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Eliminator Week 4: USC can't survive after loss to Utah

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Trojans lead a class of 11 ousted from the playoff (1:20)

With four weeks of the season complete, the college football eliminator is starting to cross off some big names in the race for the College Football Playoff. Say goodbye to the Trojans, Nittany Lions, and Oklahoma State Cowboys. (1:20)

USC's Clay Helton is 1-5 since being named the Trojans' head coach in November.

Helton told reporters last week that he meets with new USC athletics director Lynn Swann following every game, including after last week's 31-27 defeat at Utah.

"He was extremely supportive," Helton told reporters on a teleconference this week.

It's a good thing Helton and Swann haven't met at an airport tarmac yet.

After falling to the Utes in a game in which the Trojans blew a 14-point lead, USC is 1-3 for the first time since 2001. The Trojans have already switched quarterbacks, although it seems Helton made the right move in replacing Max Browne with backup Sam Darnold.

The Trojans were among 11 teams axed by The Eliminator this week. Through four weeks, 77 of the 128 FBS teams have been eliminated for the four spots in the College Football Playoff, leaving 51 teams under consideration for the playoff.

Here's where FBS stands after Week 4:

Jump to sections: Who's in? | Still in contention | On the fence | Better luck next season | Previously eliminated

Who's in?

The top four seeds in the College Football Playoff stay the same after Week 4. Alabama rolled Kent State 48-0 and remains the No. 1 seed. No. 2 Ohio State was off this past week, and No. 3 Louisville won 59-28 at Marshall last week. No. 4 Michigan scored 40 points or more again, routing Penn State 49-10 in the Big House. We'll start to see some clarity this coming weekend, as Louisville plays at Clemson, which might go a long way in deciding which team wins the ACC Atlantic Division.

Still in contention


Alabama Crimson Tide

Trending: UP

Admit it, Coach Saban: it's not going to be as much fun beating LSU without the "Mad Hatter" on the sideline.


Baylor Bears

Trending: UP

Don't look now, but the Bears are playing pretty good defense under interim coach Jim Grobe. Baylor held Oklahoma State to only 3.9 rushing yards per attempt and forced four turnovers in a 35-24 win.


Clemson Tigers

Trending: UP

ESPN Stats & Info says Clemson's Deshaun Watson added about nine points per game in 2015, which was more than any FBS quarterback. Through four games this year, Louisville's Lamar Jackson is adding 12.8 points, which is more than any FBS player in the past 10 seasons.


Florida State Seminoles

Trending: UP

Charles Kelly: Still turning Jimbo Fisher into Brian Kelly every Saturday.


Houston Cougars

Trending: EVEN

Yeah, Tom Herman might want to get used to answering those LSU questions.


Louisville Cardinals

Trending: UP

Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson has accounted for 25 touchdowns this season. Michigan is the only other FBS team that has scored more.


Miami Hurricanes

Trending: EVEN

No, nobody noticed Miami passing Georgia in the AP top 25 rankings this week.


Michigan Wolverines

Trending: UP

Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis is a potential All-American and possible high-round choice in next spring's NFL draft. The good news: NFL kickers aren't as big as Penn State's Joey Julius.


Nebraska Cornhuskers

Trending: UP

Early leader for best coaching job of the year: Nebraska's Mike Riley convincing quarterback Tommy Armstrong that he's Tommy Frazier. Armstrong had a 93.6 QBR and rushed for a career-high 132 yards (and didn't have a turnover!) in last week's 24-13 win at Northwestern.


Ohio State Buckeyes

Trending: EVEN

The Buckeyes didn't play last week and host Rutgers on Saturday. Man, Urban Meyer is really catching up on his honey-do list.


Stanford Cardinal

Trending: UP

Cardinal defensive lineman Solomon Thomas was either the most popular or hated man in Las Vegas on Saturday night. On the final play at UCLA, Thomas picked up Josh Rosen's fumble and rumbled 42 yards for a touchdown, sealing a 22-13 win.


