Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

When Alabama Loses, The Earth Shakes: 125 FBS Teams, Ranked

Illustration for article titled When Alabama Loses, The Earth Shakes: 125 FBS Teams, Ranked

Each week during college football season we put the conventional polls to shame by ranking every FBS team from 1-125, by whatever standard we see fit. As always, last week's rankings were not consulted.


1. FLORIDA STATE (12-0). Jameis Winston is in good standing with Tallahassee police, and Florida State's path of destruction continues unabated. Even if Winston didn't play another down, though, it's worth noting for predictive purposes that FSU has a lot more going for it than just its phenom quarterback: The Seminoles also lead the nation in scoring defense, having held 11 of 12 opponents (including blue-chip attacks from Clemson and Miami) to 17 points or less, and boast the No. 1 overall defense according to the advanced statheads at Football Outsiders. When the offense keeps the ball on the ground, it ranks in the top 10 in yards per carry and touchdowns. Obviously, Winston's ongoing presence dramatically improves the odds of closing out the run with a championship, but his (now hypothetical) absence would not have been enough to change the trajectory.

2. OHIO STATE (12-0). Not to spoil the suspense, but from this vantage point any speculation about Ohio State being ejected from the championship game in favor of the SEC champ is strictly academic. It may be a close call: In the current standings, OSU is clinging to the all-important No. 2 spot over No. 3 Auburn by just .027 points on a 1.000 scale. But it's a solid lead–the Buckeyes are in front of Auburn in both relevant human polls and five of the six computer polls–and it will be hard to justify dropping them if they pick up their best win of the season this weekend against Michigan State. (In 16 years, the only team that's fallen from No. 1 or No. 2 in the standings following a season-ending victory is USC in 2003, and the Trojans weren't undefeated.) SEC partisans who have internalized the league's superiority complex are already busy learning the Spartan fight song, just to be safe. But they might also want to follow Gary Danielson's lead and reconcile themselves to the cognitive dissonance of a title game that doesn't involve the SEC champ, before false hope reaches the point of no return.

3. AUBURN (11-1). I don't believe in destiny, or fate, or whatever brand of larger-forces-at-work mumbo jumbo is on offer here, so the fact that Auburn has beaten its two biggest rivals in ludicrous, cosmically ordained fashion in consecutive games is irrelevant re: its chances in the SEC championship game or beyond. What is relevant is its penchant for running the ball down opposing defenses' throats. On Saturday, the Tigers racked up more yards (296) and first downs (17) on the ground, on more yards per carry (5.7), than anyone has managed against Alabama since Nick Saban's third game on the job in 2007. (In the intervening 89 games, Bama had only allowed 200 yards rushing in two of them, against LSU in 2008 and 2010, and then just barely.) Almost all of those yards were generated out of the same basic option package, which forced the defense to account for Tre Mason between the tackles, Nick Marshall on the perimeter and occasionally a wide receiver as a downfield outlet, over and over. Ultimately, the No. 1 defense in the nation was burned by all of the above.


But before they did it to the Crimson Tide, they did the same thing to Texas A&M (379 yards on 6.3 per carry), Tennessee (444 on 8.4 per carry) and Georgia (323 on 5.7), just since midseason. Keep that up for four quarters, week after week, and inevitably you'll find yourself in position to win a few lotteries.

4. ALABAMA (11-1). When Alabama loses, the ground moves a little, mainly due to the implications for the national championship. But it's also because each defeat is such an epic struggle in and of itself: Its last five losses have been decided by a combined 18 points, all of them in November, the last three coming with Bama ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS standings. In four of those five, the Crimson Tide actually led entering the fourth quarter. Run defense notwithstanding, they outgained Auburn on Saturday by 102 yards of total offense, punted just twice, and didn't commit a turnover; A.J. McCarron, far from the pedestrian bank teller his reputation suggests, connected on three touchdown passes, one from 99 yards out, and had a fourth dropped.


