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California Golden Blogs College Football Top 25 Poll: Week 4

How would the CGB writers vote if they were responsible for the national college football rankings?

Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Here's the final rankings for Week 4:

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings

California Golden Blogs Top 25 - Week 4

Rank Team Delta
1 Ole Miss Rebels --
2 Utah Utes Arrow_up 9
T-3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Arrow_down 1
T-3 UCLA Bruins Arrow_up 2
5 Ohio State Buckeyes Arrow_down 1
6 TCU Horned Frogs --
7 LSU Tigers --
8 Michigan State Spartans Arrow_down 5
9 Texas A&M Aggies Arrow_up 1
10 Georgia Bulldogs Arrow_down 3
11 Northwestern Wildcats Arrow_up 5
12 Baylor Bears Arrow_down 1
13 Alabama Crimson Tide Arrow_up 1
14 California Golden Bears Arrow_up 4
15 Oklahoma Sooners Arrow_down 6
16 Florida State Seminoles Arrow_down 3
17 Oklahoma State Cowboys Arrow_up 7
18 Stanford Cardinal NEW
T-19 Clemson Tigers Arrow_down 4
T-19 USC Trojans NEW
21 Michigan Wolverines NEW
22 Texas Tech Red Raiders Arrow_up 2
23 Mississippi State Bulldogs NEW
24 Wisconsin Badgers Arrow_down 2
25 Temple Owls Arrow_down 2

Teams dropped from last week's Top 25Oregon Ducks, Arizona Wildcats, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Miami (FL) Hurricanes

Others receiving votes: Florida Gators, Miami (FL) Hurricanes, Iowa Hawkeyes, West Virginia Mountaineers, NC State Wolfpack, , Memphis Tigers, Toledo Rockets, Boise State Broncos, Duke Blue Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Utah was naturally the biggest gainer this week after pounding Oregon in Autzen. The Utes climbed 9 spots and are now a stone's throw from displacing Ole Miss at the top of the poll. UCLA also rose in the polls after winning big in Tucson, but they were already in the top 5, so they had less room for a bump. Apart from that, there's not a lot of movement. Michigan State sank a few spots as their close Oregon win got devalued a bit. Florida State and Clemson continue to drop, presumably because they haven't played anyone yet, combined with perhaps some ACC skepticism. Interestingly, Oklahoma sank 6 spots during its bye week, but this was partly because they fell off Berkelium's ballot entirely. They were his #11 team last week and now he has them unranked. Perhaps he forgot about them because they were off, though. Ragnarok did not forget about the Sooners, but he dropped them from #6 last week to #21 this week. Nick similarly dropped them from #6 to #18. Considering all of that, it's surprising the Sooners didn't drop more than 6 spots.

New teams this week include: #18 Stanford, whose offense[!!] stayed hot and carried them against Oregon State; #19 USC, who recovered from last week's stumble against the Cardinal to throttle Arizona State on the road; #21 Michigan, who blanked former CGB poll darling BYU 31-0; and #23 Mississippi State, who beat Auburn by a touchdown and have a close quality loss to #7 LSU.

Okay, let's let our voters speak for themselves:


As we're one week deeper into the season, the qualifications for my ballot have grown more strict.  Now I am excluding anyone who hasn't beaten a Power 5 team.  This means Baylor, who hasn't even played a Power 5 team, is unranked.

Utah's win was an impressively thorough beatdown of an Oregon team that is having a down year, but is still very dangerous as their close loss in East Lansing demonstrated.  If Utah keeps this up, they're playoff bound.

With two road wins against tough teams (and another against an overrated Auburn team), LSU slides in at second in my ballot.

Is Northwestern a top-15 team? Absolutely not.  But my power ranking methodology emphasizes results on the field rather than intangibles like "feel" or predicted finish at the end of the year.

Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty is the best quarterback that no one has ever heard of. He's averaging almost 400 yards per game and threw 5 first-half TDs this week.  He nearly eclipsed 5000 yards last year and may break the mark this year.


Berkelium, I'm totally with you on Utah... That was easily the best win of the year, and adding in the win over Michigan which is now looking better there is no reason, other than baked in early poll biases, for them to not be #1. I gotta go UCLA #2 (I mean why not). They play ONLY FBS competition so I'm rewarding them for that.

That was a baaaaad week for the ACC.

Otherwise i feel this was sort of a stagnant week...

Also, I feel good that I am not being a hyprocite in regards to bad losses... I've advocated a long time that SEC teams should drop when they lose badly in conference... Oregon's loss was horrendous... and U of A's loss TOTALLY exposed them as the softest ranked team, IMHO.  So both fall completely out of my ballot.

