The fireworks from Week 3 in the SEC didn't quite carry over into Week 4, but the nation's top conference still gave us plenty of great performances.
As the season moves on, the best players are starting to call this list a home, and as much as we love variety, great efforts are always going to be rewarded.
The theme thus far seems to be dual-threat players, from quarterbacks who can run and throw to receivers who can catch and return kicks.
This week, however, we even have a triple-threat!
Here are the top 10 performances in the SEC from Week 4 of the 2013 college football season.
If you put 60 people in a room, 56 of them will say Alabama is the best college football team in the country. That's what the latest AP Poll indicates.
Most are still strong believers in the Crimson Tide, but there are four voters who have shied away from Nick Saban and company.
The team of the week for the oddballs is Oregon. The always flashy Ducks are sitting pretty with a 3-0 record and an offense that is averaging 61.3 points per game.
Let's meet the four voters who feel that Oregon is the top team or that Alabama has slipped a little.
Affiliation: The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette
Vingle is used to seeing an explosive offense in West Virginia, so it's easy to see why he'd fall in love with the Ducks. He can relate to the video game numbers that Oregon produces on a weekly basis.
The problem is that this year's Mountaineers team isn't living up to past success, so Oregon is obviously the next best choice.
Of course, that likely wasn't the reason Vingle snubbed Alabama from it's top spot. He's been high on Oregon for much of the season, even ranking the Ducks No. 1 after the first week. After the Tide sleep-walked against Virginia Tech, it's certainly understandable.
Vingle simply believes Oregon is the better team. The fact that the offense scores a truckload of points is just a bonus.
Griffith is a Michigan writer, so he's just holding a grudge against Alabama after the Tide pounded the Wolverines in last year's season opener. Not really. Most reasonable voters don't let feelings get in the way, and Griffith was actually kind enough to explain his rankings.
Here's what he wrote in his Sunday column, which you can read here:
I've covered Alabama football enough to understand winning ugly, but this season's version of the Tide simply hasn't earned the stripe down the middle of its helmet quite yet.
Oregon has looked better than any other team in the country this season, so I'm elevating the Ducks to the top perch on my poll.
If there was a four-team playoff next weekend, I believe Oregon would win it.
Oh, he's not going to make many friends in Alabama.
Affiliation: The State, Columbia S.C.
Can't blame bias when it comes to Kendall's poll. He's an SEC guy who covers South Carolina. Granted, the Gamecocks aren't exactly Alabama but don't SEC guys usually stick together? He did make a bold statement by moving LSU up to No. 4 but as far as Alabama, he isn't seeing the same thing that other folks are witnessing.
In fact, Kendall doesn't even believe that the SEC will win a national championship this season, which he wrote in a recent column:
What I think the trend means more immediately is that the SEC’s run of national titles will end this year. Why? The SEC has never been as good at offense as team’s like Oregon. The league separated itself come title time by being able to defend those offenses better than people in other parts of the country. Those days are looking like history now, and, as good as the SEC is playing offense these days, it still doesn’t have anything like what the Ducks are doing this year.
While most may not go as far as to say the SEC won't add another crystal football to the trophy case, it's quite clear who Kendall likes this early in the season.
Affiliation: Honolulu Star-Advertiser
It's easy to understand why Reardon wanted to spark a little controversy. He's all the way in Hawaii! Not only is he probably tired of hitting the waves during his off days, but he's also untouchable when it comes to Alabama fans.
Yes, Alabama fans travel well, but when was the last time they had a reason to visit Hawaii during the season? They don't have time for that.
All kidding aside, some may assume that voters go against the grain for attention, but Reardon has been an Oregon supporter for much of this season. He favored the Ducks in Week 3 and was the only voter to side with Oregon last week.
Unless the Ducks show a chink in the armor, it's safe to assume Reardon will continue to have Oregon as the top team in the country.
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The Texas A&M football team is 3-1 and ranked No. 9 in the latest coaches poll. They have had multiple players step up to surprise their coaches and fans with their performances in the first four weeks of the season.
The Aggies lost 11 starters from the 2012 team that finished 11-2 and ranked No. 5 in the nation. They were expected to compete for an Southeastern Conference title in 2013, and their record through four games has them right in the mix.
There have been some surprises both good and bad for the Aggies during the 2013 season. This is a look at some players who have surprised on the field with how well they have played.
