You get a lot of photos this season when you type in the words "Gator fumble." (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
It's just one of those years. Every decade or so College Football has a season that makes little sense to anyone, and 2010 seems fill out that mold like a fat chick in spandex. Three straight weeks the No. 1 team in the country goes down in flames. Traditional powers are struggling to stay above .500. Also rans are sitting at the top of BCS conference standings. Baylor is BOWL ELIGIBLE! WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING!?!?!?!?!?
When things are this crazy, it usually means someone is suffering. Badly. And when he college football world is turned on it's head it also usually means the people suffering are those traditional powers that brought so much stability to our little college football obsessed world. And lordy, at that the truth. A quick look around the standings and you'll see big time programs with big time problems. Big time losses at home. Big time flops against teams they've never lost to. Complete collapses in the face of adversity. Losses to D-1AA teams that have torpedoed the season. A BCS automatic qualifier without a single ranked team!
So, you wanted insanity and BCS busting results this season. You've got 'em. College football is an exhilarating sport. It can leave you breathless, mouth agape in wonderment and awe at what you have just witnessed. However, for every fan who has screamed that high pitched scream of ecstasy and surprise, there is another fan who sits there mouth breathing, near tears and holding his/her head in their hands. It simply the way of things. Some say it is the pre-ordained way the Kuthu, college football's malevolent goddess of football success and failure, decides it will be. And more often than not, she will drag your sorry ass down into the deep depths of sorrow, just for giggles.
It has been pointed out previously that perhaps a Michigan fan, one who has so angered Kuthuas to suffer the wrath of a 3-9 and 5-7 season, should not be the person to troll the depths of sorrow to bring you the lowest of the lows in college football. It has been suggested that such acts fly in the very face of logic and reality. To the contrary, son, I am well acquainted with the depths of sorrow (see: Michigan Football, 2007-present). My pain is well documented. And as a messenger from the depths I'm here to bring you up to speed on what's going on down here where the sun never shines and Pam Ward not only does play by play for every game on television, the only games we can get are Sun Belt games.
So, dear reader, I present you with the programs and the pain they have (and will) endure as the 2010 season rolls on.
The Whole Damn Conference - The league has basically turned out as many prognosticators predicted, with Florida State and Virginia Tech leading the way in their respective divisions. The only problem? Both have suffered two of the most humiliating losses of the season. Florida State was absolutely dismantled by Oklahoma 47-17 in a game that really wasn't as close as the score indicates. Granted the Seminoles only loss on the year is to the Sooners, but their 6-1 (4-0) record is somewhat of a mirage with their only other notable competition coming from a vastly overrated Miami team. Is there a bigger paper tiger leading a conference? (Rhetorical question, we'll get to that.) But FSU's stumble in Norman is nothing comparing to the nightmare start to the season for Virginia Tech. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Boise State hurt, but dropping the following game to D-1AA JMU was like falling out of an airplane into a volcano. On top of that, throw in the scandal at North Carolina and the complete incineration of Miami at the hands of Ohio State (14 of Miami's first 17 points were on kick returns) and you've got a conference looking for a positive identity.
Here's the problem for the ACC: Right now both VT and FSU look like the best teams in the conference and are the odds on favorites to get to the ACC Championship game. This will pit a team that lost to a FCS team against a team that was pantsed by Oklahoma. No matter the outcome, the ACC loses. Well. That's not true. Everyoneinvolved in the BCS loses if Virginia Tech wins the ACC. It's just how it is. The Hokies have everything to play for. But because of the stigma of the JMU loss (and I can vouch for this Tech fans) no matter how good you play later in the year, everyone's rooting against you so that their conference isn't won by a school that was beaten by a 1AA school.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Oh holy hell. Not only were the Irish beaten for the third time in four years by the Naval Academy (which is a decent team folks, they're 5-2), they were embarrassedby the Naval Academy. Sadly, they were also embarrassing themselves. Navy ran for 367 yards and put up 438 total yards on the Irish, limiting them to just 17 points while putting up 35 of their own. Fortunately, the Irish still have Tulsa and Army on the schedule, so Notre Dame will reach at least 6 wins. But with undefeated Utah coming to town and a trip to the Coliseum lurking to close out the season, the prospect of another lost 6-6 season looms large. Presuming things in college football is a dangerous thing to do, but if the Irish do finish the season 6-6, they won't be staying home out of pride. Far from it.
"Those 15 practices are important." ND HC Brian Kelly said, "So, you know, getting to a bowl game allows you more time with your players. I need more time with our guys."
The spectre of Charlie WillingDavieham continues to act as a sea anchor, dragging the Irish down into the depths of sorrow.
The rest of the BCS is trolled after the jump.....
The Big Ten
The Michigan Wolverines - I know it may seem odd to put a 5-2 team in this rundown, but given the Wolverines' recent history and the way this season has unfolded it's not unwarranted. Despite a 5-0 start, Michigan has dropped two straight to ranked opponents and managed to get its top three players (Denard Robinson [QB], David Molk [C], and Mike Martin[NT/DT]) dinged up in the process. Michigan's defense ranks 104th in the country, giving up 441 yards a game. While its rush defense stands at a mediocre 54th (!!!!????), it's pass defense limps in at 117th giving up 296 ypg. But it's not just what's happening on the field that is troublesome. Michigan's two early season "big" wins over UConn and Notre Dame are now mediocre wins at best, with the Irish at 4-4 and the Huskies sitting at 3-4.
