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Power 5 conference power rankings after Week 4

Sep 24, 2018

  • ESPN staff

These rankings are all about rating teams against their conference brethren, but we are also ranking the conferences against each other.

Check out the chart below and use the navigation bar to get full details on why we ranked teams how we did.

1. SEC | 2. Big Ten | 3. Big 12 | 4. Pac-12 | 5. ACC

1. SEC

Well, we know Alabama is still head and shoulders above the rest of the SEC. What else do we know?

Georgia and LSU are still in great shape after taking care of business. And Kentucky is good. No, really. The Wildcats are 4-0 and 2-0 in the SEC. Mississippi State? Maybe not quite as good as we thought (or perhaps Kentucky really is that good right now). Florida bounced back with a win over a messy Tennessee squad.

After that, a lot of shuffling in the conference, and expect that to continue in the coming weeks as these teams see more of one another.

And Arkansas is still in the cellar, though Auburn’s win over the Razorbacks wasn’t exactly clean.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0)

This is starting to look too easy. Texas A&M is a solid team, and it lost by three touchdowns, having no answers for Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense.

2. Georgia Bulldogs (4-0)

The good news is that Jake Fromm had another strong day with three touchdowns and one interception, and Missouri quarterback Drew Lock was held to no touchdowns passing. The somewhat concerning news? The Tigers’ running backs amassed 172 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

3. LSU Tigers (4-0)

There was a little bit of a hangover for coach Ed Orgeron’s squad after winning a big game at Auburn, but it didn’t hurt the Tigers, who ran the ball well and pulled away late from Louisiana Tech to win with ease.

4. Kentucky Wildcats (4-0)

The Wildcats fourth? You better believe it; Stoops’ Troops are 2-0 in SEC play for the first time since 1977 after taking down what was considered a good Mississippi State team.

5. Auburn Tigers (3-1)

Don’t let the score — Auburn 34, Arkansas 3 — fool you. The Tigers weren’t their best, especially on offense. Jarrett Stidham threw for only 134 yards and no touchdowns, and no running back had 50 total yards.

6. Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-1)

Talk about a letdown game. The Bulldogs were ranked in the top 15 and well on their way to a strong season until Nick Fitzgerald turned in a mediocre performance and the defense allowed Benny Snell Jr. to run wild for 165 yards.

7. Florida Gators (3-1)

That was the kind of bounce-back performance Florida needed, demolishing rival Tennessee while scoring 47 points. Feleipe Franks looked to be playing with some confidence too, throwing three touchdowns to three different receivers.

8. Texas A&M Aggies (2-2)

The Aggies played Alabama closer than anyone else has … and still got beat by more than three touchdowns. This team is probably a little bit better than where it sits in these power rankings, but the Aggies have only beaten Northwestern State and Louisiana Monroe thus far, by virtue of facing the two top teams in the country in the first four weeks. Their chance to move up will come.

9. Missouri Tigers (3-1)

The Tigers spotted Georgia 14 points (via a turnover and blocked punt) and lost by 14, so that might be at least mildly encouraging, considering they were playing the reigning SEC champion. The next two weeks are a challenge, though, with trips to South Carolina and Alabama back-to-back.

10. South Carolina Gamecocks (2-1)

The Gamecocks were challenged to a “street fight” by Vanderbilt, and they scored the knockout. Offensively, putting up 37 in a conference road game against a good defense is nothing to shrug about.

11. Ole Miss Rebels (3-1)

The Rebels rebounded from their decisive loss to Alabama by taking care of business against Kent State in a win punctuated by an impressive D.K. Metcalf touchdown catch. Next up: LSU in Death Valley.

12. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-2)

The Commodores definitely have a bad taste in their mouths after taking a second consecutive loss. The defense has some issues to rectify after allowing the Gamecocks to rush for 5.7 yards per carry.

13. Tennessee Volunteers (2-2)

This might be where the dysfunction starts to set in. It certainly isn’t good when you have Jeremy Pruitt kicking whiteboards in one moment and kicking players off the field in another during a lopsided loss to rival Florida.

14. Arkansas Razorbacks (1-3)

The Razorbacks actually had an encouraging defensive performance, holding Auburn to just 225 yards (including 2.5 yards per rush and 4-for-13 on third down), but they couldn’t generate any offense in a mistake-filled performance.

2. Big Ten

As good as the teams at the top of the Big Ten rankings were this week — with Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan all coming away with wins — the teams at the bottom were just as bad.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0)

The offense, led by quarterback Dwayne Haskins, is humming on all cylinders and doesn’t look like it will be slowed any time soon.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0)

There are still some questions on defense for this team, but the offense is showing that it can put up big numbers. It will be tested next week against Ohio State.

3. Wisconsin Badgers (3-1)

The Badgers came away with a big win after playing a tight, back-and-forth game against Iowa at home. The win gives the Badgers a clearer path to the Big Ten championship game as the West’s representative.