The fact is, if Amari Cooper catches that pass in the fourth quarter, or if Cade Foster connects on either his subsequent field goal attempts, or if Saban hadn't been spooked by Foster's struggles into passing up a chip-shot kick to extend the lead to 10 points for an unsuccessful 4th-and-1 attempt from the Auburn 12-yard line, or if Alabama converts that attempt, then there is no drama, no twist, no 109-yard dagger, the earth does not move and the Crimson Tide are still rolling toward a third consecutive title, invulnerable as ever. Any one of those plays would have reinforced the status quo. (Ironically where the missed field goals and the "Kick Six" are concerned, Alabama came into the game with the best overall kicking game in the nation according to Football Outsiders, by such a wide margin that it still ranks No. 1 in special teams following the debacle. Before Saturday, Foster had made eleven kicks in a row.) Unlike the last two years–barring a meltdown to end all BCS meltdowns on Saturday night–the 2013 Tide will not have the opportunity to absolve the blemish in the BCS title game. Instead, it goes down as the one that let the dynasty slip away by waiting too late to look mortal.

5. MISSOURI (11-1). Not that Missouri is playing the underdog role this weekend against Auburn–opening lines cast Mizzou as a two-point favorite–but in some respects, its run to Atlanta is even more unlikely: While Auburn was widely expected to languish in the SEC West cellar for the second year in a row, at least it has the precedent of two conference championships and three top-10 finishes in the past decade. Missouri hasn't won an outright conference championship since 1960, in the Big Eight. More concerning from a national perspective is the fact that the Tigers have only faced one opponent currently ranked in the top 20, South Carolina, and suffered their only defeat.


6. OKLAHOMA STATE (10-1). The four-team playoff format doesn't debut until next year, but if it was in place now the best guess is Oklahoma State would be the odd team out. True, if the Cowboys beat Oklahoma this weekend they can claim a Big 12 championship and four wins over ranked opponents in their last five games, the first three having already come by double digits. But a loaded Big 12 résumé wouldn't be any more likely to get them past Alabama in the pecking order than it was in 2011, when the one-loss, SEC West runners-up were picked for the championship game over the one-loss Big 12 champs for reasons that were never clearly articulated. Would voters have snubbed the Cowboys then if the uniforms said "Oklahoma" instead of "Oklahoma State"? It's still a relevant question, particularly if Florida State and Ohio State both lose this weekend, and voters are faced with essentially the same choice. Just as in 2011, though, the Cowboys could have bypassed the speculation altogether by leaving no stone unturned.

7. BAYLOR (10-1). At stake against Texas: A school record for wins, a top-10 finish and–depending on what happens in Stillwater–at least a share of the Big 12 title. Short of the automatic bid that comes with a conference championship, though, a BCS bid looks like a pipe dream. Of the four at-large bids, conventional wisdom says three of them have already been locked up by Alabama (Orange or Sugar), Clemson (Orange), and the loser of the Big Ten title game (Rose), while the fourth can be locked up Friday night by Northern Illinois (Fiesta). Of course, the prevailing assumption behind those projections is that bowl committees are more interested in kowtowing to their partner conferences than in selecting the most compelling team or matchup, which is always a safe bet. Otherwise, we might end up with, say, Baylor's offense against Alabama's defense in the Orange Bowl, which hasn't staged a single relevant or entertaining game since it hitched its wagon to the ACC. Heaven forbid.


8. STANFORD (10-2). If Jay Jacobs or Mike Slive wants to argue that quality wins should trump losses in the BCS pecking order, Stanford will be more than happy to take them up on that argument: Among top-10 teams, the Cardinal already have more wins against the current BCS top 20 (3) and Jeff Sagarin's top 30 (5) than any other contender, and have a chance to add to both columns this weekend at Arizona State. The Pac-12 doesn't get enough credit nationally for moving to a nine-game conference schedule when certain other leagues are content to devour an extra FCS patsy instead, but in strength-of-schedule arguments it always comes out ahead.

