College Football Power Rankings after Week 4

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Sunday, September 26, 2021

After a scare atop the College Football Power Rankings last week, theAlabama Crimson Tideonce again proved why they're the team to beat until further notice.

Both Alabama and Georgia rolled to big victories in Week 4 to establish a clear top 2.

Oregon and Iowa both underperformed as heavy favorites, but their unblemished records keep them in the top 5.

Given the uneven performances from some top teams, Penn State climbs to its highest position in this season's rankings, while Arkansas is the biggest riser of the week after a convincing 20-10 win over Texas A&M in the Southwest Classic.

Notre Dame also lands in the top 10 following a 41-13 victory against Wisconsin at Soldier Field in Chicago. The loss dropped the Badgers out of the Power Rankings, but they were far from the only team bounced after a week of upsets.

Clemson (!), Iowa State, North Carolina and Kansas State all fall out of the rankings following losses, and we haven't even hit October.

With the action of Week 4 behind us, it's time to take a look at college football's Power Rankings.

1.Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0)

If there were any worries about Alabama looking ahead to Ole Miss next week, they were put to bed within seconds on Saturday night when Jameson Williams took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown against Southern Miss. By the time the first half was over, the Tide had scored six touchdowns and the game was well in hand. And while it was impressive to see Bryce Young continue to show a strong command of the offense, it was the running backs that stood out most as Jase McClellan caught a touchdown pass and Roydell Williams went over 100 yards rushing in the first half. -- Alex Scarborough

2.Georgia Bulldogs (4-0)

The hardest part for Georgia on Saturday was answering the early morning wakeup call at the hotel for the noon ET game. The Dawgs decimated Vanderbilt 62-0 in what was their largest margin of victory ever on the road against an SEC opponent. All you really need to know about this game is that midway through the fourth quarter, Georgia had 62 points and Vanderbilt had 62 total yards. The Dawgs scored touchdowns on their first five possessions and have now scored 158 points in their last three games. -- Chris Low

3.Oregon Ducks (4-0)

Oregon's 41-19 home win against Arizona wasn't as easy as the final score indicates. The Ducks led just 24-19 going into the fourth quarter, which, regardless of how they closed, is concerning. Arizona came into the game 0-3 and had just lost to FCS Northern Arizona the previous week. The game featured the return for star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, but he left the game early due to another injury. It's unclear what his prognosis is. -- Kyle Bonagura

4. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0)

After such an emotional win the week before against Auburn, Penn State might have been susceptible for a letdown. But the Nittany Lions took care of business from the outset against FCS foe Villanova in racing out to a 38-3 lead and winning easily, 38-17, to remain unbeaten. Sean Clifford passed for 401 yards and threw four touchdown passes to three different players. Penn State has yet to allow more than two touchdowns in a game this season. -- Low

5. Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0)

Down unexpectedly at halftime, Kirk Ferentz's Hawkeyes rallied to win semi-comfortably, 24-14, against a spirited Colorado State. Spencer Petras (15-for-23 for 224 yards, two TDs and one interception) was able to make enough plays to cover for a shaky run game, and after giving up touchdowns on back-to-back CSU drives, the vaunted Iowa defense allowed only 90 yards in the second half. The run troubles are disconcerting for a team that wants to lean so heavily on its ground game, but a mature Hawkeyes team made the plays it need to make and will head into a tough Big Ten stretch with unbeaten record intact. -- Bill Connelly

6.Cincinnati Bearcats (4-0)

The Bearcats had a bye week before heading to Notre Dame for what should be their most difficult test of the regular season. Quarterback Desmond Ridder is coming off an uneven performance in a win against Indiana during which his interception and fumble in the first half led to a 14-0 Hoosier lead. But his two second-half touchdowns and two-point conversion attempt were critical in the comeback. Now that they know they can win on the road, they have to eliminate the turnovers and mistakes like false starts to do it again against even better competition. --Heather Dinich

7. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-0)

The Razorbacks are 4-0 with three wins over Texas teams -- Rice, No. 15 Texas and No. 7 Texas A&M -- and Sam Pittman might get a statue built by the end of the season if he keeps this up. The Hogs started pushing the Aggies around from the start, forcing A&M to bail out of its run-game comfort zone and play catch-up. Treylon Burks caught six of Arkansas' nine completed passes for 167 yards and a touchdown, they ran for 197 yards against the Aggies' stout defensive front and the Hogs' three-man defensive front caused problems all day. Just like against Texas, this wasn't a fluke. These Razorbacks are a tough bunch. -- Dave Wilson

8.Oklahoma Sooners (4-0)

