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Which College Football Teams Deserve to be Ranked in the AP Top Four?

Prediction for the upcoming top 10 of the Associated Press Poll and discussing the top teams contending for the College Football Playoffs.

No. 2 Iowa lost to Purdue 24-7 at home, No. 4 Oklahoma started true freshman quarterback Caleb Williams and he thrived while leading his team to a victory by the score of 52-31, and No. 5 Alabama battered Mississippi State on the road by the score of 49-9.

These are just a few of the storylines and scores that catch one’s eye when looking back on another big Saturday in college football. There’s much to analyze and ponder regarding which four teams should be ranked within the top four of the upcoming Associated Press Poll (APP). Here are a few key points and statistics from this weekend’s action, including how the top 10 will look this week.

No. 10 Michigan State 20 Indiana 15

There’s usually a team that comes out of no place and ends up being in the College Football Playoffs discussion. The Spartans look to be one of the few teams that could fall into that category, especially after Iowa’s bad loss to Purdue. Against Indiana, however, Michigan State struggled mightily to come out with the victory.

The Spartans played poorly on offense, generating just 100 yards on the ground and another 141 yards through the air. This game could have been a loss if not for a first quarter interception and return for a touchdown by Michigan State’s Cal Haladay.

As of right now, the Spartans play good defense and run the football well, at least until they played Indiana. Running back Kenneth Walker III continues to be the nation’s No. 1 runner in yards per game at 152.7 per game, but only gained 84 yards from 23 carries for a 3.7 yards per carry average against the Hoosiers.

For Michigan State to be amongst the nation’s contenders for a top four spot and possible College Football Playoff appearance, the offense will need to be much better moving forward, especially on the ground, where it should be very good unlike it was against Indiana. 

Status: Michigan State will remain at No. 10, as they are not currently a true threat to break into the elite group in college football.

No. 5 Alabama 49 Mississippi State 9

Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young has played well through half the college football season.

Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young has played well through half the college football season.

Total domination. The Crimson Tide ran and passed for 543 yards of total offense, including quarterback Bryce Young, who threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns. The defense, meanwhile, held Mississippi State to just 299 yards of offense despite going up against quarterback Will Rogers, a signal caller that coming into the game was No. 3 in the nation with 373.4 yards passing per contest.

Against Alabama, Rogers passed for 300 yards, but needed 55 passing attempts to reach that mark, a porous 5.5 yards per attempt average. Alabama’s defense, led by linebacker Henry To’oto’o and his 13 tackles, conquered the Mississippi State offensive rushing attack, holding the running backs to just 40 yards from 10 carries and not allowing them to rip off any huge runs. From the outset, this game simply was not much of a contest.

After the tough loss in College Station, Texas to the Aggies a week ago, the Crimson Tide looks to be back on track. Are they one of the top four teams in college football? Absolutely. 

Status: Look for Alabama to be placed at the No. 4 spot in the APP this week.

No. 3 Cincinnati 56 UCF 21

Total beat down. Led by Head Coach Luke Fickell, Cincinnati played with confidence and UCF simply did not possess any answers during a first half that saw the Bearcats race out to a 35-0 lead before the Knights got on the scoreboard with a late second quarter touchdown.

Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford hammered the Knights by rushing 20 times for 189 yards and four touchdowns. Ford is a NFL prospect for a reason. He showed his abilities against UCF with speed and power, led by his 79-yard touchdown run with 5:33 left in the second quarter.

Defensively, the Bearcats smothered UCF’s offense and its freshman quarterback Mikey Keene. With the Knights not willing to throw down the field early on, Cincinnati played downhill and rallied to the football for tackles near the line of scrimmage. The edge defenders also timed up the snap count and shot into the backfield creating havoc for the majority of the game.

This is a football team that’s trending in the right direction and should definitely be considered one of best in the country. 

Status: No. 2 will be where the Bearcats land in this week’s poll after Iowa lost to Purdue.

No. 4 Oklahoma 52 TCU 31

The starting debut of freshman quarterback Caleb Williams went extremely well, as he went 18 of 23 for 295 yards and four passing touchdowns. Williams also accounted for nine carries that led to 66 rushing yards and another touchdown.

As a whole, the Sooners totaled 525 yards of offense, including running back Kennedy Brooks rushing 20 times for 153 yards and one touchdown. This balanced attack will help keep the Sooners in just about any game. Oklahoma’s defense was just so-so, however, and that’s a concern.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan completed 20 of his 30 passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns. He absolutely diced up the Sooners’ defense, something that Oklahoma has been trying to fix for years. While better than say the 2019 Oklahoma defense, this unit is still a long way defensively from several teams also competing for the College Football Playoffs.

The TCU game represents the third game in a row that Oklahoma’s passing defense was torched. Kansas State passed for 320 yards, Texas threw for 388 yards, and now Duggan and TCU put up 346 yards through the air. While Oklahoma is playing very well offensively, this is a defensive unit that’s not living up to its end of the bargain.

If Oklahoma continues to struggle defensively, it could eventually be passed by Alabama and/or other teams in the rankings. Status: Oklahoma will be ranked No. 3 in the APP.

Projected Top 10

1 Georgia

2 Cincinnati

3 Oklahoma

4 Alabama

5 Ohio State

6 Penn State

Read More

7 Michigan

8 Iowa

9 Oregon

10 Michigan State

For UCF insights, college football news, and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. It will be found on iTunes and Spotify. For more UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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