Nick Kranz:

I feel pretty good about my top nine - all teams that have either one really impressive win or a collection of above-average wins. After that it's a mish-mash of unbeaten teams that have yet to be truly tested, teams with a solid win or two and a 'good loss' and teams that are presumed to be good that haven't played anybody. On that note: Baylor, Georgia, Florida State and Clemson all continue to fall as other teams notch wins that they haven't yet had the opportunity to earn. I think the ACC will really suffer for lack of impressive teams - particularly if none of them can beat Notre Dame. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech taking bad losses hurts.

Utah takes my top spot. If they had just beaten Oregon by something like 7 points they probably would have lingered around 8 or 9 in my poll. But holy hell, winning by that margin in that stadium? Probably the most stunning performance of the year so far.


Utah, baby! The Utes got a big bump on my poll (#11 to #1) due to not only putting on the most impressive asskicking clinic I've seen in a while on their way to garnering the best win of the season (Ole Miss at Alabama is still a close second thanks Alabama being way better than Oregon), but also due to the fact that their Michigan win now looks better after the Wolverines clobbered BYU. I'm also not dinging them as much for their game against Utah State, in which they lost QB Travis Wilson early on and had to turn to their backup Kendal Thompson. Thompson acquitted himself well, but he's not nearly the running threat that Wilson is. Additionally, the Utes look like a complete and thoroughly well-coached team, excelling in all aspects of the game. It's hard to find a good reason to ding them.

I did ding a few other teams though. Michigan State's 3-point win against Oregon in East Lansing looks less impressive now, and that was holding them up because of their other mediocre performances. So they're down 6 spots for me this week despite beating Central Michigan. Northwestern also lost a couple of spots in my poll for eking out a 5-point win against crummy Ball State, so they're down from #17 to #19. I'm actually kind of surprised to see some of you have them up near the top ten, and Nick has them all the way at #3! Huh?

I gave UCLA good credit for walloping Arizona, but that's tempered by the fact that their BYU win is less impressive now. I dropped Georgia Tech, Oregon, BYU and Arizona off my poll completely. Really disappointed in Georgia Tech, by the way. I was expecting them to be way better than they have been. The rest of the teams on my poll pretty much held serve or didn't really move too much one way or the other. I added Michigan, Stanford, Duke, and Toledo.


The Pac-12 had a comeback week with UCLA and Utah winning huge road games and they are both in my top 10 as they are in the AP polls.  There is not one dominant team in college football so far judging by how the top teams in the country won in poor fashion.

Games to watch next week:

#16 Alabama @ #9 Georgia.  This is the potential SEC championship game if Bama can beat the Bulldogs.  So far, Georgia looks to be the team to beat in the lesser SEC East.  However Alabama has not looked like the Alabama people have come to know.  Should be a great one in Athens.

#3 Notre Dame @ #15 Clemson.  Huge playoff implications.  If either team loses their chances of making the 4 team playoff will be extremely slim.  Notre Dame has one quality one under their belt and winning this game at Clemson would really help their playoff chances with the only tough remaining games against Stanford and USC. If Clemson loses, then 2 of the best teams in the ACC will have lost to Notre Dame, which would mean that the ACC would miss out on the playoff unless Florida State can once again continue to win close games.


Utah shoots to the top of my ballot, as much due to their destruction of Oregon as due to Michigan's recovery after a season-opening loss. I declined to rank both Oregon and Arizona last week, which means I didn't need to make any changes for this week.  I don't feel strongly about many of the relative rankings so far, so after the top 10-15 the ordering isn't very exact. Now that we have 4 weeks under our belt, even though there are still more than 25 undefeated teams, I finally felt like it was time to start considering one-loss teams like Stanford, Alabama, Michigan and Texas Tech, as they've done more so far this season that teams that have run over a very weak early schedule.


So, as seems to be the case every week, four teams have dropped out of my top 25, replaced by four different teams. Oregon drops out after an embarrassing performance at home against Utah; Georgia Tech drops out after its second consecutive loss; Missouri is out after losing to Kentucky; and Arizona is finally out of the top 25 because of the beating they took from UCLA. Replacing those teams are Florida, who moved to 4-0 with a crazy comeback victory against Tennessee; Stanford moves into the top 25 after another victory; USC jumps back in for destroying Arizona State; and Mississippi State moves back into the top 25 after beating Auburn. Yes, Auburn does not look very good, but the Bulldogs only loss is to a really strong LSU team. Not a ton of change as far as positioning on my rankings other than Utah moving up 10 spots from 18 to 8, and Michigan State dropping from 5 to 9 since their Oregon win just does not look overly impressive at the moment.


