Big Ten

See how they stack up: Week 4 college football top 25 rankings

0925_kenny_hill.jpg
USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 4 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 4 in the books, here’s my top 25.

1. Clemson (4-0)

Believe it or don’t, the champs were tied with Boston College heading into the fourth quarter. But the Tigers scored four fourth-quarter touchdowns to blow out the Eagles and stay lookin’ good.

2. Alabama (4-0)

A most impressive trip to Nashville for the Tide, who spanked previously undefeated Vandy by a jaw-dropping 59-0 score. The way the SEC looks right now, there could be a lot of wins like this for Bama.

3. Oklahoma (4-0)

It was anything but smooth sailin’ cross the plains for the Sooner Schooner at Baylor, which dropped 41 points on Oklahoma. But the Sooners dropped 49 of their own, escaping with a classic Big 12 win.

4. TCU (4-0)

On the road at previously unstoppable Okie State, the Frogs turned in a sensational performance on both sides of the ball. Stifling D might be their thing, but they’ve also got 191 points in four games.

5. Penn State (4-0)

Penn State’s offense struggled against an Iowa defense that came to play. But the Lions won — in thrilling fashion — because Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley are two of the best players in America.

6. Wisconsin (3-0)

Badgers were off this weekend, but they’re ready to unleash their offensive attack on the Big Ten when conference play starts next weekend. Good luck trying to stop Jonathan Taylor, Northwestern.

7. Georgia (4-0)

Looks like no one knew how good Georgia actually was. The Dawgs won the battle of the Bulldogs behind another great effort from freshman quarterback Jake Fromm: 9-for-12 for 201 yards and two TDs.

8. USC (4-0)

Not sure anyone can consider a 10-point win over Cal “impressive,” but USC is still undefeated. The offense is slowing a bit, though, after a high-scoring start. Sam Darnold has nine TDs and seven INTs.

9. Virginia Tech (4-0)

Since the tremendously entertaining season-opening win against West Virginia, the Hokies have won their last three games by a combined score of 129-17. Josh Jackson is so good, you guys.

10. Michigan (4-0)

The Michigan offense is not good. But the Michigan defense is good enough for the Wolverines to win any game this season. It held upstart Purdue to 10 yards in the second half on Saturday. Ten!

11. Oklahoma State (3-1)

Okie State’s Playoff train derailed against TCU and the Frogs’ great defense. Mason Rudolph still mustered nearly 400 passing yards, though, and this is still an obviously high-powered offense.

12. Washington (4-0)

I finally had to rank the Huskies, who finally scored an impressive win on the road at Colorado, beating the Buffs by four touchdowns. UW rushed for 254 yards and came away with three interceptions.

13. Miami (2-0)

The Canes have scored 93 points in their first two games, including 52 this weekend against Toledo — who Miami was losing to, 16-10, at halftime. Mark Walton: 204 rushing yards on only 11 carries!

14. Ohio State (3-1)

If the Buckeyes could play Army and UNLV every week, their offense would have no problems at all. Ohio State had seven different guys catch a touchdown pass this weekend, a Big Ten record.

15. West Virginia (3-1)

The good: Will Grier is still slingin’ and led a third straight 56-point-plus output for West Virginia. The bad: The Mountaineers gave up 34 points to Kansas, which I didn’t think was humanly possible.

16. Louisville (3-1)

The Cards blew out Kent State, getting a respite after three Power Five opponents to open the season. And this time the defense showed up, allowing just three points.

17. Duke (4-0)

Trailing at North Carolina well into the fourth quarter, the Dukies stayed undefeated, sealing Saturday night’s rivalry win with a late pick six. Duke welcomes in undefeated Miami on Friday.

18. Washington State (4-0)

It’s been more than a decade and a half since Wazzu was 4-0. The Fightin’ Leaches are predictably piling up points and could legitimately stage an upset of USC in their next game.

19. Auburn (3-1)

Auburn was the latest to take a turn beating up on my alma mater, crushing Mizzou by a 51-14 score. Kerryon Johnson — great name for a running back — had 18 carries. Five of them were touchdowns.

20. North Carolina State (3-1)

The Wolfpack went into Tallahassee and knocked off a preseason national-title favorite, a remarkable accomplishment. Also, how good is Bradley Chubb? He was a one-man wrecking crew vs. the Noles.

