50 College Programs Whose Fans Should Be Furious About How 2011 Has Started
For college football fans, there are three ways to count time. There are the now-defunct pre-Julian Calendars, which featured just 10 months...the reformed and current 12-month calendars that feature July and August as months...and the annual time span of August to January that encompasses a college football season.
Yes, for true die-hard college football fans, it feels as if a new year begins every late August/early September, and then ends the first week of January. Each August and season kickoff can bring as much joy and optimism as the dropping of the ball in Times Square. But as is the case with life, sometimes, we are disappointed.
What follows is a list of the fanbases who should be most upset with their team's performance this year. It is based on an inexact science that considers expectations, results, off-the-field controversies, etc. Basically, if you were a fan of the team, how happy/upset would you be so far this season?
50. Western Kentucky University
WKU fans should be enjoying a winning season, and should be undefeated in Sun Belt play. Instead, they're 2-4, with tough games still ahead.
WKU opened up the season by holding big brother Kentucky to 190 total yards. That is truly impressive. The only problem was that WKU turned the ball over four times, and lost 14-3.
Two weeks later, WKU allowed 44 points on 436 yards to FCS Indiana State. The disparity between their performance against Kentucky and Indiana State is mind-boggling.
Then, in their first Sun Belt game against heavily favored Arkansas State, the Hilltoppers actually led for the final 10 minutes of the game, but a Red Wolves TD with less than a minute to play saw WKU defeated again.
Not many expected WKU to be good, and they have rebounded with two wins against MTSU and FAU. So perhaps fans can take solace in the fact that they are competing against better opponents. Still, it is hard to imagine what could have been for WKU this year.
49. University of Hawaii
Coming off of a 10-win season, and seeing the exodus of Boise State out of the WAC, many felt that this was a great opportunity for Hawaii to take control of the conference. They aren't out of it yet, but they haven't gotten off to a great start either.
QB Bryant Moniz is showing mixed results. He threw for 410 yards and four touchdowns on the road against Louisiana Tech, but followed that up the next week with three interceptions in a loss to SJSU.
The SJSU game should be particularly frustrating for Hawaii fans. Hawaii led entering the fourth quarter. When adding to their lead, they saw an extra point blocked and returned for a touchdown, which instead of putting them up eight, saw their lead cut to five. Then, SJSU scored with less than a minute left to win by one. Heartbreaking.
Additionally, they put up an uncharacteristically low 290 yards and 20 points against UNLV. They lost to the Rebels 40-20! To put that in perspective, UNLV gives up, on average, 41.5 points per game, third worst in the nation.
All is not lost for the Warriors. They are only 1-1 in the WAC, and still control their own destiny. Still, if their performance so far is any indication of things to come, expect an inconsistent team down the stretch.
48. Northern Illinois University
NIU underwent some instant growing pains under first year coach Dave Doeren.
First, they lost 45-42 to Kansas, allowing a touchdown with seven seconds left. While next week's loss to Wisconsin wasn't a surprise, the margin of victory perhaps was. The Huskies lost 49-7, and were outgained 621-237.
Worst yet, they lost to hapless Central Michigan, 48-41. They surrendered 563 yards to the Chippewas, who are averaging just 364 on the season.
Clearly, the defense is a problem for the Huskies. They are 101st in the nation in points against, allowing 32.9 per game. They are allowing 428 yards per game, 102nd in the nation.
Fans might have expected a slide in defense, as the Huskies returned just two starters. Still, this was by far the most dominant MAC team last year. They outgained opponents by 200 yards per game, and won by an average of 31.9 points per game! Those numbers are ridiculous.
Still, the Huskies came up short in the MAC title game last year, and are off to a slow start this season. They are 2-1 in the MAC, and have just tallied a big win against Western Michigan. That being said, until the defense is totally fixed, NIU will have trouble winning the conference.
A big game against Toledo looms on a Tuesday night, Nov.1.
47. University of New Mexico
Let's sum up the Mike Locksley era in New Mexico. He shows up, and before one game is played, he is accused of an age and sex discrimination suit by an employee (which was later dropped). After starting 0-4, he punched an assistant coach in the face. He finished his inaugural season 1-11.
The next season, the Lobos went 1-11 again in 2010. While many wanted him fired, he was retained. Then, they lost to FCS Sam Houston State, a game in which they were underdogs.
Despite all that, he wasn't fired until a high school recruit of his was pulled over and charged with a DWI. How is that Locksley's fault? It was in a car registered to Locksley.
In short, Locksley had more confrontations with employees than he did wins in two-plus seasons.
So while an 0-6 start for New Mexico should have fans irate, and therefore place them high on this list, the fact that Locksley was let go may be a source of relief for fans.
46. University of Central Florida
After a tremendous 11-win season which saw the Knights win C-USA, a bowl game over Georgia and finish ranked nationally, expecting a repeat performance would be ludicrous.
Fans aren't getting a repeat performance. And as the season progresses, they might get much less.
UCF is 3-3, and 1-1 in C-USA, so there is no reason to bail on the Knights quite yet. That being said, they haven't played well in their last four games.
They lost a game to FIU in which they outgained the Panthers. Then special teams were their downfall in Provo, narrowly losing to BYU. Most recently, in a re-match of last year's title game, UCF was decimated by SMU (in which the Mustangs had a punt return of their own).
The only win in-between came against Marshall, and it was an ugly one. The Knights won 16-6, but turned the ball over three times.
Of course, the defense has been, and still is the strength of the Knights. Despite the .500 record, the Knights are ninth in the nation in points allowed at 14.7 per game.
The offense is a concern though. Take away the first two games against Charleston Southern and BC, and we see that UCF is averaging only 16.75 points per game (interestingly, in their last four games, they've scored 17, 17, 17 and 16 respectively).
The big game will come against Southern Miss, and the Knights are still in a position to win their division. Still, if the offense is any indication, or if their game against SMU is any indication, the Knights won't be repeating as C-USA champs.
45. Florida Atlantic University
FAU fans knew that the creator, Howard Schnellenberger, was going to retire after this season. This hasn't made the rough stretch any easier.
Schnellenberger put FAU on the map, literally. He was named director of football operations in 1998, and his task was to build a program from scratch.