9. ARIZONA STATE (10-2). Advanced stats and computer polls had Arizona State pegged as a burgeoning juggernaut weeks ago, an assessment the Devils have vindicated by repeatedly kicking opponents in the face over the course of a seven-game win streak. This week, ASU is up to No. 4 in Football Outsiders' F/+ ratings and No. 6 according to the BCS computers in the wake of a 58-21 stomping of Arizona, and the lizard-brain vote is quickly falling into line.


10. OREGON (10-2). The Ducks went in the opposite direction down the stretch, looking astonishingly hapless against Stanford and Arizona and not much better in a one-point escape over Oregon State. Because they're Oregon and this the Internet, the schadenfreude has followed in due measure, most of it accusing the Ducks of being all-shake/no-bake choke artists who dazzle against September cupcakes but aren't tough enough in the clutch, etc. There may be something to that: Like Alabama, November upsets have knocked Oregon from No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS standings three years in a row. (Unlike Alabama, Oregon hasn't been granted any mulligans.) Which got me wondering: If the two most bankable programs of the current decade are that vulnerable to post-Halloween lapses as the stakes mount, who doesn't spit the bit when the weather turns?


Best FBS Records in November/December* 2010-13
1. Northern Illinois (16-1)
2. Stanford (16-2)
3. Wisconsin (15-3)
4. LSU (13-3)
- South Carolina (13-3)
6. Notre Dame (12-3)
7. Ohio State (11-3)
8. Florida State (14-4)
9. Oklahoma (13-4)
10. Oregon (12-4)
*Not including bowl games

Three of those teams (Oregon, LSU, and Notre Dame) went on to play for the national championship in that span, and went 0-3 in the title game; Wisconsin is 0-3 in consecutive Rose Bowls. Who could have guessed the rock-solid concepts of "clutch" and "momentum" would have such obvious limitations?


11. MICHIGAN STATE (11-1). SEC types should have no problem rooting for Michigan State, which is not only the school where Nick Saban was reengineered into the head-coaching equivalent of Darth Vader, but continues to thrive on the most primitive form of defensively-driven, bite-and-hold drudgery found anywhere in America. As prolific as Ohio State has been offensively over the past month, in MSU the Buckeyes are running into the nation's No. 1 total defense, one that's held five of its last six opponents out of the end zone entirely. (It's been especially vicious against the run, yielding fewer yards per game and per carry than any FBS defense since 2006.) I doubt anyone needs to be reminded with a 5.5-point spread that an OSU win is far from a foregone conclusion, but assuming the Spartans can actually score touchdowns–also not a foregone conclusion against a competent defense–an 11th-hour coup would barely qualify as an upset.

12. SOUTH CAROLINA (10-2).

13. CLEMSON (10-2).

14. UCLA (9-3).

15. LSU (9-3).

16. WISCONSIN (9-3).

17. OKLAHOMA (9-2).

18. NORTHERN ILLINOIS (12-0). I hate to write this. I do. I mean, nothing against Jordan Lynch, a fine quarterback and presumably an upstanding citizen with no pending criminal investigations. But how are we supposed to react to his ascension to de facto Heisman frontrunner for the anti-Winston set as anything but a farce? Lynch is a more balanced version of Colt Brennan: Gaudy résumé, earned almost exclusively at the expense of the lowest of the low. Scroll down, and you'll find eight of NIU's opponents to date (Idaho, Kent State, Akron, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Massachusetts, and Western Michigan) among the bottom 30 on this list, compared to only one (Iowa) in the top 30. In his only opportunity against a top-shelf defense, Florida State held Lynch to career lows for rushing yards, completion percentage and overall efficiency in January's Orange Bowl, and made a point of telling reporters after the game, "he's terrible." At no point this season has he had to prove himself opposite a campaign-killing D on the order of FSU, Stanford, Oklahoma State, or Missouri, where the competition has gone to die.


