Week 4 of the college football season saw eight ranked teams lose, including No. 7 Notre Dame, No. 10 Utah, No. 11 Michigan and No. 15 UCF. That group of four teams, with the possible exception of UCF based on its conference affiliation and strength of schedule, included playoff hopefuls and now they’re on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in at the likes of Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma and Ohio State.
Some of those teams could even be out of the top 25 rankings entirely on Sunday.
Here’s how we think the AP Top 25 poll will look in Week 5. This isn’t a personal ballot, this is a prediction of how we think AP voters will vote after Week 4’s results.
Dropped out of rankings: No. 24 Arizona State, No. 25 TCU
No. 25 Kansas State
The Wildcats were off in Week 4 but they’re 3-0 after their road win over Mississippi State in Week 3.
24. Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons are 4-0 following their 49-7 win over Elon on Saturday. Wake quarterback Jamie Newman threw for 351 yards and five touchdowns in the victory. They’ve also beaten Utah State and North Carolina.
The Wolverines don’t look like a playoff contender much less a Big Ten East contender after barely escaping Army and then getting blown out at Wisconsin. Almost 24 percent of their rush attempts Saturday were stopped for no gain or a loss of yards and Michigan was 0-for-8 on third down conversion attempts through the air. The Wolverines showed real concerns at quarterback and running back in Week 4.
Like No. 3 Clemson and No. 2 Miami before them, the No. 15-ranked Knights fell victim to Pat Narduzzi’s Pittsburgh, 35-34. It was UCF’s first regular season loss since November 2016 and unfortunately for the Knights and their fans, it will probably unfairly delegitimize them in the eyes of many college football fans.
UCF struggled establishing the run (34 attempts for 85 yards) and while freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 338 yards, he also had two interceptions and completed just 25-of-42 pass attempts.
The Utes, who may have been the Pac-12’s best candidate to make the College Football Playoff, suffered their first loss of the season on Friday night at USC, 30-23. The Trojans scored on the game’s opening drive and the Utes never led. Utah ran the ball 49 times for 247 yards but only scored once on the ground and leading rusher Zach Moss was limited to six carries for 20 yards. Even though Utah’s defense held USC to just 13 rushing yards, it didn’t matter in the final result.
The Trojans won at No. 10 Utah, 30-23, taking the lead on the game’s opening drive and never trailing during the contest. Quarterback Matt Fink, who considered transferring after losing out on the team’s quarterback competition to JT Daniels, was 21-of-30 passing for 351 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. It didn’t matter than the Trojans’ leading rusher, Vavae Malepeai, only ran for 39 yard, USC won to improve to 3-1 and the Trojans are now 2-0 in the Pac-12.
The Huskies traveled to Provo and beat BYU 45-19, which is something that fellow Pac-12 contender Utah was able to do in Week 1 and something USC was unable to accomplish in Week 3. Washington’s defense held BYU to just 2.9 yards per carry while running backs Sean McGrew ran for 110 yards and Richard Newton rushed for 80. Jacob Eason was a precise 24-of-28 passing for 290 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
18. Texas A&M
The Aggies are dealing with the fallout of playing one of the country’s toughest schedules as they’re 2-2 with a home date with No. 2 Alabama in just three weeks. The pass-happy Aggies threw it 49 times Saturday compared to just 21 rushing attempts as they struggled on the ground against Auburn’s D-line.
Texas A&M tried to make a furious rally after trailing 21-3 through three quarters as the Aggies scored 17 points in the fourth quarter but now they’re left licking their wounds before Arkansas comes to College Station next week.
The Cavaliers fell in a 17-0 hole against Old Dominion, which beat Virginia Tech as a huge underdog last season, but Virginia didn’t meet the same fate. UVA cut the deficit to 17-7 before halftime then pulled away for a 28-17 win behind quarterback Bryce Perkins’ two total touchdowns.
16. Boise State
The Broncos escaped upset-minded Air Force on Friday night in their 30-19 win, which was tied 10-10 at halftime and which the Falcons led 13-10 late in the third quarter. Robert Mahone scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Golden Bears’ offense may not be capable of blowing anyone out but Cal is 4-0 with road wins over Washington and Ole Miss, the latest coming in a 28-20 victory that may have been aided by a questionable goal-line spot and lack of a review on a potential game-tying touchdown by the Rebels. Cal quarterback Chase Garbers had a career day with 23-of-35 passing for 357 yards and four touchdowns.
