Arkansas is contender, ACC’s playoff hopes fade among 10 things learned in Week 4 of college football season

·4 min read

Here are 10 things we learned in Week 4:

Arkansas is serious contender in SEC West

With wins over Texas and Texas A&M, Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks have made their case for being one of the top challengers to Alabama in the SEC West. The Hogs are a physical, tough-minded team that has taken on the personality of their coach, making them a dangerous opponent heading into a tough stretch against Georgia, Ole Miss and Auburn.

Texas A&M fails to look like playoff contender

Texas A&M found itself outmanned, outmuscled and outplayed by the Razorbacks, who snapped a nine-game losing streak to their former Southwest Conference counterpart. The Aggies were playoff contenders after a fifth-place finish in the final College Football Playoff rankings last season but Jimbo Fisher’s team hasn’t looked the part.

ACC’s playoff outlook grows bleak

Clemson’s loss to NC State has left the ACC without a true playoff contender for the first time in the College Football Playoff era. It’s not a given the Tigers are out of the picture but a two-loss team has never made the playoff. It’s a long shot that a team such as Wake Forest or Boston College could contend,leaving the ACC facing the reality of a postseason without a playoff team.

Notre Dame’s defense coming on at right time

The Irish held Wisconsin to less than 100 yards rushing for the first time this season and forced five turnovers, including two pick-sixes in the fourth quarter to seal the win over the Badgers. It’s a welcome sight for coach Brian Kelly, whose team faces another challenge from a top-15 team in Cincinnati next week.

Wisconsin, Graham Mertz continues to struggle vs. ranked teams

Wisconsin’s loss to Notre Dame was the seventh consecutive loss to a ranked opponent going back to 2019. Mertz was the starting quarterback in five of those losses, with the redshirt sophomore throwing 11 interceptions with only one touchdown.

Twists and turns highlight Big Ten start

Ohio State’s early struggles have opened the door to a wide-open race with Penn State, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Maryland as early contenders for the conference crown. Only the SEC has as many undefeated teams through the first month. While the division races could sort themselves out sooner rather than later, a true playoff contender may not emerge until November.

Sooners stay unbeaten despite shaky start

Oklahoma survived another poor performance on offense, relying instead on a stout defense to overcome upset-minded West Virginia. It was the third win decided by a touchdownor less for the Sooners as quarterback Spencer Rattler set up the winning field goal in the last minute to get past the Mountaineers.

Quarterback quandary on the Plains

After trailing by 12 points to Georgia State in the first half, Auburn coach Bryan Harsin lifted starting quarterback Bo Nix in favor of backup TJ Finley, who later guided the Tigers on a 98-yard game-winning touchdown drive. The offense has been ineffective at times under Nix, leading some fans to call for him to be benched heading into next week’s showdown with LSU.

Emory Jones continues to grow into Gators’ job

After spending the past two seasons as a backup, Emory Jones has finally emerged from the shadows of his predecessors to assume the role of Florida’s starting quarterback. It’s taken some time and he’s faced challenges like the emergence of Anthony Richardson, but his play over the past several weeks has shown he’s the right person to lead the Gators offense.

Let’s hear it for Oregon State and Bowling Green

Oregon State’s 45-27 drubbing of USC snapped a 24-game road losing streak to the Trojans and was the Beavers’ first win at L.A. Memorial Coliseum since 1960. Meanwhile, Bowling Green came into its road contest against Minnesota as a 31-point underdog but walked out a 14-10 winner, snapping a 10-game losing streak to Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Matt Murschel at mmurschel@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.

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