Last week, I wrote about why I preferred the early season Bottom 25 to the later season version because the results are more volatile. Well, if that’s true, then I guess I love the early results for this season’s rankings more than I’ve ever loved them before because things are wild this year.
I’m seeing results on both ends of my rankings that I don’t typically see, and I’ve been doing these rankings for a decade. Sure, there have been some tweaks here and there, but never anything drastic enough to cause huge waves from season to season. This offseason, I didn’t make any changes, so why the strange results? I could be wrong, but my theory is we’re seeing far more teams take early season byes this year. I don’t recall seeing so many having played only two games following Week 3 in past seasons, and it’s producing drastic results.
When you’ve only played two games and most everybody else has played three, one game can skew your results quite a bit. One game impacts 50 percent of your score, while it only accounts for 33 percent of a team that’s played three’s score. This works in either direction. Some 2-0 teams are ranked higher than they probably should or will continue to be right now. There are also 1-1 teams ranked far lower than they should be, and you’ll see what I mean in this week’s Bottom 25 rankings.
|25. Miami (OH)||1-2||OK, so it’s been decided: this is officially The Miami Spot. The Redhawks were here following Week 1. Last week, it was the Canes. This week, it’s the Redhawks again. Considering Ohio State’s next on the schedule, odds are they’ll move up a bit next week, but the name will remain. (Last Week: Not Ranked)|
|24. Middle Tennessee||1-2||More like Bottom Tennessee, am I right, folks? Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Not only is that name a brilliant play on words by a handsome writer, but it’s also a bit of a spoiler for the rest of this week’s rankings. (NR)|
|23. Western Kentucky||1-2||More like Bottom Kentucky. Does that joke work twice? No? Fine. Pearls before swine! Seriously, it’s very funny to me that Western Kentucky is ranked in the Bottom 25 while also being alone in first place of C-USA’s East Division. Not as funny as my Bottom Kentucky joke, but pretty funny all the same. (NR)|
|22. Old Dominion||1-1||More like Old Bottom. OK, I’ll stop. This is what I was talking about in the intro, though. The Monarchs had the week off but remain ranked despite several 1-2 teams avoiding the same fate. Perhaps they can change things this week against Virginia? You wouldn’t think it’s likely, but have you seen the ACC this year? (21)|
|21. East Carolina||1-2||As has happened so many times throughout history, the Pirates lost to the United States Navy on Saturday. There was no booty plundered, or ye mateys avasted. ECU was offered no quarter as it was keelhauled all over the field, leaving timbers shivered as far as the eye could see. Yarrrr. (NR)|
|20. New Mexico||1-1||When you’ve only played two games, and one was an eight-point win over an FCS team and the other was a 52-point loss to Notre Dame, this is going to happen. The Lobos have a big game this weekend against New Mexico State. (NR)|
|19. UTEP||1-1||I should rank myself here. Last week, I originally wrote UTEP was playing Nevada in The Bottom 25 Game of the Century of the Week, but calendars confuse me sometimes. You see, UTEP had a bye last week. Instead, my beloved Miners play Nevada this week in a regular football game. (20)|
|18. South Alabama||1-2||More like Bottom Alabama. Ha! I lulled you into a false sense of security, only to pull it out and wallop you over the head with it! Kind of like what Memphis did to South Alabama last week in a 42-6 win. The Jaguars hit the road to take on UAB this week. (NR)|
|17. Colorado State||1-2||The Rams were unable to make it two wins in a row against Arkansas, allowing 55 feral points to run wild upon them. Colorado State has now allowed at least 50 points in both of its losses, so Toledo knows what it has to do this week to get a win. (NR)|
|16. Fresno State||0-2||Far and away the best winless team in the country now that Miami got on the board. With Sacramento State on tap this weekend, the Bulldogs won’t hold onto the title for long. Of course, after this weekend, it’s not really an encouraging title to hold. (18)|
|15. Northern Illinois||1-2||I didn’t see much of the game at all, but if you’re going to lose by 36 points, do it while finishing with eight for yourself — particularly if you’re going to get eight points without scoring a touchdown. It just looks better on your overall resume than a seven or even a 10 would. This week, the Huskies are on a bye, but a big matchup with Vandy looms in Week 5. (NR)|
|14. Georgia Tech||1-2||Webster’s defines karma as “the force generated by a person’s actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person’s next existence.” I define it as “deciding to no longer run the option and then losing to an FCS team that runs the option.” (22)|
|13. Georgia Southern||1-2||Speaking of option teams in Georgia, the Eagles find themselves here after a 35-32 loss on the road against Minnesota. The fact Southern — OR SHOULD I SAY BOTTOM? — dropped two spots in the rankings following a loss is a good sign moving forward. The Eagles will be on a bye this week, however. (11)|