4. Michigan Wolverines (3-1)

The Wolverines played a bad Nebraska team, but they look as though they are starting to figure out the issues on offense.

5. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1)

The Hawkeyes were a few plays away from beating Wisconsin, but they couldn’t get it done in the end, despite not letting Heisman Trophy hopeful running back Jonathan Taylor get into the end zone.

6. Michigan State Spartans (2-1)

The Spartans snuck away with a 35-21 win against Indiana despite not playing very well offensively. Michigan State needs to get its offense on track for the teeth of its conference schedule.

7. Indiana Hoosiers (3-1)

The Hoosiers fought hard against the Spartans but ultimately came up short in a back-and-forth tilt. There were some glaring issues, including being held to 29 rush yards for the game.

8. Maryland Terrapins (3-1)

The Terps came away with a big bounce-back victory against Minnesota to open up Big Ten play, but they have a tough challenge ahead, traveling to Michigan in two weeks.

9. Northwestern Wildcats (1-2)

The Wildcats had a bye week after losing 39-34 to Akron. Michigan will travel to Northwestern next week in what will be a tough challenge for the Wildcats, who have given up an average of 29 points a game this season.

10. Purdue Boilermakers (1-3)

The Boilermakers came away with a much-needed win against a ranked Boston College team, holding Heisman hopeful running back AJ Dillon to 59 yards on 19 carries.

11. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-2)

The Illini held the game close against Penn State, at one point leading 24-21 in the third quarter, but they eventually lost control in falling 63-24.

12. Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-1)

The Golden Gophers looked overmatched against Maryland, giving up 432 yards of offense and allowing 42 points. A youthful team, Minnesota showed that youth this week.

13. Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-3)

Nebraska’s bad start to the season got worse against Michigan. Looking completely overmatched in the game, coach Scott Frost said this has to be the bottom for this team and it can only go up from here.

14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-3)

Rutgers gave up 445 yards to Buffalo and was blown out 42-13 at home. The season is only going to get more difficult from here for the Scarlet Knights.

3. Big 12

Things are getting awfully interesting in the Big 12.

While Oklahoma had a harrowing night dealing with Army, the conference’s two best teams still seem a step above the rest of the league at the moment. After that? It’s anybody’s guess, as Texas and Texas Tech are rising while TCU and Oklahoma State fell at their respective expense. Kansas State looks like a mess, and Kansas is back to the bottom.

The picture is still a bit foggy; perhaps Week 5 can bring some clarity.

1. Oklahoma Sooners (4-0)

The Sooners got quite the scare from Army, needing overtime to win, but they came out with the victory nonetheless. The good news for them: They won’t have to face another triple-option team for the rest of the season.

2. West Virginia Mountaineers (3-0)

The Mountaineers routed Kansas State as the Will Grier-to-David Sills V tandem cashed in aplenty. Now a key road test at Texas Tech awaits.

3. Texas Longhorns (3-1)

The Longhorns are quietly improving, beating two ranked foes in consecutive weeks. If they can make it three straight wins by defeating K-State in Week 5, it would make the buildup to the Red River Rivalry all the more compelling.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-1)

Don’t look now, but the Red Raiders have won three straight after hammering Oklahoma State. Alan Bowman and the Tech offense are rolling; can they keep it going versus West Virginia?

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-1)

Ouch. The Pokes took it on the chin at home, getting smoked by Texas Tech while allowing 621 yards and generating only 386 yards themselves. Fortunately for Mike Gundy & Co., the next three weeks are pretty manageable, if they can get back on track.

6. TCU Horned Frogs (2-2)

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. The Horned Frogs committed four in their loss to Texas; they’ve lost the turnover battle 7-0 in the past two weeks, and that’s why they’ve lost two in a row.

7. Iowa State Cyclones (1-2)

The defense carried the Cyclones in their win over Akron, but the offense will have to rectify its red zone issues after scoring but one touchdown in five trips inside the 20.

8. Kansas State Wildcats (2-2)

The Wildcats are seemingly at a crossroads, having been pummeled by the only two opponents of consequence that they’ve played thus far. Bill Snyder’s “I can’t coach a team that can’t get 6 inches on a play” statement after the loss to West Virginia left a mark too.

9. Baylor Bears (3-1)

The Bears are actually over .500 in conference play. Regardless of who it came against (Kansas), it’s a step forward for Matt Rhule’s squad. And it looks like Rhule might have finally settled on Charlie Brewer at QB.

10. Kansas Jayhawks (2-2)

Back to the basement for the Jayhawks, who mustered only one touchdown in a loss at Baylor. Things get even tougher over the next two weeks, with Oklahoma State and West Virginia on deck.

4. Pac-12

Of the Power 5 conferences, the Pac-12 came into the season with the reputation for the most parity, and through four weeks there has been nothing to change that perception. There are few games within the conference where it would be an absolute shock if the betting underdog came away with a win.

