- Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com
- 2-time Sports Emmy winner
- 2010, 2014 NMPA Writer of the Year
Editor’s note: The SEC is back! Except maybe LSU. Meanwhile, the Bottom 10 never went away, ready to rank the worst of college football while we await the return of the Big Ten, Pac-12, MAC and Mountain West.
Inspirational thought of the week:
All I hear is what you’re worth
With all those things you had before
All I see is what you are
With all your talks you got you for
Take your time to face the truth
You got no class, you got no couth
What is it that you’re trying to prove?
Can you tell me
Yeah … can you back it up?
— “Back It Up” by Joan Jett
Here at Bottom 10 Headquarters, located in the empty barn where Mississippi State used to store its seldom-used bandwagon, we were admittedly a little shocked at how much different Week 4 or Week Whatever Number It Actually Was felt, thanks to the return of the SEC.
At the end of a week when the Pac-12 — but much more importantly the MAC East and Mountain West West — announced plans to return to the playing field later this fall, we weren’t sure exactly how much the atmosphere surrounding the 2020-21 college football season(s) would change when the ball was kicked off in places like Oxford, College Station, Baton Rouge and both Columbias.
Then we saw the games, the passion, the level of play. We also saw the crying Ole Miss lawyer, the South Carolina fan who looked like his Skoal can had been poisoned and the guy who destroyed a plasma TV at an LSU bar by throwing his beer at it.
It indeed Just Means More. And thusly, now so does the Bottom 10 as we also return to full, 10-team strength. So, excuse me while I throw a beer at my own TV.
With apologies to Philo Farnsworth and Steve Harvey, here’s this week’s Bottom 10.
1. ULM (pronounced “uhlm,” 0-3)
The Warhawks further tightened their talons around the top bottom spot by losing the Pillow Fight of the Week for the second consecutive Saturday, getting axed by then-second-ranked UTEPid 31-6. After a matchup with Georgia Southern Not State and a trip to Mount Liberty to see Hugh Freeze, UhLM is very likely to play in yet another PFOW when the Warhawks travel to the face to the South Alabama Redundancies on Oct. 23. If that were to happen, we believe that would be a Bottom 10 record with three Pillow Fights played over one month. Unfortunately, we can’t verify that for certain because we spilled a 2-liter bottle of Sam’s Choice grape soda all over the Bottom 10 media guide, and all the pages are stuck together.
2. Muddled Tennessee (0-3)
The good news? For the first time this season, the Blue Raiders didn’t get housed by an opponent. The bad news? They still lost, albeit in heartbreaking 37-35 fashion to R.O.C.K. in the UTSA. This weekend it is Murfreesboro’s turn to host a PFOW as it welcomes in 0-2 Western Cantucky. But the future MTSU contest we’re the most excited about is a game that isn’t on the schedule … yet.
3. Southern Missed (0-3)
MTSU is not currently scheduled to play Southern Miss. No, not because the Blue Raiders and the Golden Eagles would be a horrible color combination for anyone outside of UCLA or a macaw aviary. It’s because they are in separate divisions of Conference USA. But what if, in our ceaseless push to create a Bottom 10 Playoff, we take a page from the other B10, the Big Ten, and its plans to host cross-division matchups based on the final regular-season standings. In other words, the morning of the December TBD C-USA title game, let these two presumptive last-place teams play as the undercard. Then let the winner of this game immediately play Rice, because at this rate, I’m beginning to think that’s the only game Rice gets to play this season.
4. Texas State Armadillos (1-3)
Please allow myself to repeat myself again: Texas State is much improved. But on Saturday night in Chestnut Hill, the Bobcats looked a lot like the team we have grown to both love and loathe, pushing Boston College around the field for 58 minutes and 49 seconds and leading by a touchdown with 1:11 remaining … and then losing by a field goal that was set up by a targeting foul on a punt. Multiple old-school Red Sox fans were heard shouting to the Texas State bus as it left town, “Yeah, we totally feel ya pain, bro! Tha sting is wicked smahts, ain’t it?”
5. Geaux Boomer
With two teams, this week’s Coveted Fifth Spot is a crowded place, almost as crowded as the line at a “2020 College Football Playoff” apparel clearance sale in Norman and Baton Rouge.
6. Kansas Nayhawks (0-2)
The Fightin’ Mad Hatters backed up their season-opening loss to Coastal Carolina by falling to Baylor in the Bears’ (finally) season opener 47-14. Now they host Oklahoma State and All-World running back Chuba Hubbard. After two games, Hubbard has exactly 194 rushing yards. After two games, Kansas has surrendered an average of exactly 194.0 rushing yards per game. As they say, something’s gotta give, and what’s going to give seems to be a given.
7. FSU Semi-No’s (0-2)
They opened with a surprising loss to Georgia Tech. They suffered the worst beatdown in the history of the Wide Right Classic with a 52-10 loss to a Miami. That Canes team is coached by Manny Diaz, an FSU alum. Meanwhile, FSU’s own head coach missed the Miami game because he was stuck at home in quarantine. Then, they got mauled by a cougar and their Crystal Gayle T-shirt was ruined. Other than that, September’s been great.
8. Dook (0-3)
Just throwing this out there … FSU travels to Durham for the regular-season finale on Dec. 5. So, don’t be scheduling any weddings for that Saturday because our group root canal has already been booked.
9. UMess (0-0)
We made mention earlier of all the conferences returning to the fray later this fall, but we would be remass, er, remiss, if we didn’t mention the Minutemen. While we’re sure our old pals appreciate that we haven’t forgotten about them, their immediate concern is if everyone else has forgotten about them. See: their current 2020 schedule of zero games.
10. Houston Apollo 13’s (0-0)
The Cougars have also not played a game this year, but it’s certainly not because they had an empty schedule. They just made the mistake of writing that schedule in disappearing ink. However, all of the news surrounding their 0-for-5 games played this season isn’t bad. Local economists tell me the situation has been a boon for local Red Bull distributors delivering product to Dana Holgorsen’s office.
The Waiting List: Snooze Forest (0-2), North Texas Lean Green (1-1), U-S-A! (1-2), Houston Still Trying To Play (0-0), Charlotte 0-and-1’ers, COVID-19.
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