Week 4 preview: Saban-Fisher redux in SEC; Ducks face test

For the second straight year, Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher will meet in a mentor-mentee matchup.

All signs point toward Saban teaching him another lesson when top-ranked Alabama hosts 22nd-ranked Texas A&M on Saturday in one of two games between Top 25 teams. The other has No. 7 Stanford at No. 20 Oregon.

Fisher was Saban’s offensive coordinator at LSU from 2000-06, and they met in the highly anticipated kickoff to the 2017 season in Atlanta. The Tide was in total control while winning 24-7 against Fisher’s third-ranked Florida State Seminoles.

Fisher moved on to A&M, where his charge is to challenge Saban and the Tide’s supremacy in the SEC West. No small task. The Tide has outscored their first three opponents 170-28 and are 27-point favorites to beat the Aggies for a sixth straight time.

Five things to know about college football’s Week 4:.


Stanford at Oregon.

Washington came into the season all the rage in the Pac-12, but the winner of this game has gone on to win the North five times since 2011.

Oregon QB Justin Herbert has put up great numbers, and the defense has held the last two opponents under 100 yards rushing. The nonconference schedule was cushy, though, so this game will be a truer indicator of what first-year coach Mario Cristobal has in Eugene.

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Stanford’s Bryce Love , the 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up, returns after sitting out last week’s game against UC-Davis with an undisclosed injury. The Cardinal defense has allowed a total of 23 points in three games.


Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama.

Tagovailoa is a model of efficiency. In the first three games, 14 of the 20 drives he’s quarterbacked have resulted in touchdowns and a 15th in a field goal. Alabama was 15 for 19 on third downs on those possessions. Going back to the national championship game against Clemson, Tagovailoa’s 29 series have ended with 17 touchdowns and three field goals.

The sophomore left-hander made a big move up in the Heisman polls after his performance against Mississippi, and he’s in position to put up monster numbers against a Texas A&M defense struggling against the pass.


10: Florida State’s point total in eight quarters against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents (Virginia Tech, Syracuse).

25: Number of rushing yards Iowa has allowed in its last two games. Next up for the Hawkeyes is Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, No. 2 in the nation at 171.7 yards per game.

40: Boston College has scored at least that many points in an ACC game five times. Four of those five are in BC’s past six conference games.

593: Consecutive carries without a fumble by Arizona State running backs.

1945: The last time Nebraska started 0-3 if it loses at Michigan. The Cornhuskers are 18-point underdogs.

1961: The last time Oklahoma played Army. The Sooners won 14-8 at Yankee Stadium.

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Florida at Tennessee.

Seems like a long time ago this was one of the most entertaining rivalries in the nation, let alone the Southeastern Conference. For the first time since 1970, both teams go into this game with first-year head coaches as they look to recapture their mojo.

Florida’s Feleipe Franks got booed at home last week after opening 0 for 6 with an interception. He recovered to complete 8 of his next 9 in a win over Colorado State. Last year, Franks hooked up with Tyrie Cleveland on a 63-yard Hail Mary to beat the Volunteers 26-20 in Gainesville, but he’s 1-3 as a starter away from home.

Tennessee is holding a 20-year reunion for its 1998 national championship team, QB Jarrett Guarantano is completing 72 percent of his passes and the defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown in its last eight quarters. But the Volunteers have played overmatched competition the last two weeks. Though the Vols are 4 ½-point underdogs, this is their best chance for their first SEC win since 2016. The four-game gauntlet of Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and South Carolina awaits.


Clay Helton, Southern California.

Helton won the Rose Bowl two years ago, the Pac-12 last year and had his contract extended to 2023. Thanks, Sam Darnold.

The capital Helton built is being diminished by the Trojans’ 1-2 start with back-to-back road losses to Stanford and Texas. Now comes Washington State (3-0) and its “Air Raid” offense to the Los Angeles Coliseum on Friday night.

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The deficiencies on this USC team are apparent. Poor offensive line play and lack of a running game are putting all kinds of pressure on true freshman quarterback JT Daniels, and Helton is feeling it, too.

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