Not to overstate his chances, which are still pretty distant, but if enough voters bail on Winston to allow Lynch to coast into the limelight as the least compromised QB left standing, some kind of intervention is in order. Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Johnny Manziel took the Heisman the last three years for breaking out against the likes of LSU, Oklahoma, and Alabama. Lynch's big national showcase comes Friday night against Bowling Green. We're not that desperate, are we?

19. CENTRAL FLORIDA (10-1). At least Northern Illinois is dispatching with its underwhelming schedule in convincing fashion. Not so UCF, which struggled mightily last week (again) to put away BIG AMERICA doormat South Florida, two weeks after staging a down-to-the-wire escape at Temple. Although the Knights have effectively clinched a BCS bid as conference champs, they also have wins over Memphis, Temple, and USF (combined record: 7-27) by a grand total of 13 points, after trailing in the final five minutes of all three games.


20. LOUISVILLE (10-1).

21. DUKE (10-2). You don't have to give the Devils a prayer against Florida State this weekend to acknowledge the miracle David Cutcliffe has worked at one of the hopeless, apathetic programs in the country. Even in last year's supposed breakthrough, Duke failed to beat a fellow bowl team and finished on a five-game losing streak by an average margin of 23 points. Now, not only is it bound for back-to-back bowl games for the first time ever: With Saturday's division-clinching win at North Carolina, it has as many wins in 2013 alone as Cutliffe's predecessors managed in eight full years prior to his arrival.


22. WASHINGTON (8-4). After five years in Seattle, Steve Sarkisian is the ultimate Rorschach test head coach. Given the train wreck he inherited from Ty Willingham in 2009, his track record there is admirable enough: After six consecutive losing seasons under Willingham and Keith Gilbertson, including an 0-12 debacle in 2008, Washington has turned in a winning record each of the last four years under Sarkisian and spent the first seven weeks of this season ranked in the top twenty. (Given the rigors of a nine-game conference schedule, there's a strong case to be made that the Huskies should still be there.) Sark vastly upgraded the talent level relative to the rest of the Pac-12 and leaves the program in vastly better shape than he found it...

23. USC (9-4). On the other hand, Trojan fans look at their new coach and see Lane Kiffin redux: While Sarkisian doesn't come with the PR baggage Kiffin did, both made their name as hot-shot young assistants under Pete Carroll, and Sark didn't come any closer to winning a championship at Washington–the dominant program on the West Coast throughout the '80s and '90s–than Kiffin did at USC or either of his previous stops in Oakland and Tennessee. In fact, relative to the reigning powers-that-be in the North Division, Oregon, and Stanford, the Huskies are just as far behind the curve after year five under Sarkisian as they were after year two. It's telling that the stiffest competition for one of the most coveted gigs in sports came from another former Carroll-era assistant, Ed Orgeron, whose link to the halcyon days carried as much weight as his 6-2 record in the interim role. The future here is still defined by how successfully it recreates the past.


24. GEORGIA (8-4). The Bulldogs' leading receiver, Chris Conley, is a Star Wars fanatic who shows up to basketball games dressed as a Jedi and is reportedly planning to film a large-scale lightsaber duel on the UGA campus, "just for fun." If there's ever a flag football tournament at Comic Con that motherfucker is going to dominate.

25. TEXAS (8-3). The standing assumption around Austin still holds that Mack Brown is a goner, even if the end comes as a "personal decision" to step down, and the dumbass rumors about his successor keep coming at a furious pace. Meanwhile, the Longhorns just played their best game of the season in a 41-16 blowout over Texas Tech and are getting ready to play for the Big 12 championship this weekend at Baylor. (A win clinches a share of the title; a win and an Oklahoma State loss gives it to Texas outright.) Is this town so hungry for a change even the prospect of a BCS game can't stop the vultures from circling?


