College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 4

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 25, 2022

College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 4

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    COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 17: Texas A&M Aggies running back Devon Achane (6) returns a kick during the game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Texas A&M Aggies on September 17, 2022, at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Texas A&M's Devon Achane (Icon Sportswire)

    In arguably the biggest game of Week 4 of the 2022 college football season, the momentum in No. 10 Arkansas at No. 23 Texas A&M turned on a dime with a defensive touchdown, ended on a rarely seen doink and featured one team winning the battle while possibly losing the war.

    The momentum-altering play came late in the first half when Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson fumbled while trying to leap across the goal line for a touchdown that would have put the Razorbacks up 20-7. Instead, A&M's Tyreek Chappell snatched the ball out of mid-air and took it back to the Aggies 18 before alertly handing it off to Demani Richardson, who took it the rest of the way for the TD.

    The doink came with about 90 seconds remaining with Arkansas, down 23-21, attempting the go-ahead field goal. However, Cam Little's kick sailed just a wee bit high and a wee bit right, bouncing off the very top of the upright and backwards into the end zone.

    As a result, Texas A&M won the battle, but versatile star Ainias Smith suffered an awful-looking ankle injury in the second half and was seen on the sideline in a walking boot with crutches late in the game. He and Devon Achane have been basically this entire offense thus far this season, so the Aggies could be in a world of trouble if he's out for the foreseeable future.

    For now, though, Texas A&M continues its climb up the B/R Top 25.

    Bleacher Report's college football experts—David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Morgan Moriarty and Brad Shepard—had the Aggies at No. 17 heading into this week, and they move up a few spots into a tie for 12th. Conversely, Arkansas tumbles from No. 13 into a tie for 19th.

    At least Arkansas stays in the Top 25. The same can't be said for Texas and Washington State following their losses. And at least the Hogs didn't fall as far for their road loss to a ranked opponent as Oklahoma did for a home loss to unranked Kansas State.

    Bleacher Report's Post-Week 4 Top 25:

    1. Georgia (Previous Week: 1)
    2. Alabama (2)
    3. Ohio State (3)
    4. Michigan (4)
    5. Clemson (5)
    6. USC (7)
    7. Tennessee (10)
    8. Oklahoma State (8)
    9. Kentucky (9)
    10. Penn State (11)
    11. Ole Miss (12)
    12 (tie). Utah (16)
    12 (tie). Texas A&M (17)
    14. Washington (15)
    15. NC State (14)
    16. Oklahoma (6)
    17. Baylor (20)
    18. Minnesota (NR)
    19 (tie). Arkansas (13)
    19 (tie). Kansas (23)
    21. BYU (24)
    22. Oregon (18)
    23. Wake Forest (19)
    24. Pittsburgh (NR)
    25. Kansas State (NR)

    Others Receiving Votes: Florida State, Florida, Syracuse

Who's Hot: Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) runs through a gaping hole during a college football game between the Michigan State Spartans and Minnesota Golden Gophers on September 24, 2022 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, MI (Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)(
    Minnesota's Mohamed Ibrahim (Icon Sportswire)

    Row the boat?

    Row the damn boat.

    If you didn't get too excited over Minnesota opening the season with three straight home wins over New Mexico State, Western Illinois and Colorado by a combined score of 149-17, well, you're forgiven. NMSU might be the worst FBS team, Colorado might be the worst Power Five team and the Leathernecks aren't even an average FCS team.

    But after taking the screws to Michigan State in East Lansing, it's high time to start taking the Golden Gophers seriously.

    Minnesota won 34-7, and it wasn't even that close.

    The Gophers led 17-0 before MSU even got a first down. And prior to a meaningless last-minute touchdown drive orchestrated by Spartans backup quarterback Noah Kim, Minnesota had more than triple the total yards (510) that Michigan State had (165).

    Michigan State also trailed 22-0 early in last week's loss at Washington, but at least the offense eventually woke up in that one and made things interesting.

    This, on the other hand, was an absolute beatdown of what was the No. 11 team in the AP Top 25 one week ago.

