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  • Though Week 4 had plenty of interesting games, the Top 10 has just a few tweaks, one of them being a surprising addition from the SEC.
By Andy Staples
September 23, 2018

We’ve only got minor changes at the top of the Top 10 Plus One this week, but don’t worry, the seismic stuff is coming. One game next week (Ohio State at Penn State) features a team ranked in the top two that could be replaced by the almost-ranked team it will face in a White Out game. Meanwhile, two teams ranked next to one another will face off on the field.

This may be the last boring ranking for a while…

1. Alabama (4–0)
Last week: 1
Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 45–23
Next game: Saturday vs. Louisiana

It doesn’t even feel like a question as to whether Alabama will win each game, so now we must entertain ourselves with other questions.

• Did the Crimson Tide cover this week’s absurd point spread?

Not against the Aggies.

• What did Tua Tagovailoa’s most ridiculous throw look like?

It was probably the touchdown throw to DeVonta Smith on Alabama’s first play from scrimmage?

• With the outcome of next week’s game a fait accompli, how will we entertain ourselves talking about the Crimson Tide this week?

Since Jalen Hurts played in his fourth game this week, we’ll speculate on whether he’s staying or going up until the moment Hurts:

A) Gives an interview or sends a tweet indicating he plans to play the remainder of the season at Alabama.

B) Goes into the game against the Ragin’ Cajuns and ends all speculation.

C) Decides he’s done for the season and headed elsewhere. (This seems exceedingly unlikely given all we’ve seen so far this season.)

College Football
In Its Closest Win of the Season, Alabama Looked as Terrifying as Ever

2. Ohio State (4–0)
Last week: 2
Last game: Beat Tulane, 49–6
Next game: Saturday at Penn State

The Buckeyes buzzsawed an overmatched opponent, but the real buzz in Columbus on the day Urban Meyer returned to the sideline for a game was Ari Wasserman’s report for The Athletic that Ohio State has begun negotiating with offensive coordinator Ryan Day—who served as Ohio State’s head coach in Meyer’s absence due to suspension—to make Day the Buckeyes’ coach-in-waiting.

UPDATE: Sunday morning, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith threw cold water on the coach-in-waiting idea. 

Even if the Buckeyes reach an agreement with Day, it doesn’t necessarily mean Meyer is going anywhere anytime soon. It would simply provide Ohio State with an insurance policy. This may dominate the conversation early in the week, but it will quickly turn to the field. Ohio State faces Penn State on Saturday in what could be the game of the year in the Big Ten. 

3. Georgia (4–0)
Last week: 4
Last game: Beat Missouri, 43–29
Next game: Saturday vs. Tennessee

The Bulldogs (and the officials) had Georgia coach Kirby Smart feeling like this on Saturday. 

Georgia played a fairly sloppy game—by the Bulldogs’ standards—and still came away with a two-touchdown win on the road against a previously undefeated division rival that happens to feature a future first-rounder at quarterback. The sloppiness needs to get fixed—and Georgia absolutely needs to practice carrying the ball all the way into the end zone—but the Bulldogs’ ability to out-talent opponents remains impressive.

4. Clemson (4–0)
Last week: 5
Last game: Beat Georgia Tech, 49–21
Next game: Saturday vs. Syracuse

Playing in his home state, freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw four touchdown passes in relief of starter Kelly Bryant. As the Tigers prepare to face the only team that beat them in the regular season in 2017, will Lawrence become the starter? “We’re not going to set depth charts here in the postgame press conference,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters.

5. LSU (4–0)
Last week: 3
Last game: Beat Louisiana Tech, 38–21
Next game: Saturday vs. Ole Miss

The Tigers let the Bulldogs get a little too close in the fourth quarter, but they scored when they needed to score to put the game away. Anyone concerned that I dropped LSU two spots shouldn’t be. Given the Tigers’ upcoming schedule, all they have to do is keep winning and they can shoot to No. 1.

6. Notre Dame (4–0)
Last week: 8
Last game: Beat Wake Forest, 56–27
Next game: Saturday vs. Stanford

Either the switch to Ian Book as the starting quarterback opened up Notre Dame’s offense or Wake Forest’s defense wasn’t all that good. We’ll get the answer to that question—and much, much more—when Stanford visits Notre Dame Stadium.

7. Stanford (4–0)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Oregon, 38–31 (OT)
Next game: Saturday at Notre Dame

The Cardinal looked hopeless at Oregon, and then they came roaring back. Stanford’s ability to score on quick-strike drives late is a welcome addition to the usual bludgeoning they prefer to give opponents. Notre Dame’s defense isn’t going to let itself get bludgeoned, so the Cardinal will have to take advantage of K.J. Costello’s arm, which saved them in Eugene on Saturday.

College Football
Oregon Opens the Door for a Stunning Stanford Comeback in Overtime Classic

8. Oklahoma (4–0)
Last week: 6
Last game: Beat Army, 28–21 (OT)
Next game: Saturday vs. Baylor

That game against Army was great fun—and a throwback since I had to listen on the radio because it was on pay-per-view—but it also raised more questions. The offense was fine. It moved the ball on the rare occasions it had the ball. The defense’s inability to get off the field is the big red flag. Now comes a Baylor team that inexplicably shredded Oklahoma’s defense in a much-tougher-than-expected Oklahoma win in Waco last year. If the Sooners hope to return to the playoff, they’re going to need to get better at getting off the field on defense.

9. West Virginia (3–0)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Kansas State, 35–6
Next game: Saturday at Texas Tech

We knew West Virginia’s offense would be good. It’s the defensive improvement that makes the Mountaineers so intriguing in 2018. Saturday, West Virginia’s defense held Kansas State to 4.9 yards a play and only allowed the Wildcats to convert three of 14 third downs. Now, the Mountaineers will face a huge test in Lubbock. Texas Tech went to Stillwater and crushed Oklahoma State on Saturday, and true freshman quarterback Alan Bowman has completed 78 of 105 passes for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns in his past two games.

10. Kentucky (4–0)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 28–7
Next game: Saturday vs. South Carolina

The Wildcats certainly looked for real on Saturday against a very talented Mississippi State team. Benny Snell carried 25 times for 165 yards and four touchdowns and then responded to the previous week’s Twitter beef with Mississippi State players with some solid Photoshop work. 

Meanwhile, Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen was virtually unblockable. He had six tackles, including two for loss, and blew up Mississippi State plays all night. The Wildcats next face South Carolina, a team they’ve beaten in four consecutive meetings. Still, the Gamecocks can knock Kentucky back into the ranks of the unranked if the Wildcats aren’t prepared.

Plus One: Old Dominion (1–3)
Last game: Beat Virginia Tech, 49–35
Next game: Saturday at East Carolina

When you’re on your way to beating a Power 5 team for the first time in program history and winning the biggest individual game in program history, this is how you celebrate.

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