College football rankings: Ohio State jumps Alabama, Michigan State continues to plummet in CBS Sports 131

Ohio State is building a strong case to be ranked as the best team in the country. After a dominant win against Wisconsin in Week 4, the Buckeyes have now jumped ahead of Alabama for No. 2 in the CBS Sports 131, our comprehensive ranking of every FBS college football team. 

We’ve released just five editions of the CBS Sports 131 this season, and this latest update marks the fourth different combination for the top three of Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama. This battle for supremacy will ultimately be settled on the field, and we do have a long way to go before we could get those hypothetical matchups, but we see in these rankings how preseason expectations are being erased and replaced by a judgement of what each team has accomplished to this point in the season. 

Shedding preseason expectations is a theme for ranking college football teams as we get into October, and it can both make the process difficult for voters and also provide some rapid adjustments. Some teams fly up the rankings after “prove-it” wins while others may see dramatic drops after another week of failing to perform to the level of a high preseason ranking. 

One great example of this shifting focus is the fallout from Minnesota’s win at Michigan State. The Golden Gophers have been slowly climbing up the rankings with dominant wins as a heavy favorite, but it took defeating the Spartans in East Lansing, Michigan, to really get our voters’ attention. Now 4-0, Minnesota sits in the top 15 while Michigan State, a team that started the year in the top 20 of our rankings and peaked at No. 14, has fallen outside the top 50 as two straight losses reveal a form that is far from preseason expectations. The “prove-it” win gave Minnesota the boost it needed, and until Michigan State starts beefing up its profile, it will find itself shuffling up and down the crowded middle tier of our 131-team rankings. 

One team that’s suddenly in need of a “prove-it” win after Week 4 is Oklahoma. On paper, the Sooners look like one of the best teams in the country, and did flex their muscles against most of the competition prior to Saturday’s loss to Kansas State. But now Oklahoma stands as a one-loss team with its only wins coming to UTEP, Kent State and Nebraska, so it’s worth debating whether Brent Venables’ group deserves to be ahead of other undefeated teams — like Kansas, which is 4-0 with better wins. Meanwhile, Kansas State saw its stock plummet after a loss to Tulane but are now one of this week’s biggest risers, up 18 spots to No. 25, after the win in Norman, Oklahoma.  

For more on the biggest week-to-week adjustments in the CBS Spots 131, check out the Mover’s Report below the top 25 table. 

College football experts from CBS Sports and 247Sports contribute ballots each week, which are averaged together for our rankings. You can see the top 25 below and 26-131 on our rankings page.

1 Georgia 4-0 1
2 Ohio State 4-0 3
3 Alabama 4-0 2
4 Michigan 4-0 4
5 USC 4-0 6
6 Clemson 4-0 7
7 Tennessee 4-0 11
8 Oklahoma State 3-0 9
9 Penn State 4-0 10
10 Kentucky 4-0 8
11 NC State 4-0 13
12 Washington 4-0 17
13 Ole Miss 4-0 14
14 Minnesota 4-0 26
15 Utah 3-1 15
16 Oregon 3-1 16
17 Baylor 3-1 19
18 Oklahoma 3-1 5
19 Florida State 4-0 27
20 Texas A&M 3-1 22
21 BYU 3-1 18
22 Arkansas 3-1 12
23 Kansas 4-0 30
24 Wake Forest 3-1 21
25 Kansas State 3-1 43

Biggest movers 

  • No. 50 James Madison (+32): No single result seemed to carry as much weight with our voters than JMU going into Boone, North Carolina, and taking down Appalachian State. The Dukes had been rolling over opponents through three weeks of the season but had not been tested against the Sun Belt’s best yet. Trailing 28-3, JMU mounted an epic comeback that produced a rise of more than two dozen spots in the rankings. 
  • No. 25 Kansas State (+18): The Wildcats are a strange team to evaluate, carrying wins against Missouri and Oklahoma but also a loss to Tulane. More wins will help erase the weight of the loss to the Green Wave, but for now it’s seeing the benefits of an upset-powered boost into the top 25. 
  • No. 14 Minnesota (+12): The level of competition has not seemed to matter as Minnesota has been ruthlessly efficient on both sides of the ball through four weeks with eyes now on a shot at the Big Ten West title three years after coming up just short of those efforts.  
  • No. 18 Oklahoma (-13): As mentioned above, Oklahoma has mostly looked good and will see opportunities to bounce back in the rankings. Right now the profile is lacking for quality wins, though. 
  • No. 51 Michigan State (-17): This is now a 37-spot drop over a two-week period as the Spartans sit 2-2 with an 0-2 record against Power Five competition. 
  • No. 38 Texas (-18): Losing to Alabama, especially by a close margin, won’t hurt your ranking that much. But when an additional loss to Texas Tech is added to the equation and the only wins are against ULM and UTSA, it becomes more difficult to consider the Longhorns a top-30 team. 
  • No. 56 Miami (-27): A predictable drop here for Mario Cristobal’s group after Middle Tennessee went wire-to-wire in a 45-31 win that was never even close. The Hurricanes fell behind 24-3 in the early stages of the second quarter, and though the offense found some life in the second half, the margin was never closer than 14 during the comeback effort. 
  • No. 54 Appalachian State (-30): The win against Texas A&M and momentum from the Hail Mary victory against Troy helped the Mountaineers surge all the way to No. 24, but Week 4 produced a two-piece of bad news in terms of the rankings. First was the actual loss to JMU, a team that was outside the top 70, and then also having North Carolina get trounced by Notre Dame while taking some shine away from that close loss in the season-opener. 

Check out the rest of the CBS Sports 131: Teams ranked 26-131

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