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College Football Rankings Week 4: Georgia makes statement, top-25 rankings after Week 3

Matt Johnson
College Football rankings
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3 of the college football season delivered a few surprises, with multiple top 25 teams going down and a few top-10 programs dealing with some scares after last Saturday’s upset special. Needless to say, it’s causing plenty of shakeup in the Week 4 college football rankings.

There’s a new No. 1 team in the country, but both the Georgia Bulldogs and Ohio State Buckeyes have created some separation from Alabama. Meanwhile, the SEC can feel great with four teams in our top 10 and eight finding their way into the top-25 rankings. Things are also looking good for the Pac-12 as the USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies all made statements in Week 3.

Let’s dive into the Week 4 college football rankings.

Dropped from Top-25 rankings: Miami Hurricanes (16), Appalachian State Mountaineers (23), Cincinnati Bearcats (24)

25. Pittsburgh Panthers (UR)

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Western Michigan
Kimberly Moss-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh needed running back Israel Abanikanda more than ever on Saturday. On the road without starting quarterback Kedon Slovis and backup Nick Patti, the Panthers were forced to start redshirt freshman Nate Yarnell. Defense and Abanikanda were all Pitt needed. The junior running back racked up nearly as many rushing yards (133) as Western Michigan’s total yardage (180). That’s the definition of a gritty win.

24. Texas A&M Aggies (UR)

NCAA Football: Miami at Texas A&M
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Time of possession is everything. A week after Appalachian State essentially kept the football away from Texas A&M all game, the Aggies kept things pretty even against Miami. Max Johnson had some impressive moments at times, but the real difference-maker on Saturday was a defense that allowed Tyler Van Dyke to do absolutely nothing. The App State loss still stings, but knocking off Arkansas next Saturday would go a long way towards moving back up the top 25 rankings.

23. Florida Gators (19)

Syndication: Gator Sports
Matt Pendleton / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Florida Gators have lost once to the Tennessee Volunteers since 2005, dominating their hated rival even when making the trip to Neyland Stadium. However, what we’ve seen from the Gators’ offense in the last two weeks suggests this team might not even keep it a one-score game against the Vols. Florida certainly has the talent and coaching to get it done in a hostile environment, but recent evidence suggests it isn’t happening in Week 4.

22. Texas Longhorns (22)

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman
BRIANA SANCHEZ/AMERICAN-STATESMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

Texas came out flat early against UTSA, heading into halftime in a 17-17 tie. Fortunately for the Longhorns, running back Bijan Robinson and the rushing attack we saw against Alabama took over in the final two quarters. Texas should handle its business against feisty Texas Tech and West Virginia programs, but Quinn Ewers needs to be back for the Red River Rivalry.

21. Michigan State Spartans (7)

Syndication: Lansing State Journal
Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan State Spartans never quit on Saturday, but they also looked finished early. The quarterback has long been an area of concern, but Payton Thorne wasn’t the problem against Washington. Michigan State mustered just 42 rushing yards on 29 attempts and its defense allowed 503 total yards to the Huskies offense. If this keeps up, Ohio State will wipe the floor with the Spartans in October.

20. Washington Huskies (UR)

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Washington
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now but the Washington Huskies look like a dangerous team in the Pac-12 Conference. Michael Penix Jr is thriving in a new environment already off to a blistering start (10-1 TD-INT ratio) and freshman wideout Ja’Lynn Polk is showing some “WOW” moments. The Huskies had no problems with Michigan State and it bodes very well for a Week 4 draw at Husky Stadium against Stanford.

19. Baylor Bears (17)

NCAA Football: Texas State at Baylor
Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The Baylor Bears did exactly what you’d expect from them against Texas State, rushing for nearly 300 yards and controlling the clock in a 42-7 victory. If Dave Aranda’s program wants to move up the college football rankings, though, it will require taking down Oklahoma State in Week 5.

18. BYU Cougars (14)

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Oregon
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

A humbling loss for the BYU Cougars. The program learned on Saturday that it lacks the bodies and physicality to compete on the road with some of the best teams in college football. BYU should rebound easily against Wyoming and Utah State, but the matchups against Notre Dame and Arkansas look far iffier than they did a week ago.

17. NC State Wolfpack (20)

NCAA Football: South Florida at North Carolina State
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State needed someone to step up on Saturday night with quarterback Devin Leary ineffective and the ground game not finding much success. Aydan White stepped in, preserving the Wolfpack’s undefeated record. An 84-yard pick six pushed NC State out to a 20-0 lead and proved to be the game-deciding score. Look for the Week 4 matchup against UConn to serve as the tune-up game before battling Clemson.

16. Penn State Nittany Lions (21)

Syndication: The Montgomery Advertiser
Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

We still have questions about whether or not Penn State can win big games with Sean Clifford. Fortunately, freshman running back Nicholas Singleton is carrying this offense right now with over 300 yards already in his first season. Beating Auburn is a step in the right direction, but a fair assessment won’t come until the Oct. 15 matchup at Michigan Stadium.

15. Ole Miss Rebels (18)

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Georgia Tech
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

One by one, the Ole Miss Rebels are running through the opponents on their early schedule. Georgia Tech proved no challenge for a Rebels’ rushing attack that blew past the 300-yard mark. We’ve got the Week 5 date against Kentucky circled on the calendar, a clash between a great offense and excellent defense on a national stage.

14. Oregon Ducks (UR)

Syndication: The Register Guard
Chris Pietsch/The Register Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

We held off on moving the Oregon Ducks back into our college football rankings until they delivered a statement win. Rushing for 200 yards with utter dominance from Bo Nix (222 passing yards, five total TDs) against BYU provided just that. The Ducks have a level of physicality and discipline they’ve lacked in previous years. The Georgia game still sticks in everyone’s mind, but this could still be a 10-win team.

13. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (15)

NCAA Football: Liberty at Wake Forest
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

A failed two-point conversion is the only thing that kept Wake Forest from experiencing a disaster. The Demon Deacons couldn’t get anything going on the ground, finishing with 21 yards on 26 attempts. Liberty also ran all over Wake Forest and finished with 437 total yards. This showing is the last thing Sam Hartman and Co. needed before battling Clemson.

12. Utah Utes (10)

NCAA Football: San Diego State at Utah
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Rising shows flashes of being the quarterback who can take the Utah Utes to the playoffs. Unfortunately, inconsistency at the most important position is a barrier that prevents just about every team from reaching the top. Utah will keep racking up wins, but it’s not taking the big leap due to Rising’s sporadic play.

11. Arkansas Razorbacks (12)

NCAA Football: Missouri State at Arkansas
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Arkansas Razorbacks found themselves staring down an ugly loss, one that would leave a lasting mark on the 2022 season. At one point trailing 17-0 and leader 27-17, Arkansas fired back with a monster fourth quarter to deliver a double-digit victory. It’s not exactly style points, but it moves the Razorbacks up in the top-25 rankings on a night when others struggled or couldn’t win.

10. Clemson Tigers (11)

NCAA Football: Furman at Clemson
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

It took until the third quarter for the Clemson Tigers to put Louisiana Tech away. We’ll start with the good news, running back Will Shipley looks special and it feels like the sophomore could do even more for this offense if he gets more touches. As for D.J. Uiagalelei, it’s just clearly not working out for him at Clemson. Don’t bet on the Tigers staying undefeated with Wake Forest and NC State on deck.

9. Tennessee Volunteers (13)

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The steady rise up the top-25 ranking continues for the Tennessee Volunteers. Right now, the Vols have been favored in every game and they’ve taken care of business. In Week 4, we get the Florida vs Tennessee matchup that everyone wants to see. It’s going to be a great test for the Vols’ offense, an opportunity to avenge the 38-14 loss in The Swamp last year. If the Vols win, it merits a top-10 spot.

8. Kentucky Wildcats (9)

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Florida
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On a day when Will Levis (2-2 TD-INT) wasn’t perfect against Youngstown State, the Kentucky Wildcats took care of business with a suffocating defense. This is what we’ve come to expect from Mark Stoops’ team. Expect the Wildcats to pounce on Northern Illinois in Week 4 before it draws a nice test against Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss on Oct. 1

7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (8)

Syndication: The Oklahoman
BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

Oklahoma State is working its way back from an ugly 58-44 win in the opener. There are still very good reasons to be skeptical of the Cowboys’ defense, it’s experiencing a lot of growing pains since Jim Knowles left. Fortunately, we might get a better gauge for this unit in Week 5 when Baylor and Oklahoma State collide, with the Cowboys benefitting from an early bye week to prepare.

6. USC Trojans (5)

NCAA Football: Southern California at Stanford
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not the USC Trojans make it to the College Football Playoff Semifinal for the first time in program history depends on the defense. There are moments, stretches of quarters, where it looks like the Trojans’ defense can’t stop mid-tier offenses. If it can elevate its play, combining with an elite offense led by a top Heisman Trophy candidate, the Trojans are a playoff team.

5. Oklahoma Sooners (6)

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Nebraska
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Some wondered if a trip to Memorial Stadium with Scott Frost finally gone would cause problems for the Oklahoma Sooners. On Saturday, quarterback Dillon Gabriel and coach Brent Venables quickly erased any of those thoughts. Gabriel and Eric Gray dismantled Nebraska all while Oklahoma’s defense recovered from an early touchdown to mow down the Cornhuskers the rest of the way. This should be a 5-0 team for the Red River Rivalry on Oct. 8.

Related: College Football Scores

4. Michigan Wolverines (4)

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan Wolverines have scored at least 50 points in every game to open the season and its defense has only allowed 582 yards during that stretch. It puts the Wolverines at No. 4 in the college football rankings for Week 4, but there is a level of hesitation. Hawai’i and UConn have been two of the worst college football teams in recent years. Let’s see if Michigan can dominate Maryland next Saturday.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (3)

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Alabama
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Even as one of the best teams in college football, the Alabama Crimson Tide are flawed. We’re not seeing the explosive downfield playmakers that produced Heisman Trophy winners in recent years. It’s not a problem in what accounts to the preseason of Alabama’s schedule, but it’s something to monitor in October with matchups against Arkansas, Texas A&M and Tennessee.

Related: College Football Standings

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (1)

NCAA Football: Arkansas State at Ohio State
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a drop in the Week 4 college football rankings for the Ohio State Buckeyes, but this is still a College Football Playoff contender. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is back and that unlocks one of the best offenses in the nation. With C.J. Stroud showing improvements from 2021 and this defense flashing more talent, Ohio State should feel very confident for its Week 4 matchup against Wisconsin.

1. Georgia Bulldogs (2)

NCAA Football: Georgia at South Carolina
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgia Bulldogs are the best team in college football. It starts with a defense that allowed 747 total yards (249 YPG) and 10 points (3.3 PPG) through three games this season. Even if we aren’t putting this unit on the tier with the 2021 team, this is still the best defense in college football. Combine that with Heisman candidate Stetson Bennett (952 pass yards, 8 total TDs) and you get the No. 1 team in the college football rankings.

Related: Heisman Watch Week 4