He did just that; building a team that has found a home in the Sun Belt Conference, and even found themselves in two bowl games.
In his final season, Schnellenberger has played his home games in a brand new stadium. Of course, it wouldn't exist...none of it, without Schnellenberger.
But his swan song hasn't been the most graceful. FAU is bad, ranking in the 100's nationally in every major statistical category. A close three-point loss to SBC leading La-Lafayette could have been their best opportunity to make waves.
Fans shouldn't be upset at the Owls' performance. Not many expected FAU to compete at all this season, but that is the story of FAU football. They should be upset that Schnellenberger is leaving at the end of the season. The reason for all that is FAU football will be gone, and they won't replace him with anyone nearly as good.
44. University of Nevada Las Vegas
UNLV has not had a .500 or better season since 2003. In the seven seasons since then, they've had exactly two wins five times.
UNLV may be on course to repeat that number. While that may not be a shock, it is the fashion in which they are under-achieving that is disheartening.
The Rebels turned the ball over five times and lost by 25 at home to FCS Southern Utah. This came one week after beating Hawaii, 40-20. This two-week stretch may be the most baffling in the nation.
UNLV is allowing 41.5 points per game, 118th in the nation. They are only scoring 15.7 per game, 113th in the nation.
43. Utah State University
No one expected Utah State to be relevant, so at first glance, their 2-4 record doesn't raise any eyebrows.
Well, consider this. Utah State could very easily be undefeated.
First, there was the blown lead against Auburn. The Aggies traveled to the defending national champions' backyard, and led by 10 with just over two minutes remaining.
In a home game against Colorado State, the Aggies led by eight with less than a minute left. CSU scored and converted the two to force overtime. In the second overtime, Utah State scored to cut the deficit to one, and inexplicably went for two, failing to convert.
Then, Utah State led rival BYU by 11 with 10 minutes left. For the longest time, it looked like the Aggies would score their second straight win over the Cougars. Then a tipped pass with 11 seconds left found itself in the hands of Marcus Matthews, and the Aggies lost by three.
Finally, the Aggies outgained Fresno State on the road this past week, and led entering the fourth quarter. Needless to say, they lost.
It is exhausting to even re-hash the close losses the Aggies have suffered this season. When analyzed, it isn't crazy to say that Utah State could easily be 5-1 or even 6-0!
For a team that hasn't been to a bowl since 1997, this can be both encouraging, and frustrating. Utah State is competing against everyone, but there are no moral victories.
42. Tulane University
This is the fifth season for Coach Bob Toledo at Tulane. A man who led UCLA to a No. 1 ranking in 1998 has not been able to find any success in New Orleans.
To be fair, Tulane has improved their win total each of the last two years. They won two games in 2008, three in '09 and four in '10. Combine that stat with the fact that Tulane had 14 starters back, and many felt this was the time for Tulane to return to a bowl game.
Instead, the Green Wave are 2-5, having beaten only UAB and Southeastern Louisiana. When given an opportunity to perform against equivalent opponents, they falter, as they did in a 44-7 blowout loss against UTEP or a 45-6 loss to Army.
Tulane plays 13 games this season, so seven wins are required to make a bowl. Unfortunately, the schedule is not set up in a way that they can win more than three more. A solid finish down the stretch may keep Green Wave fans optimistic going into 2012, however, and may let Toledo keep his job. The goal shouldn't be a bowl game any more; the goal should be better than .500 down the stretch.
41. University of Notre Dame
If I wrote this article after the second week of the season, ND would most likely be the No. 1 team. With each passing week, however, ND has continued to slide down this list.
While Notre Dame has rebounded from their 0-2 start to find themselves at 4-2, fans may soon find themselves thinking "what could have been?" What if they didn't turn it over five times against USF? What if they didn't have a 14-point swing against USF? What if they played defense on one drive in the fourth quarter against Michigan? What if Rees didn't fumble inside the five at Ann Arbor?
The improvement in the team has come from...not turning the ball over. After nine turnovers against USF and Michigan, ND hasn't turned the ball over once in either of their last two games.
For a team that was considered a national title contender, ND got off to a very inauspicious start. A win next week against USC would continue to rebuild confidence and joy from the fans. Still, it may take them running the table, beating Stanford along the way and earning a BCS berth to truly appease ND fans.
40. University of Nebraska
This ranking may come as a surprise, as the Huskers are 5-1 and ranked 13th in the nation. Fans should not be happy with the team they are seeing though.
In the one marquee opponent Nebraska has played, Wisconsin, the Huskers were embarrassed, 44-17. The next week, it took an injury to Braxton Miller and a comeback for the Huskers to escape at home against Ohio State.
The main cause for concern is the defense. They have allowed 27.2 points per game this season, 67th in the nation. This is Nebraska! The blackshirts! Additionally, Bo Pelini is a defensive-minded coach. Why are the numbers so low? Last year, they allowed 17 points per game.
Furthermore, there has been no improvement to Taylor Martinez' passing game. In fact, it has gotten worse. Martinez is completing 54.3 percent of his passes, and has a 6-6 TD-INT ratio. Last year, Martinez completed 59.2 percent of his passes, and only turned it over seven times. He is on pace to barely eclipse his rushing yardage from last year, while his rushing touchdowns should increase significantly.
To me, I see a Nebraska team that has gotten worse since the middle of last season. After starting 9-1 last year, the Huskers lost three of their final four. While they are 5-1 to start this season, they have had close calls where there shouldn't be (Fresno, Wyoming, Ohio State), and were dominated by the best opponent they played.
Until the improve their defense, Huskers fans won't be happy.
39. University of Miami Ohio
Miami came out of nowhere last year to win the MAC title. First, they beat Central Michigan as 13.5-point underdogs, and then beat NIU in the title game as 17.5-point underdogs! The 10-win season capped off with a bowl win over MTSU was truly special.
Then, Miami had to say goodbye to their coach in the offseason. The RedHawks saw Mike Haywood leave for Pittsburgh. He was later found guilty of domestic abuse, and was promptly fired by Pitt.
As a result of the coaching change, Miami is struggling this season, already matching their loss total from last season. They are 2-4, and dead last in rushing yards per game! They score only 16 points per game, which is 112th in the nation.