|12. UTSA||1-2||The Roadrunners ran into some tanks this week, losing to Army 31-13. Their next two games are on the road starting with North Texas, so the Bottom 10 could be in their near future after climbing 11 spots this week. (23)|
|11. Buffalo||1-2||Do you think the Bulls wish Tyree Jackson would have come back for another year? Losing to Penn State wasn’t a huge deal, but I thought this team would be a lot more competitive against Liberty than it looked. (NR)|
|10. Kent State||1-2||From unranked to the Bottom 10! Haters will say the Bottom 25 has a MAC bias, but I assure you that this is just what happens when you’ve been outscored by 59 points through three games. Particularly when your lone win is a 3-point win over a (good) FCS team. (NR)|
|9. Bowling Green||1-2||From unranked to the Bottom 10 and playing No. 10 Kent State in the Bottom 25 Game of the Century of the Week! What a whirlwind! (NR)|
|8. FIU||1-2||The Panthers picked up a win against New Hampshire, but as you can see, it didn’t do much for their standing here. This week, the Panthers head west to take on Louisiana Tech. (5)|
|7. UCLA||0-3||Chip Kelly lost seven games in four seasons at Oregon. He’s lost 12 of his first 15 games at UCLA. This week, it’s a road trip to face Washington State, but the biggest game on UCLA’s schedule is a home date against Oregon State. Anything can happen, obviously, but looking at the rest of this schedule, with how UCLA has looked, if the Bruins don’t beat the Beavers, well … (13)|
|6. Rice||0-3||After looking competitive in their first two losses against Army and Wake Forest, the Owls got spanked by Texas 48-13 this weekend. I think it says more about Texas than anything. This week, the Owls get another tough Big 12 team when they host Baylor. (12)|
|5. Texas State||0-3||The Bobcats have now lost their two road games by an average of 32 points. Their lone home loss was by nine to a good Wyoming team, so maybe that bodes well for this weekend’s home game against Georgia State? (9)|
|4. Akron||0-3||I trusted Akron enough to pick it to cover the spread against Central Michigan in last week’s Six Pack, and that’s a lesson learned. The Zips lost by 21, and this week they get Troy. (7)|
|3. Vanderbilt||0-2||Vandy is one of those teams being punished for playing only two games as that butt-kicking by Georgia still carries a ton of weight. Still, it’s not as if this is entirely undeserved. They’ve only played two games, sure, but the Commodores are the only team in the country not to record a sack. This week, they have to try to sack Joe Burrow. (6)|
|2. New Mexico St.||0-3||New Mexico State falls from No. 1 to No. 2 not so much because of its performance in a 31-10 loss to San Diego State, but because of the performance of the team who passed it. This week, the Aggies go up against No. 20 New Mexico in a rivalry game for the ages. (1)|
|1. UMass||0-3||The Minutemen are now 0-3 with losses to Rutgers, Southern Illinois and Charlotte. Those losses have come by an average of 29 points per game. Now, if there’s any good news, it’s that there are a couple of fellow Bottom 25 teams on the schedule in coming weeks but there isn’t one this week. This week, it’s a date with the Coastal Carolina team that beat Kansas, and Kansas is a danged juggernaut these days. (2)|
No Longer Ranked: South Florida (3), Liberty (4), Florida Atlantic (8), West Virginia (10), Tennessee (14), Oregon State (15), Northwestern (16), Toledo (17), Arkansas (19), Louisiana Tech (24), Miami (25)
Week 3 Superlatives
As many of you know, I rank all 130 teams using a mathematical formula I created. That system is how I compile the Bottom 25, but for those of you interested in how the rest of the rankings look, you can see them all right here (it’s updated weekly after The Bottom 25 is published). I will also be sharing some weekly superlatives from the rankings here in The Bottom 25.
Highest Climber: TCU climbed 48 spots this week, all the way from No. 74 to No. 26 after beating Purdue 34-13. Yet another example of how only having played two games to this point can skew your result in either direction.
Biggest Faller: That win over Tennessee only carries so much weight, and the Panthers fell 45 spots from No. 16 to No. 61 after losing to Western Michigan 57-10. It’s hard to be 2-1 and have a point differential of -33, but that’s where the Panthers are.
Most Fraudulent Undefeated Team: This award goes to the worst 3-0 team in the country this week, and in my ratings, the honor goes to Minnesota. The Gophers are 3-0 but have won their three games by a total of 13 points, and they’re currently ranked No. 65 in my ratings. That ranking will have a lot more meaning when you read our next superlative.
Most Average Team: This award goes to the team whose score in my ratings is closest to the average score of all 130 teams. This week, it is No. 66 Marshall. Yes, that’s right, the most average team is ranked one spot below a 3-0 Minnesota team.
Best 1-Loss Team: Maryland’s loss to Temple was somewhat predictable, but my ratings still like them. The Terps fell 25 spots, yes, but they were at No. 2 last week. Now they’re at No. 27, ahead of eight 3-0 teams and one 2-0 team.