Winners and Losers of Week 4 of the College Football Season

Wisconsin is looking like a complete team that can take on anybody while Arkansas has a lot of questions to answer moving forward to lead the most notable winners and losers from Week 4.
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Week 4 of the college football season has come and gone, and there’s a lot of good and bad to unpack. Chip Kelly and UCLA are no longer winless in 2019, SMU made history with a road win over a rival, and USC played its third QB of the season. There was some shakeup in the polls, with Wisconsin jumping five spots and settling into the top 10 for the first time this season, UCF falling seven spots after losing its first regular season game since 2016, and Michigan dropping nine spots to No. 20 as panic strikes in Ann Arbor.

Before we look ahead to next weekend’s slate, here are the biggest winners and losers from Week 4.

Winners

1. Wisconsin

Wisconsin is now a top-10 team—ranked No. 8 in the new AP poll—after obliterating Michigan, 35–14. The Badgers were the superior team right from the start, driving 75 yards for a touchdown on its opening drive that included a fourth-down conversion at their own 34-yard line. Paul Chryst’s team never relented, going up 35–0 before allowing a pair of late Michigan touchdowns.

Wisconsin looks like a complete team that can compete with anybody. The Badgers have an efficient quarterback in Jack Coan, an aggressive running game led by Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor, and a physical defense that manhandled Michigan. Coan was in control, completing 13 of 16 passes for 128 yards and rushing for two TD. Taylor ran for 203 yards and two TDs, with 143 yards and both scores coming before the first quarter was over. The defense took advantage of an offense that is still very much searching for an identity, limiting Michigan to 40 total rushing yards on 2.1 yards per carry.

They’ve played only three games, but right now, the Badgers look like a team capable of challenging Ohio State for the conference championship and a potential College Football Playoff spot.

2. SMU

The Mustangs beat rival TCU for the first time since 2011, grinding out a 41–38 win on the road. Now, for the first time since 1984, SMU is 4–0. That record dates back to the good old Southwest Conference days before the program received the NCAA’s death penalty.

Texas transfer quarterback Shane Buechele, who has been a perfect fit in Sonny Dykes’s offense, went 23-of-34 passing for 288 yards with two touchdowns, and ran for another score. Xavier Jones ran for 79 yards with a touchdown and caught a 3-yard TD in the fourth quarter to give his team a more comfortable 38–24 lead.

This is a big moment for a fan base that’s been deprived of a competitive football team for years. After the game, while speaking with reporters, Buechele kept his foot on the gas and reiterated how important it is for the fans to stick with them. “It’s really important for those guys to have our back,” he said.

At least one very important alum does.

3. Pac-12 After Dark

Chip Kelly and UCLA won their first game of the season, beating No. 19 Washington State 67–63 in an epic finish in Pullman that you may have missed while you were sleeping. With a jorts-wearing Gardner Minshew on the sideline, the Cougars managed to blow a 49–17 lead with 6:52 left in the third quarter as the Bruins piled up 50 points in the second half. This from a Bruins team that entered the day with the Pac-12’s worst offense that hadn’t scored more than 14 points in their first three games.

Among all the crazy stats in this game, the most eye-popping comes from Wazzu QB Anthony Gordon, who threw nine touchdowns—NINE!—to set a school record. His team still lost. It didn’t help that Mike Leach’s team also had six turnovers.

UCLA receiver Demetric Felton had two explosive plays of more than 90 yards, including a 100-yard kick return and a 94-yard TD reception, which was the second-longest play in school history.

While this was a much-needed win for UCLA—which has been highly criticized for starting the season 0–3 with losses to Cincinnati, San Diego State and Oklahoma—the conference’s playoff hopes are nearly dead. Preseason contenders Oregon, Washington and Utah each have one loss, while Cal, now ranked No. 15 after beating Ole Miss in Oxford, is somehow the conference’s only remaining undefeated team.

Losers

1. Arkansas

San Jose State shocked Arkansas with a 31–24 win in Fayetteville on Saturday night. This was SJSU’s first win over a Power 5 opponent since 2006.

It was a rough night for the Razorbacks, to say the least, who also paid the Spartans a whole bunch of money to enter SEC country.

Arkansas, which went 2–10 last season, has a lot of questions to answer moving forward. Quarterback Nick Starkel threw five interceptions in his second start, and nearly had a few more that rimmed out of SJSU players’ hands. Starkel didn’t get much help from his teammates though, with the Razorbacks rushing for just 131 yards on 32 carries. You had to empathize with him after the game when he said this: “I feel like I let everybody down,” the QB told reporters. “I let my teammates down, my brothers, my family, these coaches who work so hard to prepare us, get us in the right calls. I just let them down.”

It doesn’t get easier for Chad Morris & Co., who still have four ranked teams in the SEC West to play this season.

2. Michigan

This was the biggest story of the weekend. Michigan looked as bad as it’s looked under Jim Harbaugh in a 35–14 road loss to Wisconsin. The defense was undisciplined, the offense lacked identity, and nobody seems to have answers as to why the Wolverines came out in their Big Ten season opener totally uncompetitive and unprepared.

Wisconsin might end up challenging Ohio State for the Big Ten title and may be good enough to crash the playoff. But there was no excuse for that pitiful performance. The team had no fight.

Michigan wins the games it’s supposed to under Harbaugh, but not the big ones. This loss made the program’s record against good teams even more embarrassing and infuriating for fans.

Meanwhile, Ryan Day has Ohio State clicking like it never skipped a beat after Urban Meyer left. Quarterback Justin Fields is looking more and more like a Heisman contender while leading the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense (53.5 points per game, trailing only LSU and Oklahoma). But before we even get to that annual matchup, Michigan still needs to win games against Rutgers, Iowa, Illinois, Penn State, Notre Dame, Maryland, Michigan State and Indiana. After Saturday, that slate looks more intimidating than it did last week.

3. UCF

UCF’s magical 27-game regular-season winning streak dating back to 2016 ended on Saturday night at the hands of a trick play called the “Pitt Special.”

To set the scene, Pitt trailed No. 15 UCF by six with a minute to go. On fourth-and-2 from the UCF 3, running back A.J. Davis took a direct snap under center, ran left and pitched it to Aaron Matthews, who was running the opposite direction, and then he found quarterback Kenny Pickett in the end zone to topple the Knights.

Now, after a valiant effort of trying the last few years to break into the CFP, UCF’s playoff hopes are officially gone.

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