This can be confusing to fans, since the RedHawks return 16 starters from last season. QB Zac Dysert has tried to put the team on his back, but he needs help from other playmakers on the offense.
The defense looked solid in an opening week loss to Missouri. Then, they turned around and lost to Minnesota, making them the only team to have the pleasure of doing so this season.
They are coming off two straight wins; Army and Kent State. The RedHawks were only three-point favorites against the struggling Flashes. They won, 9-3, despite totaling only 166 yards.
38. Central Michigan University
Central Michigan enjoyed a period of unprecedented success from 2006 to 2009. Under Brian Kelly and Butch Jones, the Chippewas won 38 games over four seasons. Under Dan Enos, they've been less successful.
Last year, the Chippewas went 3-9. This year, despite returning 14 starters, they're off to a 2-5 start, including a loss to EMU.
The offense hasn't been awful, averaging 364.6 yards per game. They haven't been able to turn it into points though, averaging just 22.1 a game. That means they have a very high, disconcerting, 16.5 yards per point average. Turnovers play a big part in this; the Chippewas have 16 on the season, 10th most in the nation.
The defense hasn't played well either, allowing 33.7 points per game. They allowed 27 points to Kentucky, which might not seem like a bad statistic, until you realize that the next most points Kentucky scored all year was 17.
I'm confident that Dan Enos can turn it around in Mount Plesant. But what happens then? Will he be just another coach in the long line to leave for a bigger name school? Chippewa fans have to be really, really tired of their coaches getting poached.
37. University of California
Cal entered the season coming off their first losing campaign under Jeff Tedford, and first since 2001.
The thought this season was that Cal had playmakers at wide receiver in Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones, and that the defense would be strong. Combined, Cal would return to a bowl.
Things started good enough, as the Bears improved to 3-0 against Presbyterian, Fresno State and Colorado (in a non-conference game).
Since then, Cal has gone 0-3, and been outscored 104-47. QB Zach Maynard has completed just 53.5 percent of his passes in conference play, and has a 2-3 TD-INT ratio in that same timespan.
Cal has the potential to rebound and win six games, getting them back to a bowl game. Still, they are in dead last in the Pac-12 North, and haven't shown they are capable of beating teams of equivalent strength.
36. University of Missouri
One needs to look no further than the game against Arizona State to see frustration for the Tigers. After trailing by 14 with 10 minutes left, the Tigers rallied to tie the game. More impressively, they put themselves in a position to win the game in regulation.
The Tigers had a 1st-and-10 at the Sun Devils 35 with just under a minute to go. On first down, with two timeouts, the Tigers ran for five yards. Instead of running once or twice more, middling the ball and picking up a few yards, the Tigers decided to throw the ball twice.
This set up a 47-yard field goal on fourth down. Then, Pinkel did the unthinkable. He iced his own kicker...twice.
Pinkel called two timeouts after failing to improve the chances of his kicker making the field goal. After both timeouts, Mizzou missed the field goal, and they subsequently lost in OT.
After that, the Tigers dropped their first two Big 12 games, before winning one against Iowa State.
The next two games are crucial for the Tigers. They host Oklahoma State, and then travel to Texas A&M. An 0-2 record will see the Tigers fall to 3-5, and land in serious jeopardy of missing a bowl game.
35. Ohio University
Credit must be given to Frank Solich and the job he has done at Ohio. Before he arrived, it had been 36 years since the Bobcats made a bowl game. In six seasons under Solich, they have made three.
Still, Ohio has been knocking on the door of winning a MAC title, and still hasn't come up with one. They lost in the MAC title game in both 2006 and 2009. Coming off a 17-10 record the past two seasons, and returning 11 starters, Ohio entered as the favorite to take the title this year.
But they've struggled thus far. They've started a disappointing 1-2 in MAC play, losing to Buffalo and the surprising Ball State. Their one win came against hapless Kent State, and it was an ugly 17-10 win.
They can still right the ship, but they've fallen behind Temple in the divisional standings. They host the Owls on a Wednesday night, Nov. 2. Additionally, they avoid Toledo, WMU and NIU out of the West divison (how Ohio and Toledo are in different divisions, I don't know). So Ohio can still claim that MAC title, but fans can't be happy with the performance so far.
34. University of Louisiana-Monroe
After a 5-7 campaign last year, and 17 starters back. the Warhawks were a darkhorse contender for the Sun Belt title, and figured to get to their first bowl game ever.
While you could only really fault them for losing to Arkansas State, they did not play particularly well agaisnt superior opponents. They were shutout against FSU, had no semblance of a defense against Iowa and didn't score in the final three quarters against TCU.
All is not lost for ULM. They are 1-1 in the Sun Belt, and still get to play rival and current leader Louisiana-Lafayette. Still, at 2-4, they will have to play exceptionally well to get to .500 or better.
33. University of Louisville
Charlie Strong was brought on as a defensive guru, and so far, he has lived up to his end of the deal. The Cardinals are allowing only 17.7 points per game, 16th best in the nation. They have allowed less than 20 points in four of their six games.
But the offense is far from decent. They average just 16.3 points per game, 111th in the nation. This has led to several low scoring bouts, most of which have seen the Cardinals on the losing end.
There was the 14-7 loss to UNC, where the teams combined for 537 yards, and the 17-13 loss to Marshall, which saw Marshall score with less than two minutes left. They were also leading Cincinnati entering the fourth quarter, before 11 unanswered ended any hopes of an upset.
The Cardinals find themselves at 2-4, and still have to play the powers of the Big East. This is a major down year for them.
32. University of South Carolina
Like Nebraska, South Carolina finds themselves on this list despite being 6-1 and ranked nationally (14). While the Gamecocks may still be the favorite in the SEC East, there is certainly reason for fans to be upset at the team's performance.
Stephen Garcia finally did enough to get himself kicked off the team. He had been suspended five times before given an ultimatum; don't drink. Two weeks ago, he tested positive for alcohol and marijuana, and was kicked off the team.
As a result of the inconsistencies in the passing game, South Carolina worked Heisman hopeful running back Marcus Lattimore like an animal. Lattimore averaged 24 carries a game over the first six, before injuring his knee against Mississippi State. He is out for the season.
