College Football Bottom 25 rankings: The state of Illinois is in a bad way right now
Anybody can list the best teams in the country, but only we have what it takes to rank the worst
It was an odd weekend of college football in the state of Illinois.
The FCS teams of the state all had excellent weekends. Illinois State received the most attention for beating Northwestern, but Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois all won. There were wins in every direction! Well, except for Northwestern, which is located in the northeast part of the state along the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan, but I digress.
Things on the FBS level were much worse. Aside from Northwestern's ugly (how it played and the game itself) loss to Illinois State, Illinois was trounced by North Carolina in primetime, and Northern Illinois was crushed by South Florida.
Through the first two weekends of the season, the Land of Lincoln's three major college football programs are a combined 1-5 with the sole victory being a 52-3 win over Murray State by the Illini.
And as a result of all this, all three schools are featured in this week's Bottom 25. The Land of Lincoln is the SEC of these rankings.
Before we get to them, though, a quick refresher on how all of this works.
1. My opinion has absolutely nothing to do with the rankings. They are based on a mathematical formula of my creation. Keep this in mind before you call me an idiot, which I know you will.
2. There is true equality to start. Math doesn't play favorites. Before the season begins, defending national champion Alabama is just as good as our defending Bottom 25 champion UCF. The only factor that matters in the rankings is how you've performed on the field in 2016.
3. Wins and losses mean more than anything. I have a lot of different statistics involved, and I factor in strength of schedule (remember, everybody begins the season with the same SOS), but at the end of the day whether you won or lost is going to mean more than anything else. Also, my formula doesn't have much respect for FCS teams.
4. Things are strange early in the season. Remember, these rankings are based on data, and early in the season, there isn't much of a sample size. So if you start the season 0-1, I don't care what you did last season, there's a decent chance you're going to end up in these rankings. You might finish the season 11-1, but at the moment you're just a winless entity in the formula.
5. I won't share the formula. I just don't want to. I'm not a mathematician. I know my formula isn't perfect. I don't think a perfect formula can exist, so I don't share it because I don't care what anybody thinks about it. So don't ask.
OK, let's go.
25. Idaho 1-1 (Previous: Not ranked): Idaho is no stranger to The Bottom 25, but they were able to escape the rankings last week because of a win over Montana State. A 45-point loss to Washington managed to restore order to the universe.
Best Win: vs. Montana State | Worst Loss: at Washington | This Week: at Washington State
24. Kentucky 0-2 (NR): A little over six quarters ago, Kentucky had a 35-10 lead over Southern Miss. Since that wonderful moment in time, the Wildcats have been outscored 79-7. They were just embarrassed by Florida 45-7 during an SEC on CBS broadcast. But basketball season isn't too far away, so it isn't all horrible.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: at Florida | This Week: vs. New Mexico State
23. Utah State 1-1 (NR): The Aggies were crushed by a USC team that began the week ranked at No. 5 in The Bottom 25. That's a good way to get in yourself.
Best Win: vs. Weber State | Worst Loss: at USC | This Week: vs. Arkansas State
22. Illinois 1-1 (NR): Illinois is a perfect team to use as an example of the volatility of these rankings early in the season. Last week, after a win against Murray State, the Illini were actually No. 45 in The Fornelli 50 rankings, but now they're in the Bottom 25. How does that happen? Well, when your only win is against an FCS team, and you follow that up with a 25-point loss to a North Carolina squad that was 0-1 and lost to a Georgia team that struggled to beat Nicholls ... you take a big drop.
Best Win: vs. Murray State | Worst Loss: vs. North Carolina| This Week: vs. Western Michigan
21. San Jose State 1-1 (13): The Spartans won by 31 points this week, but they did so against Portland State. That'll help you a little, but not enough.
20. Northern Illinois 0-2 (NR): Losing in overtime wasn't enough to get the Huskies here last week, but following it up with a 31-point loss to South Florida did the trick. Northern Illinois is now 0-2 for the first time since 2008, and with San Diego State looming next, an 0-3 start isn't exactly impossible.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: at USF | This Week: vs. San Diego State
19. UMass 0-2 (NR): UMass is in that strange place where it doesn't have a horrible loss on its resume, but when you're 0-2, it's damn near impossible to escape these rankings after only two weeks.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: vs. Boston College | This Week: vs. FIU
18. Eastern Michigan 1-1 (NR): The Eagles gave up 61 points to Missouri! Missouri!
Best Win: vs. Miss. Valley State | Worst Loss: at Missouri | This Week: at Charlotte
17. Fresno State 1-1 (12): Hey, at least Derek Carr was able to lead the Raiders to a big win against the Saints on Sunday.
