With Week 4 of college football came the start of conference play and, with it, a tougher schedule for the Top 25. Yet ranked squads performed better this week than they have since Week 1 (a week filled with FCS opponents).
What does that mean for the season, and what can we take away from the ranked teams' perfomance in Week 4?
Let’s take a look behind the numbers of the AP Top 25 for Week 5:
(click to enlarge)
20-4 — Record for ranked teams in Week 4, when they won by an average score of 36-19. A week after the Top 25’s worst performance of the season (losing six games, four of which were to unranked teams), the ranked squads put in their best performance since opening week. Only four teams lost, and just two fell to unranked opponents (one of which was No. 12 Florida State, coming off of two weeks of chaos due to Hurricane Irma, and starting a true freshman at quarterback in place of the injured DeAndre Francois). The largest margin of the week belongs to Alabama, which pitched a shutout against Vanderbilt while putting 59 on the board against what was the No. 1 scoring defense in college football. The closest game of the week came in Lexington, where No. 20 Florida won in the last second for the second straight week as Kentucky missed the potential game-winning field goal as time ran out. In all, 12 ranked teams won their games by two scores or more, 11 won by at least three touchdowns, and seven won by more than 30 points. Not a bad showing.
|Week||Record||Percentage||Top 25 score||Opponent score||Winning margin||Losses to unranked teams|
8 — Number of conferences represented in the poll (including independent schools). By weighting the conferences inversely to their teams' rankings (i.e., No. 25 is worth 1, No. 1 is worth 25, etc.), the Big Ten comes out in first place for the fourth straight week. And for the fourth straight week, the SEC has the most representatives of any conference. The Big Ten has the most teams in the Top 10 with three, while the SEC, Pac-12, and Big 12 are all tied with two each, and the ACC rounds it out with Clemson as their lone Top-10 squad.
|Conference||Number of teams||Teams||Weighted score|
|1||Big Ten||4||No. 4 Penn State, No. 8 Michigan, No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 11 Ohio State||71|
|2||SEC||6||No. 1 Alabama, No. 7 Georgia, No. 13 Auburn, No. 21 Florida, No. 24 Mississippi State, No. 25 LSU||65|
|3||ACC||4||No. 2 Clemson, No. 12 Virginia Tech, No. 14 Miami, No. 17 Louisville||59|
|4||Pac-12||4||No. 5 USC, No. 6 Washington, No. 16 Washington State, No. 20 Utah||57|
|4||Big 12||4||No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 9 TCU, No. 15 Oklahoma State, No. 23 West Virginia||54|
|6||American||1||No. 18 South Florida||8|
|7||Mountain West||1||No. 19 San Diego State||7|
|8||Independent||1||No. 22 Notre Dame||4|
8 — Number of teams that didn’t move in the poll, the most we’ve had in any week this season. Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Penn State and USC all decided to get comfy, holding down spots 1-5 for the second straight week. The top five won their games by an average of 21.2 points, though that number was pretty skewed by Alabama’s near-60 spot on Vandy. Penn State and Oklahoma skirted by with one-possession wins, and USC defeated California by just 10.
2 — Number of ranked teams that lost to unranked opponents. On paper, NC State pulled off the biggest upset of the week, knocking off No. 12 Florida State 27-21, but the Seminoles were only so high in the poll because of potential. The ‘Noles lost to Alabama in Week 1 of the season and lost their starting quarterback in the process. After Hurricane Irma hit Florida, it was another three weeks until Florida State got back on the field. The loss to NC State in Tallahassee gave the Seminoles their first 0-2 start since 1989, and sent them packing out of the Top 25. The other unranked upset came at the hands of Arizona State, which pulled off the 37-35 win over No. 24 Oregon, with freshman kicker Brandon Ruiz knocking in the go-ahead field goal with just under three minutes to play.
14 — The biggest drop in the rankings this week, courtesy of Florida State. A week after LSU’s 13-spot drop to No. 25, the Seminoles one-upped the Tigers, taking a dive from No. 12 to unranked. Of teams that remained ranked, Oklahoma State fell the furthest, dropping nine spots after coming up short against No. 16 TCU, 44-31.
7 — The biggest leap in the rankings this week, made by the Horned Frogs, of course. A week after jumping four spots to No. 16, TCU shot up the charts again, this time to No. 9 after their shootout win on the road against Oklahoma State. Last year, TCU started off the season at No. 13, but fell off the map in Week 2, surfaced at No. 21 briefly for Week 5, and then disappeared from the Top 25 for good for the season. Can they stay on the chart this year?
TOP DAWGS FOR LONG?
1 — The number of weeks Georgia stayed in the Top 10 last year. After winning last week’s Battle of the Bulldogs 31-3 over Mississippi State, Georgia entered the Top 10 this week for the first time since Week 2 of last year. That week, they would barely beat FCS-foe Nicholls State 26-24 at home and drop to No. 16 for Week 3. After going 1-2 the next three weeks, the Bulldogs would sit at No. 25 by Week 5, and then fall out of the rankings for the year by Week 6. Will this season be different?
2 — Number of teams that fell out of the rankings. Florida State took a dive out of the Top 25 after losing to NC State, while Oregon’s brief appearance at No. 24 ended with its loss to unranked Arizona State.