Home » NCAA » College Football 2023 Week 4 Review: Florida State Survive, Notre Dame plays Defense and the Pac-2 Champion is Crowned

College Football 2023 Week 4 Review: Florida State Survive, Notre Dame plays Defense and the Pac-2 Champion is Crowned

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Florida State University, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

After last week’s less-than-stellar matchups on paper, this week the College Football gods were good to us. Conference play started this week, and we had 6 games between two ranked teams. But, that is not where we are going to start this week. 

Let’s review Week 4 of the 2023 College Football season.

The Seminoles Survive Again

Before the season started, it would not have been surprising to see these two teams play for the ACC Championship. The number 4 ranked Florida State Seminoles and the Clemson Tigers have had two different starts to the season. Florida State are unbeaten and has beaten a top-ranked team in LSU, but were lucky to beat Boston College last week. Alternatively, Clemson are 2-1, humiliated by Duke during the opening week, and may struggle to make the ACC Championship game because of the impressive performances by Duke and North Carolina. When these two teams meet up it is always entertaining. What would happen this time? 

Clemson would have the game’s opening possession and reach their 40-yard line before punting the ball. In reply, the Seminoles would do the exact same time. Parity to start the game. The parity would be lost on the next drive of the game. Tigers’ quarterback Cade Klubnik would lead the Clemson offense on a 14-play drive up the field. However, this drive would fall 10 yards short, resulting in a 30-yard field goal to give the Tigers an early lead. 

The Tigers’ lead would be increased soon after. Due to a poor Seminoles drive, this drive would start on the 50-yard line. From there, Klubnik and company would quickly drive the ball down to the Seminoles’ one-yard line. Then, after three attempts to score, including one attempt that had a defensive holding penalty against Florida State which gave Clemson three more downs, Klubnik would run the ball in for the one-yard rushing touchdown to give the Tigers a 10-point lead. 

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In reply, Florida State would have a scoring drive of their own. From their 25-yard line, Seminoles’ quarterback Jordan Travis would slowly drive the ball down to the Tigers’ 7-yard line. On the 13th play of the drive, Travis would find Keon Coleman for the 7-yard touchdown pass to reduce Clemson’s early advantage. This would not last long however, as on the next drive, Klubnik would throw to running back Will Shipley for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The scoring would not stop there, as in response to Clemson’s response, the Seminoles would again find the endzone. A 2-yard rushing touchdown from Travis in the dying seconds of the first half meant that at halftime, the Tigers would have a 17-14 lead. 

Florida State would have the opening possession of the second half and would waste no time in making an impact. On 4th and 1 at the Clemson 25-yard line, Travis threw a 10-yard pass to Coleman, giving them another 3 downs. However, there was a penalty against the Seminoles on the play for an illegal formation. This forced them to move back 5 yards and forced them to attempt a field goal. Florida State kicker Ryan Fitzgerald would successfully kick a 48-yard field goal and the scores were level. 

Clemson would soon be in the lead again. On another long drive from the Tigers’ offense, Clemson would again end up at the Seminoles’ one-yard line. From there, Will Shipley ran the ball in for the touchdown to retake the lead. However, this would not last long, and would all be the Tigers’ fault. The drive would start well for Clemson, with running back Phil Mafah rushing for 46 yards to immediately put the Tigers’ near the Seminoles’ red zone. But then, a costly error would be made. On 2nd down from the 29-yard line, Florida State Linebacker  Kalen DeLoach would force Klubnik to fumble the ball. DeLoach would then scoop the ball up and then run the ball in for an important 56-yard touchdown to tie the game 24-24. 

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Clemson would come very close to tying the deadlock near the end of the game. The Tigers would drive the ball down the field, but this drive would stall at the Seminoles’ 13-yard line. From there, Tigers’ kicker Jonathan Weitz would attempt to kick a 29-yard field goal. Before this game, Weitz was going to start a job in New York, his kicking days were over. But, here we are, and he was about to win the game and defeat the number 4 ranked team in the country. He missed. 

This gave the Seminoles a perfect opportunity to steal the victory. However, on 4th and 10 from the Clemson 39-yard line, Travis threw an incomplete pass. The scores were still level. We were going to overtime at Memorial Stadium.

