A quarter of the way through the season, Clemson is out of the top 10, Arkansas is in it and Cincinnati is knocking on the College Football Playoff door. Is that wacky enough for you?
Four games does not a season make, but it's worth marking this signpost. The conclusion: Anything is possible these next two months as it appears like some semblance of parity may invade the CFP for the first time in five years.
Let's look at what's already happened through four weeks of this wild 2021 season:
- The coach of the year might be a 59-year-old career assistant. Well, that would be until Sam Pittman took the Arkansas job last year.
- A former Oklahoma backup quarterback (SMU's Tanner Mordecai) is on pace to throw 60 touchdown passes, tying Joe Burrow's all-time record. Mordecai leads the country with 20 through four games. The Sooners' current quarterback, Spencer Rattler, has eight passing` touchdowns (five against Western Carolina).
- Slightly less surprising, Alabama's Bryce Young might be the quarter-pole Heisman Trophy frontrunner. He's on pace to throw for 45 touchdowns with 15 through four games in his first season as a starter.
- Very surprising: Clemson's D.J. Uiagalelei is not in the top 100 nationally of any major statistical passing category. North Carolina's Sam Howell is tied for the ACC lead in interceptions.
Among the 25 still-undefeated teams are five each from the Big Ten and SEC. (That will change beginning this week with conference play ramping up.) But also consider these unbeaten outliers: SMU, Wake Forest, Boston College, UTSA, Wyoming and South Alabama.
Proceed with caution, delight and glee. Here are the Power Rankings a quarter of the way through.
|The nation's longest winning streak goes to 18 with an easy win over Southern Miss. Young finally threw an interception. Bama has now scored at least 30 points in 30 straight games, one short of UCF's all-time record. Brian Robinson sat out the game with bruised ribs. Nick vs. Lane this week in T-Town.||--||6-1|
|Dawgs keep on keepin' on by routing Vanderbilt. Georgia almost had as many points (63) as the Commodores had yards (77). Yes, the defense is freakin' awesome. While we laud the Dawgs, some pity has to be extended to Vandy. The 35 first-quarter points by Georgia were the most by any team in the first 15 minutes since 2015. Dawgs also lead the country in point differential, 145 points in four games.||--||7-0|
|It's on you, Ducks. Those are -- or should be -- the words from the rest of the Pac-12. Oregon is the lone undefeated team in the league a quarter of the way through. The Ducks stayed in playoff contention with an (eventually) easy win over Arizona, but there are more injury concerns. Kayvon Thibodeaux didn't play in the second half after it appeared he reaggravated his sprained ankle.||1||5-1|
|In the same week James Franklin was named the favorite to replace Clay Helton at USC by the Los Angeles Times, the Nittany Lions weren't distracted. Sean Clifford threw four touchdowns against Villanova despite being sacked three times. Wait, Nova? Was St. Joseph's not available for a noon tipoff at The Palestra?||1||5-1|
|A surprisingly close battle with Colorado State. Maybe the Hawkeyes were looking ahead to Friday's game with Maryland. Iowa trailed at halftime but rallied for its 10th consecutive win, its longest streak in six years. Jack Campbell recovered another fumble, setting up a TD. Campbell, third in Big Ten tackles, is having an All-American season.||1||6-1|
|Bye. Looming is possibly the program's biggest game in over a decade this week as the Bearcats travel to Notre Dame. This is what it takes to break through the cement ceiling that exists for the Group of Five. It starts with scheduling and beating ranked teams. Well, here we go. The Bearcats have already won at Indiana.||2||6-0|
|The Irish continue to own Chicago, particularly Soldier Field. They are 11-0-2 there all-time after a fourth-quarter explosion against Wisconsin. Graham Mertz lost a fumble and was intercepted four times; two were taken to the house in the fourth quarter. Believe it or not, this week's Cincinnati game might be the biggest of the season. Really. Check the remaining schedule. Jack Coan left with an apparent leg injury.||3||5-1|
|It's OK to say it out loud: The Hogs are back. Arkansas stifled Texas A&M at Jerry World with K.J. Jefferson's throwing, Barry Odom's defense and Pittman's coaching magic. The Aggies hadn't given up a passing score all season. Jefferson nicked them for two, including an 85-yarder to Treylon Burks. The second-best team in the SEC West just might reside in Fayetteville. Trips to Georgia and Ole Miss next.||9||4-3|
|Is OU the shakiest 4-0 team in the country? The Sooners survived West Virginia with a late field goal. Other than that, Rattler has underachieved and the offense looks mediocre with a lack of explosiveness. Big plays are Lincoln Riley's signature. Watch out this week at Kansas State. The Wildcats have won the last two meetings and three of the last seven.||2||7-0|
|At kickoff, at least Ohio State players had NIL car deals. Has it been worth it? The Buckeyes stayed hanging around the top 10 with an easy win over Akron. Without the injured C.J. Stroud, freshman Kyle McCord made his first start and threw for 319 yards. TreVeyon Henderson ran for 93 yards the same week he got a Camaro in an NIL endorsement deal. I love college life.||1||5-1|