26. TEXAS A&M (8-4). Coming off the worst performance of his career at LSU, Johnny Manziel struggled again Saturday at Missouri, turning in a career-low for total offense (216 yards) in a full start and accounting for a single touchdown in a 28-21 loss. Although they're still clinging to the bottom of both major polls, the Aggies sputtered to the finish line looking like a team out of gas: After putting up at least 40 points in each of the first ten games–including 42 against Alabama–the offense managed a grand total of 31 in Baton Rouge and Columbia, and finishes 0-4 against ranked opponents. If Manziel decides his campus days are over, A&M's window as a bankable SEC contender may be, as well.

27. NOTRE DAME (8-4).

28. MIAMI (9-3).

29. IOWA (8-4).

30. BYU (8-4).

31. FRESNO STATE (10-1). Derek Carr is leading the nation in total offense by a full 50 yards per game over Johnny Manziel, but still dropped from the Heisman radar last week after passing for 519 yards, six touchdowns and a 198.8 efficiency rating in a 62-52 loss at San Jose State. Perfectly understandable, given that most voters were only considering for him for his defense, anyway.


32. ARIZONA (7-5).

33. VIRGINIA TECH (8-4).

34. GEORGIA TECH (7-5).

35. OLE MISS (7-5).

36. VANDERBILT (8-4).

37. CINCINNATI (9-2).

38. HOUSTON (8-4).

39. MINNESOTA (8-4).

40. NEBRASKA (8-4). If you behaved at your job the way Bo Pelini behaved at his job during the Cornhuskers' loss to Iowa, would you still have that job? If you angrily mouthed off to a reporter on camera and nearly came to blows with, say, a local health inspector–also on camera–and then publicly dared your bosses to fire you in the span of a few hours, what would their reaction be? What if you had previously been reprimanded for similar outbursts, and were on record saying "fuck the customers" while your actual production showed diminishing returns? Unlike you, Bo Pelini is a 45-year-old multimillionaire who serves as the most visible ambassador not only of a major university, but arguably of an entire state.* As it stands, the brother who was just fired for using illegal drugs is carrying himself with more dignity.


(*Pelini may rank behind Warren Buffett and Larry the Cable Guy in the national consciousness, but they don't go to work on national television with "Nebraska" emblazoned on their shirts.)


41. MICHIGAN (7-5).

42. PENN STATE (7-5).

43. KANSAS STATE (7-5).



46. OREGON STATE (6-6).

47. UTAH (5-7).

48. BOISE STATE (8-4).

49. UTAH STATE (8-4).

50. BOWLING GREEN (9-3).

51. BALL STATE (10-2).

52. MARSHALL (9-3). The Thundering Herd have quietly put together their best season since the prolific Pennington/Leftwich teams around the turn of the century, capped last week by a 59-28 rout over East Carolina. But they still have to go on the road for this weekend's Conference USA championship game, thanks to an obscure C-USA rule that defers to the BCS standings to break ties for home-field advantage. Or, you know, something like that: Since neither Marshall nor its opponent, Rice, is actually ranked in the BCS standings, the league turned instead to analyst Jerry Palm to independently extrapolate the rankings to cover the two teams in question, using a method that Palm admits "doesn't match the formula I use for my ratings on, which serve a different purpose." I suppose that beats issuing a press release that reads "¯\_(ツ)_/¯," but not by much.


53. EAST CAROLINA (9-3).

54. RICE (9-3).

55. NORTH TEXAS (8-4).

56. TEXAS TECH (7-5). Further up we covered a handful of teams that have been at their best the best down the stretch. Texas Tech, on the other hand, is the worst: Over the past three years, the Raiders are 1-11 in the month of November, the lone victory coming in overtime against a Big 12 doormat, Kansas. (This year, they finished 0-4 by an average margin of 24 points per game.) What's worse, in each of those seasons Tech actually entered the final month ranked in the top 25, with an early win over a ranked conference opponent under its belt all three years.


57. NAVY (7-4).



60. PITTSBURGH (6-6). Back in August, I summed up my attitude toward Pitt thusly: "What is there to say about a team that's finished three consecutive seasons in the BBVA Compass Bowl under three different head coaches? The Panthers are so terminally middle-of-the-road they'd be easier to respect if they were just terrible." Switch up the bottom-rung bowl games, and that shit is evergreen.


