Winners and Losers From College Football’s Week 4

Week 4 helped us gauge who the contenders and pretenders are within the Power Five conferences, as well decipher the head coaches that are on the verge of the hot seat. In addition, the week featured much more breakout stars, on both sides of the ball.

Here are the top winners and losers in college football’s Week 4.

*Since this is a weekly segment, the previous week’s winners and losers can be found here.

Winners

Penn State Nittany Lions: The Nittany Lions did something that few top 5 teams have done in this last 10 years. Win inside Kinnick Stadium at night. The most recent top 5 teams that fell victim to the Hawkeyes were these very same Nittany Lions in 2008 and Michigan just last year, both on game-winning field goals.

However, the 2017 version of Penn State survived Iowa’s scare. While the majority of the credit goes to Penn State’s defense in this one, holding Iowa to 273 total yards of offense and 11 first downs, the efforts of tailback Saquon Barkley shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Barkley racked up an astonishing 358 total yards on Saturday night. In the process, Barkley exhibited shades of power, agility, and bravado against a stingy Hawkeyes defense. The lateral quickness he displays is … well … mesmerizing to say the least.

Last night wasn’t the best for the Penn State quarterback Trace McShorley. Iowa’s defense is for real and McSorley averaged just 5.9 yards per pass attempt, but he made the throw of the game – a walk-off winner – on the final play with this seven-yard touchdown. It was the perfect ball, floated right over the defender, and into the hands of Juwan Johnson, who ran a perfect route. Just like as the ‘ole saying goes, a perfect play is always going to trump the best defense.

TCU Horned Frogs: Talk about a statement. TCU’s 44-31 win over sixth-ranked Oklahoma State was a clinic in how to slow down one of the best offenses in college football. Coming into Saturday, Oklahoma State ranked in second, fourth, and third, respectively, in total offense, Off. S&P+ and scoring offense.

The Frogs were able to get pressure on quarterback Mason Rudolph frequently, sacking him four times and intercepting him twice. The Cowboys feature a star-studded group of receivers – four of them averaging 100+ receiving yards per game. However, that didn’t stop TCU from limiting only two of them (James Washington and Marcell Ateman) to one receiving TD total.

If nothing else, hopefully, this semi-upset serves as a reminder of just how good of a coach Gary Patterson is. Patterson installed a fantastic game-plan, taking advantage of turnovers (scoring 14 points off takeaways) and stopping the run (holding the Pokes to 102 rushing yards, nearl7 70 below their season average).

Georgia Bulldogs: All Georgia fans heard during the start of this week was how Mississippi State is the best team in the SEC behind Alabama.

And after their team’s performance Saturday who could blame them? Mississippi State went from unranked to 17th in the nation in just one week following a 37-7 drubbing of LSU and was characterized as a conference contender.

It’s safe to say that Georgia as a whole took great malice to that, responding in the only way possible: win. All night, the Bulldogs defense neutralized the threat that was Mississippi State’s dynamic offense of quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and running back Nick Gibson, holding the two to only 120 all-purpose yards.

Georgia’s offense was exceptional and balanced, rushing for 203 yards and passing for 201 (Jake Fromm only completed nine passes). Through four weeks, Georgia certainly looks apart from the rest of the SEC East and could have the makeup of a playoff contender as well. 

Losers

Vanderbilt Commodores: Vanderbilt entered Week 4 as the toast of the town in the SEC, sporting the No. 1 total defense and scoring defense in the nation. Unfortunately, they will likely leave Week 4 outside the Top 30 in both of those categories. The freight train that is Alabama steamrolled through Nashville on Saturday, dismantling any and all of the Commodores’ hopes to a million pieces.

Vanderbilt’s offense was almost nonexistent in this one, manufacturing a paltry three first downs and 78 total yards of offense. Additionally, the Commodores’ defense surrendered 59 points, 677 offensive yards (496 coming on the ground) and 38 first downs to the Tide – all program records under Nick Saban.

Florida State Seminoles: For the first time in 28 years, the Florida State Seminoles lose back-to-back games to start the season. Although Florida State has been faced with unique circumstances, such as missing Weeks 2 and 3 due to Hurricane Irma, that doesn’t completely dismiss the fact they lost to NC State at home.

Florida State rolled off 10 wins in a row following the ugly start to finish in the top five last year, however, this year’s FSU won’t repeat that feat. With Deondre Francois out, Jimbo Fisher’s offense still looks confused and lethargic.

Brett Bielema: Following a 50-43 OT loss to Texas A&M, Arkansas’ record already drops to 1-2. This doesn’t at all encapsulate the utter disappointment that is Brett Bielema’s tenure at Arkansas, though, which now looks like this: a 0-5 record against Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M.

Sumlin has been on the hot seat for the better part of three seasons for the Aggies and now the very same case could be made about Bielema.

I mean look at this stat.

It’s worth mentioning that Bielema has a $15.4 million buyout at Arkansas (it dips to roughly $11.7 million after Jan. 1), which makes his head coaching future complicated. Barring a total, unmitigated disaster, Bielema will be the coach of the Razorbacks in 2018. The only way that changes is if Bielema takes another job – which he might and that would probably be good for both parties.

Week 4’s Top Performers

Passing

  • QB Josh Rosen, UCLA: 40/60, 480 yards, 3 TDs against Stanford
  • QB Luke Falk, Washington State: 36/47, 478 yards, 5 TDs against Nevada
  • QB Zach Smith, Baylor: 33/50, 463 yards, 4 TDs against Oklahoma

Rushing

  • RB Khalil Herbert, Kansas: 36 carries, 291 yards, 2 TDs against West Virginia
  • RB Bryce Love, Stanford: 30 carries, 263 yards, 1 TD against UCLA
  • RB Jeffrey Wilson: 26 carries, 211 yards, 1 TD against UAB

Receiving

  • WR Cedrick Wilson, Boise State: 13 receptions, 209 yards, 1 TD against Virginia
  • WR Denzel Mims, Baylor: 11 receptions, 192 yards, 3 TDs against Oklahoma
  • WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State: 7 receptions, 170 yards, 1 TD against Oregon

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