College Football Rankings 2017: Bleacher Report's Week 4 Top 25

Brad Shepard@@Brad_ShepardFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2017

Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) is brought down by Louisville's Dorian Etheridge, front right, and Trumaine Washington (15) as he crosses the goal line during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

Well, Week 3 of college football saw convincing victories from the teams at the top of the poll, a last-second Hail Mary win in a rivalry game, a few near-upsets, a couple actual upsets and a resounding prime-time statement from the Clemson Tigers. 

Heck, even Vanderbilt beat a nationally ranked nonconference opponent (Kansas State) for the first time since 1946. Yep, this week of college football had it all, including some movement in our top 25 poll.

Bleacher Report's panel of expertsMatt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Greg Wallacevoted on the action. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.

Here is our Week 4 poll:

  • 1. Alabama (last week: 1)
  • 2. Clemson (3)
  • 3. Oklahoma (2)
  • 4. Penn State (5)
  • 5. Oklahoma State (6)
  • 6. USC (4)
  • 7. Washington (7)
  • 8. Wisconsin (T-10)
  • 9. Georgia (13)
  • 10. Ohio State (9)
  • 11. Florida State (8)
  • 12. Michigan (T-10)
  • 13. Virginia Tech (16)
  • 14. Miami (16)
  • T-15. Auburn (18)
  • T-15. Mississippi State (NR)
  • 17. TCU (T-23)
  • 18. LSU (12)
  • 19. Louisville (15)
  • 20. Oregon (21)
  • 21. West Virginia (19)
  • 22. South Florida (25)
  • 23. Washington State (22)
  • 24. Maryland (NR)
  • T-25. Florida (NR)
  • T-25. Memphis (NR)


Who's Hot: Clemson Tigers

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 09:  Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers raises his arms in a 'v' during the closing minutes of the Tigers' football game against the Auburn Tigersat Memorial Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Phot
Mike Comer/Getty Images

The defending national champions are playing like it.

Even without Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman, Jordan Leggett, Carlos Watkins, Ben Boulware and others, head coach Dabo Swinney is proving his recruiting victories equal wins on the football field. It's just a bunch of new stars emerging for Clemson.

A week after a dominant defensive performance highlighted by 11 sacks in a win over Auburn, the Tigers went on the road to tackle Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville. It wasn't much of a battle, even though it was primed to be. 

The Tigers wound up cruising to a 47-21 win that even included a Swinney smile late in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.

Though Clemson controlled the game, it got out of hand with nine minutes left in the third quarter. That's when a huge run by Jackson was called back with a chop block behind the play. Immediately after, Tigers defensive back Dorian O'Daniel baited Jackson into an interception.

He returned it 44 yards for a touchdown to give Clemson a 26-7 lead. After that, the waves of fresh Tigers on both sides of the ball kept pouring it on. With tons of depth at the skill positions, one of the best defensive lines in the nation and superb coaching, Clemson is for real again.

The Tigers appear to be the ACC favorite and an early season quality pick to head back to the College Football Playoff. The past two weeks have been an impressive display that Swinney's brand is alive and well, even without Watson.


Who's Not: SEC pretenders

Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

So much was made this week of LSU pass-rusher Arden Key's return to the field, but he didn't matter one bit as the Tigers went on the road to Starkville and were manhandled 37-7 by Nick Fitzgerald, Aeris Williams and Mississippi State.

There are going to be a lot of folks on the bayou unhappy with coach Ed Orgeron, especially considering LSU dealt with the same old offensive issues and had no answer for Dan Mullen's play-calling.

The loss was ugly and thorough, and it led to plenty of Coach O criticism like this tweet from USA Today columnist Dan Wolken:

Speaking of wart-filled games, Tennessee made a season's worth of mistakes in a 26-20 road loss to Florida.

The biggest came on the final play when the Gators found yet another wild-and-wacky way to win over the Vols when UT let Tyrie Cleveland behind the defense and Feleipe Franks hit him with a 63-yard Hail Mary for the game-winner.

