After seven weeks of play, some teams that we thought would make strides from last year haven't made progress. For other teams, it's not so much the losses we are concentrating on, but rather, the manner in which they have lost. Surprisingly, no Big Ten team made the list. They are exactly who we thought they were. And that's a good thing.
Mississippi State (3-4)
The Mississippi State Bulldogs were ranked No. 20 in the preseason AP poll and after walloping Memphis 59-14, they moved up to No. 16. Everyone thought the preseason hype was legit until everyone realized that Memphis is one of the worst teams in FBS football. The Bulldogs have a losing record with losses to Auburn, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina, but two of their wins are alarming—a 26-20 OT win against Louisiana Tech and a 21-3 win over UAB.
To put things into perspective, Tulane beat UAB 49-10. On the road.
Mississippi State will likely go bowling but it'll be a lower-tiered bowl—that will probably sate fans who have only experienced two bowls in 10 years, but the potential for so much more is very disappointing.
Last year the Jayhawks went 3-9 under first-year head coach Turner Gill, a coach that deserves a lot of respect. With a defense lacking tackling fundamentals, the Jayhawks have taken a beating for four straight weeks. Georgia Tech scored 66 points on the Jayhawks while Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma continued the trend by scoring 45, 70 and 47 points respectively. Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy didn't run up the score on Kansas—he inserted his offensive substitutes into the game in the first half but unfortunately for Kansas, it didn't matter.
We really didn't expect Kansas to have a winning season this year but when you set school records for rushing yards allowed (604) and passing yards allowed (494) to two different teams (Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State) and are giving up an average 49 points per game, the season is already a complete disaster.
Florida State (3-3)
Remember when Florida State was projected to win the ACC by many pundits—myself included—and possibly contend for a BCS championship? The wheels came off after week two when the Seminoles started losing key positions to injury, including receivers Willie Haulstead and Jarred Haggins as well as quarterback E.J. Manuel (missed part of Oklahoma game and all of Clemson game) and running back Chris Thompson, who ended up with compression fractures of two vertebrae against Clemson. The Seminoles have been a story of the walking wounded all season.
With the plethora of talent on the team, a .500 record is hard to fathom, especially with a loss against an unranked Wake Forest team. Can the 'Noles turn it around? Maybe, but their quest of winning the Atlantic will be almost impossible holding a 1-2 conference record and looking up at Clemson's 4-0 conference record. At this point, getting qualified for a bowl with six wins is do-able, but certainly not a given.
The Pittsburgh Panthers looked like a real challenger to West Virginia in the pre-season but the Panthers have lost four of their last five games. Losing to Notre Dame and Iowa is nothing to be ashamed of, especially since the score differential between Pitt and those two teams was a combined seven points, but only scoring 10 points against Rutgers? It is gut-check time.
There are some positives—mainly the 44-17 spanking of South Florida—but the Panthers' schedule is a huge negative. As of this week, the only ranked team on Pitt's schedule is West Virginia. Three more wins seem feasible, but with such a weak schedule, fans probably expected a better run at a BCS bowl, even with a first-year coach in Todd Graham.
Honorable mention: 2-4 Louisville
It's been a bad year for Mike Stoops and it got a lot worse when he was dismissed as head coach of Arizona last week. The real shame in this mess of a season is that the Wildcats have such an incredibly gifted quarterback in Nick Foles—the senior is the second most productive passer in the country with 2,250 yards and a 15-4 touchdown-interception ratio.
In the first year the conference will hold a championship game, Arizona will not be participating in the Pac-12 Championship. It's not that they were given a shot before the season started—they weren't—it's that a team like Washington State—a team that went 2-10 last year and has been for years counted on as a "win" for most of their opponents—will likely go bowling. It's unfathomable. It's also probably why Mike Stoops lost his job.
Boston College (1-5)
Boston College appears to be already waving the white flag and yelling, "Wait 'til next year." The school is requesting medical hardship waivers for running back Montel Harris—the team's rushing leader—and defensive lineman Kaleb Ramsey. Still, there were decent expectations for the team. Phil Steele said in his preseason magazine that Boston College has "a top 20 defense, an improved offense, [and] could open up 5-0."
The Eagles have one win—against UMass, an FCS school—in six games. That pretty much sums it up. Total disappointment.