It would appear Texas can't even pull off a much-needed win this season without some bad news to go along with it.
Texas has confirmed via Twitter that linebacker Jordan Hicks will have season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon.
ESPN's Joe Schad previously reported that Hicks had injured his Achilles:
Geoff Ketchum of Orangebloods.com previously reported that while the specifics of the injury remain unclear, Hicks will miss the rest of the year:
Turns out, both reports were right. They just had to be combined.
Hicks was carted off the field during the second half of Saturday's win over Kansas State with what Texas confirmed on Twitter to be an ankle injury. Officially, Texas has not confirmed any of the reports that began surfacing Sunday.
Losing Hicks is a substantial blow to a Texas defense that finally showed signs of improvement. The Longhorns, who gave up over 800 yards rushing in their previous two games against BYU and Ole Miss, were able to hold K-State to 115 yards on the ground and three yards per carry.
Hicks currently leads Texas with 41 tackles, 2.5 of which are for a loss. He was also an important member of Texas' defense in 2012 before suffering what would become a season-ending hip/groin injury early in the year in a win over Ole Miss. Texas confirmed over the summer that Hicks was approved for a medical redshirt for that injury.
Suffice to say, Hicks has had little in the way of luck when it comes to injuries.
On top of Hicks' situation, quarterback David Ash left Saturday's game with another head injury and did not return. Ash had previously missed the Ole Miss game because of a concussion he suffered in Week 2 against BYU.
Wide receivers Daje Johnson and Mike Davis are also nursing ankle injuries. While Texas may be 1-0 in the Big 12, injury woes are already putting a damper on things.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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Following a 35-21 win against Auburn, the LSU locker room seemed deflated.
Les Miles took the podium with an unsatisfied demeanor, a feeling that he and his team left a lot on the field Saturday night.
"Did LSU actually win this game?" Media members began to question the outcome of the contest following coach and player reactions to LSU's sloppy, dreary victory.
"I just know how good we can be," said Zach Mettenberger, who wasn't his normal giddy self.
A win is a win, but after Auburn fought back into the ball game, posting over 300 total yards in the second half, and LSU's offense stymied late in the fourth quarter, LSU's seemingly dominant performance in the first quarter changed course, just as the weather.
"Rough" is the way Miles described LSU's finish Saturday night. And though the Tigers had some great performances, particularly from Jeremy Hill, Jarvis Landry, Jalen Mills and D.J. Welter, there are plenty of improvements for this LSU team to make before playing Georgia this Saturday.
Keep Defense Off of the Field
The most glaring improvement LSU must concentrate on is subtracting its opponent's total plays from scrimmage.
Auburn ran 85 plays as opposed to LSU's 66. That simply can't happen. Yes, Gus Malzahn's offense is built around expanding drives with a hurry-up tempo, but 85 plays is far too many for LSU to defend.
As a result, LSU's defense grew glaringly tired in the second half, which led to Auburn racking up most of its total yardage.
With a bruising back like Todd Gurley and a pace-changer in Keith Marshall, LSU has to limit the time its defense sees the field against Georgia.
If Georgia is able to tire down LSU's defense like Auburn did, it will open the door for long passes by Aaron Murray and huge gains by his running back tandem.
In other words, if LSU allows a repeat of this against the Bulldogs, it will be a shootout in Athens.
Late Game Vanilla Play-Calling
The biggest reason LSU's defense wore down in the fourth quarter was because of the offense's three-and-outs.
Though LSU tried to run out the clock late in the game, the Tigers ran it straight ahead with a predictable I-form offense. What is this, 2012?
Auburn loaded up the box, stopped the run and was able to get the ball back twice in the fourth quarter under six minutes left to go.
That predictable play-calling has to go. Cam Cameron's offense thus far for LSU has been anything but vanilla.
However, with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, LSU showed glimpses of last season with its insensible decision to rush between the guards against an eight-man box on consecutive series.
Running the clock is one thing, but trying to get the first down while ticking down the seconds is another.
Deep Ball Issues
Auburn's Nick Marshall hit two deep passes to Sammie Coates with Micah Eugene manning the safety position Saturday night.
The long passing plays set up two scores for Auburn, and it brought the Tigers back into the game against LSU.
The good news here is that Ronald Martin will be back for Georgia. Miles confirmed this immediately after the Auburn victory.
Though Martin's tackling isn't up to par with Micah Eugene's, his coverage was greatly missed.
