College Football Rankings 2016: Bleacher Report's Week 4 Top 25
Another monster weekend of college football did not disappoint, with four matchups of ranked teams—including the top three squads playing on the road—and the results of numerous other games causing a significant shake-up in Bleacher Report's Top 25.
Twenty members of our college football staff vote on the Bleacher Report poll: writers Ben Axelrod, Greg Couch, Tyler Donohue, Ed Feng, David Kenyon, Sanjay Kirpalani, Adam Kramer, Brian Leigh, Brian Pedersen, David Regimbal, Barrett Sallee, Damon Sayles, Brad Shepard, Greg Wallace and Christopher Walsh; video staff Michael Felder, Hunter Mandel and Sean McManus; and editors Eric Bowman and Eric Yates.
First-place votes are worth 25 points, with each subsequent vote worth one fewer point all the way down to one for 25th place. The 25 teams with the most poll points make our list, with the rest falling into the “others receiving votes” category.
Check out where everyone stands after Week 3 and then give us your thoughts in the comments section.
Others Receiving Votes
San Diego State got 220 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Donnel Pumphrey in a 42-28 win at Northern Illinois—the Aztecs' 13th consecutive victory. With another win they might crack our Top 25, but for now they're sitting just on the outside.
Here's a look at all the teams that appeared on our voters' ballots but didn't collect enough points to get ranked.
- Boise State (33)
- San Diego State (33)
- South Florida (26)
- Western Michigan (26)
- North Carolina (24)
- Georgia Tech (23)
- TCU (20)
- UCLA (19)
- Iowa (15)
- Oklahoma State (14)
- North Dakota State (9)
- Oregon (5)
- Arizona State (1)
No. 25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Poll points: 47
Last week's ranking: 17th (tie)
Week 3 result: Lost 36-28 vs. Michigan State
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 vs. Duke
Notre Dame (1-2) can pretty much end any hope of being in the playoff picture after dropping a second game in three weeks, giving up 36 consecutive points in one stretch.
The Fighting Irish led 7-0 thanks to DeShone Kizer's 14-yard touchdown run late in the first half, but then they were shut out until late in the third quarter. By then they trailed by 29 before Kizer guided them to three scoring drives—the last pulling Notre Dame within eight with 6:02 left, but no further points came.
Kizer threw for 344 yards with two TDs and added two rushing scores, accounting for 358 of Notre Dame's 401 yards of total offense.
No. 24 Oklahoma Sooners
Poll points: 49
Last week's ranking: 17th (tie)
Week 3 result: Lost 45-24 vs. Ohio State
Week 4 matchup: Bye
Oklahoma (1-2) fell behind early and never managed to catch up, dropping a second game in September for the first time since 2005.
The Sooners trailed 14-0 after Baker Mayfield was picked off and Ohio State returned it for a touchdown—one of two picks he threw along with 226 yards and two TDs on 17-of-32 passing. He was also limited on the ground, with just five yards on eight carries.
Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine combined for 138 but never found the end zone on the ground, though Mixon did via a 97-yard kickoff return score. Replays showed he dropped the ball short of the goal line, but officials never reviewed the play.
No. 22 (tie) Utah Utes
Poll points: 63
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
Week 3 result: Won 34-17 at San Jose State
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 23 vs. USC
Utah (3-0) took a while for its offense to get up to speed before blowing past San Jose State on the road.
The Utes trailed 10-6 midway through the second quarter and then scored 28 unanswered points, getting touchdown runs from Troy McCormick, Zack Moss and Armand Shyne as part of 201 rushing yards. Quarterback Troy Williams added 257 yards on 20-of-28 passing along with a TD throw to Tim Patrick, who had six catches for 121 yards.
Utah, which forced three turnovers, is 3-0 for the third consecutive season.
No. 22 (tie) Ole Miss Rebels
Poll points: 63
Last week's ranking: 15th (tie)
Week 3 result: Lost 48-43 vs. Alabama
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 vs. Georgia
Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1 SEC) built a big early lead against a ranked opponent for the second time this season, but once again it couldn't keep it. In doing so, the Rebels established a pattern they won't be proud to lay claim to.
"Ole Miss is the first Power Five team in the last 10 years to blow two 21-point leads in the same season, per ESPN research," ESPN's Dari Nowkhah tweeted after the Rebels saw a 24-3 lead with two minutes and 47 seconds left in the first half quickly evaporate. This came two weeks after Ole Miss led 28-6 in the first half against Florida State before losing 45-34.