(Ironically, the fewest carries Lattimore had all season was against Auburn, which is one of the more porous rush defenses. It was also the only loss for South Carolina. This is another reason for anger amongst Gamecock fans).
All of these things are related. USC loses their QB after his sixth strike. As a result, the star back is overworked, and then injured. Now, they have to turn to Connor Shaw and perhaps Bruce Ellington to fill in at QB and RB. Consider that the team's leading rusher is Lattimore. The second leading rusher is Garcia. The third, Shaw. That isn't good.
31. University of Akron
Akron has become a punchline in college football. Six years removed from a bowl game, the Zips consistently find themselves near the bottom of any national power rankings.
This year is no different. The team is 114th in scoring, and 111th in points allowed. Their lone win came against an 0-4 Virginia Military Institute. Take away that game, and they're averaging just 11 points per game.
30. University of Memphis
Memphis went to five bowl games in six years from 2003 to 2008. In the two plus seasons since then, they're 4-27.
Larry Porter inherited a 2-10 team, and led the Tigers to just one win in his first season. Expectations weren't exceptionally high this season, as the Tigers only returned nine starters. An optimist would say it is a good thing to return just a few starters from a bad team. That optimist would be wrong when it came to Memphis.
Memphis is 116th in the nation in scoring, and 116 in points allowed. Their lone win is against Austin Peay. They were tied against MTSU entering the fourth quarter before they gave up 21 points en route to a 38-31 loss. They totaled just 169 yards against Arkansas State.
Memphis is a great city, and the program is rich with tradition. Memphis fans need a reason to get back to the Liberty Bowl to see this team play. A third straight losing season is in the books.
29. University of Idaho
Two years ago, Idaho looked like a team on the rise. They made just their second bowl game ever and beat Bowling Green in a thrilling 43-42 shootout. Last season, they took a minor step back, finishing 6-7.
With eight starters back on defense, many thought that Idaho would re-capture a winning season and earn a bowl berth. Things haven't gone exactly to plan as of yet.
Idaho is 1-6, and 0-3 in the WAC. Their only win is against FCS North Dakota. They have losses to New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech and Bowling Green—all teams that Idaho needed to beat if they wanted to make a bowl game.
Instead, the Vandals have tallied just 76 rushing yards a game, fourth worst in the nation. They have trips to Nevada and BYU to look forward to still.
And, if that wasn't bad enough, fans have to enjoy watching their team play here.
28. Kent State University
Kent State returned 14 starters from a 5-7 team a year ago. Because of this, some were audacious enough to predict the Flashes to go to their first bowl game since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl (an 18-21 defeat to Tampa).
Side note: Here's a fun fact about the 1972 Kent State Golden Flashes. Don James was the head coach. 19 years later, he would lead the Washington Huskies to a National Championship. On the team were future Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, along with Gary Pinkel and Nick Saban.
Back in the present, we see that Kent State has disappointed their fanbase this season. They are 1-6, with their lone win coming against South Alabama.
The offense that returns nine starters is the worst in the nation. They are 117th in passing, 118th in rushing and 120th in scoring. They average 180 yards per game. That's 31 yards per game less than second worst, FAU. That means that everyone in the nation is at least 16 percent better at offense than Kent State is.
The Flash fans (is this how you would say it) were expecting an improvement on the five wins and a bowl berth. Instead, they have the nation's worst offense.
27. University of Alabama-Birmingham
UAB has been to just one bowl game in the history of their program, yet many felt this was Coach Neil Callaway's most talented team and that a bowl game was in the cards for the Blazers.
Instead, UAB has opened up 0-6. The schedule has been daunting, but nothing has been more devastating than blowing a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter to Troy, and losing to ECU despite forcing seven turnovers.
UAB averages just 13 points per game and is giving up 33. Fans will have to wait one more year for a bowl game. If they can finish up strong in C-USA, optimism may be renewed. For now, they have to focus on getting win No. 1.
26. Air Force Academy
At the start of the season, many thought Air Force was capable of joining the Top 25, and was a legitimate threat to finish third in the Mountain West. After all, the Falcons were ranked in the Top 25 for two weeks last year, and were returning eight starters on defense. Instead, the defense has been a huge letdown, and they find themselves in last place in the MWC.
The defense is ranked 111th in the nation, allowing 35.5 points per game. They gave up a combined 135 against their best opponents; SDSU, ND and TCU. Against Navy, they surrendered 18 points in the final ten minutes, but were able to hang on in overtime (thanks to a missed XP by Navy).
They travel to Boise this weekend, so a 3-4 start is most likely. After that, every game they have is winnable. Whether they do so with their patchwork defense, is another story.
If there is a bright side, they did beat Navy on the road. If they can beat Army at home, they will win their second consecutive Commander's in Chief Trophy.
Navy has done so well in the past eight seasons that fans may have gotten spoiled.
In 2002, Paul Johnson inherited a team that went 1-20 in the previous two seasons. While Johnson went 2-10 in his first season, he quickly turned Navy into the team we know today, a team that won at least eight games every season since.
They opened this season 2-4, with their lone wins coming against Delaware and WKU. The team has suffered three heartbreaking losses: a three-point loss to South Carolina, a one-point loss to Air Force in OT thanks to a celebration penalty-turned-missed extra point, and a one-point loss to Rutgers. In between, however, was a 63-35 loss to Southern Miss.
It is the close losses that should have Navy fans so disappointed. Navy is averaging 31.7 points per game and giving up just 29 a game. While the latter number isn't great, it shows that they are averaging more points that they're giving up, and are still just 2-4.
They still have to travel to South Bend, where they have had recent success, SMU and host Troy. A six-win season is entirely possible, which would be the lowest in nine years.
24. Troy University
Can the reign be over?
After five straight Sun Belt titles, Troy is in major jeopardy of not only not defending the title, but of not being bowl-eligible either.
Troy is 2-4. They squeaked out a one-point win against UAB. They have already lost two conference games, both coming to the Louisianas.