Best Win: vs. Sacramento State | Worst Loss: at Nebraska | This Week: at Toledo
16. Rutgers 1-1 (11): None of us were actually surprised to see Rutgers having a hard time with Howard in the first half, right?
Best Win: 52-14 vs. Howard | Worst Loss: at Washington | This Week: vs. New Mexico
15. Georgia State 0-2 (23): Life isn't going to get any easier for the Panthers this week, as they're hitting the road to take on Wisconsin.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: at Air Force | This Week: at Wisconsin
14. FIU 0-2 (16): This is where I let you know that FIU actually paid both Indiana and Maryland to come down to South Florida and kick its butt the last two weeks.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: vs. Maryland | This Week: at UMass
13. Miami, OH 0-2 (18): Last week I wrote that, based upon what I'd seen from the RedHawks against Iowa, this was a team that could pick up a few extra wins in 2016. They then repaid this debt to me by going out and losing to Eastern Illinois. So about those extra wins ...
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: vs. Eastern Illinois | This Week: vs. WKU
12. Louisiana-Lafayette 1-1 (8): It's the same story we're seeing from a few teams in the rankings. Get killed in Week 1, beat an FCS team in Week 2. Not enough to get you out of The Bottom 25, but at least in Louisiana-Lafayette's case, it gets you out of the Bottom 10.
Best Win: vs. McNeese St. | Worst Loss: vs. Boise St. | This Week: vs. South Alabama
11. Hawaii 1-2 (14): I was devastated to learn on Saturday afternoon that, due to technical problems, there would be no internet broadcast of Hawaii's game outside the islands. I actually had to go to bed before 2 a.m.
Best Win: 41-36 vs. Tenn.-Martin | Worst Loss: 63-3 at Michigan | This Week: at Arizona
10. Washington State 0-2 (4): The Cougars made a valiant effort to come back from a 31-14 deficit in the fourth quarter, but they fell a bit short. Still, a strong performance against a good Boise State team did a lot to help Wazzu's resume following last week's loss to Eastern Washington.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: vs. Eastern Washington | This Week: vs. Idaho
9. Kent State 0-2 (17): Kent State lost to North Carolina A&T last week, and it has Monmouth scheduled this week. The Golden Flashes are basically playing a schedule that's meant to do nothing but get them to The Bottom 25 playoff. I respect it.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: vs. North Carolina A&T | This Week: vs. Monmouth
8. Rice 0-2 (10): Based on what I've seen from Rice through two weeks of the season, I believe we've got a real title contender on our hands, y'all.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: 46-14 at WKU | This Week: at Baylor
7. Charlotte 1-1 (7): Charlotte looked a lot better against Elon than it did Louisville, but, I mean, it's Elon. I honestly don't even know where that is, and I'm not even interested in Googling to find out. I don't have time to because I need to tell you that Charlotte will play Eastern Michigan in this week's BOTTOM 25 GAME OF THE CENTURY OF THE WEEK.
Best Win: vs. Elon | Worst Loss: at Louisville | This Week: vs. Eastern Michigan
6. Northwestern 0-2 (NR): Yeesh. I had some serious concerns about Northwestern's offense coming into the season, but it's performed even worse than I could have expected. The Wildcats only managed one touchdown and 277 yards against Illinois State.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: vs. Illinois State | This Week: vs. Duke
5. Virginia 0-2 (1): The Cavaliers fall out of the No. 1 spot, not because of anything they did, but just because they happened to play Oregon and that boosted their schedule strength.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: vs. Richmond | This Week: at UConn
4. Bowling Green 1-1 (6): This is one of those weird things that can happen early in the year. The Falcons were No. 6 last week after being destroyed by Ohio State, and then move up two spots in the rankings after a win. I mean, it was a one-point win against North Dakota, but you usually don't see teams improving their rank following a victory.
Best Win: vs. North Dakota | Worst Loss: at Ohio St | This Week: vs. Middle Tenn.
3. Arkansas State 0-2 (15): Arkansas State's 51-14 loss to Auburn on Saturday was like running into your ex-girlfriend a few years later, and she's with her new man who proceeds to beat the hell out of you.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: at Auburn | This Week: at Utah State
2. Iowa State 0-2 (3): You know what's worse than opening your season with a loss against an in-state FCS opponent? Following that up with a 39-point loss to your bitter rival from just down the interstate. Think Matt Campbell is having second thoughts yet?
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: vs. Northern Iowa | This Week: at TCU
1. Buffalo 0-1 (2): Buffalo took last week off and climbed up to No. 1 in the rankings. That takes skill.
Best Win: None | Worst Loss: vs. Albany | This Week: at Nevada
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