The Rebels allowed three non-offensive touchdowns—one on a punt return and two others on defense. They were held to just two field goals, while Alabama scored 45 points to turn a 21-point edge into an 18-point deficit. Two late TDs, helped by a recovered onside kick, helped Ole Miss make it close late, but it couldn't stop the Crimson Tide as they ran out the clock.
No. 21 LSU Tigers
Poll points: 110
Last week's ranking: 22nd
Week 3 result: Won 23-20 vs. Mississippi State
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at Auburn
LSU (2-1, 1-0 SEC) rode workhorse Leonard Fournette and held off a late Mississippi State rally to win its conference opener.
Fournette ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, while Danny Etling threw for 215 yards and a TD. The Tigers led 20-0 midway through the second quarter and had a 23-3 edge at halftime before their offense stalled, allowing the Bulldogs to crawl back into it.
Mississippi State scored two touchdowns in a 40-second span late in the fourth quarter and got the ball back before Arden Key sacked Damian Williams and forced a fumble.
No. 20 Texas Longhorns
Poll points: 116
Last week's ranking: 8th (tie)
Week 3 result: Lost 50-43 at California
Week 4 matchup: Bye
Texas (2-1) discovered just what's possible during #Pac12AfterDark, falling in a shootout that featured 68 points in the first half and more than 1,000 yards of offense.
The Longhorns trailed 35-33 at halftime despite leading by 10 midway through the second quarter, but they retook the lead 40-35 early in the fourth quarter on D'Onta Foreman's 47-yard touchdown run. Foreman ran for 157 yards and two TDs, part of 307 rushing yards for Texas.
Texas later tied it at 43 on a 35-yard Trent Domingue field goal before Cal went ahead for good with 3:41 left on a 12-yard TD pass.
No. 18 (tie) Florida Gators
Poll points: 143
Last week's ranking: 24th
Week 3 result: Won 32-0 vs. North Texas
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at Tennessee
Florida (3-0) recorded its first shutout since the 2014 season opener but lost quarterback Luke Del Rio to a knee injury.
"We'll probably be missing him [next week]," Gators coach Jim McElwain said on ESPNU (h/t Ben Kercheval of CBSSports.com) of Del Rio, who was hurt in the third quarter after throwing for 186 yards.
The Gators' scoring came via the ground, with rushing touchdowns from Jordan Cronkrite, Lamical Perine, Jordan Scarlett and Mark Thompson. They ran for 255 yards and gained 471 yards overall, holding North Texas to 53 total yards, including minus-13 on the ground.
No. 18 (tie) Baylor Bears
Poll points: 143
Last week's ranking: 21st
Week 3 result: Won 38-10 at Rice
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 vs. Oklahoma State
Baylor (3-0) finished nonconference play with another dominant performance and plenty of yards. But until that attack could get going, it was the defense that excelled for the third time this season.
The Bears gained 638 yards but didn't score until four minutes into the second quarter, eventually taking a 21-10 lead into halftime. They broke it open thanks to the connection between Seth Russell and KD Cannon, with the latter hauling in nine catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns, while Russell threw for 337 yards and three TDs with an interception.
Senior running back Shock Linwood became Baylor's career rushing leader during the game, with his 57 yards on 13 carries giving him 3,675 to pass Walter Abercrombie.
Baylor's pass defense limited Rice to 31 yards on 9-of-27 passing. The Bears have allowed only 30 points in three games.
No. 17 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Poll points: 147
Last week's ranking: Not ranked
Week 3 result: Won 35-32 vs. Oregon
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at Northwestern
Nebraska (3-0) won a back-and-forth game by being the last to score, getting a 34-yard touchdown run from Tommy Armstrong Jr. with 2:29 left.
Armstrong had 295 yards of total offense and four total TDs, throwing for three scores and adding 95 rushing yards. His three-yard TD pass to Jordan Westerkamp—who had two scores—with five seconds left in the first half pulled the Cornhuskers within six points, and they took their first lead early in the second half when Armstrong connected with Bryan Reimers from 22 yards out.
The Huskers were outgained 482-428 and allowed 336 rushing yards but still managed to pull out a close one. Last year they were 3-6 in games decided by eight or fewer points.
