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Week 4 College Football Power Rankings: Ohio State Makes Up for Abysmal Day in the Big Ten

The Big Ten West had a weekend of dumpster fires, highlighted by Wisconsin's loss to BYU. Meanwhile, Ohio State and LSU had a memorable weekend to reignite playoff hopes.

Amid the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which forced 14 college football games to be canceled, Week 3 saw some playoff hopes dashes, some reignited, and some…well, some were non-existent to begin with.

And that takes us to the Big Ten West, which seemed to be in a race with the Pac-12 South for the worst collective performance on Saturday.

At the start of the season, the division was Wisconsin’s to lose, with the Badgers being thought of as its best chance at a conference title. Three weeks later, the only undefeated teams left in the division are Iowa and Minnesota. This is after a weekend of dumpster-fire proportions, led by the Badgers, who let BYU waltz right into Camp Randall Stadium and put a major damper on any College Football Playoff aspirations in a matter of three hours.

Illinois and Purdue also lost (to South Florida and Missouri, respectively), neither of which was shocking. But it's home losses by Northwestern and Nebraska that ensured the Big Ten West was the biggest loser of the weekend.

Akron beat the Wildcats 39–34—the Zips' first win over a Big Ten team since 1894—and left Evanston with a $1.2 million check. Meanwhile in Lincoln, Scott Frost’s debut season couldn’t have gotten off to a worst start after Troy, which is no slouch, took a $1.5 million direct deposit and a 24–19 win, putting the Huskers at 0–2 for the first time in seven decades.

Now, let’s get to the rankings:

1. Alabama (3–0)

Previous ranking: 1
This week: Beat Ole Miss 62–7
Next week: vs. Texas A&M

Alabama was on the ropes…for the first 11 seconds of the game. But again, there isn’t too much left to say about the Crimson Tide, which made short work of Ole Miss after giving up a touchdown on the game’s first play. Tua Tagovailoa again got limited work because of the blowout, throwing for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

2. Georgia (3–0, 1–0 SEC)

Previous ranking: 2
This week: Beat Middle Tennessee State 49–7
Next week: at Missouri

3. Clemson (3–0)

Previous ranking: 3
This week: Beat Georgia Southern 38–7
Next week: at Georgia Tech

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4. Ohio State (3–0)

Previous ranking: 4
This week: Beat TCU 40–28
Next week: vs. Tulane

Ohio State’s stars came to play in a win at TCU. Dwayne Haskins went 24 of 38 for 344 yards, J.K. Dobbins added 121 yards and Nick Bosa’s strip-sack in the end zone led to a touchdown before he left the game with an injury. The Buckeyes now get back the services of head coach Urban Meyer, who completed his three-game suspension amid the Zach Smith investigation.

TCU Forces Ohio State to Reveal Its Limits—and Its Ceiling—in Last Game Without Urban Meyer

5. Oklahoma (3–0, 1–0 Big 12)

Previous ranking: 7
This week: Beat Iowa State 37–27
Next week: vs. Army

Old habits die hard for the Sooners, as they did their best to give the game away against Iowa State (the same team who scored three points and had 188 total yards in a loss to Iowa in Week 2). Oklahoma allowed 447 yards to the Cyclones, but was again saved by the talents of Kyler Murray, who threw for 348 yards and three touchdowns, adding 77 rushing yards as the Sooners won their 17th straight game away from Norman.

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6. Penn State (3–0)

Previous ranking: 8
This week: Beat Kent State 63–10
Next week: at Illinois

7. Notre Dame (3–0)

Previous ranking: 9
This week: Beat Vanderbilt 22–17
Next week: at Wake Forest

Notre Dame’s season-opening victory is diminishing in value as the weeks go by and, judging by their performance on Saturday, the Fighting Irish were lucky to get out of Notre Dame Stadium with a victory. Brandon Wimbush was again his steady, unspectacular self, throwing for 122 yards and adding 84 on the ground, while the Irish offense took another nosedive in the second half.

8. LSU (3–0, 1–0 SEC)

Previous ranking: 16
This week: Beat Auburn 22–21
Next week: vs. Louisiana Tech

There is no doubt that if LSU continues on its run and makes it to the playoff, it will be because of its defense. Auburn had only 328 yards of offense, 165 below its average through the season's first two games. Joe Burrow continued to complete less than 50% of his passes, but the passes he did finish were at critical times, including a 71-yard strike through defenders to Derrick Dillon. The LSU offense was also aided by two pass interference calls to set up Cole Tracy's walk-off 42-yard field goal.

9. Stanford (3–0, 1–0 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 10
This week: Beat UC Davis 30–10
Next week: at Oregon

10. Auburn (2–1, 1–1 SEC)

Previous ranking: 6
This week: Lost to LSU 22–21
Next week: vs. Arkansas

While Auburn held LSU to less than three yards per rush, it was LSU’s timely passing game that ultimately spelled doom in ending a 13-game home winning streak at Jordan-Hare (blowing an 11-point lead doesn’t help either). It was tough sledding for most of the day for Jarrett Stidham and the Auburn offense, , which went 4 for 12 on third down, committed nine penalties and turned the ball over twice.

