College Football Week 4: The Top 25 Winners and Losers From Saturday's Action

Stephen MeyerDeputy MLB EditorSeptember 25, 2010

College Football Week 4: The Top 25 Winners and Losers From Saturday's Action

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    It was a wild Week 4 in college football, as most teams have unbelievably completed one-third of their seasons already. It never ceases to amaze me how fast the season flies by.

    The No. 1 team in the country needed a lot of luck and help to hang on, Heisman candidates were injured or discovered, and once promising programs were left for dead.

    Who were the 25 biggest winners and losers of College Football Saturday? I take my best crack at compiling the list, and feel free to leave your feedback and comments.

25. Pete Thomas Has Moment in the Sun

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    29-37, 386 Yards Passing, 3 TDs vs. Idaho

    It was important for CSU to get its first win, and it was even more vital for QB Pete Thomas to break out of a slump.

    He went off on Idaho Saturday, and began to show the promise that made him the starting QB at CSU.

24. Utah Holds Serve

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    Is anyone shocked that the Utes brutally crushed San Jose St. at home Saturday? Of course not…but it’s a big deal any time a school without an automatic bid remains undefeated—as it’s their only chance at a BCS bowl.

    Regardless of the opponent, a 56-3 score in the fourth quarter is something to be proud of. If nothing else, it shows the team does not overlook any opponent, and is ready to play each and every Saturday.

23. Michigan State Wins One for Coach

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    One week after a gutsy and crucial overtime win in Week 3, and just six days after coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack, Michigan State picked up a win.

    A 45-7 drubbing of Northern Colorado is not a surprise for the No. 25 Spartans, but it was important for this team to rally around adversity and win one for their beloved coach.

22. Florida Takes Out Kentucky

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    The Tebow-less Gators are at it again in 2010, as they beat an unbeaten Kentucky team 48-14 to move to 4-0 (2-0 SEC).

    Florida QB John Brantley was solid but unspectacular, but rushing QB Trey Burton collected six TDs by himself in the rout.

    They have a long way to go, but they could not have asked much more from a team seemingly left for dead without its fearless leader from 2009.

21. USC Keeps Ignoring Its “Haters”

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    A 50-16 beat down of the far less talented Washington State is no reason to jump for joy in Los Angeles.

    The important thing is not the opponent here, however. Instead, the 4-0 record and performance of QB Matt Barkley is what needs to be grabbing our attention.

    Most teams might have given up and thrown in the towel knowing they had no chance at playing in a bowl game. This team plays for pride, and it shows on the field.

20. Stanford’s Best Start Since 1986 (4-0)

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    After taking out Notre Dame 37-14, the Cardinal improved to 4-0 on the season—the first time they have achieved this in 25 seasons.

    Though the Fighting Irish are clearly not as dangerous as the 2009 version, it is a great sign for Andrew Luck and the offense to keep churning without RB Toby Gerhart on campus.

19. Michigan Shows QB Depth

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    After superstar QB Denard Robinson went down with a knee issue in the first quarter, the Wolverines had to go to its second and third strings signal-callers.

    Though it was against a very weak competitor in Bowling Green, Tate Forcier was 12-12 for 110 yards and a score, and Devin Gardner was 7-10 for 85 yards and a score. The pair added 55 more yards on the ground.

    It will benefit Michigan down the road to have given these QBs game experience, as Robinson’s style is one that will get him nicked from time to time. It may help win a key Big 10 game down the road.

    18. Denard Robinson Misses Chance to Pad Stats

    There was a loser within the same game, however. Heisman candidate Denard Robinson accumulated nearly 200 first quarter yards, but then was forced to come out with an injured leg.

    He missed an opportunity to greatly add to his already gaudy numbers over the final three quarters, as he will rarely play teams with as little defensive talent and speed as Bowling Green.

17. Mark Ingram Proves He’s 100 Percent

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    After returning in a big way last week for Alabama from minor knee surgery, Mark Ingram came up big when needed most against No. 10 Arkansas on the road.

    Ingram finished with 157 yards and two TDs on 24 carries, which proved to be the difference in a tight and emotional 24-20 game.

    The defense made key plays at big moments to give him the opportunity to be the hero, but Ingram would not be denied.

16. Rutgers Blows Another Chance at a Good Win

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    The Scarlet Knights were 2-0 playing at home against a struggling North Carolina team, and had a chance to start off the year with some promise.

    As they usually seem to do, however, they lost 17-13 and showed little ability to move the ball on offense.

    It isn’t much of a surprise for Rutgers to lose a key game, but as the only NY/NJ team to look to in college football, they certainly came up losers on Saturday afternoon.

15. Virginia Tech Starts Off ACC Schedule with a Win

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    After a brutal loss to an FCS school, VT was sitting at 0-2. Now they have recovered to 2-2 after a big 19-0 win in an ACC matchup with Boston College.

    It was beyond imperative for them to win this game to set back on the BCS Bowl track, and they finally came up big when they needed to.

    They lost a chance at a National Title in Week 1 against Boise St., but their chances for an ACC title were reassured this week.

14. NC State Beats Georgia Tech

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    In what could easily be called a “loser” moment for GT as well, NC State impressed with a 45-28 victory on the road to improve to 4-0 (1-0 ACC).

    They kept the running game of QB Joshua Nesbitt in check (just 34 yards on 18 carries after one 61-yard scamper), and were able to dominate in most phases on the game.

    13. Russell Wilson Emerges as a Heisman Candidate

    NC State QB Russell Wilson was a second big winner in this game, as his 368 yards and 3 TDs on 28-41 passing lit up the scoreboard.

    He is officially another candidate for the coveted Heisman trophy, and his schedule will certainly allow him to stay involved as we push deeper into the fall.