The Sooners survived...again. There's still something to say for simply winning, and Oklahoma has done that in all four of its games this season, the latest a 16-13 escape Saturday at home against West Virginia. The Sooners had to drive from their own 8 in the final minutes to set upGabe Brkicfor his game-winning 30-yard field goal, his third field goal of the game. Oklahoma's only touchdown came early in the first quarter, making it two weeks in a row that the Sooners have struggled to score points. But on the flip side, Oklahoma has held its past three opponents to 16 or fewer points. -- Low

9.Florida Gators (3-1)

What Dan Mullen has done in transforming Florida from a passing juggernaut to a rushing juggernaut in less than a year has been remarkable to watch. Though the Gators got off to a sluggish start, they turned it on in the second half in a 38-14 win over Tennessee. Emory Jones had his best game as the starting quarterback, going 21-of-27 for 209 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 144 yards. Florida ran for 283 yards -- a week after gaining over 240 against Alabama -- and averaged 7.1 yards per carry. Anthony Richardson missed a second straight game but in the end, Florida was best served to rest him for another week. -- Andrea Adelson

10.Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0)

Are the Irish actually good? The answer should come soon with their upcoming schedule, but Notre Dame knows how to win in different ways. After a rough first two games, the defense is picking up its play and held Wisconsin to 13 points Saturday while forcing five turnovers. Special teams provided the biggest lift as Chris Tyree's 96-yard kick return touchdown early in the fourth quarter turned a deficit into a lead and completely changed the tone of the game. Despite losing quarterback Jack Coan, Notre Dame got enough from Drew Pyne and won a tight game very comfortably to reach 4-0. -- Adam Rittenberg

11. Ole Miss (3-0)

The Rebels have been making a steady climb in the polls, but Saturday, Oct. 2, against Alabama is the first true test. After lopsided wins against Louisville, Austin Peay and Tulane, Ole Miss has a chance to not only earn the best win in the country, but also position itself atop the SEC West standings with a shot at the playoff. The Rebels' defense seems to have made significant strides from a year ago, holding opponents to under 21 points per game and 31.1% of third-down conversions. Whether they can sustain it against the likes of Bryce Young will be answered soon. -- Dinich

12.Ohio State Buckeyes (3-1)

After losing to Oregon and then struggling to put away Tulsa last week, it was fair to wonder how Ohio State would bounce back against Akron. But it turns out those fears were unwarranted even though CJ Stroud was out at quarterback nursing an injury. After incompletions on his first two pass attempts, Kyle McCord did just fine, completing 10 of his next 12 passes for 190 yards and two scores. The defense rose to the occasion, too, with four first-half sacks and a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. -- Scarborough

13. BYU Cougars (4-0)

After its 3-0 tour through the Pac-12 South, the Cougars built a big lead and hung on to beat USF 35-27. Possessions were at a premium. BYU got the ball just three times in the second half -- touchdown, missed field goal, victory formation -- and couldn't stop USF. The Bulls also had just three possessions and scored touchdowns on all three, including a 19-play, 94-yard drive to cut the deficit to one score. -- Bonagura

14.Texas A&M Aggies (3-1)

Against Arkansas, the Aggies got confirmation of what they learned against Colorado: This offense isn't going to get them where they want to go. Of Zach Calzada's 20 completions, 11 went to running backs Devon Achane (six receptions for 18 yards) and Isaiah Spiller (five for 26). A&M managed just 272 yards of offense, 67 of that coming on one breakaway touchdown run by Spiller. The defense held its own, but still got pushed around at times by the Hogs, who had 443 total yards. But holding a team to 20 points should be enough to win with their offensive skill-position weapons. The Aggies have got to figure out how to utilize all the talent they've stockpiled at wide receiver. -- Wilson

15. Michigan Wolverines(4-0)

The Wolverines got off to a good start against Rutgers, going up 20-3 in the first half. The offense sputtered, however, in the second half with four straight drives without a first down. That opened the door for Rutgers to make a comeback, but Michigan's defense eventually made the necessary stops to give Michigan the 20-13 win. Michigan gave up 352 total yards of offense while gaining only 275. Quarterback Cade McNamara had only one completion in the second half and finished the game completing nine-of-16 passes for 163 yards. Michigan came away with the win, but the players said they weren't satisfied with how they got the win. -- VanHaaren

16.Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (4-0)

UMass is one of the worst teams in FBS, and Jamey Chadwell's Chants treated the Minutemen like it. Grayson McCall went an easy 10-for-14 for 162 yards and two scores, helped Coastal to a 36-0 halftime lead and sat out the entire second half as the Chants cruised, 53-3. Total yards: Coastal 543, UMass 158. Coastal is 4-0 for the second straight year and will be a significant favorite in its next two games until an Oct. 20 trip to Appalachian State. -- Bill Connelly