A quick explainer on how overtime works in College Football. It is a bit like a penalty shootout. Both teams have an attempt to score on one drive, which starts at their opponent’s 25-yard line. If both teams score, or do not score, we have another period. We play until a winner is found. This is much better than the NFL’s version of overtime, and it is something I believe needs to be adopted by the NFL. If anything, it’s fun to watch. 

Florida State would have the opening attempt in overtime and would score off a 24-yard touchdown pass to Coleman. This meant Clemson had to score the touchdown to force another overtime period. The Tigers would fail on 4th down, meaning that the number 4 ranked Florida State Seminoles had defeated the Clemson Tigers 31-24. 

With this win, the Seminoles remain unbeaten and should keep their top 4 rankings for next week. For Clemson, this is the best they have played all season, but it was not enough. They are now at 2-2 for the season, and 0-2 for divisional play. Their season is all but over. Next week, the Seminoles face Virginia Tech, while Clemson travels to New York to face Syracuse. 

Defensive Dame

The number 6 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and the number 9 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish have had strong starts to the season. Coming into this game, both are unbeaten, and both have played well. It is worth remembering that for Notre Dame, this would be their 5th game of the year, having played in Dublin during week 0. In a game that is important to both sides, there can only be one victor. Who would be it?

Ohio State would have the opening possession of the game and would begin the move the ball. However, the drive would stall just past the 50-yard line, forcing a punt. In reply, Notre Dame quarterback and potential Heisman dark horse Sam Hartman would lead his offense on a drive that would start at the Fighting Irishs’ 9-yard line.  In a 14-play drive, the Notre Dame offense would reach the inside of the Buckeyes’ red zone. Then, at 4th and 1, Hartman would attempt to run for the extra yard to no prevail. This handed possession back to Ohio State. 

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To put it simply, the first half in terms of scoring was poor. Notre Dame kicker Spencer Shrader would attempt a 47-yard field goal that would miss. Ohio State would drive the ball down to the one-yard line on their next drive. On 4th and 1, Buckeyes’ quarterback Kyle McCord would throw an incomplete pass, keeping the scores deadlocked at 0-0.  This deadlock would be broken by the Buckeyes. The McCord lead offense would drive the ball down to the Notre Dame 13-yard line, where the drive would stall. Buckeyes kicker Jayden Fielding would then step up and successfully kick a 31-yard field goal, just before halftime. This meant that at halftime, Ohio State would have a 3-0 lead. This is a close, defensive game. 

Notre Dame would open the second half with a drive that had some good moments, but just like all of the Fighting Irish’s drives so far, would fall flat. On 4th and 1, Sam Hartman would again attempt to run for the extra yard. It would fail again, handing possession back to the Buckeyes. In contrast to the slow-moving Notre Dame offense, Ohio State only needed one play to make a difference. From the Buckeyes’ 39-yard line, Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson would run the ball 61 yards into the endzone. This was the first touchdown of the game, and like buses in the UK, when one touchdown happens, another one would soon follow. 

From their 25-yard line, the Fighting Irish offense again slowly moved the ball down the field and to the Buckeyes one-yard line. From there Gi’Bran Payne would run the ball in for the touchdown, ending a 13-play drive to keep Notre Dame in the game. It seemed that Notre Dame had caught the touchdown bug, as they would score on their next drive as well. From their 4-yard line, we say another slow-moving offense from Sam Hartman and company. This took them down to the Ohio State 2-yard line. From there, Hartman would pass to Rico Flores Jr. for the touchdown and the lead. 

Ohio State would attempt to score on their next drive but were unsuccessful. They made it down to the Notre Dame 11-yard line but stalled there. They decided to go for it on 4th down, but were unsuccessful in this, handing possession back to Notre Dame. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Notre Dame was unable to do anything with the ball, quickly handing it back to Ohio State. 

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Ohio State then decided to take a leaf out of Notre Dame’s book. They had a slow-moving drive. For good reason, time was running out, and they had to prevent the Fighting Irish from getting the ball back. Kyle McCord and company drove the ball down to the Notre Dame one-yard line. With one second left on the clock, Chip Trayanum would run the ball in for the winning touchdown. The number 6 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes had defeated the number 9 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 17-14. 

