Misery Loves Company
It’s a familiar saying. Those who are suffering find solace in knowing that they are not alone.
In college football, every weekend half of the fans are unhappy with the results—it’s just the nature of the beast. It’s just that some fans are left to go home unhappy more often than others. Colorado fans, over the past four or five seasons (counting the embarrassing end to the 2004 season), have had more than their share of unhappiness of late.
There are other teams’ fans in 2009 whose seasons, though, have also not turned out as planned. It just so happens that five of them are on the Buffs’ 2010 schedule …
No team has fallen further—with regard to expectations—than have the Sooners, who were the No. 3 team in the nation in the preseason polls. Oklahoma suffered a 41-13 beat down by Texas Tech this past weekend, leaving the unranked Sooners at 6-5.
How bad was the loss? The Red Raiders have only beaten the Sooners five times in school history, and never before by more than 10 points, but won Saturday by four touchdowns. Texas Tech put up 549 yards against Oklahoma, which has a five loss season for the first time in 10 years.
Up next for Oklahoma? No. 12 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys will be smelling blood, and the Sooners are facing the reality of a 6-6 record and a lower tier bowl game. Yes, Sam Bradford—and other Sooners—have been injured, but if Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State, and then loses its bowl game, the Sooners will finish with a losing season. Such a thought was unimaginable three months ago.
The Rams in 2009 were coming off a 7-6 season and a bowl victory. Expectations were not great, but a repeat winning season, and an outside shot at the elite in the Mountain West Conference, was not out of the question. This was especially true after the Rams opened the season 3-0, with wins over Colorado, Weber State, and Nevada.
Halfway to bowl eligibility in September, the Rams have yet to post another win. Colorado State has lost eight games in a row, including a disappointing 29-27 loss to previously winless New Mexico this past weekend. If the Rams hope to head to Invesco Field to face the Buffs with something other than a nine-game losing streak, they will have to defeat Wyoming at home next Friday.
No head coach in Kansas history has taken the Jayhawks to the heights reached by Mark Mangino. His overall record is only 50-47, but in 2007, the Jayhawks went 12-1, including an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech.
An 8-5 record in 2008 was a step back, but the Jayhawks had established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12 North.
The 2009 Kansas season opened with the Jayhawks posting a 5-0 record and a No. 16 national ranking. Then...the wheels fell off. Starting with a 34-30 loss to Colorado, Kansas has now lost six games in a row, including a methodical 51-20 thumping by Texas this past Saturday. Unless the Jayhawks can handle Missouri in the finale next weekend, the Jayhawks will be home for the holidays in 2009.
If things weren’t bad enough, head coach Mark Mangino finds himself embroiled in controversy, as allegations of verbal abuse and inappropriate physical contact have been levied by former players. Mangino has denied the allegations, but the Jayhawks’ six game losing streak has not helped the chances that Mangino will be on the sidelines in Lawrence in 2010.
How valuable can one player be to a team? Certainly the loss of Sam Bradford derailed the plans of the Oklahoma Sooners, but the argument can be made that the injury to Baylor’s quarterback, Robert Griffin, was an even more serious blow. The Bears were looking for bowl eligibility back in September, when Baylor opened 3-1.
After the injury to their starting quarterback, though, the Bears have gone 1-6, with consecutive beat downs by Texas (47-14) and Texas A&M (38-3). Barring an upset of Texas Tech in the finale, Baylor will finish with a league-worst 1-7 Big 12 conference record.
It’s true that Baylor is used to finishing at the bottom of the Big 12 South standings, but in 2009—for the first time since the conference was formed—the Bears were not picked to finish last. The predictions were that Baylor would finish in front of Texas A&M, the team that beat them 38-3 this past weekend.
The Georgia Bulldogs were ranked 13th in the nation at the beginning of the 2009 season. An opening day game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater was billed as a marquee match-up between two contenders in the two toughest conferences. Oklahoma State won the opener, 24-10, and Georgia never quite got the ship righted after that loss.
The Bulldogs did win their next three games, climbing back to No. 18 in the polls, but have won only three games since. A dis-heartening home 34-27 loss to Kentucky on senior night (and only two days after mascot UGA VII unexpectedly died at the age of four) leaves Georgia at 6-5.
Not only must Georgia get over the first home loss to Kentucky since 1977, the Bulldogs must re-group quickly, as the season finale is an away game against No. 7 Georgia Tech. A loss to the Yellow Jackets would give Georgia its first six loss season since the 1996 team went 5-6.
So, there you have it. Fans from almost half of Colorado’s 2010 opponents are just as unhappy about their 2009 seasons as you are about what the Buffs have produced. Some fans are even more melancholy, as two months ago, there was still hope aplenty for those fans, while Buff fans had already resigned themselves to a long fall.
A brief recap:
Georgia - preseason No. 13. End of September: 3-1 (No. 18). Now: 6-5.
Baylor - Opened: 3-1. Now 4-7.
Kansas - preseason No. 25. Opened: 5-0 (No. 16). Now: 5-6.
Colorado State – Opened: 3-0. Now: 3-8.
Oklahoma - preseason No. 3. End of September: 2-1. Now: 6-5.
Throw in 2010 games against Iowa State and Kansas State (both teams have finished the regular season with 6-6 records, and must sweat out bowl-bids) and Hawaii (5-6, with games remaining against Navy and Wisconsin—yes, Hawaii has 13 regular season games this year), and 2010 doesn’t have the scary look to it that it had back in September.
In fact, Nebraska and California (with eight wins apiece), along with Missouri and Texas Tech (with seven wins each), are the only teams on the schedule which we can say with certainly will finish with a winning 2009 season, and all four of those teams have had periods of poor play.
There. Feel better?
Then here is a bonus …
Another team ranked this preseason which is now 6-5 is Notre Dame. For the second year in a row, the Irish lost their senior day home game to a Big East underdog. Last season, winless Syracuse was the conqueror; this season it was Connecticut, which defeated Notre Dame, 33-30, in double overtime.
The Irish were ranked 23rd coming into the season, and some (okay, Lou Holtz) picked Notre Dame to play for the national championship. A soft schedule seemed to put Notre Dame in great position for at least a BCS bid, but the Irish have lost three straight (to Navy, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut).
The worst kept secret in college football is that Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis will likely be looking for work after this season. With a road game against Stanford still to be played, Notre Dame under Charlie Weis is 35-26. His .536 winning percentage is lower than the .583 winning percentage of Weis’ predecessors, Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie—and we know what happened to those coaches.
I knew that would make you feel better!