NCAA Football Rankings 2018: Week 4 College Top 25 Standings Shakeup Predictions

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2018

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron talks to his team during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Southeastern Louisiana in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. LSU won 31-0. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

We were nearly treated to a major shakeup in the college football rankings, as TCU held a 21-13 lead over Ohio State late in the third quarter Saturday. But the Buckeyes poured in 20 unanswered points in a span of five minutes and cruised to a 40-28 victory over the Horned Frogs.

Auburn was the only team in the top 10 to lose Saturday, but a close defeat against LSU likely won't drop Auburn too far in the rankings—especially since Gus Malzahn's squad already has a top-10 victory of its own against Washington.

Most of the shakeup in the latest rankings is likely to occur on the back end of the Top 25 thanks to losses by TCU, Boise State and USC. Here's a look at how the new Associated Press Top 25 could look when the rankings are released on Sunday afternoon:

           

1. Alabama (Last week: 1)

2. Clemson (2)

3. Georgia (3)

4. Ohio State (4)

5. Oklahoma (5)

6. LSU (12)

7. Notre Dame (8)

8. Stanford (9)

9. Penn State (11)

10. Auburn (7)

11. Washington (10)

12. Virginia Tech (13)

13. West Virginia (14)

14. Mississippi State (16)

15. Wisconsin (6)

16. UCF (18)

17. Oklahoma State (24)

18. TCU (15)

19. Michigan (19)

20. Oregon (20)

21. Miami (21)

22. Boise State (17)

23. Texas A&M (NR)

24. Boston College (NR)

25. Colorado (NR)

            

LSU

Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

It's hard to explain how LSU is 3-0, especially when looking at its offensive performance. Head coach Ed Orgeron deserves a lot of credit for taking an imperfect roster and preparing his squad play against the best teams in the nation.

According to ESPN's Chris Fallica, LSU's victory over Auburn was historic:

Through three games, quarterback Joe Burrow is completing just 46.2 percent of his passes, yet somehow the Tigers have knocked off Miami and Auburn.

For LSU to keep the ball rolling on this impressive season, Burrow needs to play at a more consistent level, but style points don't matter when playing a team like Auburn. With arguably the most impressive resume in the country, LSU should rise considerably and likely deserves a spot in the top 10. 

Burrow will have time over the next two gameweeks—at home against Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss—to work out some kinks and hopefully get a better feel for the LSU offense. 

The Tigers likely won't be tested again until October 6 at Florida, and if they can survive their trip to The Swamp, a much-anticipated showdown with Georgia awaits the following weekend. 

            

Oklahoma State

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Expectations for Oklahoma State were tempered this season after losing one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in school history in Mason Rudolph and James Washington.

The Cowboys entered the season just outside the AP Top 25 and only climbed to their spot at No. 24 after Week 2 thanks to losses by other teams. Wins over South Alabama and Missouri State were not exactly resume builders.

On Saturday, however, Oklahoma State proved that it has the talent to pick up where Washington and Rudolph left off. Led by quarterback Taylor Cornelius and running back Justice Hill, the Cowboys racked up more than 400 yards of offense and cruised to a 44-21 victory over Boise State.

Now that Oklahoma State has a win over a respected program on the resume, the Cowboys should start to make a more legitimate ascent up the rankings.

            

USC

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans reacts to a no call by the officials during an NCAA football game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Thearon
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Apparently, most AP voters didn't stay up late enough to watch USC's offense sleep walk through a 17-3 loss against Stanford in Week 2 because the Trojans remained ranked at No. 22 in the previous poll.

Hopefully Texas' 37-14 drubbing of the Trojans on Saturday night opened some eyes to the reality that this USC squad is in rebuilding mode.

With true freshman JT Daniels at quarterback, USC fans have a reason to be optimistic about the future, but this is not the Trojans' year.

The main issue for USC seems to be the offensive line, which has struggled to clear room in the run game. Despite the talented Stephen Carr in the backfield, USC managed just 3.1 yards per carry against Stanford and was then held to an embarrassing minus-five yards on the ground against Texas. 

A return to the Top 25 probably isn't realistic for USC this season, as the immediate road ahead features tough home games against Washington State and Colorado and road trips to Arizona and Utah. Given the way USC has performed through three weeks, not one of those games looks like an easy win. 

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