This was a close game and shows us how strong both these programs are. With this win, Ohio State moves to 4-0 and stays in contention for both the Big 10 and the CFP. For Notre Dame, this is their first loss of the season, but they should remain in the top 10 for next week. I would mention how it affects Notre Dame’s conference, but they are not in one. Next week, the Buckeyes hope to keep their winning streak up against Maryland, while Notre Dame faces what could be a hard challenge in Duke, a game I am dubbing “the battle of the athletic smart people schools”

An Important Win for ‘Bama

So far, the number 15 ranked Ole Miss Rebels season has been nothing special. They are unbeaten, including a victory against ranked opposition in Tulane, a game that I described as “somewhat boring”. Their opponents this week were the number 13 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. The Nick Saban-led Alabama Crimson Tide are the 13th-best team in the country. For Alabama’s standards, that is incredibly poor. The loss to Texas is the cause of this. Can Ole Miss pounce on this opportunity and defeat the fallen giant? 

It would be Alabama who would get the opening score of the game. From their own 9-yard line, the Crimson Tide offense would slowly advance up the field, through a combination of passes by quarterback Jalen Milroe and rushes by Jase McClellan. This drive would stall at the Ole Miss 20-yard line and would end further back as Milroe was sacked for 9 yards on 3rd down. Crimson Tide kicker Will Reichard would successfully kick the 48-yard field goal to give Alabama the early lead. 

This would not last long. On the next drive of the game, the Rebels would immediately move into the Alabama red zone, aided by a 40-yard pass from Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart to Dayton Wade. The Rebels would then advance to the 6-yard line, before being forced back 5 yards for a false start penalty. This did not stop them, as soon after, Jaxson Dart would run the ball into the endzone for the touchdown to give Ole Miss the lead. 

Things would get worse for Alabama soon after. Their drive started very well and was looking like it would end in a touchdown. Then, from the Rebels’ 9-yard line, Milroe would throw a costly interception. The play would result in a touchback, meaning Ole Miss’s next drive would start at the 20-yard line.  Luckily for Bama, the Rebels would move backwards on this drive, quickly handing possession back to them. Bama would also move backwards on their drive. Milroe would be sacked twice and the ball would be fumbled on the opening play of the game. Truly a poor set of plays from a team known for greatness. Still, this terrible drive ended in a successful 40-yard field goal. 

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Ole Miss would miss a 34-yard field goal before halftime. This meant that as the teams returned to the locker rooms, Ole Miss would have a 7-6 lead. 

Alabama would have the opening possession of the second half and would put their offensive woes to bed. The Crimson Tide offense would advance down to the Ole Miss 5-yard line before the drive stalled. Reichard would kick another field goal to give Bama the lead again. Things would soon get better for Bama on the other side of the ball. At the 50-yard line, Jaxson Dart’s deep pass would be intercepted by the Crimson Tide defense. After this play, Alabama would finally score a touchdown in this game. Milroe would throw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Hale to increase their lead. 

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Ole Miss was now on the back foot and would try to score on their next drive. They made it just into the Bama red zone, but the drive could not advance any further. Rebels’ kicker Caden Davis would score on the 35-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game. This did not last long, however, as in reply to the field goal, Bama would score another touchdown. Jase McClellan would run the ball into the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown, which would seal the victory for the Crimson Tide. Both teams would struggle to move the ball to end the game, but when the game did end, the number 13-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide had defeated the number 15-ranked Ole Miss Rebels 24-10.

Not the best game of football for either team. For Alabama, this is a well-needed victory that could give their season some meaning in the long term. For Ole Miss, this brings an end to their unbeaten run, but they should stay in the top 20 like they have been all season. Next week, Alabama faces Mississippi State, while Ole Miss welcomes LSU to Oxford. 

An Incredible PAC-2 Championship Game

As I have been mentioning on a weekly basis, the Pac-12 is dead from next year. Every team in the conference has announced that they are moving conferences. Except for these two teams. The number 14 ranked Oregon State Beavers and the number 21 ranked Washington State Cougars. Both of these teams have had strong starts to the season, going undefeated. So, who will be the champion of the PAC-2? 