    Minnesota is now 4-0 with an average final score of 45.75 to 6.0, which is ridiculous regardless of the strength of schedule. The Gophers also started 4-0 in 2019, but each of those four wins was by a single possession.

    This team looks legit on defense and has a strong, multi-pronged rushing attack. And if they're even half as good as they appeared to be in dismantling Michigan State, the Week 8 road game against Penn State might be the only one they lose during the regular season—and even that game is nothing close to a guarantee for the Nittany Lions.

    Minnesota vaults into our Top 25 at No. 18, and should at least sneak into one of the final few spots in the upcoming AP poll.

    Honorable "Hot" Mentions: Kansas State's Adrian Martinez, Michigan's Blake Corum, Ohio State Buckeyes, Tennessee Volunteers, Clemson-Wake Forest offenses, Oregon's 4th Quarter in Pullman

Who's Not: Miami Hurricanes

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: The Miami Hurricanes mascot tires to encourage the few remaining fans during the game between the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday, September 24, 2022 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    'Twas a rough day to be the Hurricanes mascot (Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Middle Tennessee entered its Week 4 game at AP No. 25 Miami with an all-time record of 0-20 against AP Top 25 opponents. Save for an overtime game against No. 19 Missouri in 2003, all of those losses were by double digits, too.

    But the Blue Raiders put a hurting on a Hurricanes team that was all sorts of turnover prone on offense and uncharacteristically generous in the big plays department on defense.

    On the former front, Tyler Van Dyke threw an interception on Miami's first snap of the game. He then threw a pick-six to edge rusher Zaylin Wood on the third snap. And on the seventh snap, Jaylan Knighton fumbled and Wood recovered it.

    All told, three turnovers in seven minutes.

    Gross.

    They later added this disaster of a play for an eight-yard loss.

    At least the defense did what it could during the turnover bonanza to keep it interesting. One play after the fumble, Kamren Kinchens got a pick to keep the score at a manageable 10-0.

    But then the 'Canes D started getting gashed.

    MTSU's Chase Cunningham connected with DJ England-Chisolm for a 71-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. On the second play of their next possession, Cunningham hit Jaylen Lane for an 89-yard gain. Midway through the third quarter, Elijah Metcalf broke free for a 69-yard touchdown reception. And then the big dagger was the 98-yard touchdown toss to England-Chisolm early in the fourth quarter, moments after an MTSU goal-line stand.

    In the entire 2021 season, Miami allowed just one passing play of 60 or more yards—a 94-yard strike from Heisman winner Bryce Young to speedster Jameson Williams. There was also only one passing play of 60 or more yards against Miami in 2020—an 87-yarder from UNC's Sam Howell to Dyami Brown. And the Hurricanes had yet to allow even a 50-yard passing play through their first three games of this season.

    So, two such plays (both against excellent quarterbacks) in 26 games over the past two-plus seasons; four such plays today against Middle Tennessee.

    Makes perfect sense.

    Because of the early turnovers and the subsequent deep balls, MTSU pulled off a colossal upset, and in a convincing fashion. Miami closed as a 25.5-point favorite, but lost 45-31.

    Miami had already fallen out of our Top 25, and if it receives so much as a single vote in this week's AP poll after this debacle, that voter is going to face some serious questions on social media.

    Honorable "Not" Mentions: Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma Sooners, Georgia's defense vs. Kent State, USC's offense at Oregon State, Clemson-Wake Forest defenses

Fun Fact: The Kansas Jayhawks Are 4-0. In Football!

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    LAWRENCE, KS - SEPTEMBER 24: Jalon Daniels #6 of the Kansas Jayhawks runs the ball against Joshua Pickett #26 and Jaylen Stinson #2 of the Duke Blue Devils during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)
    Kansas' Jalon Daniels...with a wee bit of a Heisman pose against Duke? (Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)

    In the hearts and eyes of Bleacher Report's college football experts, the Kansas Jayhawks were already a Top 25 team heading into this week. They were ninth among "other receiving votes" with 23 total votes in the latest AP poll, but we had them at No. 23 in our poll after they improved to 3-0 with an impressive victory at Houston.