21. USF (4-0)

Another week, another blowout win for the Bulls. They rushed for 312 yards in the 43-7 destruction of Temple. The end-of-season USF-UCF game is actually looking pretty great right now.

22. Utah (4-0)

The Utes got a test from Arizona, which was within three points late in the third quarter. But a pick six effectively sealed the deal and kept Utah undefeated heading into an interesting Stanford-USC stretch.

23. Iowa (3-1)

The Hawkeyes didn’t beat highly ranked Penn State, and you can argue they lost in the most heartbreaking of fashions. But boy did that defense look good all night against an incredible offense.

24. Notre Dame (3-1)

After smoking Michigan State in East Lansing, ND has looked great against every opponent not named Georgia, and the Dawgs are proving to be a terrific loss at this point.

25. Florida (3-1)

The Gators still can’t score and needed a few different miracles to avoid losing to Kentucky for the first time in 30 years. But somehow, in the weird SEC, Florida’s gonna win 10 games again, aren’t they?

Others receiving votes:

San Diego State (4-0)

The Aztecs avoided disaster and came back to beat Air Force. Rashaad Penny had himself a day with three touchdown runs, including a 54-yard game-winning scamper in the fourth quarter.

UCF (2-0)

The Knights knocked Maryland off its pedestal as one of the kings of the Big Ten East. Seriously, though, what a performance, UCF going on the road and clubbing a Big Ten team 38-10.

Mississippi State (3-1)

You’d like to say Mississippi State isn’t for real after getting dominated by Georgia. But getting dominated by Georgia seems to be an excusable offense these days.

Stanford (2-2)

Stanford’s losses to USC and San Diego State are looking all right, and its win over UCLA — a 58-34 throttling — showcased Bryce Love as one of the country’s best players: 263 yards!

Vanderbilt (3-1)

Vandy’s bubble got burst pretty darn good against Bama — plenty of other teams can commiserate. But the Dores have still allowed just 13 points in their other three games.

See how they stack up: Week 6 college football top 25 rankings

1008_michigan_state_spartans.jpg
USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 6 college football top 25 rankings

A special, if somewhat sad edition of the top-25 rankings this week. Saturday delivered another terrific day of college football, but we also must remember and celebrate one of the best rock n rollers of all-time, Tom Petty, who passed away earlier this week. So, in addition to the usual top 25, you get some bonus rankings, my picks for the 25 best Petty songs ever. Enjoy.

With Week 6 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Clemson (6-0)

It wasn’t a blowout, but the champs rolled on with a comfortable-enough win over Wake Forest. Of bigger concern is Kelly Bryant, who left the game with an ankle injury.

No. 25: “Saving Grace” from Highway Companion, 2006

2. Alabama (6-0)

Bama held on to win by eight after a 21-point third-quarter lead shrunk down. But was it ever really in doubt for the Tide? They will no doubt roll through a weak schedule leading up to the Iron Bowl.

No. 24: “The Wild One, Forever” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

3. TCU (5-0)

Defensively, the Frogs kept West Virginia out of the end zone through the first 41 minutes. Offensively, Kenny Hill had himself a day and matched the Mountaineers’ late charge. Oh, and TCU is now in complete command of the Big 12.

No. 23: “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” from Hard Promises, 1981

4. Georgia (6-0)

The Dawgs delivered another SEC pounding — yawn — and have outscored their conference foes by 100 points in three games. Expect that number to balloon further with Mizzou on the schedule next.

No. 22: “Rebels” from Southern Accents, 1985

5. Penn State (6-0)

Saquon Barkley had a negative rushing total in the first half Saturday, and this one was somehow never in doubt. Barkley finished with a pair of touchdown runs as the Lions look far and away the best team in the Big Ten East.

No. 21: “The Same Old You” from Long After Dark, 1982

6. Wisconsin (5-0)

Things looked a bit dicey with Wisconsin tied with Nebraska in the third quarter. But the Badgers ran away, closing with three straight touchdowns and winning easily on Jonathan Taylor’s huge night: 249 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.