|For the second straight week, Emory Jones threw for a career-high. Jones became the first Gators QB since Tim Tebow in 2009 to throw for 200 yards and rush for 100. "I'm definitely just warming up, honestly," Jones said. You can't spell "rout" without UT. Florida won for the 16th time in the last 17 meetings in a game that used to decide the SEC East.||3||4-3|
|Dorian Thompson-Robinson was pummeled by Stanford but survived to pass for two touchdowns and run for two more. Quite a bounce back by the gutty little Bruins after the Fresno State loss, which, frankly, doesn't look that bad. DTR did not speak to media after the game, nursing a shoulder injury. Stay tuned.||--||5-2|
|Arkansas owns Texas. It's hard to say the Hogs don't after taking out the Aggies. Arkansas has beaten Texas and Texas A&M in the same season. It's back to the dry erase board offensively after gaining only 272 yards. Alabama comes to College Station in two weeks.||10||5-2|
|Baylor Romney threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns in relief of Jaren Hall in beating South Florida. Hall injured his ribs on the last series last week against Arizona State. The Cougars had their most dominating offensive performance of the season averaging 8.9 yards per play. BYU has now won 15 of its last 16.||2||5-2|
|Rutgers-Michigan was my sneaky good game of the week. It overachieved. Rutgers hung around for 60 minutes throwing a giant scare into the Wolverines. Greg Schiano is chopping wood again with the Scarlet Knights. His defense held the nation's best rushing team to 112 on the ground.||3||6-0|
|Way back on Friday night, the Bulldogs had to rally in the second half against winless UNLV. Jake Haener threw for five TDs, four in a 29-point second half. The Bulldogs haven't been ranked this early in the season since 2013. Fresno played a home game as a ranked team for the first time since 2008.||3||5-2|
|Ed Orgeron got out of September 3-1. That's a good thing for his job security. Remember how the 2020 season started, Mississippi State throwing for the most yards SEC yards ever in winning at Death Valley. The Tigers survived the Bulldogs this time, 28-25, at David Wade. Will Rogers threw 62 times for Mike Leach. Max Johnson threw four touchdowns for Coach O.||4||4-3|
|Sparty continues to surprise. A late punt return tied it against Nebraska, then Michigan State won in overtime. The 4-0 start is the best since the 2015 CFP team started 8-0. Nebraska outgained the Spartans by 177 yards and still lost.||4||7-0|
|Bye. Lane Kiffin spent the week cleaning out his Instagram account (except for Arch Manning) and making various provocative statements. What's been lost is this week might mark the biggest game of his career. The Boy King goes to Alabama as the latest Nick Saban assistant to try to beat his old boss. Win this and everything changes for Kiffin.||4||5-1|
|Not only are the Tigers outside the top 10, they are basically out of the CFP race. That is, if you believe history. No team with two losses has ever made the CFP. If you watched the Tigers this season, how could you even think this was a playoff team? Injuries, lack of offense, issues at quarterback. Clemson is out of the top 10 for the first time in six years.||9||4-2|
|Back in the Power Rankings after an easy win over UMass. Give Grayson McCall some Heisman love. The Chanticleers quarterback is the most efficient passer in the nation (213.8 rating) and also leads in yards per attempt (12.3). Just like BYU, Coastal has won 15 of the last 16.||NR||6-1|
|Considering the struggles of Oklahoma and Iowa State, the Cowboys might be the best team in the Big 12. They did nothing to disprove that Saturday night rolling against Kansas State. After the Wildcats narrowed the margin to 11, Oklahoma State's defense held K-State to -6 yards the rest of the way. Baylor comes to Stillwater this week in a battle of unbeatens.||NR||6-0|
|This is getting good in College Park. After a rout of Kent State, the Terps are 4-0 for the first time since 2016 with the next two games against Iowa and Ohio State. Tua's brother Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns. A quarter of the way through the season, Tagovailoa leads the Big Ten in passing yards and accuracy. It's Mike Locksley. Are you surprised?||NR||4-2|
|In Year 2, Dave Aranda is doing something special at Baylor. The Bears stopped Iowa State's two-point conversion with 24 seconds to beat their first ranked opponent since 2015. Despite being outgained by almost 200 yards, Baylor did it with special teams and defense. An early Big 12 game of the year Saturday with Bears visiting Oklahoma State.||NR||6-1|
|How good does the Clemson win feel in Raleigh? The Wolfpack had lost eight straight and 15 of the last 16 to Clemson. Dave Doeren smoked a cigar while raising a red solo cup during his postgame interview on the ACC Network. We can only guess what was in the cup. Drink up, Pack. The ACC is within your reach.||NR||5-1|
Out: Kansas State, West Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa State, Wisconsin