We are a month into the college football season and it still seems like we have no idea who the best team in the country is. Ohio State seems like the easy choice but if it wasn’t for the preseason hype, they have not even been close to the most impressive team through four weeks of the season. These power rankings are based on what you have done so far this season and not what you are expected to do the rest of the year. So to give you an idea of what I look for, let’s take a look at a couple of the major factors.
Top 5 Wins of the Season: Ole Miss at Alabama, Stanford at USC, Northwestern vs. Stanford, Utah at Oregon, Utah vs. Michigan
Top 5 Strength of Records (in the Top 25): LSU, Oklahoma, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Utah
Bottom 5 Strength of Records (in the Top 25): Wisconsin, Baylor, Mississippi State, USC, Memphis
Top 5 Most Talented Teams: Ohio State, Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, TCU
Instinctive Top 5 Teams: Ole Miss, Notre Dame, UCLA, Ohio State, LSU
This is just a few of the things that I look at when making these power rankings. Of course, in the end, I believe that it is the number one team that would beat anyone else in the nation at a neutral site. Before we get into this week’s rankings, let’s take a look at what is in store for us this weekend.
SO. MUCH. FOOTBALL.
Fox Sports 1 kicks off the day at 11:00 am CST with a huge Big XII matchup between Oklahoma and West Virginia. If you have an extra television, I recommend turning on the B1Ggest of B1G games between Northwestern and Minnesota. That game can be seen on the Big Ten Network (of course) and might have 10 total points scored. Then if you want to fill your laptop with even more football, turn on TCU as they host Texas on ABC.
The afternoon gets going on ABC (or ESPN2 regionally) with Ohio State possibly facing a test in their conference opener at Indiana. That will have to go on the small TV though as Alabama travels to Georgia in the 2:30 CBS game. If you want your laptop filled, throw on Baylor and Texas Tech at Jerry World. The Red Raiders could get the upset that they barely missed last week.
The evening games will get started in the SEC when Ole Miss travels to the Swamp for a big showdown with Florida on ESPN. Just a half hour later, Mississippi State and Texas A&M kicks off on SEC Network. UCLA will kick off against Arizona State at around the same time on Fox.
There is all that before the game of the day even happens. Notre Dame travels to Clemson for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff in a showdown the Battle of Desean (DeShone Kizer vs. Deshaun Watson). This could end up having a major impact on the College Football Playoff.
So now that you all should be looking forward to a huge football weekend, let’s take a look at this week’s rankings. And what do you know, there’s a new team on top and a completely different CFP field.
Week 4 Top 25
1. LSU Tigers 3-0 (Last week: 7): Leonard Fournette has carried this team to the top of the rankings. Two SEC West wins to go along with a non-conference road win is an impressive way to open the season. Brandon Harris may not be ready for the big stage but he probably doesn’t have to be for a month. This week: Eastern Michigan, 6:00 pm CST, ESPNU
2. Ole Miss Rebels 4-0 (1): I know, I know. The SEC is overrated, whatever. The Rebels finally “struggled” against Vanderbilt last weekend but it was expected after the huge win in Tuscaloosa. Improvement will be needed, specifically Chad Kelly, against a Florida team that has a strong defense and won’t let you get away with bad throws. This week: at Florida, 6:00 pm CST, ESPN
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 4-0 (5): DeShone Kizer and C.J. Prosise have filled in nicely for injured stars and William Fuller may be the nation’s best receiver. The defense is still loaded with talent and a win this weekend may jump the Irish to the top of the list. This week: at 8 Clemson, 7:00 pm CST, ABC
4. Ohio State Buckeyes 4-0 (2): The Buckeyes and their stable of quarterbacks haven’t looked super impressive so far but they are still one of the nation’s best teams. The defense has stayed strong throughout the offensive inconsistencies and the game at Virginia Tech is still a quality win. This week: at Indiana, 11:00 am CST, ABC/ESPN2
5. UCLA Bruins 4-0 (4): The team that had arguably the best win of the week drops a spot in my rankings. The injuries definitely don’t help but they keep winning behind the arm of Josh Rosen and the legs of Paul Perkins. Which isn’t a bad combination. This week: Arizona State, 6:30 pm CST, FOX
6. Oklahoma Sooners 3-0 (12): Suddenly, the Sooners are my top team out of the Big XII and it really makes sense. Baker Mayfield has been one of the best signal callers in the country and the defense has shown signs of improvement. Wins at Tennessee and even Tulsa look pretty good early on. Now the conference play begins. This week: 14 West Virginia, 11:00 am CST, FS1
7. Alabama Crimson Tide 3-1 (9): The top 1-loss team comes as no surprise. The win against Wisconsin gets stronger each week and even Middle Tennessee State looks like a decent team. Jacob Coker and the offense has some things to figure out while the defense will be put to the test against a strong running game this weekend. This week: at 10 Georgia, 2:30 pm CST, CBS
8. Clemson Tigers 3-0 (10): Deshaun Watson and company took the week off but can take a major jump in the polls with a big game against Notre Dame. You never want to look ahead but if the Tigers win this one, the schedule favors a run at the playoff. This week: 3 Notre Dame, 7:00 pm CST, ABC