No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks
Poll points: 149
Last week's ranking: 25th
Week 3 result: Won 42-3 vs. Texas State
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 vs. Texas A&M (in Arlington, Texas)
Arkansas (3-0) had a relatively stress-free game after two close wins to start the season, jumping out to a 35-0 lead thanks to a balanced offensive attack.
Austin Allen threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-21 passing, while Rawleigh Williams ran for 121 yards and two scores. The Razorbacks defense held Texas State, which scored 56 in its first game, to 105 yards of total offense.
Arkansas' previous wins were by one over Louisiana Tech and in double overtime at TCU.
No. 15 Tennessee Volunteers
Poll points: 215
Last week's ranking: 14th
Week 3 result: Won 28-19 vs. Ohio
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 vs. Florida
Tennessee (3-0) posted another uneven performance yet never trailed against Ohio, with its defense doing just enough in the red zone at critical moments.
The Volunteers held the Bobcats to four first-half field goals, three coming at the end of long drives and another after an interception. Ohio's only touchdown came in the fourth quarter, while the Volunteers had one in each period. Joshua Dobbs accounted for three of them, including one on the ground.
Dobbs had 262 yards of total offense, throwing for 203 yards on 19-of-27 passing, including a 20-yard touchdown throw to Josh Malone with 11:07 left. Jalen Hurd added 61 rushing yards and a TD, and the Vols ran for a total of 201 yards.
No. 14 Miami (Florida) Hurricanes
Poll points: 216
Last week's ranking: 20th
Week 3 result: Won 45-10 at Appalachian State
Week 4 matchup: Bye
Miami (3-0) drew skepticism for being the first power-conference team to ever play at FBS newcomer Appalachian State, but then the Hurricanes played like Kidd Brewer Stadium was its home turf.
"When was the last time Miami has looked this good?" Bleacher Report's Brian Leigh wrote.
Mark Walton scored on an 80-yard touchdown run on the Hurricanes' first play from scrimmage, part of a 549-yard performance that included Brad Kaaya's 368 yards and three TDs on 21-of-27 passing. Stacy Coley caught two of Kaaya's TD throws, while Walton ran for 130 yards and two scores on 16 carries.
Miami scored 21 first-quarter points to put the game away early, holding Appalachian State to 241 yards of total offense.
No. 13 Florida State Seminoles
Poll points: 235
Last week's ranking: 2nd
Week 3 result: Lost 63-20 at Louisville
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at South Florida
Florida State (2-1, 0-1 ACC) suffered its worst loss ever in conference play, allowing the most points in school history in the process.
The Seminoles had no answer for Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who accounted for 362 yards and five touchdowns (four rushing). The Cardinals totaled 314 yards and seven scores on the ground. Florida State hadn't allowed more than 300 rushing yards since the 2015 Rose Bowl, when it fell 59-20 to Oregon.
FSU managed only 284 yards and turned it over twice, with quarterback Deondre Francois responsible for both giveaways. The freshman was 7-of-18 for 101 yards with a TD and an interception, and he was sacked five times.
No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs
Poll points: 241
Last week's ranking: 19th
Week 3 result: Won 28-27 at Missouri
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at Ole Miss
Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) escaped Columbia with a victory thanks to Isaiah McKenzie's third touchdown of the night.
McKenzie caught a 20-yard pass from Jacob Eason with one minute, 29 seconds left, giving him 166 all-purpose yards on the night. He had another 20-yard TD catch and also scored on a six-yard run.
Eason threw for 308 yards and three TDs on 29-of-55 passing to make up for a run game that averaged 2.7 yards per carry. Nick Chubb was held to 63 yards on 19 carries.
No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers
Poll points: 269
Last week's ranking: 11th
Week 3 result: Won 23-17 vs. Georgia State
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at Michigan State
Wisconsin (3-0) held off a winless Georgia State team that led 17-13 early in the fourth quarter thanks to a backup quarterback and some late defensive stops.
Alex Hornibrook replaced starter Bart Houston and threw for 122 yards on 8-of-12 passing with a one-yard touchdown to Kyle Penniston with 7:25 left. The Badgers added a 41-yard Rafael Gaglianone field goal with 3:36 to go and forced three-and-outs on Georgia State's final two possessions.
Gaglianone had three field goals, and Dare Ogunbowale ran for 65 yards and a TD for Wisconsin, which is set to play four consecutive ranked Big Ten teams to open conference play.