61. SYRACUSE (6-6).

62. MARYLAND (7-5).

63. LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (8-3). The Ragin' Cajuns are this week's occupants of the CRATER OF MEDIOCRITY, the depressing hole in the dead center of the rankings, although they're actually pretty jazzed over a) A first-place finish in the Sun Belt, their first outright conference championship since claiming the Gulf States Conference crown in 1970, and b) An impending return to the New Orleans Bowl, their third in as many years under coach Mark Hudspeth. Their opponent in the Superdome: Tulane, ending a 33-year run in the Dome before moving into a brand-new, on-campus stadium next year. The only thing that could improve that move is if they commemorated it by bringing back the old Tulane Stadium mummies.


64. TOLEDO (7-5).

65. BUFFALO (8-4).

66. TENNESSEE (5-7).

67. INDIANA (5-7).


69. FLORIDA (4-8). Adhering to the ancient strictures of the ritual staff purge, Florida moved quickly Sunday to announce the termination of its offensive coordinator, Brent Pease, whose offense generated fewer yards and points per game this season than any attack in the SEC. In his defense, Pease was working for most of the season without his starting quarterback, his top tailback, his most experienced receiver, and his starting left tackle, all victims of season-ending injuries before midseason; by the end, he was forced to start a pedestrian third-stringer at quarterback after the top backup was injured, too. At that point, though, Florida was already well into a seven-game losing streak that covered the final two months of the season, in which time the Gators failed to top 20 points in any game. As usual, a round of premeditated pink slips among the staff (offensive line coach Tim Davis was also given the boot) ultimately says less about the guys being let go than it does about the guy who stays–in this case, head coach Will Muschamp, who has just overseen consecutive losses to Georgia, Vanderbilt, Georgia Southern, and Florida State en route to Florida's first losing season since 1979. Ritual sacrifices of this variety will only appease the base until opening kickoff next September, at which point Muschamp is out of scapegoats.




72. TULANE (7-5).


74. UNLV (7-5).

75. SAN DIEGO STATE (7-5).

76. SAN JOSE STATE (6-6).


78. TCU (4-8). It wasn't a full-on Pelini rage session, but Gary Patterson pulled no punches Saturday in his post-game criticism of Baylor coach Art Briles, specifically over Baylor's failure to remove safety Ahmad Dixon ("Number 6") from the sideline following his ejection for an illegal hit on TCU's Trevone Boykin. Instead, Patterson said he was informed by his coaches in the booth that Dixon was caught by TV cameras laughing on the sideline after the penalty, and Patterson had to ask officials to send him to the locker room himself.

He may be right about Dixon, but that's the portrait of a coach who's just finished his first losing season in a decade.


79. WEST VIRGINIA (4-8).

80. ILLINOIS (4-8).

81. COLORADO (4-8).

82. OHIO (7-5).

83. RUTGERS (5-6).

84. SMU (5-6).

85. WAKE FOREST (4-8). Jim Grobe has moved a few mountains in his day–here is a coach whose résumé boasts a conference championship and a three-year winning streak over Florida State, at Wake Forest–but after 13 years the Demon Deacons are stagnating at the bottom of the ACC and Grobe is hanging it up while he still has the choice. Unlike many "retirements," this one actually does seem to be his decision, because who is Wake going to hire to do any better? With 77 wins in Winston-Salem, Grobe is tied with D.C. "Peahead" Walker for the school record, and leaves with the highest winning percentage (.484) of any Wake Forest coach since Peahead's exit in 1950.


