Winners and Losers of the AP College Football Top 25 in Week 4
Not only did Week 4 of the 2020 college football season bring the return of the SEC, but it included a whole bunch of mayhem, too.
Upsets reigned supreme Saturday as both No. 3 Oklahoma and sixth-ranked LSU fell to unranked teams. Those surprises resulted in a couple of dramatic moves in the AP Top 25, which still features Clemson and Alabama at the top.
Yes, a list of winners and losers tends to reflect the literal results of the weekend. However, a disappointing showing in victory can also result in a drop—especially for a non-power-conference team.
And since AP Top 25 voters could include Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and MAC teams, their returns sparked more changes.
Loser: Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky moved the ball consistently in the first half but only scored on the opening drive. The other three possessions all reached Auburn's 39-yard line or better, but penalties, negative plays, a failed fourth down and a goal-line interception ruined them.
The wasted chances cost the 'Cats in a big way.
Auburn's defense played much better after halftime, and a fumble recovery and UK's failed fake punt in the fourth quarter changed the game. The Tigers' lead quickly jumped from 15-13 to 29-13, and Kentucky's offense had no answer for the deficit.
The Wildcats have a chance to return with a victory over Ole Miss next weekend but dropped out of the Top 25.
Winner: Big Ten and Oregon
One major change is the AP allowed voters to consider all teams scheduled to play this season.
As a result, five programs from the Big Ten and Pac-12 entered the Top 25 this week. Ohio State headlines the group at No. 6, and Penn State rounded out the latest Top 10.
- Ohio State (6)
- Penn State (10)
- Oregon (14)
- Wisconsin (19)
- Michigan (23)
We'll spend more time on these programs at a later time, considering the start dates for those conferences are about a month away. Nevertheless, they are both notable and impactful this week.
Loser: Oklahoma Sooners
With less than three minutes left in the third quarter, Oklahoma took a comfortable 35-14 lead on Kansas State.
But then, the offense imploded. And OU's defense didn't provide a whole lot of help, either.
Oklahoma's next five drives included 20 plays and only 50 yards, resulting in three punts and two turnovers. K-State, meanwhile, scored three straight touchdowns, and Blake Lynch kicked a go-ahead 50-yard field goal to ultimately give the Wildcats the 38-35 win.
"It's a results business and we failed," Sooners defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said, per Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman.
Dropping to 1-1 on the season, Oklahoma fell 15 positions from third to 18th—its lowest AP ranking since 2016.
Winner: Miami Hurricanes
The U is not back.
But it's nearly impossible not to be impressed with the 'Canes, who improved to 3-0 with a 52-10 demolition of rival Florida State. Never before in this rivalry had either team surpassed the 50-point mark, and it was Miami's second-largest margin of victory.
Star quarterback D'Eriq King threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns, adding 65 rushing yards. Cam'Ron Harris and Donald Chaney Jr. both scored twice on the ground, and Miami finished a combined 14-of-22 on third and fourth down. The defense held FSU to just 4.5 yards per play and intercepted three passes.
Miami jumped from No. 12 nationally to eighth, leaping past Oklahoma, LSU, Texas, Texas A&M and North Carolina. (Ohio State entered the poll at No. 6.)
After an open weekend next Saturday, the 'Canes will travel to top-ranked Clemson. And we'll find out if The U is actually back.
Loser: Pitt Panthers
While most ACC attention is centered on Clemson, Notre Dame and Miami, Pitt has quietly put together a terrific start to 2020.
Following a blowout of Austin Peay and strong defensive showing to beat Syracuse, the Panthers upended 24th-ranked Louisville 23-20. They allowed just 223 yards, forced three turnovers and limited the Cardinals to a 2-of-13 mark on third and fourth downs.
"I know the Steel Curtain is the Pittsburgh Steelers but today [we were] dominant up front," Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi told reporters.
Yet because Big Ten and Pac-12 programs returned to the poll, 3-0 Pitt dipped from 21st to 24th.
Winner: Mississippi State Bulldogs
Well, hello, Mississippi State.
Entering the season unranked and with relatively low expectations, the Bulldogs pulled off a shocker with a 44-34 triumph at LSU in Mike Leach's debut. Stanford transfer K.J. Costello scorched the rebuilt LSU defense for 623 yards and five touchdowns, hitting three targets for 120-plus yards apiece.
"We couldn't stay with those guys," LSU coach Ed Orgeron told reporters afterward. High praise from the reigning national champs, no?
Mississippi State also put together a decent game defensively, recording seven sacks to help atone for the offense's four turnovers. Plus, the unit ceded just 125 yards on 31 non-sack rushing attempts.
After failing to crack the Top 25 anytime in 2019, a return to the AP poll at No. 16 is another cause for celebration in Starkville.
Loser: Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns
Louisiana dropped from No. 19 because of two factors.
On the field, the Ragin' Cajuns have now barely survived two Sun Belt opponents since upsetting Iowa State. They edged Georgia State 34-31 in overtime last week and clipped Georgia Southern 20-18 on a 53-yard field goal as time expired Saturday.
Because of the shaky performances lately, Louisiana likely wouldn't have received as many votes anyway. Similar to Pitt, though, the return of the Big Ten and Pac-12 cost the team.
After a couple of weeks in the poll, the Ragin' Cajuns are once again unranked. At least they're 3-0!