The Bottom Ten/NCAA Week 2
By Gaylon Kent
The Writer's Shack
Tuesday September 8, 2015
For the past couple-three seasons, Bottom Ten pollsters have been yapping every hour on the hour about the depth of that particular year's field.
When History looks back on the 2015 campaign, however, she may well be looking back at the deepest Bottom Ten field ever. From virtually the entire Sun Belt Conference, to Army to a resurgent Michigan squad to a Kansas team that has trouble snapping the ball to determined SMU, the race for the ESPNCup promises to be as fierce as it is ugly.
The field is so deep B-10 staffers are hiring extra staff this week, in anticipation of New Mexico State fan(s) calling to protest their Lobos - losers of eleven (11) straight - being left out of this week's survey.
This week's mess:
1. Idaho (0-1; lost to Ohio 45-28)
Mitigating Factors: Preseason #1's get quest for first B-10 title off to resounding start with blowout home loss…Offense produces scores on three straight first-half possessions, but only after starting game with two (2) turnovers and a punt…Defense shows they are "all in" for B-10 run by securing early, 21-0 deficit…Vandals quest for B-10 Team of the Decade honors relentless, having lost 47 of 54.
FunFact: Strong starts nothing new for Vandals who have started last three seasons 0-6, 0-4 and 0-5.
Next Loss: at USC
2. Georgia State (0-1; lost to Charlotte 23-20)
Mitigating Factors: Defending B-10 champs picking up right where they left off with nation's best 12th straight loss...Defense forced to hold breath as offense goes on unexpected 14-0 run in final period to make it close…Fortunately special teams clutch, unable to recover onsides kick to end game…B-10 pollsters "pretty sure" Bobcats first defending B-10 champs "basically ever" to open season with loss to team named after your favorite that is playing their first major division game.
Target Marketing: B-10 pollsters taking wait-and-see attitude after visit to Charlotte football site produces pop-up ad for assorted nail polishes.
Next Loss: at New Mexico State
3. SMU (0-1; lost to Baylor 56-21)
Mitigating Factors: After blowing 2014 B-10 title with win in final game, Mustangs show they mean business in 2015 with obligatory blowout loss to national power…SMU shows some early spunk, actually being tied 14-14 as late as midway through the first quarter before settling in and getting outscored 42-7 the rest of the way…Only thing that has B-10 pollsters scratching their head is how SMU managed to score 21 points.
The Defense Rests: Mustangs already ranking Dead Last in Total Defense after giving up 723 total yards to Bears.
Next Loss: North Texas
4. Sun Belt Conference (0-9)
Mitigating Factors: B-10 pollsters ready to cede Conference of the Year award after Sun Belt runs table (0-9) against major division teams…Sun Belt teams already in midseason form, losing games by an average score of 47.4-to-16.7…Sun Belt's only wins this weekend came against an individual (Howard) and a law firm (Gardner-Webb)…Conference-wide emphasis on defense continues, as eight (8) teams give up at least 40 points and three (3) teams give up eight (8) touchdowns.
Sticking To Our Strengths: Traditional .500 record against conference opponents sure looking a long ways off right now.
5. Kansas (0-1; lost to South Dakota State 41-38)
Mitigating Factors: Jayhawks hope loss to lower level Jackrabbits can propel team to seventh straight losing season…Defense can only watch helplessly as offense almost fritters away 31-7 first half deficit…Loss not secured until the very end, when QB, looking to spike the ball, fumbles snap, allowing clock to run out…Jayhawks issued first ever BFE Cup, issued to first ever major division team to lose to both Dakota States in same century.
FunFact: Jayhawks now 5-2 in season opening games vs lower level teams since 2009.
Next Loss: Memphis
6. Michigan (0-1; lost to Utah 24-17)
Mitigating Factors: Wolverines back in B-10 for first time since 2009 squad finished season with five (5) straight losses…Offense already showing it has what it takes to lose to Indiana and Northwestern, producing two (2) interceptions and three (3) punts in first half…Third and final interception comes in fourth quarter and is returned for touchdown, securing loss…With loss this week, 2015 squad can cement legacy by becoming only third Michigan team since 1960 to start 0-2.
Broad Historical Context: Michigan has not finished season in B-10 since 2008, a season that began with a loss to, uh-oh, Utah.
Next Loss: Oregon State
7. Army (0-1; lost to Fordham 37-35)
Mitigating Factors: Black Knights of Confusion get quest for B-10 glory off to commanding start with now-annual loss to lower level team… Secretary of the Army directive requiring full contact pillow fights during fall practice sent back to Pentagon for further review…Defense getting smiley faces on playbooks for bailing offense out after blowing three (3) leads.
Well, Maybe Just One More: Army a statistical juggernaut, leading all NCAA schools that sponsor pillow fighting with four (4) concussions, two (2) broken arms and one (1) broken leg.
Next Loss: at UConn
8. Cheney (0-1; lost to Lincoln 29-22)
Mitigating Factors: Division II Wolves retain Continental Cup - issued to team with longest all-division losing streak in NATO - with 33rd straight loss...Offense produces only two (2) touchdowns, easily enough to overcome spirited defense and special teams, which somehow manages to return interception, extra point, for scores…Offense gets off to type of start that defends Continental Cups, punting on first four (4) drives before throwing first interception of season.
Hey, What About Us?: Defense - not about to let offense steal all the glory - does its part, digging key, early hole after giving up scores on three (3) of first four (4) possessions.
Next Loss: at Gannon
9. Louisiana-Famous Dead Person (0-2; UL-Monroe: lost to Georgia 51-14; UL-Lafayette: lost to Kentucky 40-33)
Mitigating Factors: There are probably worse teams out there - hi New Mexico State! - but B-10 pollsters wanted to be sure to get one of B-10's all-time fave entries at least one appearance in 2015…Plus, B-10 staffers are now two schools closer towards reaching goal of having every Sun Belt Conference team ranked at least once in 2015 survey.
All The Marbles: As usual, annual fiasco between UL-M and UL-L on Oct. 25 will be for Billy Cannon Certificate, symbolic of Cajun football ineptitude.
Next Loss: UL-M: Nicholls; UL-L: Northwestern State
10. Vanderbilt (0-1; lost to Western Kentucky 14-12)
Mitigating Factors: Commodores clutch in opener, giving up eleven (11) first downs, 37 (37) rushing yards and still losing after offense musters eight punts, three turnovers and a missed field goal…Vanderbilt still hampered by turn of century merger of Athletic, Student Life departments, as only students from gymnastics team available to try two-point conversion late in game as gymnasts shocked to learn zero (0) points were awarded for vaulting kicker through uprights.
FunFact: With loss this week, Commodores can start consecutive seasons 0-2 for first time since 2000-01 campaigns produced combined 5-17 mark.
Next Loss: Georgia
This Week's Clash of the Titans: Georgia State at New Mexico State
Sun Belt Conference Game of the Week: Georgia State at New Mexico State
Up Next On ESPN757,382:Georgia State at New Mexico State
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