Bottom 25 college football rankings: UCLA, Missouri, Northwestern, Duke looking to escape

I would be lying if I said the Bottom 25 wasn't one of the things I was most looking forward to the last few weeks. It's become a tradition at CBS Sports for me to rank the worst teams in the country, and it's a privilege I don't take lightly. It's not easy finding a balance between mocking and motivating a bunch of players who are working their butts off every week, but I like to think I do an OK job of it. It's also not easy staring at blank spreadsheets for months waiting for the season to start and those cells to start populating, but they're full now! Everybody has played a game!

Now, for those of you reading the Bottom 25 for the first time as well as those who may have forgotten, let me remind you how all of this works. None of these rankings are based on my opinion. I have a formula I use to rank all 130 FBS teams that's based on several different statistical factors, none of which are more important than wins and losses. Also, unlike a lot of other ranking systems, mine are done in a total vacuum. There are no biases here -- every single team starts at the same place. It doesn't matter what they did last year or the previous decade, nor does it matter how they're recruiting class fared. All that matters is what they do on the field during the games, whether they win or lose, and how well they play while achieving that result.

In other words, Clemson starts the season with the same rating as UTEP.

Now, this can lead to some wonky results early, but they only look wonky because they don't meet your expectations. What I've found over the years while doing these rankings is that the longer the season goes, the more closely the rankings reflect the general consensus. It also shows the biases in human polls that most voters aren't typically aware exist, as Power Five schools with bigger brand names tend to be rated much higher than Group of Five schools that are having good seasons in human polls. My rating system shows much more love to those smaller schools. That's what happens when a ranking system is performance-based and not expectations-based.

Also, before we get to the first Bottom 25 of the season, I want to address the biggest question I'm going to get this week before you can ask: Tennessee is not ranked. You're obviously wondering why because Tennessee just lost at home to a Georgia State team that went 2-10 last season and was more than a three-touchdown underdog. Well, reread what I wrote above. In this rating system, Tennessee lost at home by eight points to a team on which it sat equally. In that loss, Tennessee performed better than Georgia State in a lot of areas, which resulted in the Vols being ranked poorly this week, just not poorly enough to earn a spot in The Bottom 25.

There were 46 teams that lost their season openers, but we only have room for 25 here. Which 25 are they? It's time to find out.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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