12. Temple Misses Opportunity to Make a Statement

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    After surprising many CFB fans with some solid defensive talent and beginning 3-0, the Owls had a shot to go to 4-0 and make a stand in 2010.

    They instead let a 13-6 lead slip away at home to Penn State and freshman QB Robert Bolden.

    At the end of the day it was still a solid performance for Temple, but they missed an opportunity they may not have very often against a respected and ranked team.

11. Notre Dame Sinks Out of Bowl Contention

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    Now at 1-3, and with Boston College, Pittsburgh, Utah, Navy, and USC still on the schedule, it’s looking more and more like no bowl appearance for the Fighting Irish.

    Brian Kelly’s first season in South Bend has been far from successful even with offensive talent like Dayne Crist, Michael Floyd, and Armando Allen on the roster.

    He can only hope that things don’t end as poorly in year one as Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, because things have started similarly.

10. Tennessee Shows How Far It Has Fallen, Even In Victory

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    After back-to-back blowout losses at the hands of Top 10 opponents, the Volunteers needed a special moment in overtime just to take care of UAB at home.

    Things continue to go from bad to worse in Tennessee since Lane Kiffin arrived and quickly left town, and it’s looking very bleak with games against LSU, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina over the next four weeks.

    Any hopes for a bowl game will be made or shattered during this time period.

9. Oklahoma Stays Unbeaten

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    It took a lot of fight against a less-than-typical Cincinnati team and considerable breath-holding, but the Sooners held on for a 31-29 victory to remain undefeated.

    It wasn’t pretty, and it was not exactly a big win for the BCS, but any win in a week when Texas is blown out is a great week for Oklahoma. They will move up in the Rankings, and they stay alive for a shot at the National Championship.

8. Arizona Vs. Cal

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    This game is not yet over, but its outcome will make Arizona one of the biggest winners or losers of the day regardless.

    Playing a home game against a quality California team in a wide open Pac-10 is a must win game if Arizona is dreaming of a BCS bowl bid.

    The offense is struggling mightily early, but the final half of football may determine how the rest of their season ends up. They need to pick it up, and they need to do so quickly.

7. South Carolina or Auburn

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    In yet another stressful and exciting game, the Auburn Tigers hung on to defeat to Gamecocks 35-27 in a battle of unbeaten teams.

    The No. 17 Tigers will jump up a handful of spots this week after the huge win at home, and begin an always rough SEC calendar 2-0.

    Many were unsure of transfer Cameron Newton’s early week performances and how he would stack up on Saturday, but his 300+ yards of offense and five TDs answered all of those questions.

6. West Virginia or LSU

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    A still undecided barn-burner is being played between No. 22 West Virginia and No. 15 LSU down in Baton Rouge, LA.

    The winner of this battle will undoubtedly be one of the biggest winners of the weekend, as they will be in fantastic shape at making a run at the Top 10 (and possibly a BCS Bowl bid.

    LSU QB Jordan Jefferson has struggled very badly with two INTs in the first half, and he will need to pick up his game to save the Tigers from their first loss of 2010.

5. Ohio State Rolls To Likely Remain No. 2

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    Though against very low-level competition in Eastern Michigan, Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes dominated 73-20 this afternoon.

    No one should be surprised b the outcome, but it is very important for Ohio State to remain undefeated and keep pace at the top of the polls. This year more than any looks as though will match two unbeaten teams for the National Title (whether that's Alabama, Ohio State, Boise St., TCU, Oregon, etc.).

    They still have some tough Big 10 matchups on the horizon, but I see no reason why Pryor and the boys can't keep rolling toward January.

4. Texas Loses To UCLA At Home

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    The Longhorns got slapped around in Austin, TX 34-12 at the hands of the Bruins while allowing an unreal 264 yards rushing against UCLA’s new “Pistol Offense”.

    A team that once had National Title aspirations is now left scrambling to find toughness on defense as they head into the Big 12 season.

    This was just about as poor a performance as you could have seen from Texas while playing in the friendly confines of Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, and one that will cause a lot of restless sleep tonight.

3. Ryan Mallett Throws Two Costly INTs

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    The Razorbacks were leading the No. 1 team in the country by a score of 20-14, and Heisman QB candidate Ryan Mallett was poised to shock the nation.

    All he had to do was complete a few tough third downs and suddenly his team would control their own destiny in winning the SEC. Instead, two brutal INTs turned a legendary win into a painful loss 24-20.

    It may not have crushed his Heisman dreams, but it certainly did not help make his case as a clutch QB—typically a quality well-renowned for all candidates.

2. Boise State Beats Another Top 25 Opponent In Oregon State

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    In a vital matchup for No. 3 Boise State's hopes of a National Title run, the Broncos were able to hold on in a tough game with the No. 25 Oregon State Beavers 37-24.

    All of the stars were out and ready, as Kellen Moore, Titus Young, Austin Pettis, and Doug Martin all had huge games in huge moments for Boise.

    The team that always looks invincible on their home blue turf were that and more again, and a valiant effort was not enough to make it interesting late.

    The rest of the schedule aside from Nevada are nearly automatic wins for the Broncos, so they may just get their shot at Alabama or Ohio State if one or the other gets upset. 

1. Alabama Beats Arkansas on the Road

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    The biggest winner of the College Football Saturday in my eyes is the team that remains at No. 1 in the polls: The Alabama Crimson Tide.

    Unlike many of the Top 25, who played pathetic competition out of conference, Alabama was forced to play a Top 10 team on the road. This win will go a long way in proving they are still the team to beat in the country right now.

    As stated earlier in the list, Mark Ingram is back with a vengeance, which will help lead Nick Saban's crew a very long way in 2010.