Blog Entry

Tuesday Top 10: Biggest duds of first half

Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:44 am
We've seen through the first half of the season that many things (Oklahoma, LSU, Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson) have been as good as advertised while a few others have emerged as pleasant surprises (Clemson, K-State, CSU's Nordly Capi, Illinois), which we hit on last week here in the blog. But there is a flipside to that. This week's Top 10 list: biggest disappointments of the first half of the season:<br /> 

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<strong>1. FSU:</strong> After an off-season of hype about how "the Noles are back!!", the team that was preseason No. 6 team, has been a complete dud. FSU has lost three in a row and really hasn't beat anyone of note. FSU is one of those schools that the media (and I'm guilty of this too because I was practically serving drinks on that bandwagon since January) is all too eager to get fired up about. Then again, anyone who spent time around Tallahassee this off-season heard the way Jimbo Fisher talked about this team and its talent and its focus and maturity and well, we couldn't help but get more intrigued. Yes, there have been injuries to a few key guys (QB E.J. Manuel and WR Bert Reed) but lots of teams deal with injuries. The Noles have been mistake-ridden and are doing the kinds of things elite teams simply don't have issues with. They are 114th in turnover margin, 112th in rushing, 100th in sacks allowed and 120th in penalties.<br /> 

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<strong><span style="color: #333333; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">2. </span>Maryland's offense:</strong> Maybe this stems from The Curse of Ralph, but whatever it is, things are off to a dismal start for Randy Edsall in College Park. Danny O'Brien came into the season as one of the most promising young QBs in college football (22-8 TD-INT ratio as a freshman in 2010) but now looks completely lost. O'Brien has a 4-6 TD-INT mark and was benched after going 1-6 last week against Ga. Tech. O'Brien was sharp in last year's West-Coast style offense. In Edsall's new spread under Gary Crowton, the QB has been a mess. The Terps who were 9-4 last season and 29th in scoring and scored over 40 points five times last season, are 91st in scoring.

<br /><br /><br /><strong>3. Mississippi State:</strong> No one thought Dan Mullen's team was going to win the loaded SEC West this year, but the way the Bulldogs have fizzled has been a head-shaker. They needed overtime to beat La. Tech and trailed a miserable UAB squad 3-0 at halftime before coming back to win 21-3. And those are actually some of the more positive things. MSU is 0-3 in SEC play and will likely need to knock off one of the SEC's better teams (South Carolina, Bama or Arkansas) just to finish above .500.<br /> 

<br /><br /><strong>4. Memphis:</strong> It's only Year Two for coach Larry Porter running this dumpster fire of a football program and it's hard to think any coach could fix things in that short of a time frame, but should things look as bad as they do now? The C-USA Tigers actually might be the worst team in FBS. They are 1-5 with their lone win coming against FCS Austin Peay. The Tigers then lost to a Sun Belt team that was 4-8 last year (Arkansas State) 47-3. Then they lost to a Rice team that came in 1-3 and the Owls crushed Memphis 28-6. The Tigers are 116th in scoring and 115th in defense. And this is a program that Memphis AD R.C. Johnson "deserves to be in the SEC"?!?! Of all of the out-of-touch comments made my administrators and power brokers in the NCAA in the past year, Johnson's line is king.

<br /><br /><strong>5. Ohio State:</strong> An offseason overstuffed with off-field drama has carried over to the fall, where the Buckeyes and first-year head coach Luke Fickell have dealt with more player suspensions, which has only created more problems for a team that was already depleted. There were signs early that this could be a long season for OSU when the Buckeyes almost got knocked off by a Toledo team that gave Fickell's team all it could handle despite committing a ton of penalties in Week 2. Then Miami and Lamar Miller lit them up while the OSU passing game was atrocious. It hasn't gotten much better since. OSU barely avoided getting shutout in Columbus by Michigan State. Then last week, the Buckeyes blew a 21-point lead in the second half at Nebraska and lost 34-27 thanks to more ineptitude in the passing game and the Huskers run game rolling over the OSU D. With a road trip to unbeaten Illinois, Wisconsin and games against Penn State and at Michigan remaining, it's no stretch to think Ohio State could miss a bowl game entirely. The good news? Word is Urban Meyer is going to be very tempted to take this coaching job.

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<strong>6. Kentucky offense:</strong> We know that the Wildcats lost some key offensive guys from last year's team when WR Randall Cobb, RB Derrick Locke and QB Mike Hartline moved on, but no SEC team should be this much of a mess on offense, especially when you consider most of the offensive line was back. UK managed only 14 points and just 190 yards of total offense in its opener against WKU, a 1-4 team that gave up 44 points to Indiana State.  <br />Last weekend against South Carolina, UK's level of ineptitude was staggering: matching its number of first downs (six) with turnovers (six). The Cats QB went 4-26 for 17 yards with four INTs, which was indicative of a team near the bottom of the NCAA ranks in rushing and passing and 119th in scoring. Kentucky beat writer Kyle Tucker broke down the futility</a> even further. He noted that 174 of their 377 offensive plays (over 46 percent) have gained no yards, negative yards or ended up turning the ball over. It's been <em>that</em> bad.

<br /><br /><strong>7. Arizona:</strong> As I reported here in the blog Monday, despite leading the Cats to bowl games in three straight seasons (something which doesn't happen much with Wildcat football), a 1-5 start meant the end of Mike Stoops in Tucson. The Cats were dreadfully inexperienced on both lines and missing their best DB, safety Adam Hall for most of the season so far and standout WR Juron Criner also had been out didn't help. Nor did a front-loaded schedule, which featured back-to-back-to-back games against three top 10 teams. Last week's loss to previously winless Oregon State 37-27 proved to be the final straw. The Cats would be higher on this list, but realistically looking at the first half of their schedule and all of the inexperience on the lines and it was hard to figure they'd be more than 2-4 at this point.

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<strong>8. Texas A&M defense:</strong> This is the second year in Tim DeRuyter's system, but even without the great Von Miller, things have been a lot shakier for the Aggies than most would've expected. A&M suffered consecutive second-half collapses against Oklahoma State and Arkansas, where the Aggies gave up almost 1000 yards or passing. A&M was able to stop the losing streak at Texas Tech last weekend, but still got shredded for 40 points. They are dead last in pass defense and close to that in turnover margin (104th).

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<strong>9. Boston College:</strong> The Eagles (1-5) have one of the best players in college football in LB Luke Kuechly but the rest of the team is simply not producing. Their lone win was over FCS UMass. BC has lost three home games to Northwestern, Duke and Wake Forest. And the schedule hasn't really started to get into the toughest part for them yet.

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<strong>10. Minnesota:</strong> It has been a trying year for the Gophers. First-year head coach Jerry Kill has battled health issues, but after a respectable close loss at USC in the opener, it's been one dreadful performance after another for this team. The Gophers lost at home to New Mexico State, a team that has a hard time beating anyone that isn't New Mexico. Then, Minnesota lost to North Dakota State and been outscored by Michigan and Purdue 103-17 the past two weeks. A 1-11 season looks likely.

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