College football Week 7 winners and losers: Who are the most disappointing teams of 2020 so far?
We endured seven weeks of college football season like no other. Large conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 still have to stand on the field while some teams have played up to six games.
From what we've seen so far, several teams with significant preseason expectations have left those predictions far behind. Below we've highlighted some of the college football season's most disappointing teams, in alphabetical order.
Auburn (2-2): It looks like Auburn is going to have another good season, but not great. And that may be optimistic. Last year Auburn had a strong defense and lackluster offense. This year, both sides of the ball are completely mediocre. Bo Nix, the Tigers' acclaimed five-star quarterback, doesn't seem to have taken many steps as a passerby. This was evident in the 30:22 loss to South Carolina on Saturday, which brought the Tigers down to 2-2 over the course of the year. And if there wasn't a questionable official decision in defeating Arkansas last week, Auburn could well be 1-3.
Louisville (1-4): Scott Satterfield, who brought Louisville to eight wins in his freshman year, was a tremendous accomplishment. But it now appears that the lack of roster depth is catching up with UL. The Cardinals got off to a 4-1 start and have been plagued by sluggish defenses on most of those losses. The losses against Miami (47-34) and Georgia Tech (46-27) were particularly ugly. Saturday's effort, a 7-12 loss to Notre Dame at South Bend, showed some positive signs, though the normally explosive offense was really struggling.
LSU (1-2): Last week we highlighted the very real chances that LSU will go down as the worst defending national champions in the modern era of college football. LSU lost so much talent from this incredible team from 2019, but no one expected such an amazing drop in defense with Bo Pelini as defensive coordinator. The Tigers were embarrassed 44-34 in Mississippi State's opener, a loss that looks even worse given the MSU's recent performance. The 45:41 loss to Missouri was also bad. Not only did Mizzou run 586 yards offensive, but also toddled LSU from the 1-yard line in four games in the last minute to ensure victory.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and his team take to the field prior to the start of an NCAA college football game against Missouri on Saturday October 10, 2020 in Columbia, Missouri. (AP Photo / L.G. Patterson)
Oklahoma (2-2): Oklahoma's five-year Big 12 title streak is in serious danger. OU works in a first year starting quarterback and lacks his normally reliable talent in the skill positions. Those factors, coupled with a defense that sometimes looks allergic to attack, got the Sooners off to a 2-2 start. OU dropped back-to-back games against Kansas State and Iowa State and led in both games. These losses marked the first time since 1999 that OU had lost regular season games in a row. Without a 4OT win over Texas, Lincoln Riley's group would be in even worse shape.
Mississippi State (1-3): Mississippi State was the talk of college football in its freshman year under Mike Leach when it pissed off LSU on Leach's SEC head coach debut. In a 44:34 victory, KJ Costello threw an SEC record of 623 meters. Since then, however, it has been very, very difficult for the Bulldogs. MSU lost their next three games, scoring a total of 30 points. Prior to the fourth-quarter TD, which the Bulldogs scored in their 28-14 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday, the offensive had made 28 consecutive drives without reaching the end zone. This is unthinkable for a Leach crime.
Tennessee (2-2): Tennessee was very popular last week. The Vols were ranked # 14 in the country and after eight wins in a high profile matchup against Georgia # 3. Tennessee even led UGA 21-17 at halftime. Since then, Tennessee has fallen back to earth. Perhaps a crash to earth is more accurate. In the six quarters since then, Vols 61-7 have been surpassed. Georgia stormed back last week and won 44-21, forcing three turnovers in the second half. And on Saturday against Kentucky the Vols were blown out 34-7. The offense flipped the ball four more times and has a serious quarterback problem. Jeremy Pruitt has undoubtedly improved talent on the Tennessee roster, and has done so significantly. But the past few weeks have shown just how far the Vols have to go to fight for an SEC East title.
Jarrett Guarantano threw two interceptions against Kentucky on Saturday and both were returned for touchdowns. (Photo by Andrew Ferguson / Collegiate Images / Getty Images)
Texas (2-2): Texas, which starts Tom Herman's fourth season as head coach 2-2, is pretty hard to accept for UT fans. This is especially true of the way the Longhorns lost. Herman had time to build a squad and 16 starters were back from a team from 2019 that had played pretty well by the end of the year. Instead of playing like an experienced group, UT was plagued by sales, penalties, poor tackles, and special team issues. Worse still, position groups like Wide Receiver and Offensive Line continue to be weak spots for the program. The Longhorns had a reunion this week. We may see a more disciplined team the next time they return to the field.