No. 20: “Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

7. Washington (6-0)

I doubted Washington early, and at this point I’m not sure why. The Huskies pounded Cal on Saturday night — yes, Chris Petersen, a night game — and are one of three teams (Alabama, Ohio State) in the top 10 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

No. 19: “Century City” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

8. Washington State (6-0)

Wazzu’s still undefeated, taking complete advantage of an Oregon team without its starting quarterback, holding the Ducks to just 10 points, Oregon’s fewest since the LeGarrette Blount punch game.

No. 18: “Hometown Blues” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

9. Miami (4-0)

What a wild finish in the rivalry game with Florida State, but Miami finally stopped its losing streak to the Noles. The Canes’ defense allowed more than 400 yards, but Malik Rosier threw three touchdown passes.

No. 17: “Listen to Her Heart” from You’re Gonna Get It!, 1978

10. Auburn (5-1)

Just like Alabama and Georgia, Auburn is clobbering everyone else in the SEC. Since only beating Mercer by 14, the Tigers have smoked Mizzou, Mississippi State and Ole Miss by a combined 144-47 score.

No. 16: “Runnin’ Down a Dream” from Full Moon Fever, 1989

11. Ohio State (5-1)

Somehow, the guy who was one of the most focused-on college football players of the summer, J.T. Barrett, is low-key having a phenomenal season. Saturday against Maryland: 320 passing/rushing yards and four total touchdowns.

No. 15: “Louisiana Rain” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

12. Virginia Tech (5-1)

Josh Jackson threw for 322 yards in the Hokies’ 13-point win over Boston College. You would’ve liked to see a bit more, but it was a nice bounce back after the loss to Clemson.

No. 14: “Ways to Be Wicked” from Nobody’s Children, 1995

13. Oklahoma State (4-1)

Okie State finally got to rest up after losing to TCU and almost losing to Texas Tech. The TCU loss looks better and better, but the Cowboys need to hope for a slip-up from the Frogs and not slip up themselves in the back-to-back gauntlet of West Virginia and Oklahoma.

No. 13: “Learning to Fly” from Into the Great Wide Open, 1991

14. Notre Dame (5-1)

Not expected to do much after last year’s eight-loss debacle, the Irish are kind of really good. They’re the No. 6 rushing team in the country, adding to their total with 341 more rush yards against North Carolina.

No. 12: “You Wreck Me” from Wildflowers, 1994

15. Michigan State (4-1)

Out of nowhere, here comes Sparty. A sensational defensive performance against a top-10 Michigan team in rain-soaked Ann Arbor, plus a not-so-bad loss to Notre Dame, has Mark Dantonio’s team skyrocketing.

No. 11: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” from Stevie Nicks’ Bella Donna, 1981

16. West Virginia (3-2)

A valiant comeback attempt by Will Grier & Co. was shut down by Kenny Hill, but that doesn’t take away from West Virginia managing to look good on the road against one of the country’s best teams.

No. 10: “I Won’t Back Down” from Full Moon Fever, 1989

17. USC (5-1)

You don’t really get any points for beating up on terrible Oregon State. But things are about to get much tougher for Sam Darnold and USC with back-to-back games coming against Utah and Notre Dame.

No. 9: “Anything That’s Rock N Roll” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

18. Oklahoma (4-1)

Iowa State played out of its mind, had a linebacker throwing passes and pulled the upset of the year. Baker Mayfield played well, the Sooners were just derailed by fumbling at the worst possible time. And like that, the Playoff chances take a nosedive.

No. 8: “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” from Greatest Hits, 1993

19. North Carolina State (5-1)

Don’t talk back to the Wolfpack, who now have beaten Florida State and Louisville this season. A Week 1 home loss to South Carolina — how did that happen? — is all preventing the Nov. 4 game against Clemson from determining the ACC.

No. 7: “Breakdown” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

20. Stanford (4-2)

With a big win over previously undefeated Utah, the Cardinal are really still in the mix for the Pac-12 crown. Two losses (even two good ones) might box Stanford out of the Playoff race, but Bryce Love & Co. are a good team.

No. 6: “Don’t Do Me Like That” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

21. South Florida (5-0)

No game for the high-scoring Bulls this weekend. All eyes are on the season finale against UCF.

No. 5: “Even the Losers” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

22. Louisville (4-2)

Not even Lamar Jackson’s 427 total yards and three total touchdowns could put Louisville past NC State. The Cardinals have allowed 37.3 points per game in their four contests against Power Five teams this season.