17.Michigan State Spartans (4-0)

The Spartans were in a back-and-forth tussle with Nebraska, that went all the way to overtime. Michigan State was up by three at the end of the first half, but struggled on offense in the second half with only 14 yards of offense. The offense got some help from the special teams when Jaylen Reed returned a Nebraska punt 62 yards for the game tying touchdown. The team took the game to overtime and came away with the win after an interception helped seal the win. -- VanHaaren

18. UCLA Bruins (3-1)

Dorian Thompson-Robinson rushed and passed for a pair of touchdowns as the Bruins bounced back with a 35-24 win against Stanford. Despite the loss to Fresno State last week, the Bruins look the part of the favorite in the Pac-12 South. Running backs Zach Charbonnet (25 carries, 209 yards) and Brittain Brown (8 for 65) both averaged over eight yards per carry against Stanford. -- Bonagura

19.Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-0)

Don't forget about Mike Gundy and the Cowboys, who are off to a 4-0 start and closed out their September schedule on Saturday with a 31-20 win over Kansas State at home. Spencer Sanders passed for 344 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a touchdown. Sanders was pumped to get senior receiver Tay Martin back after he was sidelined the previous two games with an injury. Sanders caught nine passes for 100 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown reception. Oklahoma State won despite being shut out in the second half. -- Low

20.Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-0)

The Demon Deacons have snuck into the top 25 after a 4-0 start that has been fueled by its fast, productive offense, aggressive front seven and winning the turnover battle. Wake Forest has 17 plays over 20 yards, and six of them came on Friday against Virginia. The Deacs scored on their first seven possessions and quarterback Sam Hartman threw three touchdown passes. The offense has a school-record 155 combined points in the first four games. The Deacs are also getting it done defensively. Against the Hoos, Wake Forest had seven sacks, the most under coach Dave Clawson. -- Dinich

21.Boston College Eagles (4-0)

The Eagles are off to their first 4-0 start since 2007 after holding off Missouri 41-34 in overtime in one of the best nonconference wins of the ACC all season. Once again, Pat Garwo III had a huge game, rushing for 175 yards and two touchdowns as BC dominated on the ground for 275 total yards. With starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec out, the BC running backs and offensive line have really carried the team, and QBDennis Grosel has done what he has needed to do to help keep the season on track. -- Adelson

22.Fresno State Bulldogs (3-1)

The Bulldogs trailed winless UNLV by five at halftime before turning in an explosive second half in a 38-30 win. Quarterback Jake Haener, who has quickly turned into one of the best in the country, completed 30-of-42 passes for 378 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Perhaps there was a hangover after last week's impressive win against UCLA but the Bulldogs figured it out in time and should be considered the Mountain West favorite. -- Bonagura

23.NC State Wolfpack (3-1)

The Wolfpack climb into the Power Rankings following one of the biggest victories for the program in recent history. NC State confused and frustrated No. 9 Clemson for most of the afternoon before outlasting the Tigers 27-21 in double overtime. Three missed field goals plagued the Wolfpack in regulation, but Devin Leary fired two touchdowns passes in overtime to lead NC State to the upset and into the rankings.-- Shea Carlson

24.Baylor Bears (4-0)

The Bears were a bit of a mystery after going 2-7 in 2020 during Dave Aranda's first season, followed by Aranda shaking up his coaching staff. Opening wins over Texas State, Texas Southern and Kansas this campaign didn't do much to answer any questions given the level of competition. But the Bears came through on Saturday with a win over No. 14 Iowa State, holding on for dear life and intercepting Cyclones QB Brock Purdy on a two-point conversion with 24 seconds left to preserve the 31-29 win. The Bears were outgained, 479 yards to 282; butTrestan Ebner's special teams heroics -- he had 168 yards on kick returns, including a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown -- put a dent in those numbers. Now, at 4-0, the Bears have raised some eyebrows. -- Wilson

25. Auburn Tigers (3-1)

The Tigers did everything they could to lose the game. There were turnovers and even a rare Anders Carlson missed field goal. And finally, after so many highs and lows with Bo Nix at quarterback, he was benched in favor of TJ Finley. The LSU transfer provided a much-needed spark for Auburn, completing 9-of-16 passes for 97 yards and the game-winning touchdown. There will surely be talk of a quarterback controversy in Auburn, but it appears that Finley has earned the right to lead the Tigers for one more week. And, as luck would have it, his first start at Auburn could come against his old team, LSU, on Saturday. -- Scarborough

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