Bottom 25 college football rankings: UTEP gets its first win while a Power Five team flounders
Anybody can rank the 25 best teams, only the Bottom 25 ranks the worst every week of the season
Last weekend I saw one of my favorite things happen in college football, and I saw something I hate to see. Both are related to The Bottom 25.
We'll start with the thing I hate to see so we can get it out of the way and move on to the good news. When it comes to The Bottom 25, I realize that the whole premise of this enterprise seems to be mocking teams that are having bad seasons. I certainly make jokes at their expense, but the truth is, even if it seems cruel on the surface, the fact is I care about all of these teams. I want to see every team do well. It's heartbreaking to watch teams go out every week, try their hardest and lose anyway.
Once in a while, though, I see a team that I don't think is trying all that hard, and I saw one this weekend. Louisville lost to Clemson 77-16 on Saturday. The Cardinals were 39-point underdogs before kickoff, and while I had no delusions they'd be able to give Clemson a scare, I at least thought they'd go out and play hard. But I didn't see that on Saturday. Instead, I saw a team that seemed a bit too content to take a beating. As a result, the Cardinals are now 2-7, and they fell from No. 12 to No. 7 in this week's ranking, the lowest-ranked team with two wins in our poll.
If they play as hard the rest of the season as they did against Clemson, they just might reach The Bottom 25 Playoff.
On the flip side of Louisville was UTEP. The Miners went into their game against Rice having lost 20 straight. If ever there was a team with an excuse to pack it in, the Miners had one. Instead, they came out on fire and took a 27-0 lead in the first half. Now, things got a bit tense afterward, but the Miners held on to win 34-26 to get their first win of the season.
They also became the final team to get a win in 2018. That's right, there are no winless teams remaining on the FBS level. No matter what happens from this point forward, every team in the country will have had the opportunity to celebrate at least once in 2018.
Even our Bottom 25 champion.
|25. Nebraska||2-7||The Cornhuskers lost to Ohio State but fell a spot in the rankings and would almost certainly drop out of The Bottom 25 with a win over Illinois this week. (Last Week: 24)|
|24. Colorado State||3-6||I just realized Colorado State is in third place in its division. It has no shot of catching either Utah State or Boise State, but it goes to show how top-heavy the Mountain West is this season. (23)|
|23. UCLA||2-7||UCLA makes a not-so-triumphant return to The Bottom 25 after losing to Oregon 42-21. But you know what? The Bruins are still mathematically alive in the Pac-12 South! They just have to win out and to do that they'd have to start by beating Arizona State this weekend. (Not Ranked)|
|22. East Carolina||2-5||The Pirates have lost four straight and now have a road game against a Tulane team that just spanked South Florida. (22)|
|21. Tulsa||2-7||Nothing like a game against UConn to help you plummet in The Bottom 25 rankings. Tulsa gets Memphis this week, and it has a good shot at a third win this season with Navy coming up next week. (7)|
|20. UTSA||3-6||The Roadrunners won three straight earlier this season to leave The Bottom 25, and now that they've lost three straight, they're back. With three games against a few of Conference USA's best teams remaining, there's a good chance they'll stick around the rest of the season. (NR)|
|19. Arkansas||2-7||The good vibes from that win over Tulsa didn't help during a 45-31 loss to Vanderbilt. Next up it's LSU. (19)|
|18. Kent State||2-7||The Golden Flashes picked up a big 35-28 win over Bowling Green last Tuesday, and now they get Buffalo in just a few hours (unless you're reading this on Wednesday, then they already played). (8)|
|17. Old Dominion||2-7||The Monarchs have had one of the strangest seasons in 2018. They had the win over Virginia Tech, an insane win over Western Kentucky, and a whole bunch of losses surrounding them. North Texas is likely to hand them another one Saturday. (17)|
|16. Navy||2-7||Navy was crushed 42-0 by Cincinnati and has now lost six straight games. It gets UCF this weekend, however, and that provides the Midshipmen with a chance to salvage something from a lost season. (21)|
|15. UNLV||2-7||This is a team that may have joined The Bottom 25 party late, but has the potential to make a last-minute Bottom 25 Playoff run. (18)|
|14. New Mexico State||3-7||The Aggies got a win over Alcorn State, which was enough to get out of The Bottom 10, but not much further. (9)|
|13. Oregon State||2-7||A week after beating Colorado, the Beavers trailed USC by only seven heading into the fourth quarter. These are things that are happening too late in 2018 to have an impact on this season, but they might be good omens for 2019. (16)|
|12. North Carolina||1-7||The Tar Heels have only won a single game this season, but unlike the other ACC team in these rankings, when I watch them I get the feeling they're trying to get another. Maybe it'll come against Duke? I mean, college basketball season does start Tuesday night. Perhaps that'll give North Carolina football a boost somehow. (15)|
|11. Georgia State||2-7||The Panthers dropped a winnable game to Texas State this weekend, and now the most winnable game on the schedule appears to be this week's tilt against Louisiana. (14)|
|10. South Alabama||2-7||South Alabama enters The Bottom 10 after a 38-14 loss to Arkansas State. They won't be favored in any of them, but games against UL-Monroe, Louisiana and Coastal Carolina at least present an opportunity for a third win. (13)|
|9. San Jose State||1-8||The Spartans followed up their first win by heading to Wyoming to face the Cowboys in weather not meant for Californians. Life won't get any easier this week with a road game against Utah State. (10)|
|8. Western Kentucky||1-8||All I'm going to say is that having seen this team play a few games in 2018, it sure does make some interesting decisions. And by interesting, I mean confusing. Anyway, Florida Atlantic is up next. (11)|
|7. Louisville||2-7||Prove me wrong. (12)|
|6. Central Michigan||1-9||The Chippewas have lost six straight but find themselves in the odd position of being a favorite this weekend against No. 2 Bowling Green. (6)|
|5. UTEP||1-8||Seriously, I am so damn happy the Miners won last weekend. And you know what? They're going to win again. Maybe not this week against Middle Tennessee, but this team will finish with at least two wins. (1)|
|4. Rutgers||1-8||Rutgers continues to struggle against superior competition, but it has refused to be blown out the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, that alone won't be enough against Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State, which is what the next three weeks look like. (5)|
|3. Rice||1-9||Rice lost to UTEP, which was its best last chance at another win. Now if it wants to avoid The Bottom 25 Playoff, it'll have to pick up a win against Louisiana Tech, LSU or No. 17 Old Dominion. (4)|
|2. Bowling Green||1-8||Bowling Green lost a major clash versus Kent State last weekend, but it doesn't have any time to lick its wounds because this Saturday it gets No. 6 Central Michigan in The Bottom 25 Game of the Century of the Week. (2)|
|1. UConn||1-8||The Huskies jump from No. 3 back to No. 1 thanks to a combination of UTEP's win and their 30-point loss to a Tulsa team that was No. 7 in these rankings last week. Up next, it's SMU. (3)|
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