It would be Washington State who would have the opening possession of the game and they would waste no time in opening the scoring. On the second play of the game, Cougars’ quarterback Cameron Ward would pass to Kyle Williams for a 63-yard touchdown. The lead would be increased on their next drive. The first drive was a quick drive. This one was a lot slower. Aided by a large face mask penalty against Oregon State, the Cougars made it down to the Beavers’ one-yard line. From there, Cameron Ward would run the ball in for the touchdown to give Washington State a two-score lead. 

The scoring would not stop there. In reply to this, the Beavers’ drive would start strong, led by former Clemson Tiger DJ Uiagalelei, but would stall around the Washington State 38-yard line. Then, Beavers’ running back Deshaun Fenwick would run the ball 38 yards into the endzone for a touchdown. Not to be outdone, the Cougars would score a long touchdown of their own. On the first play of the second half, Ward threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Josh Kelly to return the two-score lead to Washington State. 

Then, the wheels fell off each side’s proverbial wagon. A pass by Uiagalelei was intercepted by the Cougars’ defense. The Washington State offense would be able to move the ball down to the Oregon State 29-yard line, but Jaylen Jenkins would catch a Ward pass and then fumble the ball, only for it to be recovered by the Oregon State defense. This would be costly for the Cougars, as Oregon State would score on the drive. Deshaun Fenwick would run the ball in for a 9-yard touchdown to make it a one-possession game. 

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Washington State would fumble the ball again on their next drive but were more successful soon after with Ward and Kelly matching up for another touchdown. At halftime, Washington State would have a 28-14 lead. 

The second half started a lot tamer than the first half. The Beavers would turn the ball over on downs in their own territory, and then from that exact spot, the Cougars would miss a field goal. Normal service would soon be resumed soon after. Washington State would drive down to just inside the Oregon State red zone. Then, Ward and Kelly would match up for the third time for a 19-yard touchdown. In reply, Oregon State would get a touchdown of their own. A 26-yard run by DJ Uiagalelei on 4th down would find the endzone, reducing the Cougars’ lead to two scores. 

Washington State would continue the scoring streak by putting away a 44-yard field goal. In reply to this, the Beavers, aided by two penalties against the Cougars’ defense, advanced deep into the Washington State red zone. Then, from the 4-yard line, Fenwick would score his third touchdown of the game to make it a 2-score game again.  

The Cougars offense would not stop, even with the team. On their next drive, they made it down to the Oregon State 2-yard line. They attempted  4th down from the 2-yard line, knowing that a touchdown would definitely put the game to bed. Cameron Wards’ pass was incomplete, handing possession back to the Beavers, Then, from their 2-yard line, the Beavers drove down the length of the field. At the opposing 5-yard line, on a 4th down attempt, Uiagalelei would pass to Jack Velling for the 5-yard touchdown to bring the lead to 3 points. 

Unfortunately for Oregon State, The Cougars held on to the ball until time ran out. This meant that the number 21-ranked Washington State Cougars had beaten the number 14-ranked Oregon State Beavers 38-35. 

It is hard to believe that these two teams have not been moved to another conference yet. After this performance, both teams should become valuable property in the burning house which is the PAC-12. That being said, it would be more than happy if these two teams met every week, we’d get some entertaining games. Next week, Oregon State faces Utah, while the undefeated and newly crowded PAC-2 Champion the Washington State Cougars face UCLA in Pasadena. 

What Happened to the Other Ranked Teams?

UAB @ #1 Georgia

The number 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs faced another easy team this week in the UAB Blazers. Bulldogs’ tight end Brock Bowers would score 2 touchdowns as the Bulldogs would win 49-21. I am surprised how Georgia is always ranked at number one when they are playing inferior opponents and letting them get a good number of points on the board.

Rutgers @ #2 Michigan

The number 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines are finally back with head coach  Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines. They faced the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for his return and started slow. However, the Wolverines would have a strong second half to defeat the Scarlet Knights 31-7 and keep their battle with Ohio State going.

#3 Texas @ Baylor

The Texas Longhorns are now the third-best team in the country. For good reason. They opened their final Big 12 season against the Baylor Bears. Longhorns’ running back Jonathon Brooks would score two touchdowns in Texas’ 38-6 victory. The Longhorns have moved up every week, could they be number one next week?