The defense has been un-characteristically bad, allowing 34.7 points per game (last year they allowed 30, which was the most in seven years). Additionally, they can not get any running game going, averaging just 102.7 yards on the ground. That is 55 yards less per game than last year's numbers.
Now, they find themselves with road games at FIU, Navy and Arkansas State still ahead. With no changes to the defense, Troy will have their first losing season in six years.
23. University of Connecticut
After leading UConn to a Fiesta Bowl, Randy Edsall, the all-time winningest coach for the Huskies, decided to leave for his "dream job" at Maryland. Isn't Maryland everyone's dream?
Edsall was the only coach of UConn for as long as UConn was a D-I team. His departure was odd, since the team came off a Big East title and the Huskies had 16 starters coming back.
So UConn, on the brink of becoming something special, enlisted former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni to take over. Pasqualoni had been moving around in the NFL the past seven years and had not seen a college field since 2004.
UConn struggled early in the season, losing to WMU, Iowa State and Vanderbilt. All quality opponents, all close games, but all losses. Iowa State may have been the most heartbreaking, as they forced three interceptions in the first quarter, but still lost 24-20.
This past week, they finally came up big with a win over South Florida.
Despite being 3-4 overall, they're 1-1 in the conference, and are faced with a big game at Pitt this weekend. If they win this weekend, they will put themselves in a position to finish in the top 3 of the conference.
The defense has played well, allowing just 20.7 points per game. The offense, however, is struggling, averaging just 319 yards and 22 points per game.
If your a UConn fan, you have to be slightly encouraged by Pasqualoni on your sideline, and the team showing resolve at this point in the season. At the same time, you have to be irate at Edsall for leaving the team, right when you were on your way to becoming a perennial threat in the Big East.
22. Kansas University
Four years ago, Kansas won the Orange Bowl. That season, the Jayhwaks allowed just 16.4 points per game.
This season, they are allowing 49 per game. That is last in the nation.
They let Georgia Tech rush for 608 yards on them. Total, they gave up 768 yards from scrimmage and 66 points. Two weeks later, they gave up 70 to Oklahoma State.
The Jayhawks are 2-4, with wins against NIU and McNeese State. Perhaps surprisingly, the offense hasn't been awful. They are 23rd in the nation in rushing and are averaging 31 points per game.
Still, the defense makes them a tough team to cheer for. They're coming off a 3-9 season in Turner Gill's inaugural campaign as head coach. If they don't improve their defense, they might not match that number of wins this season.
21. East Carolina University
ECU fans have to be beyond disappointed with the way things have changed in just a few short years.
The Pirates won back-to-back C-USA titles under Skip Holtz in 2008 and 2009. Then, Skip skipped town, and Ruffin McNeill was brought in.
The defensive minded coach from Texas Tech hasn't been successful on the defensive side of the ball during his tenure at ECU. Last year, they allowed 44 points per game! This year, 34, which is still 105th in the nation.
Offensively, ECU has turned the ball over 23 times, most in the nation. They featured the sixth worst rushing attack, averaging only 83 yards per game.
The lone bright spot has come, at times, from QB Dominique Davis. While Davis has thrown for an average of 273 yards per game, and has added 14 total touchdowns, he has thrown 10 interceptions. It is hard for any offense to be successful when ECU turns it over as much as they do.
So far, ECU is 2-4, and has beaten the teams they're supposed to be, and lost to the ones they were supposed to lose to. Next, they welcome Navy, who they gave up 76 points to as three-point favorites last year. If the defense doesn't come ready to prove a point against the Midshipmen, I don't know who they will get up for.
20. University of Minnesota
Minnesota was in a bowl game as recent as 2008 and 2009. Despite this, a 3-9 season in 2010 saw the end of Tim Brewster's tenure in Minneapolis. In stepped Jerry Kill, who has tragically gone through a series of health related issues during his short stay.
Circumstances such as what Kill has gone through puts football into perspective. Still, the Gophers have been awful on the field this season.
Things started promising enough, with a two-point loss at the Coliseum. Since then, however, the Gophers have lost to New Mexico State, FCS North Dakota State and Michigan (58-0).
Now, the Gophers are 109th in points scored and 109th in points allowed. QB Marqueis Gray has suffered through injuries, is averaging just 125 yards per game and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns.
The 2000s were a good decade for the Gophers. They peaked in 2003 when they went 10-3! The team they have now is a mere shadow of the quality teams they rolled out just a few short years ago.
19. Indiana University
Indiana is coming off a five-win season which saw them lose close games to Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa. One or two lucky bounces, and the Hoosiers could have been bowl eligible last season.
Nevertheless, the Hoosiers brought in new coach Kevin Wilson. Wilson was a long time coordinator for Oklahoma, and before that, Northwestern in the Wildcats' heyday of the early 21st century.
Optimism hit an apex in Bloomington. The fans have been rewarded with a 1-6 record and four gut-wrenching losses.
Indiana has yet to beat an FBS team this season (the win is against South Carolina State). In their first five games, Indiana lost four games by a combined 19 points, a truly remarkable statistic. Since then, they've suffered more lopsided losses against Illinois and Wisconsin.
The high powered offense many thought Wilson would bring has yet to come to fruition. They average just 21 points per game. Additionally, they are allowing 31 per game on defense.
Hoosier fans are having to suffer through inconsistent QB play, close calls and an overall disappointing season. They should be encouraged that Gunner Kiel, the No. 2 QB in the nation, has decided to make Indiana his home starting next season.
Until then, however, they need to improve on defense, as they still have to travel to Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan State.
18. University of Colorado
A new coach has not produced new results for the Buffaloes. Despite Tyler Hansen's best efforts, who has thrown for 13 touchdowns, the Buffaloes are off to a 1-6 start.
This season will come as a disappointment since the Buffaloes were so close to achieving success last season. They finished 5-7 with close losses to Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas. They also had 16 starters back from that team.
The Pac-12 hasn't been kind to Colorado. They're 0-3 and have been outscored 131-58. Not surprisingly, Colorado is 113th in the nation in points allowed.
The schedule doesn't get any easier, with games against Oregon, ASU and USC.
It seemed that although they never broke through with Dan Hawkins, that the Buffaloes were on the brink of achieving something special. Now, they may be back to square one. Not what Buffalo fans wanted to hear, as they haven't had a winning season since 2005, Barnett's last season.