The return of Martin will allow Eugene to move back over to the nickel position where he belongs. Eugene is excellent in blitzing off of the edge and making tackles in the secondary.
With Martin back in the lineup next Saturday, the Tigers should have a more stout pass defense going against one of the SEC's best, Aaron Murray.
Jake Martin is a Featured Columnist of Bleacher Report and a contributor for The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from The Sun Herald.
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A certain worldwide sports television leader likes to give nicknames to what it considers the overarching theme surrounding the college football games of a given day or week. We're sure to soon hear lots about Rivalry Week or Judgement Saturday as the season goes along.
Week 4 wasn't blessed with any fancy such moniker. If it had, though, it could easily have been called Woodshed Week. As in, getting taken out behind the woodshed for a good ol'-fashioned whooping.
The just-completed slate of games had woefully lopsided scores such as 72-0, 76-0, 70-7 and 77-7. It also had two contests with running clocks, by request, one of which also had an agreed-upon shortened fourth quarter to stem the bleeding.
But even with a mostly non-competitive, upset-less weekend, there was still no shortage of standout performances worth noting.
Pac-12 representation is back down to four teams in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll, released Sunday.
Three of the conference's four ranked teams hold steady at their Week 4 spots: Oregon at No. 2, Stanford at No. 5 and UCLA at No. 13. Stanford standing pat is perhaps the most surprising, as the Cardinal notched the weekend's only win over a Top 25 opponent via a 42-28 defeat of conference foe Arizona State.
The only Pac-12 member moving up in the Week 5 poll is Washington, which climbed from No. 17 to No. 16. The Huskies pasted Championship Subdivision non-conference opponent Idaho State in a game that was much more lopsided than the 56-0 final score.
Washington was also the conference's big mover in the USA Today Coaches Poll, gaining two spots from No. 22 to No. 20. UCLA climbed from No. 15 to No. 14.
Despite its loss, Arizona State is just on the outside looking in, checking in atop the Others Receiving Votes designation. Arizona, which was idle in Week 4, also garnered votes.
Team rankings are listed as AP/USA Today Coaches Poll. My vote in the B/R Top 25 is designated in italics.
2/2. Oregon (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12 Conference)
Week 4: Idle | Week 5: vs. Cal
Defenses around the nation could breathe a sigh of relief in Week 4, because the Ducks and their potent offense had Saturday off.
Oregon's Week 5 tilt and conference opener threatens to test the Autzen Stadium scoreboards' limits. Cal is scoring 33.7 points per game, but giving up 42.
My Ranking: 2
5/5. Stanford (3-0, 1-0)
Week 4: Beat No. 23 Arizona State, 42-28 | Week 5: at Washington State
For three quarters of Saturday's win over then-No. 23 Arizona State, the Cardinals looked every bit like a national championship contender.
The Cardinals face 3-1 Washington State for first place in the Pac-12 North—seriously. Each is 1-0 in conference play. Stanford won in its last trip to the Palouse, 44-14.
My Ranking: 5
13/14. UCLA (3-0, 0-0)
Week 4: Beat New Mexico State, 59-13 | Week 5: Idle
New Mexico State proved no challenge to the Bruins, as expected. UCLA used its final non-conference game as a tune-up for the Pac-12 slate, which begins following a Week 5 bye at Utah on Oct. 3.
My Ranking: 9
16/20. Washington (3-0, 0-0)
Week 4: Beat Idaho State, 56-0 | Week 5: vs. Arizona
Running back Bishop Sankey was used sparingly, carrying just four times against outmatched Idaho State. All he did was roll off 19.2 yards per attempt and score a touchdown.
The Huskies have allowed just 30 points in three games, but draw a test via Arizona and Rich Rodriguez's version of the spread offense. With head coach Steve Sarkisian implementing his own hurry-up offense this offseason, the 'Cats and Dawgs could approach 200 combined snaps in Week 5.
My Ranking: 14
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.
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Week 4, the final week before widespread conference play, was an odd one that saw no top-20 teams suffer a loss.
As such, it was not the most exciting week in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls. Michigan took a tumble after a second consecutive near-loss against Connecticut, but other than that, there was very little jockeying.
Still, with a couple of new faces and small shifts between power programs, there were some developments of note.
Even when things stay the same, the rankings never bore.
The college football rankings remained relatively untouched after an uneventful Week 4, but the upcoming weekend threatens to alter the sport's landscape.
