Bottom 25 college football rankings: Louisville, UTEP emerge to shake up the playoff race
Anybody can rank the 25 best teams, but only the Bottom 25 ranks the worst every week of the season
In last week's Bottom 25, I told you how there were 10 teams with a realistic shot at qualifying for the Bottom 25 Playoff. The reason there were so many teams in the running was that the margins between the Bottom 10 teams in my rankings were thin. Well, that's not entirely true. UConn and Rice are firmly settled into the Nos. 1 and 2 spots, and will remain there with anything short of a win or the most impressive loss we've ever witnessed.
As for the other eight teams, the margins were so close that any extreme performance one way or the other could throw things out of whack, and that's precisely what happened this past weekend. Eight of our Bottom 10 teams lost, including the entire Bottom 4, but we have two new teams entering the Bottom 4 this week for a variety of reasons.
One of our playoff race newcomers has two wins. Who is it? Find out below.
|25. East Carolina||3-7||A win is a win is a win, but a win over UConn is only worth so much, and it's not enough to escape the Bottom 25. (Last week: 19)|
|24. UMass||4-8||The Minutemen's furlough from the Bottom 25 lasted only a minute, man, but they're back after a 66-27 loss to Georgia. Their season is over, but they could still finish unranked depending on what happens elsewhere. (Not Ranked)|
|23. Navy||3-8||The Midshipmen put an end to their seven-game losing streak with a 37-29 win over Tulsa, but it's not enough to get out. Perhaps a win against Tulane or Army will do the trick? (17)|
|22. Texas State||3-8||The Bobcats lost to Troy 12-7 on Saturday, and fired coach Everett Whithers on Sunday. They'll have one last chance at a fourth win against Arkansas State this week. (25)|
|21. New Mexico||3-8||The Mountain West has not been kind to the Lobos this season, as their 45-14 loss to Boise State was their sixth straight. They'll finish their season at home against Wyoming. (NR)|
|20. UNLV||3-8||For a while, it looked as though UNLV would pick up its second-straight win and get out of the Bottom 25, as it had a 21-6 lead on Hawaii at halftime. Instead, it lost 35-28. The Rebels finish their season with Nevada. (23)|
|19. Colorado State||3-8||The Rams lost in a brutal manner. They threw a Hail Mary on the final play of the game, and for a moment, it looked as if they pulled off the upset over Utah State. But then you saw the flag, and then you heard the ref calling illegal touching on the Rams because the receiver who caught it had gone out of bounds before catching it. (20)|
|18. North Carolina||2-8||The good news is North Carolina picked up its second win of the season. The bad news is it allowed 26 points to Western Carolina. (13)|
|17. Bowling Green||3-8||Is there any team in the country hotter than the Falcons right now? Well, yeah, quite a few, but that's not the point. The Falcons have won two straight! They'll go for a third against Buffalo this week. (10)|
|16. Arkansas||2-9||It was Cupcake Week in the SEC, but instead of playing one, Arkansas was one, losing to Mississippi State 52-6. The Hogs will finish the season on the road against Missouri. (21)|
|15. Western Kentucky||2-9||The Hilltoppers beat UTEP in the Bottom 25 Game of the Century of the Week, and while I'm sure it felt great, was it worth the cost? There's no way this team reaches the Bottom 25 Playoff now. (6)|
|14. Tulsa||2-9||Tulsa had a shot at a third win against Navy, but not all hope is lost. This week the Hurricane get SMU, and it's a winnable game. (18)|
|13. UTSA||3-8||After losing to Marshall 23-0, the Roadrunners have lost five straight, getting outscored 178-30 in the process. Will things get better against North Texas this weekend? (16)|
|12. Kent State||2-9||The Flashes fell to Toledo 56-34, and will finish the season against Eastern Michigan. (15)|
|11. New Mexico State||3-8||The Aggies couldn't carry the momentum of that win over Alcorn State into their contest with BYU, losing 45-10. Now they'll play Liberty for the second time this season. They won the first contest 49-41. (14)|
|10. Oregon State||2-9||The Beavers may only be 2-9 on the season, but they've looked much better over the last few weeks than they did earlier this season. That's a good sign going forward. (11)|
|9. South Alabama||2-9||The Jaguars have lost four straight and are still within playoff range. To get there, they'll need to lose big to Coastal Carolina. (9)|
|8. Georgia State||2-9||I didn't include the Panthers in my 10 playoff candidates last week, but they jump to No. 8 this week following a 45-17 loss to Appalachian State. So maybe a big loss to Georgia Southern could do it? (12)|
|7. Central Michigan||1-10||The Chippewas are a contender, but they'd have been a much stronger one this season if they'd lost worse than they have. Their only win is over Maine, but only two of their 10 losses have come by more than 20 points. (7)|
|6. San Jose State||1-10||The Spartans lost to Nevada 21-12, and played a little too well in the process. As I wrote in the lede, the margins were so thin that merely losing isn't going to be enough to maintain your position. The good news for the Spartans is they play at Fresno State this week, and the Bulldogs could knock them back into the playoff. (4)|
|5. Rutgers||1-10||By some measurements, Rutgers played its best game of the season since its season-opening win against Texas State this weekend. The Knights lost to Penn State but held the Nittany Lions to only 20 points. Like San Jose State, they played well enough -- as well as improving a stronger SOS than most teams in these rankings have -- to drop in the rankings. A road trip to Michigan State is on the docket this week. Can Rutgers get back? (3)|
|4. UTEP||1-10||I said last week's Bottom 25 Game of the Century of the Week was like a playoff game, and that's exactly what it proved to be. UTEP's 40-16 loss to Western Kentucky moved them into playoff position. Their final game of the season will be against Southern Miss. (5)|
|3. Louisville||2-9||Yep, the Cardinal moved up from No. 8 to No. 3. How does this happen? Well, even if Louisville has two wins, they're against Indiana State and Western Kentucky. More so than the quality of wins is that Louisville has just played so poorly in its losses. The Cardinals lost to NC State by 42 points on Saturday, and it was their fourth straight loss of at least 21 points. In fact, Louisville's nine losses have come by an average of 30.3 points per game. Their average score margin of -27.0 on the season is worse than every other team in the country besides UConn. The good news is that the Cardinals don't have to beat Kentucky to get out of the Bottom 25 Playoff, but they can't afford to get blown out again. (8)|
|2. Rice||1-11||The Owls lost to LSU 42-10, and while it improved their SOS, it didn't improve it enough to cement them as a playoff team. The only way they get out is with a win against Old Dominion in this week's Bottom 25 Game of the Century of the Week. (2)|
|1. UConn||1-10||I don't know if Randy Edsall gets a bonus for a Bottom 25 Playoff appearance, but we're probably only a week away from finding out. The Huskies either beat Temple or play for a Bottom 25 title. (1)|
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