Whenever it's supposed to be a "down week" in college football, it is anything but a down week. It happens over and over again, no matter the season, and Week 4 of the 2021 campaign was no different. This week brought us several massive upsets, contenders continuing to dominate and style points that were either gained or lost in the race to make the College Football Playoff.
No. 1 Alabama cruised to a win over Southern Miss, as did No. 2 Georgia on the road at Vanderbilt. Other contenders ... not so much. No. 9 Clemson suffered its second loss of the season in overtime to NC State. No. 4 Oklahoma escaped the clutches of West Virginia on a walk-off field goal. No. 7 Texas A&M fell to No. 16 Arkansas in the biggest game of the SEC West season so far.
It's time to hand out some grades to the College Football Playoff contenders, listed based on Saturday morning's odds from Caesars Sportsbook. The 16 teams below are not technically the only ones who could make the CFP this season, but it's where we focus our attention as we await others to make jumps into the top of the college football rankings.
As such, expect to see the teams in this column adjust weekly and eventually shorten as the season goes on. You can also check out our projected college football rankings before the new AP Top 25 comes out Sunday.
College football grades: Week 4 report card
|7/4||A+||The Crimson Tide didn't have any issue dispatching of Southern Miss in a 63-14 rout. Bryce Young threw five touchdown passes, the offense racked up 606 yards, and Nick Saban's crew put up 42 points in the first half.|
|13/4||A+||The Bulldogs scored 35 points in the first quarter and essentially rested their starters from that point on. JT Daniels had 129 yards and two touchdown passes, while backups Stetson Bennett and Carson Beck also received critical snaps on the road to help their development.|
|10-1||F||Unless something crazy happens in the landscape of college football, the Tigers have been eliminated from playoff contention. The offense was dreadful in the 27-21 loss to NC State. They can't block, they can't run, and quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has been wildly inconsistent as a passer.|
|10-1||D+||Oklahoma got the win, but the offense under quarterback Spencer Rattler looked lost for the second straight week. It got so bad that fans were chanting for backup signal-caller Caleb Williams in the second half. Really.|
|12-1||A||No CJ Stroud , no problem. Kyle McCord threw for 319 yards, the defense allowed just 229 yards, and lowly Akron gave up 59 straight points after jumping out to a 7-0 lead.|
|20-1||C-||The Ducks topped Arizona, but it was about as clean as a pig in slop. The defense couldn't get off the field for the majority of the game, and the effort against a team that hasn't won a game in 721 days was horrific.|
|30-1||B||The bad news is that Villanova hung around way too long in the 38-17 Nittany Lions win. The good news is that quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns, and he's only the second Penn State quarterback to top the 400-yard mark in a single game.|
|40-1||D-||The Aggies offense was stymied by the Arkansas defense, Zach Calzada couldn't get into a rhythm, and the 20-10 loss was about as ugly as it gets. The only reason the Aggies didn't get an "F" is because, as a one-loss SEC team, the CFP isn't totally out of the question.|
|60-1||B+||The Gators let Tennessee hang around for a bit, but Emory Jones and Malik Davis put the game out of reach in the second half. It's a rivalry, so it was no surprise to see Tennessee play up to its competition for a half or so. Jones had his best game as Florida's starter -- by far.|
|60-1||B+||The Wisconsin defense held Notre Dame in check for a while, but Drew Pyne came off the pine for an injured Jack Coan help the Fighting Irish pull away. It hasn't been a pretty path to a 4-0 record for Brian Kelly's crew, but they're finding a way to win. The same can't be said for other teams.|
|60-1||C-||Iowa is going to need some style points because its offense is still very much a work-in-progress. A 24-14 win over Colorado State -- the same Colorado State that lost to Vanderbilt earlier this season -- won't do the trick.|
|60-1||C||Under normal circumstances, a 20-13 win over Rutgers wouldn't just be bad enough for an "F," it might be enough for relegation. But this is a different Scarlet Knights team. Give Michigan credit for taking care of business in the face of adversity, but it wasn't a pretty win at all.|
|75-1||n/a||The Bearcats were off this week. They can make a big splash next week at Notre Dame, though.|
|75-1||n/a||The Rebels had a bye, which prevented them from scoring multiple touchdowns. No. 1 Alabama awaits next weekend though.|
|100-1||B-||The Tigers were without cornerback Derek Stingley Jr . against Mississippi State on Saturday but found a way to take the 28-25 win. Don't let that score deceive you, though. The Tigers were in control for the majority of the afternoon.|
|100-1||F||The Cyclones saw their CFP hopes disappear in Waco in a 31-29 loss to Baylor. A two-loss Big 12 team has no shot of getting the nod on selection Sunday.|