11. Washington (2–1, 1–0 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 11
This week: Beat Utah 21–7
Next week: vs. Arizona State

When the Huskies’ offense bogs down as it has for most of the season, it can rely on that nasty defense, which forced three turnovers and held Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley to 138 yards on 38 pass attempts. Myles Gaskins carried the load with 143 rushing yards and a score and Aaron Fuller hauled in six passes for 108 yards. The Huskies beat Utah for the 11th time in 12 all-time meetings.

12. Mississippi State (3–0)

Previous ranking: 12
This week: Beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 56–10
Next week: at Kentucky

13. Oklahoma State (3–0)

Previous ranking: 19
This week: Beat Boise State 44–21
Next week: vs. Texas Tech

The Cowboys signaled their return to possible contenders with a thumping of Boise State that saw them dominate in all three phases. QB Taylor Cornelius threw for a touchdown, ran for two other scores and led the team in rushing attempts. Oklahoma State’s schedule sets for a possible perfect ride until November, when the season-ending gauntlet of Oklahoma, West Virginia and TCU awaits.

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14. Virginia Tech (2–0, 1–0 ACC)

Previous ranking: 13
This week: Game vs. East Carolina canceled
Next week: vs. Old Dominion

15. Michigan (2–1)

Previous ranking: 15
This week: Beat SMU 45–20
Next week: vs. Nebraska

Shea Patterson threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns in an efficient game as the Wolverines overcame sloppy play at times to dispatch SMU. After being called for 14 penalties in its first two games, Michigan was flagged 13 times and again got off to a slow start, playing without starting running back Karan Higdon. For all the issues over its first three games, Michigan has a very winnable schedule over the next three weeks.

16. Wisconsin (2–1)

Previous ranking: 5
This week: Lost to BYU 24–21
Next week: at Iowa

Wisconsin’s insistence on playing with fire finally caught up with it as the Cougars scored 2018’s biggest upset, putting an end to the Badgers' 41-game nonconference winning streak. The young defense was exposed at times with trick plays and jet sweeps and the offense sputtered too often. Jonathan Taylor ran for 117 yards for Wisconsin, which was a three-touchdown favorite after beating BYU 40–6 last year in Provo.

17. West Virginia (2–0)

Previous ranking: 17
This week: Game at NC State canceled
Next week: vs. Kansas State

18. UCF (2–0, 1–0 AAC)

Previous ranking: 18
This week: Game at North Carolina canceled
Next week: vs. Florida Atlantic

19. Miami (FL) (2–1)

Previous ranking: 21
This week: Beat Toledo 49–21
Next week: vs. Florida International

20. TCU (2–1)

Previous ranking: 14
This week: Lost to Ohio State 40–28
Next week: at Texas

It’s one thing to make mistakes and not have them cost you ball games. It’s another thing for those mistakes to lead directly to scores—and that’s what got TCU beat against the Buckeyes. A sack in the end zone led to a score, TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson threw a pick-six on a shovel pass and a blocked punt led to more points. Usually gaining 512 yards against any opponent results in a win, but not against Ohio State.


21. Michigan State (1–1)

Previous ranking: 22
This week: Off
Next week: at Indiana

22. Oregon (3–0)

Previous ranking: 25
This week: vs. San Jose State, 35–22
Next week: vs. Stanford

23. Texas A&M (2–1)

Previous ranking: Unranked
This week: Beat Louisiana-Monroe, 48–10
Next week: at Alabama

24. Boise State (2–1)

Previous ranking: 20
This week: Lost to Oklahoma State 44–21
Next week: at Wyoming

For Boise to get back in the New Year’s Six picture, two things must be fixed that were exposed by Oklahoma State: special teams and the lack of a running game. Quarterback Brett Rypien tried to keep the Broncos in the game with 380 yards and three touchdowns, but the team ran for 34 yards and Rypien was sacked seven times. Boise State also had two punts blocked and missed a chip-shot field goal.

25. Texas (2–1)

Previous ranking: Unranked
This week: Beat USC 37–14
Next week: vs. TCU

Texas knows that one game is not going to turn it into title contenders, but beating USC is a step in the right direction. In getting the 900th win in program history, (win No. 800 came against USC in the epic 2006 Rose Bowl), Sam Ehlinger threw for 223 yards with two touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over. The running game, while only averaging 3.3 yards a carry, was effective enough in an effort to keep the Longhorns balanced.

By conference: SEC (6), Big Ten (5), Big 12 (5), Pac-12 (3), ACC (3), AAC (1), Mountain West (1), Independent (1)

Dropped Out: Houston, USC

Maybe next week: Iowa, Duke, Boston College, Colorado, Indiana