The Bottom Ten/NCAA Week 7
By Gaylon Kent
America’s Funniest Guy
In these uncertain times, it’s nice to be able to count on the stability of the Bottom Ten medal stand as Rice and New Mexico retained the top two (2) spots. In fact, the only reason Akron was left off was because Akron didn’t play, enjoying a bye week to rest up for the minefield that will the remainder of Mid-American Conference (MAC) action.
Elsewhere in the chase for the ESPNCup – symbolic of Bottom Ten ineptitude – it’s another Bottom Ten showdown game this week as UNLV visits Vanderbilt in a must-lose game for both teams.
This week’s mess:
1. Rice (0-6; lost to UAB 35-20)
Mitigating Factors: Owls remain team to beat – literally – in race for ESPNCup with sixth straight loss…Owls rebound from tenuous one-point halftime deficit with three second-half turnovers…Owls 0-6 for sixth time ever, fourth time this century. first time since 2016 and oh, hell, you get the idea.
FunFact: Chick tennis player, dirty old man leering at her, lead pic on official Owl athletic website, as football team urged to look into seeing if RiceOwls2019BottomTenChamps.com might not be available.
Next Loss: at UTSA
2. New Mexico State (0-6; lost to Liberty 20-13)
Mitigating Factors: Aggies never lead in this one, of course, but fan(s) eyeing first B-10 title get jittery when Aggies tie it 13-13 midway through fourth quarter…Fan(s) mind(s) eased though, as defense gives lead back on smart, efficient four-play drive…Throw out 55-52 loss to New Mexico in “anything goes” rivalry game and Aggies are losing games by impressive 40.2-to-11.4 score.
FunFact: Current eight (8)-game skid best since iconic 2014-15 squads tag-teamed for 17-game skid, which was the longest 2012-13 squads lost 18 straight.
Next Loss: at Central Michigan
3. Northern Illinois (1-4; lost to Ball State 27-20)
Mitigating Factors: Huskies get test drive B-10 medal stand for first time in 2019, as Akron takes week off…B-10 pollsters “pretty sure” Huskies, defending MAC champions, can become MAC’s first worst-to-first team “in, like, a while and stuff”…Coaching staff giving offensive line extra holding, clipping drills in order to get penalty yard average up above rushing yard average.
FunFact: Northern Illinois current leaders in race for Poillster’s Cup – issued to B-10 team with worst all-around fall sports program – as football team, both soccer teams and up-and-coming chick volleyball squad have combined for 12-31-2 mark so far in 2019.
Next Loss: at Ohio
4. Shorter (0-5; lost to West Georgia 44-34)
Mitigating Factors: Division II Hawks continue to soar, retaining Continental Cup – issued to team with longest all-division losing streak in NATO – with 44th straight loss…Hawks playing with fire, as offense screws up and scores on first three (3) possessions before stemming tide with punt, interception to end first half…Defense stout, though, giving up scores on eight (8) of last (9) possessions.
Movin’ On Up: Shorter now ranks third on all-time Division II list for most consecutive losses, trailing only Minnesota-Morris (46) and former Continental Cup holders Lock Haven (52)
Next Loss: at West Alabama
5. UConn (1-6; lost to South Florida 48-22)
Mitigating Factors: Unusually perky offense produces three (3) touchdowns, but shows mettle expected of defending B-10 champions with eight (8) drives of five (5) or fewer (fewer) plays…Huskies with one of easiest remaining schedules amongst teams chasing B-10 glory, as remaining opponents have won 58% of their games with only possible win coming 10/26 at UMess.
FunFact: B-10 pollsters “pretty sure” UConn only school whose chick basketball team has more national championships (11) overall than football team has wins (9) in last four years
Next Loss: at Tulane
6. Mid-American Conference
Mitigating Factors: Blowout losses to national powers???…Check…Eight (8) teams with losing records???…Check…Another coveted B-10 Conference of the Week award???…Check and double-check…MAC humming on all cylinders in pursuit of B-10 Conference of the Year award, though veteran B-10 watcher(s) know you count out Conference USA at your peril.
Check This Out: Despite non-conference misfortunes, MAC rebounds for strong .500 conference play mark.
7. UMess (1-5; lost to Florida International 44-0)
Mitigating Factors: Like kids at Christmas, UMess players excited about starting brand new losing streak following win over Akron with blowout loss to former B-10 stalwarts…UMess “defense” couldn’t stop B-10 pollsters screen pass, ranking Next-To-Dead-Last in Total Defense (532 ypg).
FunFact: Florida International fans, remembering when their team was B-10 darlings, wish Minutemen “bon voyage” for B-10 title chase, weeping and waving fondly to UMess players as they left the field.
Next Loss: at Louisiana Tech
8. UNLV (1-4; lost to Boise State 38-13)
Mitigating Factors: Rebels never in this one, busting out to 24-0 deficit and punting on eight (8) of first nine (9) possessions…Following opening win against lower-level school, Rebels putting it all together as closest loss has been 16-point squeaker to Northwestern…Rebels another team that could benefit from having basketball player return punts by catching ball and falling forward, averaging 5 feet, 8 inches per punt return
FunFact: Though Rebels need help to land on B-10 medal stand, UNLV can still earn no worse than share of Tostitos Plaque – issued to team with longest losing streak in a season that actually includes a win -by losing out.
Next Loss: at Vanderbilt
9. Vanderbilt (1-4; lost to Ole Miss 31-6)
Mitigating Factors: Only down four (4) at halftime, Commodore offense says “screw it” in second half, punting on first seven (7) possessions…Vanderbilt still reeling from turn-of-century merger of Athletic, Student Affairs departments as cheerleaders, linebackers swap roles leading to linebacking corps weighing 135 pounds as remaining cheerleaders decimated from trying to catch 250-pound linebackers after tossing them in air.
FunFact: Commodores hoping to benefit from strength of schedule points later in season as only win came against Northern Illinois.
Next Loss: UNLV
10. Air Force (3-2; lost to Navy 34-25)
Mitigating Factors: Service academies – always prime B-10 fodder – actually not too bad this year as Air Force only ranked as loss to Navy gives them early nod in chase to earn Sgt Bilko Trophy – symbolic of service academy lousiness.
FunFact: Loss blamed on confusion caused by pregame ruling by Air Force secretary requiring Falcons to end all audibles by yelling “shiver me timbers” in hopes of scaring Midshipmen into submission.
Next Loss: Fresno State
This Week’s Clash of the Titans: UNLV at Vanderbilt
MAC Thriller of the Week: Kent State at Akron
The Eyes of Texas Aren’t Upon You: Rice at Texas-San Antonio