Bottom 25 college football rankings: UCLA, Missouri, Northwestern, Duke looking to escape
Anybody can rank the 25 best teams, but only the Bottom 25 ranks the worst every single week
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.
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.
|25. Miami (OH)||0-1||The Redhawks hung tight with Iowa for a while on Saturday but ultimately couldn't keep up, losing by 24. With Chattanooga next week, odds are they won't stick around long, but it's always nice to get a visit from the first Bottom 25 champion in history.|
|24. Toledo||0-1||The Rockets were in a similar situation to Miami. They didn't get blown out by Kentucky on the scoreboard, but a closer look at the box score shows that the game wasn't as close as the 14-point deficit suggests. The Rockets have a chance to escape with a game against Murray State after a bye this week.|
|23. Northwestern||0-1||I figured Northwestern was playing coy all offseason when it refused to name Hunter Johnson its starting QB, and then Johnson completed 6 of 17 passes for 55 yards with two interceptions against Stanford. So maybe they weren't playing coy! Of course, with backup T.J. Green now out indefinitely with a foot injury, there's no playing coy about who will start next week against UNLV.|
|22. UCLA||0-1||Since leaving Oregon following the 2012 season, Chip Kelly has coached the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and now the UCLA Bruins. Following Thursday night's loss to Cincinnati, he's 31-45 since leaving the Ducks. He was 46-7 at Oregon.|
|21. Missouri||0-1||This is why you don't schedule season-openers on the road against Group of Five teams, Missouri! If you have to do it, though, try not to turn the ball over three times or allow over 7 yards per carry on defense. It's hard to win doing those things.|
|20. Oregon State||0-1||The Beavers are no stranger to the Bottom 25, and though they looked feisty early, they couldn't hang with Oklahoma State over 60 minutes. To be fair, that Oklahoma State offense looked like a unit that's going to cause a lot of teams trouble in 2019, so allowing 52 points against it might not look as bad in a month or so.|
|19. UMass||0-1||Listen, we have a rule around here. You can't let Rutgers score nearly 50 points against you, all right? I mean, the Minutemen allowed 31 points in the second quarter alone. Do you know how many times Rutgers scored 31 points in a game last season? Just once in a 35-7 win against Texas State to start the season.|
|18. Tulsa||0-1||Dear reader, you and I each rushed for 73 more yards against Michigan State than Tulsa did on Friday night. The Hurricane averaged -2.9 yards per carry! Three turnovers didn't help, either, but maybe Tulsa can get on the positive side of the rushing ledger this week against San Jose State.|
|17. FAU||0-1||To the Owls' credit, they didn't lay down and quit after letting Ohio State score 28 points in the first eight minutes of the game. Of course, that doesn't change the fact they let Ohio State score four touchdowns in the first eight minutes of the game. Life won't get easier against UCF this weekend.|
|16. Houston||0-1||I doubt it would have made much of a difference in the end, but the Houston defense sure looked like it had an Ed Oliver-sized hole in the middle of it as Oklahoma was running wild Sunday night. Prairie View A&M is up next, and here's hoping Holgo's boys look better in that one.|
|15. Louisiana Tech||0-1||I thought the Bulldogs would give Texas more of a scare because I believed this team was pretty decent, and I thought Texas might be more focused on LSU next week. I was at least half-wrong, as the Longhorns blasted the Bulldogs 45-14 on a network that you probably don't have.|
|14. Colorado State||0-1||It's never fun to lose by 21 points in your season-opener, and it's even less so when it's coming against your state rival. The Rams get Western Illinois next after allowing a 50-burger against the Buffs.|
|13. Liberty||0-1||At first I thought Hugh Freeze just really wanted to be there for his team when he was lying in a hospital bed up in the press box during the game. Then he gave a press conference after his team's 24-0 loss, and I realized he just wanted attention.|
|12. Kent State||0-1||The Flashes had only 200 yards of offense in their 30-7 loss to Arizona State, and they didn't reach the end zone until the fourth quarter while trailing 27-0. They get Kennesaw State this week, but the Owls won 59-0 last week and have won two straight Big South titles, so they won't be a pushover.|
|11. FIU||0-1||There's no way to sugarcoat it. The Panthers looked plain bad in a 42-14 loss, allowing more than twice as many yards on defense as they gained on offense. They return home this week to face No. 8 Western Kentucky.|
|10. Vanderbilt||0-1||The Commodores opened the season at home against Georgia, and precisely what you thought was going to happen ... happened. Things don't get much easier this weekend as the Commies hit the road to take on a Purdue team that just lost to Nevada.|
|9. Georgia Tech||0-1||I swear this has absolutely nothing to do with me being upset about Georgia Tech giving up the option. This is all about losing 52-14 to Clemson. Giving up 632 yards of offense tends to not work in a team's favor.|
|8. Western Kentucky||0-1||Is it a bigger upset that Western Kentucky lost to Central Arkansas, or that the Hilltoppers were the only FBS team to fall to an FCS foe over opening weekend? I'll let you figure that out on your own because, whatever the answer is, the result is a Bottom 10 start to the season.|
|7. East Carolina||0-1||We're all very familiar with East Carolina in the Bottom 25, and we wish Mike Houston all the best as he tries to get the Pirates out of this column every week. That said if you're going to publicly promise to cover the spread, coach, cover the spread.|
|6. Akron||0-1||The Illinois Fighting Illini went 9-27 from 2016-18, so maybe this is an Illinois team that's a lot better in 2019, but losing to them 42-3 in your opener might not be the best omen for your chances.|
|5. Texas State||0-1||Jake Spavital's first game at Texas State didn't go as well as he'd have hoped, as the Bobcats fell to Texas A&M 41-7. The second game of the season won't be much easier, as the Cats return home to host a Wyoming team that just beat Missouri.|
|4. Duke||0-1||Don't feel bad about it, Blue Devils. You were an absolute, stone-cold lock to begin the season in the Bottom 5 the moment you scheduled a season-opener against Alabama. This week, things don't get much more relaxed, as Duke will play an outstanding North Carolina A&T team.|
|3. New Mexico St.||0-1||I'm not in the business of making predictions in the Bottom 25, but with a road game against Alabama coming this week after a 58-7 loss to Washington State, I bet the Aggies find themselves at No. 1 next week.|
|2. South Florida||0-1||The season may have started but Bulls fans will have to wait at least another week before seeing their team's first points of the year. Wisconsin blasted USF 49-0, and now, after starting last season 7-0, the Bulls have lost seven straight. A road trip to No. 9 Georgia Tech is up next in this week's Bottom 25 Game of the Century of the Week.|
|1. Georgia Southern||0-1||Georgia Southern is a team that can win the Sun Belt this season, and it won't come as a surprise. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they're just an 0-1 team at the moment that got the living hell beaten out of them in a 55-3 loss to LSU. Georgia Southern didn't even reach 100 yards of offense in this one. Maine is up next.|
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