Anyone looking at the updated AP Top 25 would be forgiven for thinking they accidentally posted last week's rankings. None of the first 14 teams shifted places, and another narrow victory for Michigan cost it just three spots.
While the rumblings remained quiet this week, it's merely the calm before the storm. Some schools could plummet faster that the silhouette in Mad Men's opening credits with a poor showing on Saturday.
These three teams need a big win to stay afloat among college football's elite.
The Fighting Irish survived yet again.
A week after escaping Purdue with a close win, Notre Dame fended off Michigan State in an ugly 17-13 victory. The Spartans accrued more yards but cost themselves a victory with four pass interference penalties and an interception thrown by a wide receiver on a trick play.
Notre Dame sits firmly at No. 22 despite two single-digit victories, but facing a ranked opponent could knock them out of the Top 25. Oklahoma, seeded at No. 14, is well rested after a week off and is waiting to take them down.
A week after orchestrating little offense, the Fighting Irish will gave to deal with the Sooners, who have surrendered just nine points per game. They're fierce on the other side of the field as well now that Blake Bell has taken the reigns under center.
Notre Dame lives to fight another day, but their time could be running out.
Despite beating Tennessee on Saturday, Florida swapped places with Baylor from No. 19 to No. 20. The Gators have bigger concerns on their hands after losing their starting quarterback for the season.
Jeff Driskel broke his leg in the first quarter against the Volunteers and will miss the remainder of the season. The junior had amassed 477 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions before suffering the crushing blow.
Tyler Murphy looked sharp in Driskel's place, completing eight of 14 passes for 134 yards and a score along with 84 rushing yards. He led the Gators to a big 31-17 victory over their SEC rivals, avoiding their second loss after previous falling to the Hurricanes.
In his first start, Murphy will be tasked with keeping Florida's ranking intact against Kentucky, who played No. 7 Louisville tough in a 27-14 defeat.
While Kentucky's offense has played sharp football, the defense has surrendered 103 points in three games, providing Murphy with a golden opportunity to start his tenure as Florida's starting quarterback on a positive note.
How can a team with two losses remain in the top 10?
Even after losing its season opener to Clemson, Georgia has held a cushy spot at No. 9 in the AP poll. But continuing its brutal schedule this week could spell doom for the Bulldgos.
Georgia now must combat another premier squad in No. 6 LSU, who has beaten its four opponents by a 95-point margin.
Zach Mettenberger has matured during his senior season, completing 64.8 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and one interception. The LSU quarterback will face a shaky Georgia defense that has allowed 28.7 points per contest.
The voters did not give up on Georgia after fighting Clemson to the wire, but it will be hard to keep them too high with a .500 record, regardless of how the school attained those losses.
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There was very little movement in the Week 5 AP Top 25 and USA Today football coaches polls after most of the top teams in the nation cruised to easy wins.
Alabama, however, lost a couple of first-place votes after having some difficulty against Colorado State before winning the game 31-6. Oregon was idle in Week 4 but picked up a few votes as a result.
Overall, the Top 14 of the AP poll remained unchanged and just two teams shifted in the coaches poll. LSU leaped ahead of Louisville after convincingly handing Auburn its first defeat, and Michigan dropped from the 14th spot after struggling for the second week in a row in a narrow victory over winless Connecticut.
The bottom of the polls, as per usual, saw the biggest flux of movement this week. Fresno State cracked the AP Top 25 and solidified its BCS hopes after edging Boise State. Wisconsin and Texas Tech slipped into the final two spots of the coaches poll.
The four-week appetizer that is non-conference play (plus an early Big Ten play preview with Purdue at Wisconsin last weekend) is finally over, and autumn has arrived with conference games. That means no more weeks filled with non-substantive cupcakes and glazed donuts.
Every week, there will be one or two games that everyone will be focused on, but the beauty of conference play is the high-quality undercard to those top matchups most weekends. In fact, every week of the next 10 features an underrated game that should be getting more anticipation than it's currently receiving.
There's plenty of good B1G football coming up, so it is time to get excited!
Let's take a look at these underrated games coming up in each of the final 10 weeks of the regular-season schedule.
Tyler Murphy is now the face of Florida.
The announcement came during a CBS post-game interview with a candid Will Muschamp. Now, the focus has shifted from a struggling, second-year starter to an unproven redshirt junior, who completed his first career pass on Saturday in Florida's 31-17 win over Tennessee.
