CFB’s Top 10 Disappointing September Teams
With the first month of the 2012 college football season in the books, we look back on which ten teams were the most disappointing in September based on their performances so far compared to preseason expectations.
The Sooners were the No. 4 team in the preseason with the return of a Heisman contender in Landry Jones at QB. It was expected that the aerial show Jones had treated us to previously was back for a return engagement.
It has happened just once this season, against FCS Florida A&M. Oklahoma managed just 24 points against UTEP and 19 in the upset loss to Kansas State. The Wildcats defense is actually good, but only 24 against UTEP?
Oklahoma only fell to No. 16 following their Sept. 22nd loss, so it has some time to work out the offense’s kinks. But not much time: two of its next four games are against undefeated Texas (Oct. 13) and Notre Dame (Oct. 27).
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The Spartans’ No. 13 preseason ranking was merited on what was expected to be another MSU team that just out-willed its opponents. But that only goes so far when you offense doesn’t go far at all.
MSU fans expected a small step back from departed QB Kirk Cousins to Andrew Maxwell, but the divide between the two has been much larger. Maxwell simply hasn’t been able to come up with the throws to keep defenses honest and prevent them from loading up the box to stop Le’Veon Bell. And Michigan State's receivers haven't done their QB any favors.
Twice already this season, two teams (Notre Dame and Ohio State) have matched the Spartans blow for blow and come out on top. In East Lansing. Yes, both are Top 15 teams. But the Spartans won't win many games if the offense doesn't find a rhythm soon.
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The departure of six assistant coaches and three starting offensive linemen from Madison this offseason caused a lot of turnover, but with Monteé Ball coming back for his senior year and another ACC transfer at QB (former Maryland Terrapin Danny O’Brien), the Badgers’ offense was expected to hum per usual. Wisconsin was ranked No. 12 in the preseason.
Of course, no one counted on Ball to rush for 2.7 fewer yards per carry (3.9) than he did a year ago during his record-breaking season (6.4) or O'Brien to struggle so much.
Wisconsin has already lost to Oregon State and Nebraska so far. The latter defeat came on Saturday after choking away a 17-point lead. Needless to say, a third straight Rose Bowl trip looks unlikely.
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Almost as if continuing a theme from their Sugar Bowl loss last January, Virginia Tech (preseason No. 16) has not been able to get out of its own way this season.
The Hokies had no excuse whatsoever to lose to a Pitt team that had previously lost to an FCS squad at home (Youngstown State). And Tech lost to Cincy on Saturday by allowing a game-winning 39-yard TD pass with 13 seconds left.
Beamer Ball is about embracing the fundamentals. But they’ve been curiously absent for the Hokies, and it’s crippled them twice.
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This was a Yellow Jackets team that got a lot of Top 25 consideration entering the season. A hard-fought loss in the season opener to Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium (never an easy place to play) did nothing to dissuade those notions.
But that was before the Yellow Jackets defense stopped buzzing. They got burned constantly in a 42–36 loss to Miami (FL) in Week 4. But the real shock was on Saturday, when Middle Tennessee State put up 49 against Tech and won by three touchdowns. In Atlanta.
These Yellow Jackets better rediscover their sting. And fast.
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Never mind that coach Kevin Sumlin was gone (along with QB Case Keenum). Successor Tony Levine was expected to keep the Air Raid going for Houston, tabbed by many to win Conference USA’s West Division.
The Cougars’ 30–13 loss to FBS newcomer Texas State in Week 1 led to the resignation of offensive coordinator, Mike Nesbitt. Houston’s offense returned in fine form in a 56–49 “Battle of the Air Raids” with Louisiana Tech the next week, but the defense went AWOL. Week 3 was even worse, a 37–6 loss at UCLA.
Houston finally picked up a win on Saturday over Rice to go to 1-3, but that's hardly a confidence booster. Levine, an accomplished saxophonist, might want to start learning some more blues.
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The reopening of a renovated Memorial Stadium was supposed to be a metaphor for a comeback Cal team, powered by a senior running back (Isi Sofele) and quarterback (Zach Maynard). Ranked No. 38 in the preseason by Athlon Sports, an eight-win season seemed like a real possibility.
Instead, coach Jeff Tedford’s seat is hotter than ever, helped in no part by a defense yielding over 30 points a game. Sofele and Maynard have been okay, but they haven’t been finding the end zone. Sofele has just two rushing TDs, and Maynard has only thrown for five.
It all adds up to a 1–4 start and a countdown on the possible end of the Tedford Era in Berkeley.
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Horrified Wolverines fans have watched what was supposed to be a top-notch offense featuring QB Denard Robinson look downside ugly during losses to Alabama and Notre Dame (very stout defenses mind you).
Shoelace, a preseason Heisman candidate, has looked the worse for it. He’s already thrown for eight INTs and continues to struggle with accuracy. He’s only exceed 60% completion once, against FBS newcomer UMass.
Michigan, the preseason No. 8 team in America that even got a first-place vote, was hammered in a 27-point loss to Alabama in Week 1 and turned the ball over six times in a 13-6 loss to Notre Dame in Week 4. If it weren't for an escape against Air Force, the Wolverines would be 1-3.
Not exactly how you want to follow up winning the Sugar Bowl.
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Two years after guiding Auburn to its first national title since 1957, Gene Chizik might already be fighting for his job. Some looked at the Tigers entering this season as a Fringe Top 25 team. But at this point they have a lot of work to do if they merely want to finish the season above .500 after being ranked No. 30 by Athlon before the season.
The Tigers started the season 0-2 and nearly went into panic mode after a near-loss to Louisiana-Monroe. The Tigers played LSU close in a 12-10 defeat on Sept. 22 but are still 1-3 after the first month of the season.
Chizik better have used last Saturday's bye week as an opportunity to hit the "reset" button on the season and start fresh this weekend.
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There’s no better description for Arkansas’ 2012 season than “train wreck.”
Arkansas was ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP Top 25 before losing to Louisiana-Monroe in Week 2. Then the wheels really came off. Arkansas lost 52-0 to No. 1 Alabama, fell again at home to Rutgers, 35-26, and was most recently humiliated in a 58-10 defeat to Texas A&M on Saturday.
The only good news for Smith? Equally disappointing Auburn is next up, giving the Razorbacks at least a chance at a much-needed victory.
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Posted: October 1, 2012