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What to Watch: Week 4 primer

Posted by ESPN.com

1. College football's focus moves from the West Coast to the SEC this weekend. Five SEC teams play huge games Saturday and three contests might go a long way in determining which SEC teams remain in the national championship race. Elsewhere, two ACC games will determine pecking order in that conference. Struggling Virginia Tech plays at North Carolina and No. 18 Wake Forest plays at No. 25 Florida State. Two unbeaten Mountain West teams also square off -- No. 20 Utah plays at Air Force. Undefeated Notre Dame plays at Michigan State, the site of the Fighting Irish's improbable comeback two years ago. -- Mark Schlabach

2. LSU redshirt sophomore quarterback Andrew Hatch hasn't played in a SEC game yet, much less on the road in the SEC. But Hatch has this much going for him: three LSU offensive linemen have started at least 27 games. That experience is critical against an Auburn defense that has allowed only three third-down conversions in 46 attempts -- a percentage of .065. -- Ivan Maisel

3. Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer has been around too long to let his emotions get the best of him. But make no mistake, he hasn't forgotten the humiliation his Vols suffered last season in the 59-20 beatdown at the Swamp. He glared this week when asked if the players had watched much tape from the fourth quarter of that romp in which Florida's Tim Tebow was still throwing down the field with a 29-point lead. "What do you think?" Fulmer said, his eyes blazing. "Yeah, I'd say they've seen it a few times." -- Chris Low

4. Georgia wants to announce itself as a national title contender. Arizona State wants to redeem itself after an embarrassing home loss to 23-point underdog UNLV. The Pac-10 could use a marquee victory after the conference went 3-7 last weekend in nonconference games, and Sun Devils QB Rudy Carpenter is looking for a signature moment as he makes his 35th consecutive start. Both teams have questions on the offensive line, but the biggest difference is the Bulldogs will be featuring a Heisman Trophy candidate at RB in Knowshon Moreno, while the Sun Devils running game has been in the pits. -- Ted Miller

5. The road team has won the last seven games in this series, and to continue the trend, Notre Dame must beat Michigan State down the field. The Spartans likely will be without injured starting safety Kendell Davis-Clark, and another safety, Roderick Jenrette, remains off the team. Otis Wiley and a patchwork secondary have held up well so far, but Clausen and deep threat Golden Tate provide a tougher test. -- Adam Rittenberg

6. When Miami and Texas A&M agreed to a contract several years ago, neither probably expected their programs would be in such dire straits. That's what makes this game at Kyle Field so interesting. Both teams desperately need the win in order to build momentum for the rest of the season. A&M will aim to avoid its first 1-2 start since 1996. And Miami is hoping to regain a little swagger after losing nine of its last 11 road games. -- Tim Griffin

7. There should be some separation in both the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions this weekend, but the team with the most to prove is Florida State. Even Bobby Bowden didn't give his team a Top 25 vote after two wins against FCS schools, but they've got a chance to earn it against Wake Forest. -- Heather Dinich

8. Arkansas will be looking for a faster start when it opens SEC play against Alabama. The Razorbacks were outscored 20-13 in the first half of its first two games -- closer-than-expected victories over FCS opponent Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. The Hogs had to come-from-behind to win both those games, and it won't be easy against the Crimson Tide. Quarterback Casey Dick is throwing the football well in coach Bobby Petrino's offense, but the Hogs running game has struggled. Alabama leads the country in run defense, yielding only 42.7 yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry. The Tide hasn't allowed a run longer than 13 yards in three games. -- Mark Schlabach

9. It will be handoff heaven at Heinz Field. Iowa's Shonn Greene is averaging nearly 120 yards per game on the ground, spearheading a Hawkeyes' rushing attack that churns out more than 200 yards per contest. Pittsburgh has one of the nation's best tailbacks in LeSean McCoy. He's been a little slow out of the gate but can erupt at any time. -- Brian Bennett

10. Boise State meets No. 17 Oregon at Autzen Stadium for the first-ever meeting between these teams. The Broncos are the remaining undefeated team in the WAC, but they are 0-12 in true road game against BCS teams, losing by an average of 21 points. Oregon will use two green quarterbacks this week -- sophomore transfer Jeremiah Masoli and true freshman Chris Harper -- after the Ducks' top two quarterbacks have suffered major injuries. Expect a high-scoring affair in this one. -- Graham Watson