No. 10 Texas A&M Aggies
Poll points: 291
Last week's ranking: 15th (tie)
Week 3 result: Won 29-16 at Auburn
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 vs. Arkansas
Texas A&M (3-0, 1-0 SEC) won at Auburn for the third straight time despite having numerous drives stall in the red zone, several of which were saved by Daniel LaCamera field goals.
LaCamera was good from 46, 35, 31, 25 and 26 yards, more field goals than he'd had in his career to that point. Those triples complemented a five-yard touchdown pass by Trevor Knight to Josh Reynolds and a clutch 89-yard scoring run from Trayveon Williams.
Williams had 127 yards on eight carries, part of 231 rushing yards for the Aggies, who are 25-0 under coach Kevin Sumlin when gaining at least 200 yards on the ground. Knight threw for 247 yards and ran for 42.
No. 9 Washington Huskies
Poll points: 331
Last week's ranking: 8th (tie)
Week 3 result: Won 41-3 vs. Portland State
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at Arizona
Washington (3-0) dominated a third straight nonconference opponent, topping 40 points for the sixth consecutive game.
The Huskies led 28-0 at halftime—a lead they never came close to relinquishing. They got four passing touchdowns from Jake Browning, who was 12-of-19 for 163 yards. Chico McClatcher was on the receiving end of two of those scores.
Myles Gaskin ran for 93 yards and a TD, and the Washington defense held Portland State to 182 yards, including just 34 on the ground.
No. 8 Michigan State Spartans
Poll points: 353
Last week's ranking: 12th
Week 3 result: Won 36-28 at Notre Dame
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 vs. Wisconsin
Michigan State (2-0) scored 36 consecutive points to win in South Bend for the first time since 2007.
After spotting Notre Dame a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter, the Spartans controlled the game thanks to two passing touchdowns from Tyler O'Connor and three rushing scores, two from Gerald Holmes. Holmes ran for 100 yards, while LJ Scott added 98, and O'Connor was 19-of-26 for 241 yards along with 43 rushing yards.
The Spartans held Notre Dame to 57 rushing yards but allowed 344 passing yards and a late Fighting Irish surge that turned a 29-point lead into an eight-point edge.
Michigan State snapped a three-game losing streak to Notre Dame.
No. 7 Houston Cougars
Poll points: 392
Last week's ranking: 6th
Week 3 result: Won 40-16 at Cincinnati
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at Texas State
Houston (3-0, 1-0 American) opened defense of its conference title by erupting for 28 fourth-quarter points after falling behind by four.
Consecutive pick-sixes by Steven Taylor and Howard Wilson sealed the victory after Greg Ward Jr. scored on a pair of rushing TDs earlier in the quarter. Ward, who missed the Cougars' previous game with a shoulder injury, threw for 326 yards and a TD but was intercepted twice in addition to running for 73 yards.
Houston gained 506 yards but had three turnovers, though its defense also recorded three takeaways and a safety. It also held Cincinnati to 30 rushing yards on 25 carries.
No. 6 Stanford Cardinal
Poll points: 395
Last week's ranking: 7th
Week 3 result: Won 27-10 vs. USC
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at UCLA
Stanford (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) won its third straight game against the Trojans thanks to solid defense and another great all-around effort from Christian McCaffrey.
McCaffrey accounted for 238 of the Cardinal's 404 yards of total offense and finished with 260 all-purpose yards with with two touchdowns. He ran for 165 yards and a score on 30 carries and added a 56-yard TD catch.
Stanford's defense held USC to its fewest points in the series since a 23-9 loss in 1992.
No. 5 Michigan Wolverines
Poll points: 419 (one first-place vote)
Last week's ranking: 5th
Week 3 result: Won 45-28 vs. Colorado
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 vs. Penn State
Michigan (3-0) got punched in the mouth early and trailed in the second half before taking control to wrap up nonconference play unbeaten.
The Wolverines were down 14-0 just over three minutes into the game and were behind 21-7 late in the first quarter before scoring three times in eight minutes in the second quarter for a 24-21 halftime edge. After Colorado went ahead 28-24 less than a minute into the third quarter, Michigan quickly retook the lead and scored the game's final 21 points.
A pair of special teams touchdowns aided Michigan, with Grant Perry returning a blocked punt six yards in the first quarter and Jabrill Peppers bringing back a punt 54 yards for six in the fourth quarter. In between, the Wolverines got TD runs from Jehu Chesson, Ty Isaac and De'Veon Smith and a 45-yard TD pass from Wilton Speight to Amara Darboh.
