What the College Football Playoff Rankings would have looked like after Week 4

·7 min read

Four weeks (not counting a handful of games in Week “0”) are now in the books for the 2021 college football season and we’re starting to see some things emerge. Clemson is clearly not the program it was over the last decade, Oregon has emerged to be a player in the College Football Playoff race, and the Big Ten has a whole host of teams that have jumped up early on to challenge the scarlet and gray King Kong of the league, Ohio State.

We won’t get a look at the first release of the College Football Playoff Rankings until the committee unveils things on November 2, but we like to step out on the proverbial limb to give you our top ten of what things might have looked like if the CFP Rankings were done earlier in the season.

We do just the top ten because that’s the population the four teams more than often come from (excluding 2014 Ohio State of course), and then go from there every week.

Here is what we feel the CFP Rankings would have looked like after Week 4 in college football. Don’t worry, they’ll look a lot different in a couple of weeks we’re sure.

Ohio State (3-1) - Just outside the top ten

Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter of an NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Akron Zips on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

Ohio State may have shown some warts early on, but this team is only going to continue to get better. There’s a lot of elite, young talent, and the skill is still obvious once all the duties and responsibilities get ironed out. The lone loss is a seven-point affair against the No. 3 team in the country and the committee seems to love close losses to highly ranked teams as a measuring stick. Therefore, as a bonus, we include the Buckeyes at No. 11.

Oklahoma Sooners (4-0)

Sep 4, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooner’s placekicker Gabe Brkic (47) celebrates with teammates during the second half against the Tulane Green Wave at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

Oklahoma has looked far from dominating, even against teams that shouldn’t hang. However, the team is undefeated and does pass the sniff test just by looking up and down the roster, so the Sooners sneak in at No. 10 with a bit of a free pass for now.

Florida Gators (3-1)

Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen looks out to the stadium as the team prepares to run not the field before the start of the second game of the season against the USF Bulls at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa Fla. Sept. 11, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

Remember what we said about the committee loving teams that play close games against the elite? That never rings more true than nail-biters against Alabama and Florida had just that, losing by just a two-point conversion a couple of weeks ago. For that, the Gators stay in striking distance ready to pounce with more measuring stick games.

Arkansas Razorbacks (4-0)

Sep 25, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman Eric Thomas Jr. (37) and defensive lineman John Ridgeway (99) and linebacker Grant Morgan (31) hold up the Southwest Classic trophy as they celebrate the win over the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium. Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

Arkansas would have jumped way up into the top ten this week with a win over Texas A&M. We’re still not sure the Aggies are all that good, but it’s a highly perceived SEC team, and the Razorbacks won rather handily, giving up just ten points. Now comes the hard work.

Cincinnati Bearcats (3-0)

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell leads the Cincinnati Bearcats onto the field to warm up before the NCAA football game between Cincinnati Bearcats and Murray State Racers on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

Cincinnati continued to show everyone that it can go toe-to-toe with Power Five teams by taking control of the game against Indiana last week. The Bearcats might actually be able to crash the Playoff party if it can find a way to beat back Notre Dame this weekend and stay unbeaten.

Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0)

Ohio State football 2021 opponents ranked by ESPN Football Power Index
Ohio State football 2021 opponents ranked by ESPN Football Power Index

Oct 31, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin looks on during the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium. Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

The jury is still out on just how good this team is with what we’ve now seen from Wisconsin, but the Nittany Lions have now beaten the Badgers on the road and a ranked SEC Auburn squad. For now, they deserve to be up among the top ten in the country.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0)

Sep 25, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly instructs players during the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Soldier Field. Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

Sure, the Irish have played some close games on one end of the spectrum, but the blowout win over Wisconsin last week would have left a lasting impression on the committee. Now, it’s a big one against Cincinnati this weekend to prove the team is on the upswing and not one that will play to the level of its competition.

Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0)

Iowa freshman wide receiver Keagan Johnson (No. 6, left) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against Colorado State at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

Iowa is unbeaten and has the good win against Iowa State to hang around its neck. And while the Cyclones haven’t met expectations, the Hawkeyes have looked downright dominant on defense. We’ll see if the offense has what it takes for this team to have staying power, but so far so good despite a little bit of a letdown against Colorado State this past weekend.

Oregon Ducks (4-0)

Ohio State unit grades and individual snap counts for loss to Oregon
Ohio State unit grades and individual snap counts for loss to Oregon

Oregon running back CJ Verdell runs past Ohio State safety Bryson Shaw (17) and cornerback Cameron Brown (26) for a 77-yard touchdown on Saturday. Verdell scored two touchdowns. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

Oregon might have the best win of the college football season thus far, beating Ohio State in Columbus. There’s still a lot of work to do, and things didn’t look so rosy last Saturday in a closer than it should have been contest against Arizona, but this is an undefeated squad that passes the eye test so far.

Georgia Bulldogs (4-0)

Sep 25, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) runs the ball during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

OK, so maybe the Week 1 win over Clemson doesn’t look quite as good now, but this is still a team that’s looked downright dominating on defense and has a slew of athletes and playmakers across the roster. We’ll see how things go against a top ten opponent (Arkansas) this weekend.

Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0)

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban leads his team onto the field before playing then Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Reason for the Ranking

We might have seen a chink in the armor against Florida, but aside from that, things just keep rolling along in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is young and will continue to get better and better. Someone better knock the Tide off early or that may be all she wrote.

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