17. University of Utah
Utah fans enjoyed a 33-6 record over the past three seasons. They're finding life in the Pac-12 to be a little bit more difficult.
Utah is 3-0 out of conference. A win against Montana State, a win at Pitt and a huge win against rival BYU are all reasons Utah fans should be smiling. Losses to USC, Washington and ASU might have put a sour taste in Utes fans' mouths.
The Utes are averaging just 320 yards per game in Pac-12 play and have been outscored by an average of 30-14 (in fact, they scored 14 in each of the three Pac-12 games).
The Washington and ASU losses came at home, a place in which Utah had only lost twice at in the last four years.
Worst of all for Utah fans is the loss of QB Jordan Wynn. The junior suffered a shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm, but surgery finds him out for the season.
If there is reason for hope for Utes fans, it is the remaining schedule. They do not play Oregon or Stanford, and have at least three winnable games. That means they could find themselves .500 or better, and in a bowl game. Still, it is a far cry from the double-digit wins they have posted on a regular basis in years past.
16. University of Kentucky
Kentucky has been to a bowl game an impressive five straight years. Just last year, they were a dangerous team, knocking off South Carolina, and losing to eventual champion Auburn by three!
This season, they are contenders for the worst team in the SEC. This is despite having 16 starters back from the team that, once again, lost to Auburn by three last year (although losing Mr. Everything Randall Cobb was an obvious blow).
This season, UK is 116th in passing yards, 101st in rushing yards and 118th in points scored! Before we blame these statistics on having to have played LSU, Florida and South Carolina, consider that the Wildcats scored 14 points and 190 yards in the opening game against Western Kentucky. Yes, the same WKU team that we mentioned gave up 44 points to Indiana State.
Kentucky is averaging just 229 yards per game. They average just 4.13 yards per passing attempt and have turned the ball over 17 times, which is seventh worst in the nation.
This isn't what UK fans were expecting when they hired head coach Joker Phillips. As offensive coordinator of the Cats from 2004-2009, Phillips oversaw some powerful offenses that featured quarterbacks such as Andre Woodson. Now, as the head coach, the offense is struggling.
I know a lot of people in Lexington have their eyes on the basketball team and are wondering if Calipari can finally cut down the nets. But they can't possibly ignore how hard and far this team has fallen so quickly.
15. University of Texas
On one hand, the Longhorns are 4-2. On the other, I don't see much difference between this year's team and last.
Last year, the Longhorns started 4-2. While they lost to Oklahoma, they were competitive, losing by eight and actually out-gaining the Sooners. This year against the Sooners, they turned the ball over five times and lost by 38.
Their four wins aren't against the most formidable of competition (UCLA, Rice, BYU and Iowa State), and the team just feels "average," at best, across the board.
Fans should be most concerned about the QB situation, however. Starting QB Garrett Gilbert looked good against Alabama in the 2010 National Championship game. He did not play well in his first season, and then this season, he was injured and subsequently transferred.
In stepped Colt McCoy's little brother, Case, and freshman, David Ash. When Gilbert went down, Case started as the full-time replacement. Then, against Oklahoma, Mack Brown employed a dual-QB system.
Neither man looked good against OU. In the week between, Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said that the Longhorns would continue with their dual QB approach.
But then when they took the field against Oklahoma State, only Ash played! Confused? Me too. Long story short, they have played three quarterbacks this season, lost one from the program, started two against Oklahoma and effectively replaced one already.
Yes, the Horns have started 4-2, but it could be another long conference season. Vince Young isn't walking through that door.
14. Northwestern University
In many ways, Northwestern fans expected to see the best Northwestern team they had seen since....ever. Not since the 1996 Gary Barnett, "Cardiac Cats" team had the Wildcats entered with such high expectations. Twenty-four wins over the last three seasons was part of it. Sixteen starters back was another contributing factor. A Dan Persa Heisman campaign...perhaps the biggest.
Then, everyone realized Persa would not be ready for the season. As a result, NW started 2-1, which included an ugly loss to Army.
Persa returned against the Illini, and played great for 2.5 quarters. Then, he re-injured his Achilles, and the Wildcats blew an 18-point lead (they also led by four with 70 seconds left).
Following the Illini meltdown, NW has lost to Michigan and Iowa. Now, they're 2-4, and still have to play Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan State.
It is clear that the Wildcats haven't been able to win the close game, or close out games. This has been particularly frustrating to fans. NW went into the fourth quarter tied with Iowa, and then was outscored 24-14. They led Michigan at the half, and were outscored 28-0 in the second half. They were tied with Army in the fourth, and let the Knights go on a game-winning drive in the waning moments. And there was the aforementioned Illinois game, where they were outscored 28-7 in the final 14 minutes.
Die-hard NW fans should be particularly upset at fair weather NW fans. In a big night game against the Wolverines, Ryan Field was sold out, a rare occurrence. The only problem was that half of the people there were Wolverines fans.
13. Boston College
With Matt Ryan, the Eagles were ranked No. 2 nationally and boasted a significant player in the national landscape. Since then, they have had trouble staying relevant and unforgotten.
The win total has decreased every year since the 2007 campaign. Nine wins in 2008 were followed by eight and then seven. This year, they may not get half that.
BC has started 1-5, with their lone win coming against FCS UMass. They have losses to Duke, Northwestern and UCF, and are ranked 105th in the nation in scoring.
BC has a storied history, but have found themselves as the ACC doormat this season. The season comes as another step in a slow decline, which has to be most frustrating to fans. Last year, BC competed against Nevada in a bowl, and the previous year, they held their own against USC. Now, they find themselves in big trouble, and their coach, Frank Spaziani, finds his job in jeopardy.
12. University of Mississippi
Ole Miss went a combined 18-8 in 2008 and 2009, the first two years under Houston Nutt. Then, last year, they went 4-8.
Not only are they off to a 2-4 start in 2011, but the losses have been especially painful. They led BYU 13-0 with 10 minutes left, and turnovers led them to a 14-13 loss. Then, they turned the ball over five times and tallied only 234 total yards in a 30-7 loss to Vanderbilt. Most recently, they were out-gained 615-141 against Alabama.