    And after quarterback Jalon Daniels accounted for five total touchdowns for the second consecutive week in leading Kansas to a 35-27 victory over Duke and an improbable 4-0 start, we look forward to the AP voters correcting their mistake and putting some #respeck on the Jayhawks name.

    September isn't even over, but Kansas already has more wins in 2022 than it had in any of the previous 12 seasons.

    The Jayhawks have gotten here against a pretty decent schedule, too. The opener against Tennessee Tech was whatever, but Kansas now has a win over previously 3-0 Duke to go along with impressive road wins over West Virginia and Houston.

    Kanas is doing it with an offensive vigor unlike anything seen in Lawrence since the 2007 team that went 12-1. In just four games, the Jayhawks have scored more touchdowns (27) than they did in 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017 or 2020.

    That all starts with Daniels, who was darn near perfect (11-of-12, 200 yards, 3 TD) in the first half against the Blue Devils. He added a fourth passing touchdown on an absolute dart of a 36-yard strike to Lawrence Arnold midway through the third quarter, and then he ran one in from three yards out in the fourth.

    All told, he threw for 324 yards, rushed for 83 more and accounted for each of KU's five scores.

    It might still be premature to start whispering the "H" word in regard to Daniels. He isn't quite putting up Lamar Jackson or Joe Burrow numbers here, but 10 touchdowns in two weeks while leading Kansas (of all teams) to 48.5 points per game on the season is, at the very least, "Heisman radar" material.

    Notably, Kansas is at home against Iowa State and TCU in the next two weeks, so bowl eligibility by Week 6 is within the realm of possibility.

Looking Ahead: September Was Fun; October Is Coming in HOT

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    WINSTON-SALEM, NC - SEPTEMBER 24: DJ Uiagalelei (5) of the Clemson Tigers looks to pass the ball during a football game between the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Clemson Tigers on September 24, 2022, at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, NC. (Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Clemson's D.J. Uiagalelei (David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Actually, before we even get to a new month, there's one fun game on tap for Friday: No. 18 Washington at undefeated UCLA. Get your popcorn and your coffee ready for that 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff.

    But even that solid doubleheader pales in comparison to the smörgåsbord of huge games coming up after the calendar flips to October.

    First and foremost on the list is the beginning of Alabama's three-week gauntlet. The AP No. 2 Crimson Tide play at No. 10 Arkansas in what might be their stiffest test of the entire season, but they'll also host No. 23 Texas A&M in Week 6 before playing at No. 11 Tennessee in Week 7.

    The other gigantic game in the SEC is No. 8 Kentucky at No. 16 Ole Miss. The Wildcats already have a road win over a ranked foe (at Florida in Week 2) and would much more seriously join the College Football Playoff conversation with a victory over the Rebels.

    However, going on the road and slowing down that Lane Kiffin offense will be no easy task. And if Ole Miss gets the job done, an 8-0 start becomes a strong possibility with games against Vanderbilt, Auburn and LSU on deck.

    Week 5 is also where we find the biggest game of the ACC season. No. 5 Clemson eked out a double-overtime victory at No. 21 Wake Forest, and the Tigers would become the overwhelming favorite to win the ACC's Atlantic division if they can follow that up with a home win over No. 12 North Carolina State.

    The Wolfpack got out to an inauspicious start to the season in a nail-biter against East Carolina, but they have responded well and might be up to the task of pulling off the upset in Death Valley.

    Enjoy the thought of three games between teams in the AP Top 20?

    Great!

    How about a fourth?

    The big one in the Big 12 is No. 17 Baylor hosting No. 9 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had the week off to prepare for this game, but the Bears may have gotten a heavy dose of positive momentum in their road win over previously unbeaten Iowa State.

    The Week 2 loss at BYU may have more or less knocked Baylor out of the CFP running, but the Bears could take a huge step toward a Big 12 championship game appearance with a win over Oklahoma State.

    Elsewhere, No. 4 Michigan's stout offense will be put to the test at Iowa, No. 13 Utah has a tough home game against Oregon State, and Kansas hosts Iowa State, hoping to improve to 5-0.

    Come on in, October. The chaos is fine.

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