That makes for an entertaining conference season, but there also doesn’t appear to be a team that looks like a serious College Football Playoff threat.

1. Stanford Cardinal (4-0)

It felt like the Cardinal had lost a couple times at Autzen Stadium, but they managed to pull out a thrilling, improbable win against Oregon to remain the best positioned team for a playoff run. It just doesn’t look like a team that can run the table or finish with just one loss.

2. Washington Huskies (3-1)

Defense is the story in Seattle, where the Huskies are still trying to find the right balance on offense to get things clicking.

3. Oregon Ducks (3-1)

The Ducks will likely walk away from the Stanford loss feeling like the better team, but just a few costly mistakes prevented them from running away with a triumph.

4. Colorado Buffaloes (3-0)

That close win against Nebraska continues to look less impressive. The Buffaloes will enter conference play versus UCLA this week as the South’s lone unbeaten team.

5. California Golden Bears (3-0)

We’ll find out quickly just how good the Bears are as they open conference play at home against Oregon this week. A win over the Ducks would make Justin Wilcox the front-runner for Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

6. USC Trojans (2-2)

The Trojans have underwhelmed to this point, but it would come as no surprise if they still cruised to the division title.

7. Washington State Cougars (3-1)

Wazzu fans are still trying to figure out how targeting wasn’t called against USC on a hit to QB Gardner Minshew late in the game for a potential game-changing missed call.

8. Utah Utes (2-1)

Without any sort of rhythm on offense, one of the nation’s best defenses could go to waste.

9. Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2)

Even after back-to-back losses, it’s easy to see the Sun Devils are headed in the right direction under Herm Edwards.

10. Arizona Wildcats (2-2)

The Wildcats’ disastrous start can be forgotten with a win against USC this week.

11. Oregon State Beavers (1-3)

Arizona at home figured to be the Beavers’ best shot at a conference win this season, but the Beavers’ offense largely fell flat for the first time all year.

12. UCLA Bruins (0-3)

The only winless team in the conference is hoping the beginning of Pac-12 play allows for a fresh start.

5. ACC

1. Clemson Tigers (4-0)

There’s no drama about who is the best team in the ACC. It’s Clemson and then everyone else right now. But that doesn’t mean there’s no drama here. Clemson’s QB situation is in flux, and it certainly looked like Trevor Lawrence took a big step forward against Georgia Tech.

2. Miami Hurricanes (3-1)

Is N’Kosi Perry the answer for Miami’s offense? He certainly looked like it against FIU. And if the Canes have a real threat at QB, there’s every reason to think they’re back at the top of the Coastal Division heap.

3. Duke Blue Devils (4-0)

No Daniel Jones, no problem. The Blue Devils continue to roll, scoring 95 points in the past two weeks since their starting QB went down.

4. NC State Wolfpack (3-0)

They’ve yet to be really tested, but the Wolfpack are among the few remaining ACC teams that haven’t suffered some level of embarrassment in 2018. The test gets a bit bigger next week against Virginia.

5. Syracuse Orange (4-0)

Dino Babers has his team undefeated through four games for the first time since 1991. That’s impressive enough, but if the Orange can upset Clemson for the second year in a row on Saturday, there will be a whole new level of excitement in Syracuse.

6. Boston College Eagles (3-1)

Anthony Brown was awful against Purdue, and AJ Dillon was bottled up for most of the game. BC still might be a threat in the Atlantic, but Saturday’s performance showed there’s still a ways to go.

7. Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1)

How does a team that loses by two touchdowns to a 29-point underdog end up seventh? Well, that’s more about how bad the rest of the league is. The Hokies can find some redemption next week at Duke.

8. Virginia Cavaliers (3-1)

Bryce Perkins has given the Cavaliers a more dynamic offense, which makes them dangerous. Are the Hoos good? We’re not there yet, but they’re definitely better than most of the Coastal competition.

9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-2)

Wake’s offense continues to show signs of being dangerous, but the defense has allowed 97 points in the past two weeks, and that’s just not a recipe for wins, even in the woeful ACC.

10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-3)

Georgia Tech is 1-3 and looks awful, but not quite as awful as what’s behind it in the ACC.

11. Florida State Seminoles (2-2)

The good news is Florida State scored 37 points and won a game. The bad news is the O-line still looked overmatched and the Seminoles turned the ball over four times. That’s not going to be a recipe for many victories the rest of the way.

12. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-2)

In UNC’s past 15 games versus Power 5 foes, it is 2-13. Both wins are against Pitt. So …

13. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-2)

Pitt might not be the second-worst team in the ACC, but when you lose to UNC, this is where you end up.

14. Louisville Cardinals (2-2)

This is the worst offense Bobby Petrino has ever had through four games, and it’s really not close. Louisville tried a QB change, but that didn’t help. There might not be any other answers.

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