The offense has been a huge source of frustration for the Rebels. They rank 109th in the passing yards, 108th in rushing, and 103rd in points. Despite finishing 4-8 last year, the offense was still putting up good numbers. This year, they average 150 yards a game less than they did last year!
Last year, Brandon Bolden totaled 1,362 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns. This season, he has 144 and two touchdowns, and has most recently been suspended for violating team rules.
As a result of all this, Ole Miss is headed for another losing season, and Nutt is on the hot seat. Fans are having less fun in The Grove than they have in years past.
11. University of Pittsburgh
A new coach brought a new sense of life for the Panthers. They were predicted to have one of the best, if not the best, defenses in the Big East, and were now equipped with an offensive minded coach in Todd Graham.
Fans' optimism has been rewarded with one of the most inconsistent, baffling teams.
Pitt struggled early in the season against Maine, but held on for a win. Things looked great the next week on the road against Iowa after the Panthers jumped to a 27-10 lead in the fourth quarter. Twelve minutes later, the Hawkeyes had scored 21 unanswered and escaped with a win.
As a result, many felt the defense was the problem. The next week, however, saw the Panthers play an ugly 15-12 game against ND. The Panthers tallied only 268 yards from scrimmage, and once again blew a fourth quarter lead.
The Panthers put both offense and defense together against South Florida, and totally decimated the Bulls. Optimism was renewed in the Steel City, but Pitt immediately quashed any good feelings with back-to-back losses to Rutgers and Utah.
Pitt is still just 1-1 in the Big East and still has a win over South Florida. Therefore, it isn't as if Pitt fans should abandon all hope for a successful season. They still have Ray Graham, who leads the nation in rushing, and has added 200 more yards through the air. That being said, the overall inconsistency that Pitt has displayed so far has to have fans tugging their hair.
10. University of South Florida
If asked to do this list after the first week of the season, South Florida would have been the last team I would consider mentioning. Now, after seven weeks, they're ranked 10th on this auspicious list.
The reason for such a fall comes from the last two weeks of the season. South Florida has lost their first two Big East games. One, in a landslide fashion, and the other, in an upset fashion.
Ranked No. 16, USF traveled to Pitt for a national Thursday night game. There, they got destroyed. The defense that held ND to 20 points (albeit on 508 yards) gave up 44 points on 523 yards. The offense didn't help much either, adding only 17 points and turning the ball over twice.
Then, they were given a BYE week to regroup. Coming out of the BYE, they traveled to Storrs as 7.5-point favorites, and were upset by the Huskies. In that game, they scored 10 points and turned the ball over four times.
There has to be a sense of mounting frustration with QB B.J. Daniels. Widely considered one of the more talented players in the conference, if not the nation, Daniels has not produced in the big games. In games against ND, Pitt and UConn, Daniels is 51-93 (54.8 percent) for 515 yards, one TD and two INT. That isn't going to get it done.
As a result of the recent and sudden slide, USF finds themselves alone in dead last in the Big East.
This is a recurring theme with the Bulls, and a theme that is surely driving their fans insane. USF went 5-0 in 2009 before finishing 8-5, they started 5-0 in 2008 before finishing 8-5 and started 6-0 in 2007 before finishing 9-4. Is this a repeat performance?
9. North Carolina State University
This is the fifth season for Tom O'Brien at NC State. In his first four, he had one winning season, which came last season.
It doesn't appear as if the Wolfpack are headed for another winning season this year. They currently have three wins. Two are against FCS opponents, while the other is against Central Michigan. To become bowl eligible, they have to win seven games, which means winning four of their last six.
They were totally destroyed on a national Thursday night game against Cincinnati. In the game, they allowed Cincy to total 503 yards, while rushing for negative 26 yards on their own. The leading rusher in the game for the Wolfpack was Curtis Underwood Jr, who rushed for six yards on six carries.
But the biggest reason for such disapproval has to be the way they handled the Russell Wilson situation. Wilson was released from his scholarship, despite having one year of eligibility left. Coach O' Brien wanted to go with Mike Glennon at QB. The move hasn't worked. Wilson is completing 74 percent of his passes, has a 14-1 TD-INT ratio, and is garnering Heisman trophy consideration at Wisconsin. Watching him play every week has to make Wolfpack fans nauseous.
Last year, the Wolfpack beat West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl with Wilson. Now, Wilson is leading the Badgers towards the national championship, while WV is nationally ranked and the class of the Big East. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack have one FBS win.
8. University of Maryland
Let's try to sum up the last 10 months for Maryland. After finishing 9-4, they fired long-time coach Ralph Friedgen, who had just won ACC Coach of the Year honors. They replace him with Randy Edsall, who had won nine games just once while Connecticut was a member of the Big East.
Then, returning 14 starters, they begin 2011 at 2-4, one of those wins coming against Towson.
They were embarrassed against Temple, and were getting blown out against WV before a late rally. They fell behind by three scores against GT, and most recently, surrendered 56 points and blew an 18-point lead against Clemson. Yikes.
QB C.J. Brown is turning into a huge threat on the ground. Neither Georgia Tech or Clemson came close to stopping him. Maryland averaged 6.1 and 6.0 yards per rush against Clemson and GT, respectively. In those same games, they averaged 5.1 and 3.6 yards per completion!
I think offensive coordinator Gary Crowton is starting to figure out that their strength lies in running the ball, but Maryland has been surprising in their play calling. Despite winning most of the game against Clemson, and having the aforementioned rushing attack, Maryland threw the ball 35 times.
But my main gripe is their uniforms. Not what they look like, but that they have to resort to gimmicks to gain notoriety. Their rationale is that wearing such odd uniforms will get people to talk about Maryland. On one hand, they're right; ESPN and other outlets are talking about Maryland more than they ever have.
However, all this tells me is that Maryland isn't confident that they can gain notoriety through their play. If they were, they would just go out, play well, and let their game do the talking. Consider that GT, Clemson, Kansas State and Illinois were all un-ranked at the beginning of the season. All have been covered in the national media as a result of their success. None have been covered because of a uniform they wore.
