Michigan, Virginia Tech, Texas and the Biggest College Football Letdowns of 2012
We are now seven weeks into the college football season, and the initial BCS rankings have been released.
As expected, the SEC dominated the top of the poll and appears to have the best chance to produce a national champion.
We are nearly to the halfway point of the season, and while there have been plenty of pleasant surprises such as Florida, Kansas State, Rutgers, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cincinnati and even Ohio, other teams have been major letdowns this season.
Here are some of the biggest letdowns thus far.
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Michigan had major national title hopes heading into the season, but two early-season losses quickly dashed those hopes.
It also does not help that the Big Ten is as weak as it has been in recent years.
The Wolverines began the season No. 8 in the nation and were mentioned as one of the top teams in the country. After losses to Alabama and Notre Dame, the Wolverines have rebounded nicely in recent weeks.
Still, they did not make the initial BCS rankings.
The Wolverines could burst back onto the national scene if they can contend for a Big Ten title. That appears a likely scenario.
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Nothing like beginning the season in the Top 10 and then losing four out of five to start the year.
That is precisely what the Arkansas Razorbacks have done, and for that reason they are a major disappointment.
They have since rebounded to win two in a row over Auburn and Kentucky, but they have been awful for most of the season.
There have been plenty of injuries for Arkansas, and that is part of the reason why the Razorbacks struggled in the early part of the season.
With five games remaining, Arkansas needs three wins to become bowl eligible. That is not going to be easy, as the schedule wraps up with three games against South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU.
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The Virginia Tech Hokies might just be the biggest disappointment so far this season.
They began the year ranked No. 16 in the country and right now sit at 4-3, nowhere near the BCS Top 25.
It could be worse for Virginia Tech, as it squeaked by Georgia Tech, 20-17, in the season opener.
With their schedule, most expected the Hokies to be undefeated heading into a showdown on Saturday at No. 19 Clemson.
Virginia Tech has stumbled against teams like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and North Carolina, losing three of its last five games.
There is no single problem to pinpoint, but quarterback Logan Thomas has not lived up to expectations, throwing only 12 touchdowns to eight interceptions.
The defense has also struggled against decent competition.
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South Florida was not expected to be world beaters heading into the season, but being 2-4 at this point in the year is a major disappointment for a team that was considered a contender for the Big East title.
After starting the year 2-0 with wins over Chattanooga and Nevada, South Florida has lost four in a row, including games against Ball State and Temple.
This is a typical collapse for a South Florida team that usually falls apart later in the year.
There is still time to recover, but winning four of the next six does not appear likely with Louisville, Syracuse and Miami (Fla.) on the docket. Another disappointing finish for the Bulls appears in order.
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Wisconsin is another team that began the season ranked way too high and has plummeted very fast.
The Badgers started the year No. 12 in the country, and they struggled mightily at the beginning of the season.
They fell 10-7 at Oregon State in the second game of the year. They then struggled to a 26-21 win over Northern Iowa and then beat Utah State, 16-14.
Right now, the Badgers are 5-2 and may have righted the ship a little bit, but it is still hard to tell after wins over Illinois and Purdue the past two weeks.
Still, even with the bad start, the Badgers are one of the favorites to win the Big Ten.
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Texas began the season ranked No. 15 in both major polls, and while the Longhorns are ranked No. 25 in the first BCS rankings, that is not because of anything they have done lately.
The Longhorns were manhandled by Oklahoma in the annual Red River Rivalry over the weekend. They have now lost two in a row.
The defense has allowed 111 points over that two-week span, and it ranks 97th in the country, allowing 32.5 points a game.
Things are not going to get any easier for the Longhorns, as their final four games are all against ranked teams.
Matters were made worse when it was announced that quarterback David Ash has a broken wrist.
What was a bright start to the season for Texas is now looking as dark as ever at the midway point of the year.
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Even though USC only has one loss and is ranked No. 10 in the initial BCS standings, the Trojans have still disappointed so far this season.
Most people had USC in the top three in the country beginning the season, and many even considered the Trojans the best team in the nation.
At 5-1, the Trojans still have an outside shot to play for a national championship, but it does not appear they have the firepower up front to contend with the big boys.
Stanford manhandled USC and dominated the line of scrimmage. Expect the good teams to continue to do that.
Still, though, the Trojans' skill-position players are as good any in the country, and their two toughest remaining games—Oregon and Notre Dame—will be played at home.
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The Auburn Tigers were not as highly ranked as a lot of these teams heading into the season, but they were still right around the Top 25 when the season began.
Right now, Auburn is sitting at 1-5 and looking like the worst team in the SEC, with the exception of maybe Kentucky.
The only win for the Tigers came in overtime over Louisiana-Monroe in Week 3. Since then, the Tigers have been outscored 77-37 in their last three games.
For Auburn, the problem has been at the quarterback position.
Kiehl Frazier struggled mightily during the early part of the season, throwing for only 664 yards with two touchdowns and eight interceptions before being benched during the fifth game of the season against Arkansas in favor of Clint Moseley.
Moseley has not been much better, throwing for a touchdown and three interceptions during his time under center.
Head coach Gene Chizik could be in huge trouble at Auburn.
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Although they did not begin the season in the Top 25, the Yellow Jackets were highly regarded as one of the top teams in the ACC.
Right now, the team stands at 2-4 with three straight losses to Miami, Middle Tennessee State and Clemson.
An upcoming contest against Boston College could help alleviate some of the pain, but this does not look like a bowl team right now.
The defense has been the problem for Georgia Tech, as the Yellow Jackets are allowing over 30 points a game and 46 over their past three contests.
It could be a struggle the rest of the way.
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With the exception of maybe Virginia Tech and Arkansas, no team has had a more disappointing season than the Michigan State Spartans.
Imagine beginning the year ranked No. 13 and now sitting at 4-3 and 1-2 in Big Ten play.
That is the story for Michigan State, and even though running back Le'Veon Bell has already rushed for 916 yards and eight touchdowns, the Spartans have a lot of questions on the offensive side of the ball.
The main problem has been the quarterback position, where Andrew Maxwell has only thrown for six touchdowns with four picks in seven games.
The upcoming schedule is as tough as the Big Ten can get this year with games at Michigan and Wisconsin, followed by a home game against Nebraska.