Consider this: the Gators utilized the likes of John Brantley, Jordan Reed, Trey Burton, Jacoby Brissett and Driskel during Murphy's tenure at Florida before he took the field on Saturday.
He completed 8-of-14 passes for 134 yards and one passing touchdown and showcased his mobility, too, rushing for 84 yards on 10 carries and a score. Of the players listed above, Murphy's 161.1 quarterback rating ranks highest among first appearances.
It's easy to forget Murphy assumed first-team reps during Driskel's recovery from an emergency appendectomy at the beginning of fall camp.
And in Saturday's win, Murphy did all the little things Driskel failed to do during his time as a starter: he kept his eyes downfield, he took shots vertically and slid before contact rather than taking the punishing hits Driskel was so accustom to taking.September 21, 2013
Murphy showed signs of a quarterback who can play within an offense's structure, shift and move within the pocket all while keeping his eyes downfield and fit throws with perfect trajectory to the far sideline.
If Saturday's game was any indication of Murphy's potential, Florida shouldn't experience any hiccups on offense given his above-average mobility to run the "full house" formation and zone-read plays. Moving forward, Florida's game-plan won't change given his similar skill-set to Driskel and time spent in Pease's system.
Muschamp said the offense is not expected to change too much with Murphy. Will utilize his mobility like they try with Driskel— Scott Carter (@GatorZoneScott) September 21, 2013
To demonstrate this further, let's focus on these two key plays that stood out during Murphy's game versus Tennessee.
In this photo, Florida is lined up in a 2x2 formation with Matt Jones as the lone halfback to left of Tyler Murphy. Pease dials up a quick screen with a run-pass option on 2nd-and-six at Florida's 48-yard line.
With multiple receivers to Murphy's right side, and Tennessee failing to cover them with numbers, Murphy makes the correct read and simply throws the quick screen to Solomon Patton.
Jordan Reed's block on the perimeter creates a one-on-one opportunity for Patton. With his speed and the poor tackling angle by the corner, he sprints up the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown.
In this play, Murphy demonstrates his understanding of package concepts by making the correct read. Simple by design, plays like these will press the edge of the defense that plays too deep and boost the confidence of a quarterback.
In this photo, Florida is lined up in a 3x1 formation with trips to Murphy's left and Quinton Dunbar isolated at the bottom of the screen in man-to-man coverage.
It looks as though Murphy's first read is the receiver coming across the face of the defense on a shallow cross. With this receiver blanketed in coverage, and with Dunbar on an island to the right sideline, Murphy pulled the trigger and threw deep.
He delivered the ball on time with the correct trajectory, fitting the throw away from the corner and over the right shoulder of Dunbar, where only he could make a play.
In this play, Murphy read the coverage and responded accordingly. More importantly, he showed a level of confidence in his receiver to make a play—an aspect of Florida's offense that has been missing. He showed little to no hesitation by pulling the trigger.
Tyler Murphy may not be the next Tim Tebow or Danny Wuerffel, but he certainly made plays, scheduled and unscheduled, that should restore confidence in Florida's coaching staff following the injury to Driskel.
And with two inferior opponents the next two weeks (Kentucky Arkansas), Murphy will have ample time to prepare for LSU.
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Looking back in Week 4 in college football, well, um, at least there was a UFC pay-per-view to divert some of our attention?
That's about the best thing you can say about a relatively putrid Saturday across the sport. There were exactly zero upsets of Top 25 teams.
Seven of the 19 games involving ranked teams this past week were decided by 40 or more points. Twice teams agreed upon a running clock to quell the utter annihilation, and Miami and Savannah State shaved three whole minutes off their fourth quarter to get everyone the hell out of there limbs still intact.
Week 4 in college football was filled with grisly carnage, the lifeless also-rans getting chewed up and spat out like accidentally-eaten cat food.
And the Week 5 rankings reflect that widespread domination. Only one team dropped from its perch within the best 25 in the Associated Press' new rankings, and it's worth noting that one of those teams was Arizona State, which had the indignity of getting pummeled on the road against fifth-ranked Stanford.
Not exactly a loss worth criticizing.
That being said, fans should be in for a more enjoyable viewing experience next Saturday. In-conference play kicks off across college football, meaning the best of the best will actually be playing teams in it for more than just a fat check.