No. 4 Clemson Tigers
Poll points: 444 (one first-place vote)
Last week's ranking: 4th
Week 3 result: Won 59-0 vs. South Carolina State
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 22 at Georgia Tech
Clemson (3-0) rebounded from last week's unimpressive six-point win over Troy in dominant fashion, scoring 31 first-quarter points and recording its fourth shutout in the last 27 games.
Deshaun Watson completed 12 of 15 passes for 152 yards and three scores, while Ray-Ray McCloud—who infamously let go of the ball just before crossing the goal line on a punt return the week before—caught two TD passes. Tavien Feaster and Wayne Gallman added rushing TDs.
The Tigers had 555 yards and held South Carolina State to 102 yards, forcing two turnovers, which included Denzel Johnson's fumble recovery in the end zone after a Bulldogs player tried to toss the ball to an official on a kickoff before taking a knee.
No. 3 Louisville Cardinals
Poll points: 448 (one first-place vote)
Last week's ranking: 10th
Week 3 result: Won 63-20 vs. Florida State
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 at Marshall
Louisville (3-0, 2-0 ACC) proved its early blowout wins over Charlotte and Syracuse weren't flukes, demolishing Florida State and putting itself firmly in the Atlantic Division and national championship races. And if he wasn't already, Lamar Jackson is the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.
Jackson tallied 362 yards of total offense and five total touchdowns—four of those rushing. In three games, he's accounted for 18 TDs, including 10 rushing scores. And he's earning praise from all comers, including a former superstar college quarterback whom he's previously been compared to.
"Lamar Jackson 5x better than what I was at V-Tech," former Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick tweeted.
The Cardinals handed Florida State its worst-ever ACC loss and scored the most points of any team ever against the Seminoles, racking up 530 yards and holding the 'Noles to 284.
Brandon Radcliff ran for 118 yards and a TD, and Jaire Alexander added a 69-yard punt return score.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Poll points: 475 (two first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 3rd
Week 3 result: Won 45-24 at Oklahoma
Week 4 matchup: Bye
Ohio State (3-0) had to wait a little before getting started on a thoroughly dominant road win at Oklahoma, a game that started more than 90 minutes late because of lightning in the area. Once the skies cleared, it was the Buckeyes who displayed thunder on the field.
"We're only one-fourth into the 2016 season, but Ohio State no longer looks like an unknown," Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod wrote. "Rather, the Buckeyes seem to possess the familiar feel of an Urban Meyer team that could once again find itself on top of the college football world at season's end."
J.T. Barrett threw four touchdown passes—all to Noah Brown, including a “Catch of the Year” candidate in which he pinned the ball against a defender's back—and accounted for 226 yards of total offense while contributing to a run game that pounded out 291 yards. Mike Weber had 123 yards, while Curtis Samuel ran for 98 with a TD.
Samuel's 36-yard TD run gave OSU a 7-0 lead, followed by Jerome Baker's 68-yard interception-return score. The Buckeyes intercepted Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield twice, giving them nine picks in three games, with four resulting in TDs.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Poll points: 490 (15 first-place votes)
Last week's ranking: 1st
Week 3 result: Won 48-43 at Ole Miss
Week 4 matchup: Sept. 24 vs. Kent State
Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) exacted revenge for losses to Ole Miss in the previous two seasons, but not before digging itself a big early hole that its defense and special teams helped climbed out of.
The Crimson Tide got three non-offensive touchdowns during a 45-6 run that took them from down 24-3 late in the first half to up 48-30 with 5:28 to go. Eddie Jackson returned a punt 85 yards for a TD with 1:05 left in the second quarter, 65 seconds after Calvin Ridley scored on a six-yard run. In the second half, Da'Ron Payne returned a fumble three yards for a TD, and Jonathan Allen had a 75-yard pick-six.
Ole Miss made a late surge with 13 points in eight seconds, recovering an onside kick in between, but 'Bama's ground game enabled it to run out the clock. The Tide ran for 334 yards, including 146 from quarterback Jalen Hurts (who also threw for 158 yards) and 144 with a TD from Damien Harris.
Alabama has now won 15 consecutive games dating back to last September's home loss to Ole Miss.
All slides written by Brian J. Pedersen. Follow the author on Twitter @realBJP.