86. IOWA STATE (3-9).

87. ARKANSAS (3-9).


89. TROY (6-6).

90. SOUTH ALABAMA (5-6).


92. TEXAS STATE (6-6).


94. NEVADA (4-8).

95. WYOMING (5-7). The first head coach to get the axe on the heels of a disappointing finish was Wyoming's Dave Christensen, fired Sunday after five mostly unremarkable seasons in Casper. Despite his middling record, the indisputable low point of Casper's tenure came at the end of a 2012 loss to Air Force, when Christensen went viral for unleashing a ridiculous, profanity-laced tirade against academy head coach Troy Calhoun on "Military Appreciation Night," for reasons no one was quite able to grasp. (Lowlights included referring to Calhoun as "Mr. Fucking Howdy Doody" and "fly boy.") The Cowboys finished this season 5-7 with five losses in their last six, including lopsided routs at the hands of Colorado State, Fresno State, Boise State and Utah State.



97. AKRON (5-7). Akron came in dead last in this space in the preseason, so credit where it's due: Not only did the Zips snap a 16-game MAC losing streak, but with four wins in their last five, they finished with more conference wins in November alone (4) than in their previous four years combined. (Not to mention the part where they came within two yards of upsetting Michigan as a 37-point underdog in Ann Arbor, which would have qualified them for a bowl game.) Don't expect to hear Fat Terry Bowden's name floated for any major coaching vacancies this winter, but in context, a top-100 finish here is an unheralded masterstroke.


98. KENT STATE (4-8).

99. VIRGINIA (2-10).

100. N.C. STATE (3-9).

101. KANSAS (3-9).

102. KENTUCKY (2-10). Saturday's loss at Tennessee leaves Kentucky as the only FBS school that has failed to win a conference game two years in a row. Usually, this is where I would reflexively write "on the bright side" and follow with something positive, but other than the standard line about how nobody in Kentucky gives a fuck during basketball season, I got nothing. On average, SEC opponents outgained the Wildcats by 191 yards per game.


103. CALIFORNIA (1-11). The university just sold the naming rights to the field at Memorial Stadium for $18 million to a video-game company called Kabam, maker of titles such as "Kingdoms of Camelot" and "The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age." Don't think of it as selling out: They're just looking for the corporate brand that best embodies the state of Cal football.

104. TULSA (3-9).

105. LOUISIANA TECH (4-8).

106. MEMPHIS (3-8).

107. SOUTH FLORIDA (2-9).

108. CONNECTICUT (2-9).

109. TEMPLE (2-10).

110. PURDUE (1-11).

111. NEW MEXICO (3-9).

112. HAWAII (1-11). After a string of near-misses, the Rainbow Warriors finally broke through Saturday against Army, leading the Black Knights from start to finish in a 49-42 shootout. Of Hawaii's 11 losses this year, five came by a touchdown or less, three in overtime.


113. AIR FORCE (2-10).

114. ARMY (3-8).

115. UTEP (2-10).

116. UAB (2-10).

117. NEW MEXICO STATE (2-10).



120. MASSACHUSETTS (1-11).

121. IDAHO (1-11).


123. SOUTHERN MISS (1-11). As of last week, an 0-12 finish seemed so inevitable that this space went beyond declaring Southern Miss the worst team of 2013–after lopsided defeats at the hands of Louisiana Tech, Florida Atlantic, and Middle Tennessee State, that much was indisputable–and officially inaugurated the chase for Northwestern's all-time record for consecutive losses in 2014. In the meantime, the Golden Eagles scored more points Saturday in the third quarter alone (28) than they'd scored in any game this season en route to an out-of-nowhere, 62-27 blowout of UAB. By next fall, the same fans who fretted over the program falling on such hard times it eventually lost FBS status will have convinced themselves beating UAB is the first step in a surprise BCS run. Feels good to be a winner.


124. GEORGIA STATE (0-12).

125. MIAMI, OHIO (0-12). We could be here all day recounting lowlights, beginning with the most anemic, lowest-scoring FBS offense since 2006. But you know what? This week the RedHawks have a new head coach, freshly arrived from Notre Dame, and they're moving forward with this smoldering funeral pyre of a season growing more distant by the hour. Let us not speak ill of the dead.


Matt Hinton writes about college football for Football Outsiders and SB Nation's Football Study Hall. Follow on Twitter, @MattRHinton.