There will likely be at least a couple of upsets, and surely fewer running clocks and 70-point blowouts. With the difficulty ratcheted up, that means a few questionable teams hanging on will have a ton to prove in Week 5.
Let's check in with the new AP rankings and determine which teams should be in "prove it" mode.
No. 22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Last season, Notre Dame specialized in gutting out close and at times ugly wins. The Irish defense was almost unquestionably the nation's best in the regular season, allowing Everett Golson to manage his way through games most teams wouldn't otherwise win. In eight of their 13 games, the Irish scored 22 or fewer points and only lost one—the national championship game against Alabama.
Saturday's win over Michigan State had to feel a whole lot like 2012 in South Bend. Quarterback Tommy Rees completed only 14 of 34 passes for 142 yards, but he avoided critical turnovers and threw a second-quarter touchdown that gave the Irish a lead at half. The team's group of running backs combined to average only 2.4 yards per carry, and yet Cam McDaniel managed a rare seven-yard gain for what turned out to be the game-winning score.
Meanwhile, the defense suffocated Michigan State. A questionable offensive team to begin with, the Spartans were rendered completely fangless by the Notre Dame front seven. Running back Nick Hill, who had been the team's big-play threat, had only 34 yards on his 13 carries, and Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook essentially played Rees even.
For those who studied the matchup, it was an expected result. Although the Irish offense has been off to a better start than a year ago, Rees can't carry an attack, and the team is still sorting out its running back situation. And Michigan State's offense is simply dreadful; this was bound to be a low-scoring contest.
The Irish won't have as much schedule luck this week when Oklahoma makes the trip up to South Bend.
Blake Bell's arrival to the starting lineup in Week 3 came with an instant shot in the arm, with the junior quarterback tossing four touchdowns in a blowout win over Tulsa. Freshman Trevor Knight had been unable to parlay his excellent preseason into anything of substance, and it was instantly obvious how much better the Sooners offense was with Bell.
With the combo meal of Brennan Clay and Damien Williams at running back, the Irish defense will face arguably their biggest test of the season—depending on how bullish you're feeling on Devin Gardner at the moment.
The last time Notre Dame played a ranked team, it gave up 40 points. Last week, the Irish looked as dominant as they were last season defensively. Will the real Fighting Irish please...OK, not going there. But we'll find out whether this year's Notre Dame team is worthy of Top 25 billing in Week 5.
No. 6 LSU Tigers
According to my excellent math skills, we're in year eleventy billion of the Les Miles era. We all should have a pretty good idea that the Tigers are going to be competitive and go to a January bowl game. That's just how these things work.
The "prove it" mantle here specifically applies to quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Arguably the biggest reason LSU didn't make a BCS bowl game a year ago, Mettenberger has been bar none the most improved player in the SEC through the first few weeks. The senior signal-caller has thrown for 1,028 yards and 10 touchdowns against a single interception, playing a beautifully efficient style.
To contrast, Mettenberger threw for 2,609 yards and 12 touchdowns against seven interceptions last season. The first third of the 2013 regular season has him on pace to obliterate those numbers in every conceivable way.
Having a trio of elite running backs certainly hasn't hurt matters—the Tigers are averaging a very solid 5.4 yards per carry so far—but Mettenberger has this team looking like a borderline national championship contender.
Now comes the first real test for the LSU quarterback's improvement.
Ninth-ranked Georgia has already been through a gauntlet. The Bulldogs opened their season with a one-possession loss to Clemson and followed it up by taking down South Carolina at home. They had a bye in Week 3 before a virtual bye versus North Texas this past week, meaning they will have had three weeks to prepare for hosting LSU come next Saturday.
That could spell the end of Mettenberger's honeymoon phase. LSU has either played at the friendly confines of Tiger Stadium or at a neutral location in each of its first four games this year. Going to Athens and engaging in what could be a shootout against Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley and Co.?
I'm bearish on whether Mettenberger 2.0 will be able to keep up. A tiger doesn't change his stripe...OK, not going there, either. But betting on Mettenberger on the road against a top-10 team just isn't something I'm ready to do at this point.
Win on Saturday? The conversation changes.
No. 16 Washington Huskies
This may be the most underrated game (and possibly the best) of the entire week. Washington hosts unranked Arizona in a battle of the unbeatens in a contest that may determine Oregon and Stanford's biggest dark-horse challenger for the Pac-12 crown.