9. TCU Horned Frogs 3-0 (3): The three stars – Trevone Boykin, Josh Doctson and Aaron Green – connected for a miracle game-winning touchdown to beat Texas Tech last weekend. The defense lacks depth and apparently some execution as well but the offense is just as good as it was last season. This week: Texas, 11:00 am CST, ABC
10. Georgia Bulldogs 4-0 (6): Nick Chubb is one of the nation’s best backs and has been consistent behind a steady offensive line. Greyson Lambert has had a great season but it about to face a defense that is clearly the best Georgia has faced this year. This week: 7 Alabama, 2:30 pm CST, CBS
11. Texas A&M Aggies 4-0 (15): Kyle Allen led a comeback victory in the SEC opener with the help of star freshman wide receiver Christian Kirk. The defense held its own and coordinator John Chavis looks to continue the magical run this week. This week: 23 Mississippi State, 6:30 pm CST, SECN
12. Florida State Seminoles 3-0 (13): Everett Golson has shown some weaknesses but Dalvin Cook may be the only weapon the offense needs. Especially with a strong defense. This week: at Wake Forest, 2:30 pm CST, ESPN
13. Michigan State Spartans 4-0 (8): I said I wasn’t sold on Sparty last week and my new system reassured myself. We know how good the team can be but the non-conference wins have been less than impressive and the Oregon win doesn’t hold as much as it did in week two. This week: Purdue, 11:00 am CST, ESPN 2
14. Utah Utes 4-0 (19): Travis Wilson leads a very strong offense and Kyle Whittingham may be putting his name among the best coaches in America. The blowout win in Eugene was no fluke and they will get a chance to show even more throughout the Pac-12 season after their off week. This week: BYE
15. West Virginia Mountaineers 3-0 (20): Skyler Howard has proven himself at quarterback and has plenty of weapons at his disposal. The defense has proven themselves to be more than capable so far. This week: at 6 Oklahoma, 11:00 am CST, FS1
16. Florida Gators 4-0 (24): The Gators have kept up two winning streaks with impressive games against Kentucky and Tennessee. They seem like a true SEC East contender but the tests begin to get more difficult this week. This week: 2 Ole Miss, 6:00 pm CST, ESPN
17. Northwestern Wildcats 4-0 (16): This team wins ugly but they continue to win. They beat Ball State by just five points but the defense has been one of the nation’s best. Big Ten play starts this week and Northwestern wants to show they are a real threat. This week: Minnesota, 11:00 am CST, BTN
18. Stanford Cardinal 3-1 (23): Kevin Hogan has gotten on track and Christian McCaffrey is one of the nation’s most underrated running backs. Stanford may get away with the opening loss if they can keep up their winning ways. This week: Arizona, 9:30 pm CST, Pac-12 Network
19. USC Trojans 3-1 (NR): They bounced back with a huge win against Arizona State and are many people’s favorites in the Pac-12 still. The good news for USC: Cody Kessler is still the quarterback and they don’t have to play the Stanford offense again. This week: BYE
20. Baylor Bears 3-0 (11): The Bears are still a good, maybe great, football team but they haven’t been able to prove it yet. Seth Russell and company will get a chance to show how good they really are with a neutral site game against a team that made TCU struggle. This week: vs. Texas Tech in Arlington, 2:30 pm CST, ABC/ESPN2
21. Wisconsin Badgers 3-1 (21): Wisconsin could be a top-10 team if they never played the Alabama game. They’ve only allowed three total points in their other non-conference games and Joel Stave leads a very capable offense. This week: Iowa, 11:00 am CST, ESPN
22. Michigan Wolverines 3-1 (NR): This team looks completely different from the team that lost to Utah – which now looks like a good loss. The defense is one of the nation’s best and Michigan could be among the Big Ten’s favorites. This week: at Maryland, 11:00 am CST, BTN
23. Mississippi State Bulldogs 3-1 (NR): Dak Prescott is as good as ever and that two-point loss to LSU doesn’t look too bad. A win this weekend could put the Bulldogs near the top of the SEC. This week: at 11 Texas A&M, 6:30 pm CST, SECN
24. California Bears 4-0 (NR): Jared Goff leads a high-powered offense and may make the Bears a force in the Pac-12.They are about to go through the gauntlet of the conference in October but for now, they deserve this spot. This week: Washington State, 3:00 pm CST, Pac-12 Network
25. Memphis Tigers 4-0 (25): Paxton Lynch led the Tigers to a big win against Cincinnati, putting the Tigers in a prime spot to win the AAC. An undefeated run won’t get Memphis in the playoff but crashing a big bowl game is a reachable goal. This week: at USF, 6:00 pm CST Friday, ESPN2
1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
2. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
3. Cody Kessler, QB, USC
4. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
5. William Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
6. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
7. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
8. Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
9. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
10. C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame
Caleb Turrentine is a contributor and a show host at WVUA-FM. Follow him on Twitter, @CalebTurrentine.