I'm sorry... do you seriously have Utah EIGHTH (that's a hard word to spell...) behind Baylor, Ohio State et al?


Would Utah beat TCU if they played tomorrow? Probably, though I wouldn't put it past Trevone Boykin to pull a rabbit out of his hat and bail out their crippled by injury defense. At the same time, I'm not going to penalize TCU by dropping them for finding ways to win despite losing five or six defensive starters. Ohio State hasn't been super impressive so far ... but I think part of that is their quarterback carousel. If Meyer would just stick with J.T. Barrett then they're still the best team in the nation. Baylor's offense is ridiculous and I think a game between them and Utah would be awesome. Ole Miss had the best win of the season in my opinion. Their win is better than Utah's,  to me anyways, because as well as Utah played, a good football team does not get whipped like THAT at home. If Utah did this to last season's Oregon then I'd put them number one, but it was against THIS Oregon which ranked at the bottom of the Pac-12 in nearly every defensive category BEFORE the Utah game. There are serious problems in Eugene, which is why I have a Utah where they are. For now, I have them eighth. There's definitely room for aggressive upward expansion if they keep winning.


Hmmm. You raise an interesting issue... are you ranking on hypothetical match-ups?  I'm doing strictly resume.  After four games, I just don't think anyone can say "Baylor has done better than Utah" which is what i think we should be ranking - how have the teams done.  This again, goes back to my issue with baked in bias as a result of preseason rankings. What's the point of playing the games if we're just going to make excuses for why we rank someone somewhere?

As far as Utah's win vis-a-vis Ole Miss's win, Alabama was getting whipped like that... yeah they made a game of it, but the game wasn't nearly as close as the final score would indicate.  Of course this point both helps your argument about Ole Miss (it was a GOOD win) while reinforcing my point about Utah (it was a REALLY GOOD win) so it gets us nowhere.  ;-)


Well, fiat, there's a tradeoff, right? To me, the point of a top 25 is to try and identify the 25 best teams in the country. The farther along you go in the season, the more a team's resume will tell you. Early on in the season, with very few data points, there isn't much of a "resume" to go on; one game here or there isn't necessarily going to tell you that much, especially with varying and difficult to determine opponent quality, so it makes sense to factor in things like past performance and trajectory, returning talent, etc... I totally reject your contention about baked-in biases though; as we see more games each week, those results far, far outweigh any effect that preseason opinions might have. For example, I truly thought Georgia Tech was going to be elite entering this season, but clearly they're having problems, so I didn't even rank them this week, and it's only week 4. I also had teams like Arkansas and Cincinnati ranked preseason, but it was apparent pretty quickly that my belief in those teams was mistaken. But then you also had Arkansas, and even had Rutgers ranked after Week 1 using your results-based methodology, and then the Razorbacks lost to Toledo and the Scarlet Knights went out and lost to Wazzu and got hammered by Penn State. So how is your approach any better than my approach?


That's what I try to do with the top 25. A mix of which teams I think are the best based on what they've actually done and what I think they are capable of doing. At this point in the season, I don't think there's much to separate the top 10 teams. All of them are good teams,  which is why I don't think you can say with 100 percent certainty that Utah would beat Baylor. The Utes played at what is likely the peak of their abilities against an Oregon team that hasn't looked this weak in more than a decade. Which is why I'm not going to vault them to the top of the rankings when I don't think they have the best team. They have a good team, just like the rest of the teams in my top 10, but they also have bigger tests than Oregon to come. All of the top teams still have tough games on their schedule, which is when the picture will become clearer as to which teams are truly the very best. Until then, the top 25 rankings are just guess work, projections and the eye test.


Well in a way you're actually proving my point because you do all that "factoring" and then the teams are bad... sooooo, that's exactly what I was  saying... I've been saying all along that the first few weeks are meaningless which is why I haven't spent a lot of time on it.  Where it DOES show is with mpeters10 who inexplicably, and I really mean that, still has Baylor 4th.  If he didn't start out with Baylor ranked so high, no way he would have Baylor 4th... but he did, so they are... and that happens with pollsters over and over. But again, I think he's polling something else, this "would team x beat team y" which i honestly don't think is what the poll should be. The poll should be who has done the best this season, IMHO.

So there you have it. This has been another episode of "You're wrong... No, YOU'RE wrong", with the CGB Top-25 Pollsters! As always, I'm your host, atomsareenough. Have a good week.

Full ballots below:

CGB T25 W4 v3