Making matters worse, Michigan's instate rival Michigan State has somehow, through black magic/deals with the devil/luck rivaling a leprechaun carrying a four leaf clover filled rabbit's foot/etc.., climbed to No. 5 in the BCS rankings while the Wolverines are unranked. It's not just that they're ranked, it's the fact this is happening after or despite the infamous nerd beatdown that almost cost MSU half it's team, that their top corner in jail for a DUI and violating his probation, and a number of other off-field incidents. For Michigan fans, it's all just a little too much to take right now. It's one thing when Ohio State is winning the conference title year in year out. It is, after all, Ohio State. But when both of them are ranked ahead of you, you're trolling the depths of sorrow automatically.
The Big XII
The Texas Longhorns - Oh man is it difficult to think of a team that's done more throughout the season to land themselves in this rundown. A complete pasting, at home, to UCLA. A loss in the Red River shootout that wasn't as close as the 8 point margin of victory. And most recently, their first everloss to Iowa State (don't worry Texas, Iowa can tell you all about losing to Iowa State). Despite an excellent defense, Texas continues to cough up games because they continue to cough up the ball. Making matters worse, this is the same team that dismantled then #5 Nebraska in Lincoln!! Mack Brown's hair has actually gotten whiter this season and is threatening to get so white that i will turn into a prism. As bad as the Wolverines have it, Texas is looking up at the Baylor Bearsin the standings for the first time in a generation. Baylor! While I doubt the Longhorns will take up a permanent residence in the depths of sorrow, a loss to the Bears would definitely turn 2010 into an over Macho Grande season for the Horns.
No. I don't think I'll ever get over Macho Grande. Those scars run.... pretty deep.
The Big East
The Whole Damn Conference - Sheesh. West Virginia just lost to Syracuse. Syracuse, you know, the same team that hasn't had a winning record since the first Bush Administration. Preseason favorite Connecticut is in free fall, booting it best quarterback off the team for... ahem... heezey related reasons. Two Time defending conference champ Cincinnati has plummeted back to earth following the departure of its coach to Notre Dame. Pittsburgh leads the conference despite Dave Wannsedt and dropping games (convincingly) to Miami and Notre Dame, and taking # 8 Utah to overtime in the first game of the year.
Feel free to call this Big East bashing or whatever, but this is not good. The conference favorite have struggled mightily this season and with limited help coming from the bottom end of the conference, the Big East may be lucky to have more than two teams ranked by the end of the season. Someone needs to step up in conference or the Big East may be in the depths of sorrow to stay this season.
The Florida Gators - Starting off the season the Gators looked to be up to more of their usual tricks. Despite putting the ball on the carpet more often than a dog playing fetch, the Gators were putting up 35ish points a game and holding their opponents below 20. Then Alabama happened. The Tide rickrolled Florida, limiting the Gators to a pair of field goals, less than 300 yards of total offense, and forcing 4 turnovers (3 of them interceptions). It was 24 nothing before Florida got on the board. The next week, LSU and the HAT rolled into Gainesville and rolled out with a win. Then the unthinkable happened. Mississippi State walked into, forced two critical turnovers, and walked out with a 10-7 win, with Florida pulling an FSU and missing the game tier WIDE RIGHT! MSU won the game despite throwing for just 33 yards! In Florida's last three games they've coughed the ball up 8 times and created only two turnovers of their own. Not only that John Brantley is getting pounded and the Gators can't run the ball at all. Florida is 10th in the conference in rushing, having not cracked 1000 yards on the season seven games in.
And it doesn't get any easier for the Gators going forward. The World's Largest Adult Beverage and Narcotics Exposition awaits this weekend, with dates with South Carolina, Florida State, and (oddly) Appalachian State waiting later in the year. Just a quick question, who the hell still schedules Appalachian State? Who? Are you looking to play with unstable, old nitroglycerin? Maybe you want to take that on a roller coaster or stick it in a paint mixer. Maybe nothing will happen. But you'd be able to assure that if YOU NEVER SCHEDULED THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Ahem.... So, Florida, break one off against Georgia or you'll have lost four in a row and be at .500 for the first time since the start of the season and you'll take up residence in the depths of sorrow.
The Pac 10
The UCLA Bruins - After starting the season off with a resounding thud (a game they should've won against K-State and a game they were buried alive against Stanford), the Bruins rebounded to win three straight games. More importantly they won those games over ranked opponents! The Bruins concussed then #24 Houston and then absolutely steamrolled Texas, in Austin. Throw in an 18 point throttling of Washington State and UCLA looked like they were on track to resume their old Troy Aikman days form. Notsomuch. Fast forward two games and the Bruins now sit at 3-4. In their last two losses UCLA has scored a total of 20 points while allowing a staggering 95 to be scored. In all fairness, 60 of those points can during their blowout loss to Oregon which everyone saw coming. But the 35-7 loss to Cal, probably hurt a lot more when you consider that Cal was in the midst of a two game losing streak where they'd given up 52 points to Nevada!
Everyone knew Neuheisel had his work cut out for him when he up took he unenviable of cleaning up Karl Dorrell's horrific mess of a program. But I seriously doubt Rick thought he'd be dismissing players before the season for theft or suspending players for failed drug tests. It is what it is, and the Bruins faithful are coping with it. If there's hope, it's that they've got four winnable games out of their last five ahead of them. Given all the issues on (the passing game, anemic offense) and off the field (well... you know), another .500 season would be an accomplishment for this team. It's just another proud program trollin the depths of sorrow, waiting for brighter days ahead.