No. 4: “Free Fallin’” from Full Moon Fever, 1989

23. San Diego State (6-0)

Another win for the Aztecs and another big day for Rashaad Penny. They’ve got six wins, two of them coming against Pac-12 teams, and can’t possibly lose to another Mountain West team, right?

No. 3: “The Waiting” from Hard Promises, 1981

24. Michigan (4-1)

The Wolverines’ offensive ineptitude really bit them hard on Saturday night, as the Big Ten-iest game of all-time ended in Michigan State walking out of the Big House with a win. Michigan can’t run the ball, nor can it throw the ball, which is a horrendous combination.

No. 2: “American Girl” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

25. Utah (4-1)

The Utes are undefeated no more, losing to a good Stanford team on Saturday. In a crowded and competitive Pac-12, Utah gets no rest: USC next and Oregon, Wazzu and Washington down the line.

No. 1: “Refugee” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

Others receiving votes

UCF (4-0)

The Knights are rolling just as well as any Group of Five team out there, dropping 51 points in three quarters on Cincinnati.

Georgia Tech (3-1)

Off week for the Jackets, who have the second-best rushing offense in the country (shocking, I know) and a one-loss record in a crowded ACC.

Iowa (4-2)

The Hawkeyes finally got to exhale from those back-to-back losses to Penn State and Michigan State, two of the best-looking teams in the Big Ten. Iowa beat up on Illinois for a near 30-point win.

Texas Tech (4-1)

Scoring 65 points against Kansas is always fun! A good tune up for the Red Raiders who play road games at West Virginia and Oklahoma over the course of their next three games.

LSU (4-2)

Good for Coach O to go into The Swamp and get a huge road win over a ranked Florida team to stop his program’s free fall. Beating Florida is a whole lot better than losing to Troy.

Florida (3-2)

The Gators somehow lost a home game to an LSU team that lost to Troy last weekend. But I wanted to include Florida here to sign off with what The Swamp did to honor Tom Petty. It was awesome.

Other Tom Petty songs receiving votes

“Baby’s a Rock N Roller” from You’re Gonna Get It!, 1978

“Letting You Go” from Hard Promises, 1981

“Straight Into Darkness” from Long After Dark, 1982

“Make It Better (Forget About Me)” from Southern Accents, 1985

“The Apartment Song” from Full Moon Fever, 1989

“Surrender” from Anthology: Through the Years, 2000

New quarterback but similar result as Illini get walloped by Iowa

1007-jeff-george-jr.jpg
USA TODAY

New quarterback but similar result as Illini get walloped by Iowa

Illinois had a new quarterback at the helm of its offense Saturday, but the result was all too similar for Lovie Smith's team.

Jeff George Jr. got the start and had some flashes early on, but the Iowa Hawkeyes dominated the Illini for a 45-16 runaway win in Iowa City.

Illinois actually hung with Iowa for an entire half, holding a second-quarter lead and trailing at halftime by only four. George led a game-tying, 85-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter, and the Illini took the lead after intercepting Nathan Stanley and turning that giveaway into a field goal. But an Akrum Wadley touchdown run in the final seconds before halftime brought an end to Illinois' last lead of the day.

George had the Illini in a position to retake the lead midway through the third quarter, but an 89-yard Iowa pick six pretty much sealed the deal, swinging the momentum entirely in the Hawkeyes' favor. They poured it on in the fourth quarter, scoring four touchdowns to turn an eight-point game into a 29-point rout.

Illinois matched Iowa in many respects, both teams going over 440 total yards. But George's three interceptions proved to be difference, especially when one of those turnovers was taken back for a back-breaking touchdown. George and Stanley threw for a nearly identical number of yards, but Stanley had just one pick to George's three and also threw a trio of touchdown passes.

After making the quarterback change after last weekend's loss to Nebraska, Smith saw an offense that moved much better than it had in previous weeks under Chayce Crouch's leadership. But the Illini still turned the ball over at critical moments and failed to produce many points. This time, though, the defense couldn't hold up its end of the bargain, either, especially late as the score snowballed.

Illinois dropped to 2-3 with the loss and is 0-2 in its two conference games. Iowa stopped the bleeding after losing back-to-back games to Penn State and Michigan State.