Losing Faith – Making Other Losers Look Good
As college football’s midseason approaches, many teams that expected to fare well are thinking about the most effective way to bid ‘farewell’ to the 2009 season. Colorado – where Head Coach Dan Hawkins was expected to field a very competitive team, has tasted the bitter fruits slowly fermenting at the bottom of college football’s barrel. With only a single win over Wyoming, the once respected CU recruiting class is now counting its collective transfer options.
As weather turns colder, alumni start hitting their travel agency websites to price out tickets to favorite bowl destinations. Others are trying to book transport to Bora Bora – just as far away from college football as possible. Many of these folks are current coaches.
Among this week’s surprises in the Futility Rankings:
Virginia – Adieu – at least for a week to the VA Cavs. Owing to a rather surprising 47-7 thumping of Big Ten Indiana, the Cavs at least earned the right to their team moniker – free of disparaging letter-changing. The victory was so complete, that – aside from a mercy touchdown given up in the final quarter – the Virginia defense completely shut down the Hoosiers – sending Indiana back into the bottom ten and Indiana fans back into the line for basketball tickets.
Duke – Managing to pull off a win over North Carolina State, the Duke Blue Devils fell out of the bottom ten altogether. Although beating a terrible Wolfpack team doesn’t erase the memory of losing to Richmond, it does drop the Bluish Devils into Honorable Mention status for the First Worst Futility Rankings. The Devils have the woeful Terrapins of Maryland on deck next week though. Lose here and Duke will be back in the thick of the fight for First Worst classification.
To those teams that came through under pressure to claim another loss – or those that screwed up and managed to notch a win, the following schools deserve recognition in the Week Six First Worst Futility Rankings:
10. NC State – Welcome to the Wolfpack! Anyone who can figure out a way to lose to the Duke Blue Devils at home on the football field deserves special recognition! This week, the NC State Wolfpack debuts at #10 in the Futility Rankings in honor of this past Saturday’ 49-28 loss at home to said Bluish Devils. NC State gave up over 500 yards in total offense to a team that lost earlier in the year to a team from Richmond U. With only wins over Murray State and Pittsburgh, as well as someone called Gardner-Webb, NC State deserves recognition for football failure. And this is just the place they will get the disrespect they deserve.
9. Louisville Cardinals – After dutifully falling behind 16-7 in the first half against Southern Mississippi, the Cardinals failed in their bid to continue their fall to the bottom. Kicking a field goal with 30 seconds left in the game, Louisville surprised itself with its first win over a real bowl division team this season. In what should be a basketball match up, the Cardinals take on UCONN next week. Instead, these two will duke it out on the gridiron to see who can remain in the bottom ten.
8. Indiana – Welcome back to the bottom of college football’s barrel to the Indiana Hoosiers! Owing to a remarkably complete failure at Virginia, the Hoosiers re-earned their way back onto the coveted Futility Rankings worst ten. The rebuilding Hoosiers figured out a way to give up a whopping 536 yards of offense to what had been a fairly offensive offense on the Cavalier side. “Making other teams look good” now seems to be the Hoosier football motto.
7. Army – It must have given the Knights a great sense of accomplishment to knock off the eggheads at Vanderbilt 16-13 in overtime on Saturday. This doesn’t quite erase the dishonor of losing to such powerhouse programs as Ball State and Eastern Michigan, but it is a step in the right direction.
6. Maryland – Maryland U. lost 42-34 to Wake Forest on Saturday. The Turtles were never in this thing from the start, allowing 35 first half points. The Demon Deacons racked up 21 points in the first quarter alone, making it their best offensive start in five years. The Big Turtles usually provide multiple opportunities for the opposition to establish new offensive records – as if the Terps performance wasn’t offensive enough. Next up for the Terps – the newly exiled from the Futility Rankings Virginia Cavaliers.
5. Colorado – Colorado’ Buffaloes may have kept it close for a while, but came through in the end to give up a 38-14 loss to #2 Texas. CU in fact won the first half before finding their bearings and giving up four big second-half scores, including a 92 yard punt return for a touchdown. This was the ‘Horns longest punt return since the Great Depression. And speaking of Great Depression, this is the state where the 1-4 Buffaloes now find themselves.
4. New Mexico State – The Aggies defeated the Aggies in the Aggie Bowl on Saturday. Or… the Aggies lost to the Aggies. Whatever… Although tagging the Aggies of Utah State with a loss, the Aggies of NMSU barely held on, needing a last second field goal to seal the 20-17 win. A tie between two of college football’s worst teams would have been appropriate here, but fittingly, neither team could accomplish that objective.
3. Washington State – Now in the middle of their Pac 10 schedule the Cougars of Washington State are in the middle of yet another winless crisis. Failing to score in the first half, the Cougars went on to secure the loss by giving up 27 points to visiting Arizona State. Washington State got over half of its total offensive yards on a single busted defensive play (by ASU) – a 99 yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to Johnny Forzani. Arizona State sportingly spotted the Cougars a whopping six turnovers to keep this thing as close as it was. In the end, the Cougs couldn’t overcome ASU’s generosity and took their accustomed place in the loser’s bracket by a final score of 27-14.
2. Utah State – The Aggies of Utah State move up to #2 this week following an embarrassing road loss to #3 New Mexico State. A last second field goal by New Mexico State’s Kyle Hughes sent the other Aggies team to the bottom. Utah State has a season full of challenging opponents remaining so a win in 2009 is looking doubtful. Of course when you are at the bottom of the heap, every game is challenging.
1. New Mexico – The 0-6 Lobos kept their drive for perfection very much alive with a 37-13 loss to Wyoming. Adding injury to the insult, the Lobos couldn’t get nearer to Laramie on Friday night than 50 miles owing to a snowstorm that dumped over a foot of the stuff over southern Wyoming. The Lobos would have been better served to call the game off. Still, they prevailed – their losing streak intact. Also insulting to this injury; of the final five Lobo games, three are against top 20 teams. The possibility now exists for the Lobos to post the first perfectly awful season since the Washington Huskies accomplished that feat – well – just last year.