UCF (2-2): How do you agree to start 798 meters offensive and still lose? UCF faces this question this week after Saturday's 50:49 loss to Memphis, which brought the Knights 2-2 year-on-year. UCF had a 35-22 and 43-29 lead in the second half but still allowed Memphis to come back and win. Memphis scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the game to break a 12-point deficit. Both of UCF's losses have blown leads. Two weeks ago, UCF led Tulsa 23-5 towards the end of the first half but lost 34-26. The UCF defense was undoubtedly an issue, but the Knights were also the most punished team in the country. It remains to be seen whether the Knights can get back into the AAC race.
- Sam Cooper
Here are this week's winners and losers:
Clemson: The # 1 Tigers couldn't stop scoring against Georgia Tech. Clemson defeated the Yellow Jackets 73-7 on Saturday when 10 different Clemson players had a carry and 16 different Clemson players had a catch. Trevor Lawrence tossed a career high of 404 yards and five touchdowns - 391 of those yards came in the first half - as Clemson turned a 7-7 game into a 52-7 halftime lead in the first quarter. The win put the Tigers 5-0 that season and Clemson have now won their four ACC games averaging 33 points.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks forced seven turnovers in a 33:21 win over Ole Miss. Six of these were intercepts by Ole Miss QB Matt Corral, as the Arkansas defenders fearlessly leapt in front of Ole Miss receivers reading Corral's eyes. The win puts Arkansas 2-2, though Hogs fans will be happy to tell you Arkansas should be 3-1 after the SEC's official mistake cost the Razorbacks a win in Auburn a week ago. Additionally, Arkansas's social media division gets a huge reputation for this tweet.
Kentucky: Kentucky beat Tennessee for the first time since 1984 at Neyland Stadium on Saturday. The Wildcats defense forced four turnovers, including two interceptions for touchdowns in a 34-7 win. It was an impressive feat for the Wildcats, especially considering Tennessee's dominance on the series. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops wanted to take it all in. That quote says it all.
BYU: The march towards New Years reflection continued on Friday evening for BYU # 14. The Cougars were 26-14 against Houston in the third quarter, but lost 29 straight points to win 43-26. Zach Wilson was 25 of 35, overtaking 400 yards and four touchdowns. He also led the team with 40 yards. Wilson's completion rate of 71.4 was his lowest score of the season as he continues to show how he could be a potential first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Virginia Tech: The No. 23 Hokies were blown out in North Carolina a week ago and bounced back with a comfortable 40-14 win over Boston College. Virginia Tech was dominant on the ground as QB Hendon Hooker had 18 carry for 164 yards and Star Kansas Transfer Khalil Herbert had 18 carry for 143 yards. Hooker ran three touchdowns and added another through the air as VT hit the game's final 23 points to turn a tight into a router.
Coastal Carolina is 4-0. (AP Photo / Paul Kieu)
Coastal Carolina: It's time for Coastal Carolina to get into the top 25. The Chanticleers took to the streets on Wednesday night and angry # 21 Louisiana 30-27 and are now sitting pretty like the only undefeated team staying in the sunbelt 4-0. Coastal Carolina took a 40-yard field goal from Massimo Biscardi in the final seconds. It is the first win against a high-ranking opponent in the history of the program. The CCU is in its fourth season at the FBS level and only had a combined record of 13-23 (6-18 Sun Belt) for the first three years. Now one of the favorites is to win the Sun Belt title.
Memphis: What a comeback for the Tigers. Memphis beat UCF 21-6 in the 12:40 final, won 50-49 and lost 13 games to the Knights. The starting shot for TD came when Calvin Austin III caught a 4-yard TD pass by Brady White with a 1:08-minute lead. UCF then missed a potentially decisive field goal 19 seconds before the end. The two teams joined forces for an absurd offensive of 1,501 yards since UCF had 798 and Memphis 703. White was 34-of-50, overtaking 486 yards and six TDs, while UCF's Dillon Gabriel was 35-of-49 for 601 yards and five touchdowns.
SMU: The Mustangs are the only 5-0 team in the AAC after a 37:34 win in extra time against Tulane on Friday night. Tulane got the ball to work overtime, but Brandon Crossley intercepted Michael Pratt. SMU simply played for the field goal and Chris Naggar hit a 34-yard kick for the win. It's the second season in a row that SMU started 5-0 and will now play a major AAC game against Cincinnati No. 8 on October 24th.
Georgia QB Stetson Bennett: The guy who took Georgia starting quarterback in the first game of the season looked like a player who started the season as a substitute. Bennett threw three interceptions in Georgia’s 41:24 loss to Alabama, and his last two interceptions resulted in 14 Alabama points in the second half. The Crimson Tide scored 21 consecutive points in the last 30 minutes, turning a 24:20 deficit into a 17 point victory as Bennett was only 18 out of 40 and passed 269 yards. While Georgia's recipe of great defense and decent passing is enough to win most games, playing with teams like Alabama is not enough.
