Vasha Hunt/Associated Press
There are eight SEC teams ranked in this week’s AP Top 25 poll, including six in the top 10. None of them have played a game in the 2020 season. But that’s about to change.
While some conferences have already gotten their football seasons underway (most notably the ACC and Big 12), the SEC opted to push back the start of their season to Week 4 because of the coronavirus pandemic. And all 14 of the conference’s teams will be in action Saturday.
The SEC decided its teams would play a revised 10-game schedule, all of which will be against conference opponents.
In addition to the season debuts of the SEC teams, there will be numerous other top teams in action. That includes No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 7 Notre Dame, as well as a pair of other ranked matchups (No. 21 Pittsburgh vs. No. 24 Louisville, No. 14 Cincinnati vs. No. 22 Army). It’s likely to be the most exciting Saturday of college football season thus far.
Heading into Week 4, here’s a look at the latest polls, the upcoming schedule and predictions.
Week 4 Polls
AP Top 25 Poll
1. Clemson (2-0)
2. Alabama (0-0)
3. Oklahoma (1-0)
4. Georgia (0-0)
5. Florida (0-0)
6. LSU (0-0)
7. Notre Dame (2-0)
T-8. Texas (1-0)
T-8. Auburn (0-0)
10. Texas A&M (0-0)
11. North Carolina (1-0)
12. Miami (2-0)
13. UCF (1-0)
14. Cincinnati (1-0)
15. Oklahoma State (1-0)
16. Tennessee (0-0)
17. Memphis (1-0)
18. BYU (1-0)
19. Louisiana-Lafayette (2-0)
20. Virginia Tech (0-0)
21. Pittsburgh (2-0)
22. Army (2-0)
23. Kentucky (0-0)
24. Louisville (1-1)
25. Marshall (2-0)
Amway Coaches Poll
1. Clemson (2-0)
2. Alabama (0-0)
T-3. Oklahoma (1-0)
T-3. Georgia (0-0)
5. LSU (0-0)
6. Florida (0-0)
7. Notre Dame (2-0)
8. Auburn (0-0)
9. Texas (1-0)
10. Ohio State (0-0)
11. Texas A&M (0-0)
12. North Carolina (1-0)
13. Penn State (0-0)
14. Miami (2-0)
15. UCF (1-0)
16. Cincinnati (1-0)
17. Wisconsin (0-0)
18. Oklahoma State (1-0)
19. Michigan (0-0)
20. Memphis (1-0)
21. Tennessee (0-0)
22. Minnesota (0-0)
23. BYU (1-0)
24. Virginia Tech (0-0)
25. Louisiana-Lafayette (2-0)
Note: The Amway Coaches Poll brought back the Big Ten, which originally planned on not playing this season but has now set an eight-game schedule beginning Oct. 24.
Top 25 Week 4 Schedule, Predictions
Saturday, Sept. 26
Kansas State at No. 3 Oklahoma, noon, Fox
No. 5 Florida at Ole Miss, noon, ESPN
No. 7 Notre Dame at Wake Forest, noon, ABC
No. 23 Kentucky at No. 8 Auburn, noon, SEC Network
No. 13 UCF at East Carolina, noon, ESPN+
Georgia Southern at No. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette, noon, ESPN2
No. 24 Louisville at No. 21 Pittsburgh, noon, ACC Network
Mississippi State at No. 6 LSU, 3:30 p.m., CBS
No. 8 Texas at Texas Tech, 3:30 p.m., Fox
No. 22 Army at No. 14 Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m., ABC
No. 4 Georgia at Arkansas, 4 p.m., SEC Network
No. 2 Alabama at Missouri, 7 p.m., ESPN
Vanderbilt at No. 10 Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network Alternate
Florida State at No. 12 Miami, 7:30 p.m., ABC
No. 16 Tennessee at South Carolina, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
NC State at No. 20 Virginia Tech, 8 p.m., ACC Network
Troy at No. 18 BYU, 10:15 p.m., ESPN
All times ET. Picks in bold.
Complete Week 4 schedule available at ESPN.com.
Week 4 Preview
While there’s only one ranked matchup in the SEC in Week 4 (No. 23 Kentucky at No. 8 Auburn), this will be the first opportunity to see all of the conference’s teams in action this season. That includes some top College Football playoff contenders such as No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Georgia and No. 6 LSU, the national champions.
Alabama is traveling to take on Missouri, which will be the debut of new Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz. It may not be an exciting first game for him, however, as the Crimson Tide are again expected to be one of the top teams in the country.
Last season, Alabama lost two games (to LSU and Auburn) and missed the College Football Playoff for the first time since the format was introduced in the 2014 season—an off season by its standards. A lot of the Tide’s top players went on to the NFL, but they have some strong returners, such as senior running back Najee Harris, wide receivers DeVonta Smith (senior) and Jaylen Waddle (junior) and senior linebacker Dylan Moses.
Plus, redshirt junior Mac Jones will be at quarterback for Alabama after he got some experience last season when Tua Tagovailoa went down injured. Expect Jones to likely lead a big offensive day for the Crimson Tide in their season opener.
Georgia lost a lot of notable players from last season, including quarterback Jake Fromm. But the Bulldogs have been recruiting well and have talented young players to fill the holes. It’s likely that former USC quarterback JT Daniels, a redshirt sophomore, will be leading their offense.
The same goes for LSU. Most notable among its losses is Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. The Tigers also won’t have wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who opted out of the season and declared for the 2021 NFL draft. Still, junior quarterback Myles Brennan will look to build off the success the unit had last season on its path to the national title.
Neither Georgia nor LSU should have trouble in its opener. The Bulldogs are traveling to take on Arkansas (which will be the debut of Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman, a former Georgia assistant), while the Tigers are hosting Mississippi State (which will be the debut for Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach).
No. 5 Florida will also be looking to open the season with a win at Ole Miss, which will be playing its first game under head coach Lane Kiffin. The most competitive game on the SEC schedule could be Kentucky vs. Auburn, although the Tigers are likely to pick up the win at home.
Outside of the SEC, the two other highest-ranked teams that will be in action (No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 7 Notre Dame) shouldn’t be challenged. The Sooners are hosting Kansas State, while the Fighting Irish are traveling to take on Wake Forest.