Both teams have been borderline unstoppable this season. The Huskies have a plus-98 point differential already this season, winning each of their games by double-digits and dominating on both sides of the ball. They rank inside the top 20 in passing offense, rushing offense and both facets on the defensive side as well.
Quarterback Keith Price looks recovered from his lost junior season. He's thrown for 879 yards and completed 77 percent of his passes, resembling the breakout star he was in 2011. With a 7-to-1 touchdown-to-interception rate, Price has been comfortable and efficient in the pocket.
Having Bishop Sankey lining up behind him has obviously helped. The Washington running back has rushed for 446 yards and four touchdowns already this season, averaging a whopping seven yards per carry. That balance has made them nearly impossible to stop and allowed them to control the clock and keep their defense off the field as much as possible.
Arizona doesn't have nearly that level of balance—only six teams in the entire nation are averaging fewer passing yards per game—but the efficiency is there. Led by a dominant defense and the trio of Ka'Deem Carey, Daniel Jenkins and quarterback B.J. Denker, the Wildcats have eviscerated their opponents by pounding them into the ground.
Rich Rodriguez's read-option offense has returned to the hyper-efficiency that hasn't been seen since his days in Morgantown. Arizona is averaging 6.4 yards per carry as a team, with Carey and Jenkins hovering around the seven per clip mark.
Things get a bit hairy when Denker is expected to throw, but Steve Sarkisian's team isn't without its flaws. The Huskies have forced only five turnovers through their first three games and coughed it up four times themselves. Plus-one isn't exactly a dreadful turnover rate by any stretch; it's just hard seeing it getting much better as the schedule gets harder.
With Arizona running the hyper-efficient, low-turnover option attack, it'll at least be interesting to see how this game plays out.
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With each passing week of the 2013 college football season, our picture of the Top 25 becomes clearer.
This ultimately makes it more difficult to decide on who doesn't belong, because while most of the Top 10 is still shiny and sparkling, everybody else has flaws, some of them rather obvious.
Creeping into the current conversation is how a team is playing at the moment. While the previous few weeks were all about resume and teams on the fringe of the polls (AP and Coaches), we'll now disregard ranking altogether and really look at whether teams are playing Top 25 football.
A bad week isn't any reason to hammer somebody, but more than one makes it a trend and that could spell big problems down the line.
Take a look at five teams who should be in this week's Top 25, and five who should be out.
Four up, four down.
Michigan's win-loss record is unblemished, but the perception of Team 134 may be at a season-low after its desperate 24-21 victory Saturday over UConn in East Hartford.
Turnovers have plagued quarterback Devin Gardner, who has eight interceptions this season in four games compared to five picks in five games in 2012.
The offense, at times, has been nothing short of flat and disappointing. After torching Central Michigan 59-9 and outdoing Notre Dame 41-30, the Wolverines' scoring abilities have come into question after a pair of average showings against UConn and Akron (won 28-24).
Problems are on both sides of the ball, as the defense has failed to live up to expectations. Other than Frank Clark, the defensive front has lacked a true playmaker through the first four contests. The linebackers haven't dazzled, but Desmond Morgan emerged as a gamer with a key interception in the fourth quarter versus the Huskies.
That's one of the lone highlights thus far.
A work in progress. That's Michigan football. The good, the bad and the otherwise will be examined in this slideshow. All hope isn't lost for the Wolverines, but serious adjustments during the bye week are necessary if they're going to compete in the Big Ten.
Week 4 of the college football season saw plenty of near-miss upsets that have some of the ranked teams lucky to be where they are ranked heading into Week 5.
The Michigan Wolverines' matchup with the UConn Huskies gave them more than they bargained for. It was much of the same for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and to a lesser extent, the Clemson Tigers.
All of these teams share one thing in common: They all played down to their competition last week.
Let's take a look at the entire Top 25 rankings (per the Associated Press) and why these three squads deserved to slip in the rankings.
Bleacher Report's official rankings can be found here.
