficiencies.

This year, however, Auburn isn’t running the ball like it normally does (sits right in front of Arkansas at 78th in the country (171.7 ypg)) and the defense is having to stay on the field longer and do more — and it’s just not good enough to be the team’s savior. Now in fairness to the defense, it lost its best player/pass rusher, Carl Lawson (hip), in the opener against Louisville, but in the beat-down in Baton Rouge last weekend it was pretty obvious that some guys quit. And that’s a problem.

This week, a lot of changes have been made in preparation for a tough Mississippi State squad. Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean White will make his first collegiate start in place of Jeremy Johnson, who never looked comfortable in the O despite flashes of brilliance a year ago in spot duty, and new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has vowed to give some new faces some extended looks on D.

Regardless of what the Tigers do, right now, I just can’t pick ’em to beat a MSU squad that possesses a solid front seven and the best QB in the league in Dak Prescott.

The Lowe Down: Mississippi State 34, Auburn 27

No. 9 UCLA (3-0) at No. 16 Arizona (3-0) 7:00 p.m. CT Weather: Clear, warm

This was going to be a challenge for the Bruins anyway, but this week’s injury to star linebacker/running back Myles Jack (knee) could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the Bruins’ front seven.

UCLA has already lost star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (ACL) in the second game, standout cornerback Fabian Moreau (Lisfranc) in the third game and now Jack in practice Wednesday. That’s three all-conference-caliber players, and, in the case of Jack, a likely All-American.

UCLA’s best chance of winning Saturday is keeping the ball on the ground with tailback Paul Perkins. The Bruins need to win on first and second downs to prevent Arizona from coming after quarterback Josh Rosen, who was confused and pressured into three first-half turnovers last week against BYU.

The Wildcats’ offense enters this game on a roll behind quarterback Anu Solomon and tailback Nick Wilson — and look for that to be the difference in the game.

The Lowe Down: UCLA 23, Arizona 35

No. 18 Utah (3-0) at No. 13 Oregon (2-1) 7:30 p.m. CT Weather: Clear, mild

Utah is keeping things quiet about the playing status of quarterback Travis Wilson this week, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Utes have lost three straight in the series and six of the last seven. In fact, the Ducks have scored an eye-popping 95 points in the last two meetings.

Like Utah, Oregon also has uncertainty at quarterback with Vernon Adams still hampered by a broken finger, but backup Jeff Lockie has been in the system and is a capable replacement.

If Wilson plays, Utah should make a game of it. But UO is just so darn tough at home. And the Ducks always seem to play well in big games at home. Expect points galore, but look for the Quack Attack to get it done in Autzen Stadium behind a powerful offense and timely turnovers.

The Lowe Down: Utah 31, Oregon 48


In other Saturday games:

No. 20 Georgia Tech 27 at Duke 20

Southern Miss 24 at Nebraska 37

UCF 14 at South Carolina 31

No. 8 LSU 38 at Syracuse 10

Central Michigan 14 at No. 2 Michigan St. 42

Rice 28 at No. 5 Baylor 65

Western Michigan 18 at No. 1 Ohio State 42

No. 24 Oklahoma State 31 at Texas 29

Louisiana-Monroe 17 at No. 12 Alabama 48

Vanderbilt 14 at No. 3 Ole Miss 38

NC State 38 at South Alabama 27

No. 19 USC 36 at Arizona State 33