How the AP Top 25 should’ve looked after Week 4
For the first time in my life, I’m starting to agree with the crowd that believe preseason rankings shouldn’t exist. Waiting until the first month of college football’s in the books might be a better idea when we’ve had a chance to gauge who’s legit and who’s not on the field.
Oregon has proved this.
The Ducks, ranked in the preseason Top 10 following last year’s runner-up finish, saw their beaks clipped against Utah and fell out of the national rankings for the first time since 2010.
On the other hand, the Utes were unranked and now they’re in the No. 10 slot — with a first-place vote — having beaten Michigan and Oregon in the first four weeks.
Ranking the Top 25 based on what we saw on the field Saturday with Week 4 rankings in mind, here’s how the AP Top 25 should’ve looked heading into the fifth weekend of games:
How the AP Top 25 Should’ve Looked
1. Ohio State (4-0) — I’m a firm believer in the defending national champion remaining in the top spot the following season until another team disrupts the throne — despite the Buckeyes’ lackluster efforts offensively in recent weeks.
2. Ole Miss (4-0) — The Rebels were able to escape the dreaded trap game against Vanderbilt sandwiched between big-time road trips to Alabama and Florida over the weekend. Ole Miss’s win in Tuscaloosa remains college football’s best of the season in my opinion.
3. Georgia (4-0) — Why isn’t anyone talking about the Bulldogs? Sans an inconsistent first-half at Vanderbilt two weeks ago, Georgia looked flawless in September on both sides of the football. This weekend’s showdown against Alabama should vault the Bulldogs into the AP’s Top 5.
4. Notre Dame (4-0) — Brian Kelly’s team put up 41 unanswered points during Saturday’s win over UMass, setting up a College GameDay showdown at Clemson in a few days. Despite a rash of injuries, the Irish have persevered thus far.
5. Michigan State (4-0) — The Spartans haven’t covered in a single game thus far and the win over Oregon lost some of its shine following Saturday’s blowout home loss to Utah.
6. TCU (4-0) — It’s a matter of time before the Horned Frogs are eliminated from the ranks of the unbeaten thanks to one of the Big 12’s worst defenses. TCU’s given up 89 points over its last two games against unranked teams and was lucky to win at Texas Tech on Saturday.
7. Utah (4-0) — Sixty-two points at Oregon? Utah earned Week 4’s most impressive outing.
8. LSU (3-0) — The best player in the country’s led the Tigers to three straight ground-and-pound victories.
9. Baylor (3-0) — Seth Russell and this Art Briles offense has been unstoppable, but until they play a team of substance, I can’t put the Bears in the Top 5. So many points will be scored this weekend against Texas Tech that Baylor’s scoreboard may malfunction.
10. UCLA (4-0) — Back-to-back wins over nationally-ranked teams with a freshman quarterback? Well done, Bruins. Despite losing All-American linebacker Myles Jack to a season-ending knee injury, UCLA has the look of an elite team.
11. Alabama (3-1) — The quarterback situation remains unsolved and there’s other noticeable questions on both sides of the ball, but from a line of scrimmage standpoint defensively, Alabama is going to win several games over the second half of the season just by showing up. Saturday’s trip to Athens is a great measuring stick to see if the Tide still have some fight postmortem Ole Miss.
12. Texas A&M (4-0) — Much of the hype has centered around the defensive front, but the Kyle Allen to Christian Kirk combo has become one of the nation’s most potent in the early going.
13. Florida State (3-0) — This year’s defense is the ACC’s best, but will Dalvin Cook and Everett Golson score enough points to beat some of the better teams coming up on the schedule?
14. Oklahoma (3-0) — I’ve been very impressed with quarterback Baker Mayfield and his ability to lead a new-look offense under first-year OC Lincoln Riley.
15. Clemson (3-0) — The schedule’s been too easy to deem this team Top 10-worthy and Saturday’s showdown against Notre Dame will reveal which one of those squads is a pretender.
16. Northwestern (4-0) — The beef of the schedule’s yet to come for the Wildcats, but wins over Stanford and Duke out-of-conference is noteworthy.
17. Stanford (3-1) — The only loss for David Shaw’s team came on the road against Northwestern, a defeat that’s looking better and better with every additional win for the Wildcats.
18. USC (3-1) — With their backs against the wall at Arizona State following a disappointing home loss to Stanford, USC embarrassed the Sun Devils with a 35-point lead at intermission. The Trojans have a Top 5 offense.
19. Mississippi State (3-1) — Having watched nearly every play from the Bulldogs’ first four games, it’s obvious this team has a shot to win the Western Division. If the execution was better down the stretch a few weeks ago against LSU, Dak Prescott’s team would be 4-0 ranked inside the Top 10.
20. Wisconsin (3-1) — The Badgers’ defense has dominated since a season-opening loss to Alabama.
21. Oklahoma State (4-0) — A fringe Top 25 team without a quality win, the Cowboys were gifted a win at Texas thanks to terrible officiating and a dropped punt in the final minute.
22. California (4-0) — Jared Goff is probably college football’s best quarterback you’ve never heard of and already has 11 touchdowns passes to go with his near 70.0 completion percentage. We’ll know more about this team’s strength as a whole in two weeks when the Golden Bears travel to Utah.
23. Florida (4-0) — Will Grier’s improbable 5-for-5 effort on fourth down against Tennessee carried the Gators to their fourth straight win to open the season, about as much as you can ask from first-year coach Jim McElwain.
24. Texas Tech (3-1) — This team’s averaging 53.8 points per game and was a fourth-down stop away from beating TCU on Saturday in Lubbock. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has keyed the turnaround for Kliff Kingsbury and company.
25. Michigan (3-1) — Jim Harbaugh’s rhythmic drubbing of BYU in the Big House was impressive, as was the Wolverines’ narrow road loss to Utah.