Tennessee Volunteers

Trending: UP

Seriously, put the cocktails down, Volunteers fans. You've celebrated long enough.


Texas A&M Aggies

Trending: UP

Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin is one of four SEC coaches who won eight or more games in each of the past four seasons. Georgia fired Mark Richt, LSU fired Les Miles and Alabama isn't going to fire Nick Saban.


Washington Huskies

Trending: EVEN

The Huskies might want to keep an eye on Stanford's Christian McCaffrey on Friday night. He had 300 all-purpose yards in a 31-14 win over the Huskies last season. He had 109 yards on 23 rushes, 112 yards on five receptions and 79 yards on kickoff returns.


Wisconsin Badgers

Trending: UP

Yeah, maybe USC coach Clay Helton should have kept Justin Wilcox as his defensive coordinator. Under Wilcox, the Badgers rank in the top 15 in FBS in scoring defense (11.8 points per game), rushing defense (80.5 yards) and total defense (277 yards).

On the fence


Air Force Falcons

Trending: UP

After opening Mountain West Conference play with a 27-20 win at Utah State, the Falcons play the first leg in the race for the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy at home against Navy on Saturday.


Arizona Wildcats

Trending: UP

The Wildcats might have lost 35-28 in overtime to Washington, but coach Rich Rodriguez has to be encouraged by his team's dramatic improvement. The bad news: freshman tailback J.J. Taylor, who was playing in place of injured Nick Wilson, broke his left ankle and is out for the rest of the season.


Arizona State Sun Devils

Trending: UP

The Sun Devils rallied to score 31 points in the fourth quarter of a 51-41 victory over Cal. It was only the second time in the past five seasons that an FBS team scored at least 30 points in the fourth quarter to come from behind to win. The Bears lost both times.


Arkansas Razorbacks

Trending: DOWN

Hogs coach Bret Bielema is our only hope for any sort of comedy at SEC Media Days.


Auburn Tigers

Trending: UP

Nice job, Tigers. You cost a damn fine man his job. By the way, field goals probably aren't going to beat Alabama.


Boise State Broncos

Trending: UP

The Broncos moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2011 with a 38-24 win at Oregon State, which was their fourth consecutive victory over a Pac-12 opponent. The Broncos open Mountain West play against Utah State at home.


Cincinnati Bearcats

Trending: DOWN

Has anyone seen Gunner Kiel in Cincinnati?


Colorado Buffaloes

Trending: UP

There are some athletics directors out there who could learn a lot from Colorado AD Rick George's patience. Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre went 2-25 in Pac-12 play during his first three seasons, but now he's beating Oregon.


Florida Gators

Trending: DOWN

It has been 368 days since Florida beat Tennessee.


Georgia Bulldogs

Trending: DOWN

At least Kirby Smart's first loss as Georgia's coach was memorable.


Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Trending: DOWN

Mark Richt lost to the Yellow Jackets about once every five or six years as Georgia's coach. The Hurricanes should be OK in Atlanta on Saturday.


Indiana Hoosiers

Trending: DOWN

When you haven't won four Big Ten games since 2001, losing to Wake Forest in nonconference play isn't going to help your postseason chances. Now, those Hoosiers are going to have to go at least 5-4 against Big Ten foes to go back to a bowl.


Iowa Hawkeyes

Trending: DOWN

I'm pretty sure there's a clause in Kirk Ferentz's new contract that would have voided his extension if the Hawkeyes had lost to Northern Iowa and Rutgers in consecutive games.


Kansas State Wildcats

Trending: EVEN

The Wildcats beat FCS foe Missouri State 35-0 in a game that was called at halftime because of lightning. If only it had stormed for the Gators in Knoxville, Tennessee.


LSU Tigers

Trending: DOWN

Interim Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said he would have someone in the press box devoted solely to clock management and late-game strategy. They didn't have someone doing that before?