That play was college football doing college football things.

That play covered the same distance as Antonio Callaway's catch-and-run that proved to be the decisive play for the Gators the last time Tennessee traveled to Gainesville.

After some puzzling offensive play calls—all seven plays inside Florida's 10-yard line were of the passing variety, including a single completion, which went for a loss of one, and an interception—coach Butch Jones will feel the pressure ramp up considerably in Knoxville.

It seems Jones forgot he has running back John Kelly, who had 19 carries for 141 yards and a touchdown. The inexplicable calls had everybody baffled.

Oh, by the way, Auburn didn't turn any heads in a lackluster 24-10 win against Mercer, either. So plenty of SEC fanbases went to bed frustrated with their coaches.

At least Vanderbilt (yes, that Vanderbilt) upset Kansas State in Nashville to set up a battle of unbeatens with Alabama next week.


Fun fact:  Oklahoma State's weapon cabinet is full

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 16: Mason Rudolph #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys celebrates after a touchdown by Dillon Stoner #17 (not pictured) during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on September 16, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pen
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

In case you didn't already know that Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph is a stud and the stable of playmakers that Mike Gundy possesses in his arsenal is vast, all you needed to do was watch Saturday's dismantling of Pittsburgh.

"We wanted to come out and blow the top off this thing," Rudolph told the Associated Press, via USA Today.

Mission accomplished.

The Cowboys reached the end zone on their first seven possessions in a 59-21 rout of the Panthers, and for the first time in 12 years, an FBS team had four receivers with 100 or more receiving yards. 

Jalen McCleskey led OSU with seven catches for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Star senior James Washington added 124 yards, Marcell Ateman had 109 and Dillon Stoner added 100.

One of their other playmakers, LSU transfer Tyron Johnson, didn't make the trip after being suspended for a violation of team rules. Didn't matter.

The Cowboys continued to roll, making Bedlam versus Oklahoma on November 4 look even more fun if this keeps up. Rudolph, in the process, may have seized the way-too-early Heisman Trophy lead from Jackson.


What to watch for: Week 4 upset specials

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 16:  Wide receiver Jackson Anthrop #33 of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrates with teammates after making a catch for a touchdown during the 1st half of the game against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on Septe
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With no real marquee games on the schedule next weekend (unless you count TCU at Oklahoma State), we're forced to strain our eyes looking deep into the schedule for possible upsets. Just when you think college football is going to lull us to sleep for a week, crazy things unfold. 

Here are some options for that to happen.

North Carolina State at Florida State (noon ET): The Deondre Francois-less Seminoles have seen a game canceled against Louisiana Monroe because of Hurricane Irma, followed by a bye week. Now they have to return to normalcy against a strong defense. This may be tough.

Toledo at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET): After a last-second, 54-51 win over Tulsa at the Glass Bowl on Saturday, the Rockets are a dangerous team capable of slaying a giant like the Hurricanes. They also have experienced a long layoff because of the storm, too. Can Toledo go from beating the Golden Hurricane to the Hurricanes? It could.

Michigan at Purdue (4 p.m. ET): The Wolverines won in a lackluster performance against a difficult-to-defend Air Force on Saturday, and Jeff Brohm's Boilermakers went on the road and trounced Missouri, 35-3. This is a sneaky-tough road game for Jim Harbaugh's young team.

Mississippi State at Georgia (7 p.m. ET): It may not even be considered an upset for the Starkville Bulldogs to go on the road and beat the Bulldogs from UGA after Saturday's resounding home upset against LSU. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the conference.

Washington at Colorado (10 p.m. ET): In a rematch of last year's Pac-12 championship game, the Buffaloes would love nothing more than a measure of revenge. They're young and have a lot of new faces on defense, but a 3-0 start proves they haven't fallen off too much.


Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of Sports Reference and, and recruiting data courtesy of Scout.

Brad Shepard covers college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @Brad_Shepard.


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