#5 USC @ Arizona State

The number 5 ranked USC Trojans had a week off last week. They returned to action to face the Arizona State Sun Devils. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams threw 3 touchdowns in the Trojans’ 42-28 victory to remain undefeated.

#24 Iowa @ #7 Penn State

In another battle of two ranked teams, the number 24 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes faced the number 7 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. Hawkeyes quarterback (and former Michigan Wolverine) Cade McNamara only threw for 42 yards. On the other hand, Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar threw for 4 touchdowns in a game dominated by defense as Penn State would win 31-0

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California @ #8 Washington

The number 8 ranked Washington State Huskies faced the California Golden Bears. The Huskies would score 45 points in the first half, with the first two touchdowns coming from the defense. Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. would throw 4 touchdowns in Washingtons’ 59-32 victory.

#19 Colorado @ #10 Oregon

I was originally planning to do an in-depth review of this game. The number 19 ranked Colorado Buffaloes faced the number 10 Oregon Ducks. Everyone knows the story of the Colorado Buffaloes by now. They went from nothing to winning under new coach Deon Sanders. This was the Buffaloes’ first actual test of the year. I said in my review last year that I thought that Colorado’s luck would run out. Call me Nostradamus, because I was right. Ducks quarterback Bo Nix scored three touchdowns as the Buffaloes were trashed 42-6 by the Ducks.

#22 UCLA @ #11 Utah

The number 11-ranked Utah Utes faced the number 22-ranked UCLA Bruins in a low-scoring affair. The Utes are still without quarterback Cam Rising and it shows. This was a massive game for the defenses, as the Utes defeated the Bruins 14-7.

Arkansas @ #12 LSU

The number 12 ranked LSU Tigers have so far done a good job in steadying their season after their opening week defeat to Florida State. This week, they faced the Arkansas Razorbacks. In an extremely close game where Tigers’ quarterback Jayden Daniels would score 4 touchdowns, the last kick of the game would decide it. LSU kicker Damian Ramos would kick a 20-yard field goal as time ran out to give the Tigers a 34-31 victory over Arkansas.

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#16 Oklahoma @ Cincinnati

The number 16 ranked Oklahoma Sooners faced the Cincinnati Bearcats in what was the Bearcats’ first game playing in the Big 12. Luckily for the Bearcats, Oklahoma will not be a problem for them next year. The Sooners would win 20-6, and to answer the question that everyone wants answered. No, General Booty did not have a pass.

#17 North Carolina @ Pittsburgh

The Drake Maye hype show continued this week as the number 17 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels faced the Pitt Panthers. The Panthers would be outplayed by North Carolina in this game, as the Tar Heels recorded a 41-42 victory to stay undefeated and stay in contention with Florida State and Duke for the ACC Championship.

#18 Duke @ UConn

The number 18 ranked Duke Blue Devils are a powerhouse in Men’s Basketball. The University of Connecticut Huskies are a Women’s basketball powerhouse and are the reigning men’s Basketball champions. Unfortunately for the Huskies, we were playing football. The Blue Devils would destroy UConn 41-7.

#20 Miami @ Temple

The number 20 ranked Miami Hurricanes faced the Temple Owls. Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke would score three touchdowns in Miami’s 41-7 victory.

UTSA @ #23 Tennessee

After last week’s embarrassing loss to the Florida Gators, the number 23 ranked Tennessee Volunteers face what would be an easy win against the UTSA Roadrunners. Was it an easy win? Yes. Tennessee would score 6 touchdowns in their 45-14 win.

Charlotte @ #25 Florida

For the first time this season, the Florida Gators are ranked. The now 25-ranked Gators hoped to continue their winning ways after last week’s impressive performance against Tennessee as they faced the Charlotte 49ers. Unlike their NFL namesake, Charlotte struggled to score points. Florida did as well, relying on field goals in their 22-7 victory. After this performance, I do not think the Gators will stay in the Top 25 next week.

That was Week 4 in the 2023 College Football season. It certainly lived up to expectations. From now on, we are in conference play, so the game will become more important and have ramifications far beyond their own conferences. Week 5 will bring more excitement as the road of the College Football playoffs continues.

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