North Carolina: So much for the dream of an unbeaten regular season for the No. 5 tar heels. UNC was 31-7 in Florida before making a brave comeback. That comeback wasn't enough, however, and UNC lost 31-28. The offense did its part; Sam Howell threw for 374 yards and UNC rushed for 184. But Florida State won 241 rushing yards on 36 cavities when both La'Damian Webb and Jordan Travis rushed for over 100 yards apiece.
Auburn QB Bo Nix: Interceptions thrown by Bo Nix led directly to 21 of the 30 points South Carolina scored in a 30-22 win over Auburn. Nix threw three interceptions and all three gave the South Carolina offensive a short field, resulting in touchdown runs of 29, 49 and 8 yards. Nix's third interception came late in the third quarter and allowed the Gamecocks to expand their lead from 20-19 to 27-19. Nix's problems didn't end with interception. He missed many throws and made bad decisions. He held the ball non-stop for far too long. It happened in the last game of the game, a fourth game, when it took Auburn a touchdown to keep his hopes alive. Instead, Nix did this.
Notre Dame's Passing Game: If you haven't seen Notre Dame's victory over Louisville, you haven't missed much. The No. 4 Fighting Irish won 12-7 in a game in which 13 of the 19 points in the third quarter were scored on consecutive trips. The Louisville defense came into play, allowing nearly 390 yards per contest, but Notre Dame couldn't really take advantage of it. Ian Book was only 11 out of 19, passing for 107 yards. However, the Irish continued to be one of the best rushing teams in college football. Notre Dame ran 49 times for 232 yards and finished the game with a drive of 14 games and 57 yards, which the final broke off at 7:55 am.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi: Pat Narduzzi sent his field goal unit from the 1-yard line to fourth and last place. There were less than five minutes left in regular time when his team left their rivals behind with a touchdown. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise if he'd picked a field goal in fourth and third place on the Miami 12-yard line when his team fell 31 seconds ahead of 28-16 in the third quarter on Saturday.
Instead of trying to reduce a two-point deficit to a one-point deficit, Narduzzi instead wanted to reduce Miami's lead to just nine (28:19). Predictably, Pitt's offense wouldn't even step the rest of the way in Miami with a possible loss of 31:19. Narduzzi's explanation after the game also made little sense. He also claimed the decision was made "early" or "in the middle" of the third quarter when it was actually made in the last minute of the quarter.
"You want to try on one side, but you want to collect points," said Narduzzi. "I think it's still early in the third quarter or mid-third quarter. There is still a lot of time and I think you have to get the points."
Pittsburgh started 3-0, but are now 3-3 after losing to Miami on Saturday (AP Photo / Keith Srakocic)
Ole Miss QB Matt Corral: Saturday was a tough day for several SEC quarterbacks, but no one had a worse day than Ole Miss Matt Corral. Corral had been great in the Rebels' first three games, combining 1,080 yards, nine touchdowns and only one interception at 76.1 percent throw. Corral's stats looked very different in Saturday's 33:21 loss to Arkansas: 20 of 38 for 200 yards, two TDs and six interceptions. Yes, six interceptions. After such a stellar performance against Alabama, Corral had the worst game of his career against the Razorbacks.
Syracuse: 2020 is not going well for Syracuse. The Orange fell back to 4-1 with another defeat on Saturday, and that came in the team's only non-conference game of the year: a 38-21 loss to Liberty. It was an ugly loss too. The orange defense allowed the Flames to win 338 yards and four TDs, including 170 yards and two points on just 10 carry from Shedro Louis, a sophomore whose career high was 57 yards.
Yes, Syracuse played this game without starting QB Tommy DeVito, but the games he played didn't go much better. It is fair to wonder at the direction of the program under Dino Babers. Syracuse took a 10-3 lead in 2018, but this year looks like a major outlier. Syracuse is 14-27 in Babers' four other seasons.
South Florida: USF took a 31:20 lead at Temple on Saturday at the end of the third quarter, but lost that lead with a 39-37 loss.Temple scored three touchdowns, including a scoop and USF sales, to the 31- 20 deficit to be reduced to 39-31. However, USF had a chance to tie the game after scoring a 1:03 touchdown. All USF needed was a two-point conversion game, but the game call failed miserably and USF dropped to 1-4.
Western Kentucky: What Happened to the Hilltoppers? The WKU lost at UAB 37-14 on Saturday and fell to 1-4 in the season. A once powerful offensive fought again as the team shot just 88 yards in 32 runs and Kevaris Thomas threw just 162 yards in 35 attempts. The WKU's only win came over the unfortunate state of Middle Tennessee, and while Chattanooga is slated for a game next, WKU's next two opponents are BYU # 14 and Florida Atlantic.
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