Through four weeks of the 2019 college football season, a total of 23 teams remain undefeated.
It’s a mix of the usual suspects and a few surprises, but that’s the best way to stay in the College Football Playoff chase.
Here’s a rundown of the unbeaten teams left, the top team in each conference and the games to watch in Week 5 that will determine what that number will be heading into October:
Top team: Clemson (4-0)
The Tigers will battle against complacency all season, but a road trip to North Carolina and first-year coach Mack Brown will be an interesting test. Clemson won its ACC road games by an average of 39.5 points per game last season. Trevor Lawrence should continue to pad his stats, but the Tar Heels can’t be taken lightly.
Who else? Wake Forest (4-0) is the only other unbeaten team in the ACC Atlantic. Virginia (4-0) rallied to beat Old Dominion 28-17 and is the lone undefeated team in the ACC Coastal.
Next week: The Cavaliers visit Notre Dame for the first time in school history. The Demon Deacons can stay unbeaten with a victory at Boston College. Wake Forest doesn’t play Clemson until Nov. 16. Will that be the biggest regular-season game of the year in the ACC?
Top team: Ohio State (4-0)
The Buckeyes have outscored opponents 214-36, and Justin Fields looks like a Heisman finalist with first-year coach Ryan Day. The question isn’t whether the Buckeyes are the best team in the conference (by a wide margin): It’s whether they suffer an inexplicable loss like the last two seasons. As of now, it does not look like that will happen.
Who else? Penn State (3-0) is the only other unbeaten in the Big Ten East. Wisconsin (3-0) scored a big win against Michigan and looks like the favorite in the Big Ten West, but the Badgers will have competition from Minnesota (3-0) and Iowa (3-0).
Next week: The Buckeyes travel to Nebraska for a primetime game in Lincoln, and Wisconsin takes on defending Big Ten West champion Northwestern. Those games will set the tone for the Big Ten West race more than the East.
Top team: Oklahoma (3-0)
The Sooners remain the class of the conference with Jalen Hurts at quarterback, and the offense is more than good enough to win a fifth straight conference championship. That Big 12 defense opens with Texas Tech in Week 5.
Who else? Kansas State (3-0) remains a pleasant early-season surprise under first-year coach Chris Klieman, and Baylor (3-0) beat Rice 21-13.
Next week: The Wildcats travel to Oklahoma State, and Baylor welcomes Iowa State. To get into the upper tier of the conference, you must win those games.
Top team: Cal (4-0)
The Golden Bears are the last remaining team in the Pac-12 and, simply by virtue of their record, could be the conference’s best hope of making the Playoff. They continue to win under Justin Wilcox on the strength of their defense, though things did get hairy at the end of the Ole Miss game.
Who else? In terms of undefeateds? No one. No. 10 Utah lost to USC, No. 24 Arizona State lost to Colorado and No. 19 Washington State lost to UCLA (in a barn-burner). In terms of making the Playoff, one-loss Oregon, Washington and USC might be able to generate discussion if they win out. Problem is, they all face each other this season.
Next week: Cal meets Arizona State in a must-win battle for the Golden Bears. Washington State travels to Utah, both of which may be in desperation mode after Week 4 losses. The Cougars have won the last four meetings.
Top team: Alabama (4-0)
Alabama is still the class of the conference, and Tua Tagovailoa has passed for 1,300 yards with 17 touchdowns and no interceptions through the first third of the season. That’s even better than last year. The Crimson Tide have questions in the running game and on defense that persist, but those will be answered in the big games against the other top-10 teams in the conference.
Who else? LSU (4-0) averages 57.8 points per game in a new-look offense with Joe Burrow. Auburn (4-0) knocked off Texas A&M on the road. Georgia (4-0) and Florida (4-0) appear to be on a crash course in the SEC East. The Bulldogs scored a big nonconference victory with a 23-17 victory against Notre Dame on Saturday.
Next week: Alabama and Auburn have home games against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, respectively. Florida faces Towson. LSU and Georgia are on bye. All told, it’s a good bet all five teams stay unbeaten.
Group of Five
Top team: Boise State (4-0)
The Broncos are once again the best bet to be a New Year’s Day Six buster after taking care of business against Air Force, and the Broncos have a solid Power 5 victory in hand against Florida State. With UCF’s loss to Pitt, Boise State controls its own destiny out of the Mountain West Conference.
Who else? SMU (4-0) scored an impressive 41-38 victory against TCU and is joined by Memphis (3-0) and Navy (2-0) in the American Athletic Conference. UAB (3-0) is the lone unbeaten in Conference USA, and Appalachian State (3-0) beat a Power 5 team for the time since Michigan in 2007 with a 34-31 victory against North Carolina on Saturday.
Next week: Memphis and Navy play on Thursday night in a game that will drop that AAC total down to two.