Week 5 RankingsRanking Team Previous Ranking Points BR Ranking 1 Alabama 1 1,496 1 2 Oregon 2 1,418 2 3 Clemson 3 1,340 5 4 Ohio State 4 1,320 3 5 Stanford 5 1,270 4 6 LSU 6 1,167 6 7 Louisville 7 1,088 8 8 Florida State 8 1,049 7 9 Georgia 9 1,029 9 10 Texas A&M 10 1,011 10 11 Oklahoma State 11 849 11 12 South Carolina 12 828 12 13 UCLA 13 798 13 14 Oklahoma 14 689 15 15 Miami Fla. 16 687 14 16 Washington 17 559 17 17 Northwestern 18 477 18 18 Michigan 15 450 19 19 Baylor 20 441 16 20 Florida 19 414 20 21 Ole Miss 21 342 21 22 Notre Dame 22 256 22 23 Wisconsin 24 130 23 24 Texas Tech 25 127 24 25 Fresno State NR 110 25
No. 18 Michigan Wolverines (Last week: No. 15)
For the second week in a row, the Wolverines had a scare against a lesser opponent.
In Week 3, Michigan barely edged out the Akron Zips and needed a last-second defensive stop to do so. On Saturday, the Wolverines got outclassed by the UConn Huskies in the first half, only to suddenly wake up and take the win in the second.
After an impressive win against Notre Dame, the Wolverines seem to be taking their foot off the pedal. That's a dangerous way to play, because it's complacency that can cause a good team like Michigan to succumb to teams it should normally beat.
With next to no contribution from quarterback Devin Gardner throwing the ball, Michigan got bailed out by its rushing attack led by Fitzgerald Toussaint, and it needed a total shutout in the second half by its defense to emerge victorious.
It wasn't until the closing minutes that Michigan finally took back the lead.
That can't continue to happen, and if Michigan doesn't wake up soon, they could be out of the Top 25 altogether with a loss or a few more lackluster performances. These last two games are not those of a deserving, high-quality squad.
No. 22 Notre Dame (No change from last week)
Somehow the Fighting Irish were able to maintain their No. 22 ranking after a close call with the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday.
Offensively, the Irish were awful, and if not for its defense, Notre Dame may have suffered its second loss of the season. Quarterback Tommy Rees looked dreadful, and the Irish compiled just 220 yards, compared to the Spartans' 254.
And don't forget that this game was tied going into the fourth quarter, giving Michigan St. a great chance to pull out the upset.
Teams will have letdown games here and there, but for the Irish this is two weeks in a row they nearly lost to an inferior competitor.
Following their Week 2 loss to Michigan, the Irish barely escaped West Lafayette with a 31-24 win over the Purdue Boilermakers. In that one, Purdue had a touchdown advantage going in the final quarter versus Notre Dame, which is a stark contrast to the beat-down the Boilermakers received from No. 23 Wisconsin.
No. 3 Clemson Tigers (No change from last week)
After dropping 38 points and stunning the Georgia Bulldogs in the season opener, you would expect a much better showing from Clemson's offense against a team like the N.C. State Wolfpack.
But that didn't happen. Instead, the Tigers could only muster up 415 total yards and 26 points. NC State actually found itself down by just six points going into the half and nearly gained more yards than their counterparts with 378.
If this type of performance were to happen against a top team, the Tigers will get waxed. BCS national-title aspirations are a very real thing for this program in 2013-14, but this game proved they are unworthy of such expectations for the moment.
Especially when looking at what teams like Ohio State and Stanford did behind them, Clemson simply doesn't deserve to be ranked in the top three after Week 4.
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Surprises can go both ways, and for the Texas Longhorns, they have experienced either side of that coin through four weeks of the 2013 season: a rash of injuries, glimpses of good, balanced attack, awful defensive efforts.
On the personnel front, Texas has also seen the good and bad. Some have been marginally good or bad, but others have gotten themselves farther away on the spectrum.
With a 2-2 mark on the season and 1-0 in the Big 12, the start was fresh and positive after a somewhat unconvincing win against Kansas State. But with plenty of good players across the board, the ball will have to start rolling on both sides if Texas is to realize its goals.
A relatively stale week of games allowed for stagnation throughout the rankings, but perhaps that shouldn't have been the case.
Were some teams snubbed by not moving up? Were some teams lucky to not move down?
Who won and who lost in the Week 5 polls?
College football has seen better weeks than what Week 4 provided. Most of the ranked squads devoured cupcake opponents, and the others were busy cruising to a victory against boring competition. The lack of interesting matchups played a big role in how voters voted in the latest AP poll and USA Today coaches poll.
There were very few eye-popping changes, but there were some teams that didn't deserve the disrespect. There's an ACC team that isn't even ranked after a big win and a Big Ten juggernaut that keeps falling in the polls despite winning every game.