7. Mississippi State University
MSU was ranked 20th in the nation to start the season and was considered a darkhorse contender for the SEC West title, even with the powers in that division.
Instead, they may be hard-pressed to make a bowl game.
The Bulldogs are 3-4 and still have to play Alabama and Arkansas. After an opening week win against Memphis, MSU struggled to beat Louisiana Tech and took care of hapless UAB. As you could deduce, MSU is winless in the SEC.
Dan Mullen's offense has been disappointing. Last year, they averaged 215 rushing yards and 29 points per game. This year, with almost all the same personnel back, they are averaging only 180 and 24.
QB Chris Relf was replaced this past week by backup Tyler Russell. Russell ended up completing 38 percent of his passes and was intercepted twice in the 14-12 loss at home.
To be fair, the Bulldogs could very easily be 4-3 if not for a controversial ending against Auburn earlier this season. I don't know if that is supposed to make fans happier or angrier. Regardless, the senior-laden Builldogs are going through an extremely disappointing season, and next year, with new personnel, is no guarantee for success.
6. Oregon State University
Oregon State fans aren't used to losing. rom 2000 (the year of a Fiesta Bowl victory) to 2009, there were only two losing seasons in Corvalis (2001, 2005). Now, they're headed for two straight.
This is a team that played Oregon in 2008 and 2009 in a de-facto Pac-10 championship game. Granted, they lost both, but they were consistently finishing near the top of the Pac-10. They even had their way with USC in 2006 and 2008.
Now, they lost to Sacramento State, an FCS school. They traveled to Madison and turned in a lackluster effort. They failed to defend their home turf against BYU and UCLA. They find themselves at 1-5, and still have to play Washington, Oregon and Stanford. Coach Riley's job may be on the line.
Now, combine that all with rival Oregon having their most successful period in history over the past two plus years, and you can understand why Oregon State fans are so upset.
5. University of Arizona
After three straight winning seasons, the Wildcats find themselves at 1-5 and without their head coach of seven-plus seasons.
The schedule was daunting, yes, but the team lost confidence early on when Mike Stoops himself complained of its difficulty on national TV. After that, they didn't stand a chance.
Beating Oklahoma State, or Oregon, or Stanford, or even USC are all difficult tasks. It is the way in which they lost, however, that is disheartening. The Cats have allowed an awful 37.5 points per game, good for 117th in the nation. Now, they hired their defensive coordinator to take over for Stoops in the interim.
With trips to Washington and Arizona State still on the docket, it will be a miracle if Arizona returns to the postseason.
Next year, they will have a new coach. Additionally, they will lose QB Nick Foles and WR Juron Crinner, their two best players. Things are not looking up for the Wildcats. They let a difficult early half of the season ruin their program for a few years.
4. Texas A&M University
Texas A&M was ranked No. 8 in preseason polls. For approximately 'five games' out of six, the Aggies have looked as good as that lofty ranking. It's the rest of the time that should have fans shaking their heads.
Texas A&M led Oklahoma State by 17 at the half, and then the following week, led Arkansas by 18 at the half. They lost both games by a combined five points. They have now lost their last three marquee games (dating back to a loss against LSU last year).
Many Aggies fans felt that they had a team that could compete for a BCS berth, their first since the inaugural season of the BCS in 1998. Instead, they find themselves with two heartbreaking losses, and a trip to Norman and Manhattan still ahead. They'll find it difficult to improve on their 9-4 record from last season.
3. Ohio State University
Ohio State avoided major sanctions from the NCAA, and that has been the lone good news for Buckeyes fans.
After narrowly beating Toledo, the Buckeyes were embarrassed on the road at Miami. Then, they were held to just seven points in a loss to Michigan State and blew a game on the road at Nebraska.
They find themselves at 1-2 in the Big Ten, and they will need to run the table to win the Leaders division (and then some).
To add to Buckeyes' fans nausea, they are headed for a coaching controversy. Do they stick with Fickell? Do they show him the door after one average, scandal-ridden season, the latter of which wasn't his fault? Who will be the new man to lead in Columbus if they do?
Small glimmers of optimism come from Braxton Miller playing well as a freshman and Dan Herron returning full strength against Illinois.
Still, scandals or not, this is by far the worst OSU has been in at least 10 years.
2. Florida State University
In one short month, FSU went from national title hopefuls, to ACC also-rans.
It is clear that the Seminoles were a bit overrated to start the season, but that doesn't mean fans should be any less upset over the team's performance.
Losing to Oklahoma at home is one thing; many good teams lose to the Sooners. When FSU had a chance to salvage the season and compete in the ACC, they fell flat on their face.
They traveled to Clemson and lost, and then traveled to Wake Forest and lost. Again, quality opponents. But, the Noles started the season as high as No. 5 in some polls. Now, they may finish fifth in the ACC.
FSU won the ACC the first year after the merger, but hasn't since. This was so unacceptable that they ran a Hall of Fame coach out of town so they could replace him with Jimbo Fisher. Now, they're quickly learning that maybe it wasn't Bowden's fault after all.
They will be hard-pressed to win their division. They sit 2.5 games behind Clemson and 1.5 behind Wake, and as previously mentioned, have lost to both. Even if they win out, Clemson will have to go 1-3. National championship aspirations now look like a Champs Sports Bowl.
1. University of Miami
Miami hasn't been exceptionally poor on the field this season, but they haven't been great either. They opened the season with a loss to Maryland, and followed it up with close losses to Kansas State and Virginia Tech (both at home).
So the Canes have three losses by a combined 15 points. They have beaten UNC and Ohio State to find themselves at a respectable .500. Still, the Canes are in a tie for last place in the ACC Coastal division.
The reason fans should be especially upset, however, is because of the allegations that came out this past summer. By now, you have most likely heard all the details and the magnitude of the accusations, so I won't reiterate them here.
That being said, the scandal certainly poses a bleak future for Miami. This is a team that has struggled since joining the ACC, not making one ACC title game. Just when the program seemed to get the coach they wanted in Al Golden, this news broke setting the Canes back even further.
The future of the program is in serious jeopardy. Since the program could be facing the death penalty, and as a result not even exist in a couple of years, it's safe to say that the Miami fans have the most to be upset about this season.