The Hawkeyes were off over the weekend after their 18-17 win over Iowa State in Week 3. Next up is a non-conference home game against Middle Tennessee.
The Ducks opened Pac-12 play with a 21-6 road win at Stanford behind Justin Herbert’s 19-of-24 passing performance for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Oregon held Stanford to just two field goals – one on the game’s opening drive and one in the fourth quarter when the game was all but over.
12. Penn State
The Nittany Lions were off in Week 4, which could have been great timing after they survived a 17-10 scare at home against Pitt in Week 3. Next up is a trip to Maryland for a game Friday night.
The Longhorns prevailed over an upset-minded Oklahoma State squad 36-30 behind quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s 281 passing yards and four touchdowns. Texas’ defense did an admirable job in slowing down Oklahoma State’s standout running back Chuba Hubbard, who ran for 121 yards but needed 37 carries to get there.
10. Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish put up a valiant fight in Athens, scoring first, taking a 10-7 lead into the second quarter and cutting the deficit to 23-17 late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Ian Book aired it out 47 times, connecting primarily with Cole Kmet (nine receptions, 108 yards and a touchdown) and Chase Claypool (six receptions, 66 yards and a touchdown). The Fighting Irish held their own – who knows how that game plays out in South Bend or on a neutral field – and now their best hope for the playoff is that they and Georgia both win out.
The Badgers are legit. We’ll find out in October if they’re potentially College Football Playoff-good when they host a stingy Michigan State defense and travel to Ohio State, but they made quick work of No. 11 Michigan as they jumped out to a 35-0 lead. If you’re looking for a statistical deep dive on how Wisconsin had success against Michigan, here’s a breakdown of how the run-heavy Badgers had success on the ground using players besides Jonathan Taylor and how the Wolverines’ inefficiency on third down proved costly.
No Feleipe Franks, no problem. Florida beat Tennessee 34-3 with backup quarterback Kyle Trask completing 20-of-28 passes for 293 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Gators weren’t necessarily great on a per-carry basis, rushing for 128 yards on 37 attempts, but Lamical Perine and Dameon Pierce combined for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns, while Florida’s defense held Tennessee to 88 rushing yards on 27 carries.
The Tigers’ 4-0 is a lot more noteworthy than many schools that have 4-0 records. Their neutral-site win over Oregon combined with their latest victory at Texas A&M, 28-20, will potentially give Auburn two top-25 wins when the College Football Playoff rankings make their debut.
Auburn won despite starting quarterback Bo Nix completing just 12-of-20 passes for 100 yards and one touchdown.
6. Ohio State
The Buckeyes found themselves in a 5-0 hole early against Miami (OH)…only to score 76 unanswered points to end the game. Ohio State has now won by 24, 42, 41 and 71 points in the first four games of the Ryan Day/Justin Fields era so while its competition has been far from stiff, the Buckeyes haven’t shown any cracks in the foundation. Fields threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more on Saturday.
The Sooners had a bye week following their 3-0 start. Next up is a home game against Texas Tech in Week 5.
This is the new LSU, one that scored 66 points on the road against an SEC opponent after putting up 65, 45 and 55 points in the three weeks prior. The Tigers led Vandy 28-7 after the first quarter of their 66-38 win as quarterback Joe Burrow continued to put up big numbers with a 25-of-34 passing performance for 398 yards and six touchdowns.
The Bulldogs added a playoff-resume-building win Saturday as they held off Notre Dame 23-17, getting pressure on Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book on the Fighting Irish’s final play, forcing him to scramble and chuck up a Hail Mary that fell incomplete. Georgia’s defense held Notre Dame to just 46 rushing yards on 14 carries. At risk of overlooking one of Georgia’s upcoming SEC East foes, the Dawgs’ next big test is Florida on November 2.
Heisman Trophy contender Tua Tagovailoa threw for more touchdowns (5) than interceptions (4) as Alabama routed Southern Miss 49-7 as wide receivers Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy caught two touchdown receptions apiece.
Clemson’s backup quarterback, Chase Brice, entered the game early in the second quarter against Charlotte after the Tigers took a 24-0 lead, which tells you all you need to know about the country’s No. 1 team and its Week 4 opposition. Clemson will travel to North Carolina in Week 5.
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