A new team tops the college football Power Rankings after Week 4, and Mississippi State makes a big rise.

By Martin Rickman
September 23, 2014

At the tail end of fall camp, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris told SI.com he felt like the Tigers were “four or five plays away” from having a special season. He couldn’t predict when or where those plays would occur, but he had a pretty good idea they’d happen in the first few weeks of the season, when Clemson was set to play Georgia and Florida State.

In the Tigers’ 23-17 loss to No. 1 Florida State on Saturday, it was easy to see what Morris meant, thought not in the way he had hoped -- like when C.J. Davidson fumbled the ball in the red zone with under two minutes to play or when the Tigers were stuffed on fourth-and-one in overtime after Dabo Swinney decided to go for it.

National title contenders like Florida State find a way to make those plays and win those games. That leaves everybody else looking up and wondering what could have been. By winning without Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, the Seminoles stay in the picture. So do the Oregon Ducks, who held off a charge from Washington State and the Tim Burton movie that is Pullman, Wash., at night to steal a 38-31 win.

As the season goes along, more of these types of games will happen. The pretenders will fall, and we’ll be left with those eight to 12 teams (as we always are) that stand out among the rest. Odds are pretty good Florida State and Oregon will be right up there, and that’s why it’s easy to keep those two teams at one and two in this week’s Power Rankings. The Seminoles did enough in their win over Clemson to steal away the top spot once again.

• INSIDE READ: NFL scouts say Winston needs another year at Florida State

Next five: Oklahoma State, Duke, Utah, Marshall, Arizona

• STAPLES: Mississippi State breaks through in vaunted SEC West

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