Maryland Terrapins

Trending: DOWN

The Terps had last week off and will have a great chance at starting 4-0 when they host Purdue on Saturday.


Memphis Tigers

Trending: UP

Two years ago, Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson was working for a fence company in South Carolina, after he walked away from a scholarship at Tennessee. Last week, he threw six touchdown passes and ran for a seventh in a 77-3 rout of Bowling Green.


Michigan State Spartans

Trending: DOWN

Boy, I bet practice is fun in East Lansing, Michigan, this week.


Minnesota Golden Gophers

Trending: UP

Minnesota freshman Tai'yon Devers has three tackles this season -- all of them were sacks and all of them led to fumbles. Colorado State quarterback Collin Hill will probably never forget one of them.


Navy Midshipmen

Trending: EVEN

Air Force and Navy have played 48 previous times, but Saturday's game in Colorado Springs is the first time they've played when they were both undefeated. The winner went on to claim the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy in each of the past 19 seasons.


North Carolina Tar Heels

Trending: UP

Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky probably wouldn't mind if his receivers played in bathrobes against Florida State. After wearing bathrobes in warm-ups to suggest that people were "sleeping" on UNC receivers, Bug Howard, Mack Hollins and Ryan Switzer combined for 23 catches for 313 yards with four touchdowns in a 37-36 win over Pitt.


Oklahoma Sooners

Trending: EVEN

The Sooners didn't play last week, but they're still sitting at the bottom of the Big 12 standings. They'll have a chance to rebound at No. 21 TCU on Saturday.


Ole Miss Rebels

Trending: UP

Rebels coach Hugh Freeze probably won't have to remind his players that they lost to Memphis 37-24 last season.


Oregon Ducks

Trending: DOWN

So a Duck can pull a truck -- and it can lose to Colorado.


Pittsburgh Panthers

Trending: DOWN

We nearly pulled the trigger on the Panthers after they lost back-to-back games at Oklahoma State and North Carolina, but we're still not convinced they're not as good as anyone else in the ACC Coastal Division.


San Diego State Aztecs

Trending: EVEN

The Aztecs didn't play last week, but star tailback Donnel Pumphrey still has 33 rushing yards more than any other FBS player.


TCU Horned Frogs

Trending: UP

Graduate transfer John Diarse has 16 catches for 290 yards with one touchdown in four games with TCU, which is more than he had in each of the past two seasons at LSU. Maybe that LSU offense did need some tweaking.


Texas Longhorns

Trending: EVEN

After spending the off-week evaluating his program, Texas coach Charlie Strong said he doesn't think his coaching staff needs any changes. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford is still running the defense.


Texas Tech Red Raiders

Trending: EVEN

Kansas coach David Beaty said earlier this week that there aren't five humans on this Earth better than Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury. He might not be saying the same thing after facing Kingsbury's offense on Thursday night.


Toledo Rockets

Trending: EVEN

First-year Rockets coach Jason Candle is picking up where Matt Campbell left off. The Rockets have piled up at least 516 yards of offense in each of their first three games and had 619 in a 52-17 rout of Fresno State two weeks ago. Toledo will get its first big test at BYU on Friday night.


UCLA Bruins

Trending: DOWN

The Bruins fell to Stanford 22-13 for the ninth straight time last week. Losing streaks don't last forever. Ask Tennessee.


Utah Utes

Trending: UP

Utes coach Kyle Whittingham might want to buy a lottery ticket. The Utes are 5-for-5 on fourth down this season, and they converted four in last week's 31-27 win over USC, including two on their winning drive.


Virginia Tech Hokies

Trending: UP

Great stat from ESPN colleague David Hale: Virginia Tech's Jerod Evans is the only quarterback in FBS with more than 13 touchdowns and one or fewer interceptions. Only 12 other quarterbacks have done that in the past decade, including two Heisman Trophy winners, three NFL first-round draft picks and seven players who started in the pros.


Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Trending: UP

Who else had Wake Forest having more victories than Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC combined heading into October?


Western Michigan Broncos

Trending: UP

Saturday's game at Central Michigan might be the Directional U. Game of the Century. The Broncos are 4-0 for the first time since 5-0 in 1995 and already have wins over Northwestern and Illinois.


West Virginia Mountaineers

Trending: UP

The Mountaineers have allowed one sack in three games. Dana Holgorsen isn't sure that one was legitimate. "He scrambled out and got back to the line."

Better luck next season

Army Black Knights

Trending: DOWN

After a difficult week, the Black Knights fell 23-20 in overtime to Buffalo on Saturday night. After shutting out each of its first three opponents in the fourth quarter, Army allowed two touchdowns in the final nine minutes of regulation to blow a 20-6 lead.


Central Michigan Chippewas

Trending: EVEN

The Chippewas showed a lot of grit in rallying from a four-touchdown deficit at Virginia, but gave up too many big plays down the stretch in a 49-35 loss. It won't get any easier in the MAC opener against Western Michigan.


East Carolina Pirates

Trending: DOWN

Yeah, NC State must not be very good. Since beating the Wolfpack 33-30, the Pirates have lost 20-15 at South Carolina and 54-17 at Virginia Tech.


Georgia Southern Eagles

Trending: DOWN

It's OK to admit that last week's 49-31 loss at Western Michigan didn't hurt as much after former Eagles coach Brian VanGorder was fired as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator the next day.


Oklahoma State Cowboys

Trending: DOWN

Four of the Pokes' final five possessions in their 35-24 loss at Baylor ended at the Bears' 11, 3, 1 and 24. The Cowboys came away with three points. That's how you lose.


Oregon State Beavers

Trending: DOWN

It was fun while it lasted. Look on the bright side: Oregon State lost to Minnesota by one touchdown and Boise State by two. Baby steps. Baby steps. I promise Gary Andersen will get you there.


Penn State Nittany Lions

Trending: DOWN

Why hasn't anyone asked James Franklin if he's interested in the LSU job?


Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Trending: DOWN

The Scarlet Knights showed a lot of fight under first-year coach Chris Ash in last week's 14-7 loss to Iowa. The bad news: They lost star receiver/kick returner Janarion Grant to a season-ending ankle injury.


South Carolina Gamecocks

Trending: DOWN

Welcome back to reality, Gamecocks. Will Muschamp isn't going to work miracles.


South Florida Bulls

Trending: DOWN

There goes Dalvin Cook again.


USC Trojans

Trending: DOWN

What will former USC Pat Haden's legacy be 20 years (or four months) from now?

Previously eliminated

Eliminated in Week 3: Boston College Eagles, Duke Blue Devils, Illinois Fighting Illini, Marshall Thundering Herd, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, Syracuse Orange, Texas State Bobcats, Vanderbilt Commodores

Eliminated in Week 2: Akron Zips, Ball State Cardinals, BYU Cougars, California Bears, Connecticut Huskies, Eastern Michigan Eagles, Florida Atlantic Owls, Idaho Vandals, Kansas Jayhawks, Louisiana Monroe Warhawks, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, NC State Wolfpack, Old Dominion Monarchs, Purdue Boilermakers, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, Texas San Antonio Roadrunners, Troy Trojans, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UCF Knights, UNLV Rebels, Utah State Aggies, UTEP Miners, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Wyoming Cowboys

Eliminated in Week 1: Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, Charlotte 49ers, Colorado State Rams, Florida International Golden Panthers, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia State Panthers, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Iowa State Cyclones, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Massachusetts Minutemen, Miami(Ohio)RedHawks, Mississippi State Bulldogs, New Mexico State Aggies, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio Bobcats, Rice Owls, San Jose State Spartans, Temple Owls, Tulane Green Wave, Virginia Cavaliers, Washington State Cougars