Week 4 College Football Risers & Fallers: NCAAF Stock Watch

Week 4’s wild college football schedule did not disappoint as we were fortunate to see a number of highly touted matchups go to the extreme.

Florida State eliminated Clemson in overtime to wrap up the afternoon round, solidifying their playoff chances. Coach Prime and the Colorado Buffaloes were steamrolled in Eugene, Utah defeated UCLA in a defensive battle, and Alabama got back on track in midway against Ole Miss.

Washington State controlled Oregon State, Penn State manhandled Iowa and Ohio State squeaked by Notre Dame on a last-second road touchdown in the overnight slate. What does the college football landscape look like in Week 5?

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Cameron Ward, QB, Washington State

If you don’t know this name yet, come out from under the rock where you are hiding. Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward has been astonishing this season, taking a step forward from last year’s first season in the FBS after a record-breaking career with Incarnate Word. Ward lit up Oregon State on Saturday, completing 28 of 34 passes for 404 yards and four touchdowns.

The Cougars are coming off two very respectable wins over Oregon State and Wisconsin, but still face UCLA, Oregon, Colorado and Washington in a loaded Pac-12 conference. In a CFB landscape dominated by quarterback play, Cameron Ward has begun to build a quiet case to enter the Heisman conversation and potentially propel himself to the top of the NFL draft prospects.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State is playing complete football right now. This is a roster that has very few, if any, holes and that was evident in Saturday’s 31-0 loss to Iowa. Sophomore quarterback Drew Allar remained poised, KeAndre Lambert-Smith was a reliable target and the defense once again flew down the field en route to a dominant performance.

The Nittany Lions are a real threat, but can they take the next step and take down Ohio State or Michigan?

Kyle McCord, QB, Ohio State

The Buckeyes’ first-year starting quarterback had a stellar performance against Notre Dame on Saturday night. McCord converted third-down after third-down on the game’s final drive, but failed to crumble under pressure and led the Buckeyes to a game-winning touchdown as time expired.

McCord went 21-for-37 through the air for 240 yards in the win. Ohio State fans can rest knowing they have a quarterback who can deliver in big moments.

Utah Utes

In a Pac-12 Conference where USC, Colorado, Oregon and Washington get all the hype, people forget about the back-to-back conference champions. The Utah Utes have been without quarterback Cam Rising all season, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting some great wins. In a conference that’s all about flashy offense, the Utes are winning games defensively.

They let UCLA play their game on Saturday, coming away with a 14-7 victory with quarterback Nate Johnson at the helm. The Utes have a quick turnaround with a strong Oregon State team coming off a loss Friday night.

Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina

Another under-the-radar, forgotten quarterback is quietly raising his stock after his performance Saturday. Once a highly regarded recruit and the future of Oklahoma football, Spencer Rattler lost his starting job to Caleb Williams and transferred to South Carolina. Aside from a huge performance against Tennessee last season, he has disappeared from the national media.

Rattler has been impressive this season. He took Georgia to its limits in Week 3 and played a near-perfect game against Mississippi State in a win in Week 4. Rattler went 18-for-20 for 288 yards and three touchdowns, adding 43 rushing yards in the victory. He could undoubtedly work his way into NFL consideration.

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Big Ten West

Thank God the Big Ten will end division in 2024, because this may be the worst division in the FBS and the biggest crime for college football fans. Northwestern would be the worst Power 5 team, beating Minnesota in overtime on Saturday night. Wisconsin has struggled against easy opponents, Iowa just got battered by Penn State, Illinois nearly lost to Florida Atlantic, Nebraska is Nebraska and Purdue just keeps losing.

One of those teams will face Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State in Indianapolis in December and it will be tough to watch, just like the past few seasons.

New look Big 12

The four new teams joining the Big 12 looked…bad in their Big 12 debuts. Houston made theirs in Week 3 against TCU and was defeated 36-13 at home, while the other three new Big 12 teams made their debuts in Week 4. All three lost. Cincinnati fell 20-6 to Oklahoma, BYU lost 38-27 to Kansas and UCF fell 44-31 to Kansas State. It’s safe to say that the Big 12 is a big step up from the American Athletic Conference, and it may take some time for these four programs to adjust.

Coach Prime

We all knew it was coming. The hype eventually died down and Colorado and Coach Prime stumbled to a 42-6 loss in Eugene, Oregon. While the turnaround has been impressive thus far, one offseason isn’t long enough to take a team from one of the worst at the D1 level to one that can compete in big games.

The Buffaloes will take on USC in Week 5 in what should be another evenly matched game.

Michigan State Spartans

No program in college football is in as much turmoil as Michigan State right now. Fresh off a 41-7 loss to Washington, the Spartans dropped a home game against Maryland 31-9. Mel Tucker is out as head coach following a scandal, and the players have seemingly resigned just four games into the season. The Spartans face a long season and a long rebuilding process.

Anyone who plays Washington

The Washington Huskies have blown away everyone who stood in their way this season and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. looks like a legit Heisman contender. The Huskies have averaged almost 50 points per game with an average winning margin of 30.3 points. While the league hasn’t been legit, they still have Oregon, USC, Utah, Oregon State and Washington State on the schedule. These defenses could be better prepared for this high-flying offense under Kalen DeBoer.

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