2011 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Hot ... Week 4
Who’s Not ...
10. New Mexico
Welcome to rock bottom, Lobos. After opening with anticipated losses to Colorado State, Arkansas and Texas Tech, New Mexico figured it could celebrate at the expense of Sam Houston State, right? Uh-uh. The program dropped a heartbreaker in overtime, 48-45, giving up more than 500 yards to the Bearkats. Losers of 30 of their last 32 games, the Lobos are mired in a historically bad funk that’ll likely cost third-year head coach Mike Locksley his job sooner than later.
9. UCF Special Teams
Subpar in the first three games, the Knights special teams started to cost the team games on Friday night. Leading BYU 17-10 late in the third quarter, UCF allowed the final 14 points for a 24-17 loss. Cody Hoffman tied things up on the Cougars’ first kickoff return for a touchdown in 13 years, and for the second straight week, the winning touchdown was set up by a muffed punt from a Knights player.
8. Oregon State
Even the much-anticipated returns from injury of WR James Rodgers and H-back Joe Halahuni couldn’t spark the Beavers, which will end September winless. In a do-or-die game for both schools, Oregon State fell to UCLA in Corvallis, 27-19, increasing the likelihood that it’ll pull up the rear in the Pac-12, and miss the postseason for a second straight season.
Head coach Jerry Kill will turn around the Gophers in time, but it certainly won’t be an overnight transformation. Over the last three weeks, Minnesota has fallen in front of the home crowd to New Mexico State and North Dakota State. Now, the Bison is a terrific FCS program, but it’s never cool when a Big Ten team falls to a visitor from the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
6. NC State
With just a few more games against FCS teams, the Pack would have no worries. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way when you’re a member of the ACC. NC State has easily handled Liberty and South Alabama, but lost to Wake Forest and Cincinnati. The Thursday night game in the Queen City was a 44-14 debacle that saw the Pack yield six sacks, and finish the 60-minute nightmare with -26 yards on the ground.
New head coach Kevin Wilson must be wondering what it’ll take to get his old job back as an assistant on the staff of top-ranked Oklahoma. Sure, the Hoosiers are always rebuilding, but losing to Ball State and North Texas in the same month is shockingly feeble. In Denton Saturday evening, IU fell to a previously winless Mean Green squad that’s considered inept even by Sun Belt Conference standards.
4. Florida State
Yeah, the Seminoles’ back-to-back losses were to the nation’s top-ranked team and a surging Clemson squad, but their decline has still been a precipitous one. Just nine days ago, this was a program considered to be a darkhorse for the 2011 BCS National Championship. Today, Florida State is going to need help just to cop the Atlantic Division of the ACC. It’s a solid team, but one that has some soul-searching to do before returning to action on Oct. 8.
3. The Pittsburgh O-line
Is it any wonder that the Panthers offense is sputtering, or that QB Tino Sunseri is on the hot seat? Pitt has been, well, pitiful in the trenches, ranking 119th nationally in sacks allowed. Notre Dame got to the quarterback six times during Saturday afternoon’s 15-12, which matched Maine’s production versus the feeble Panthers front wall earlier in the month.
2. South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
The senior is in hot water again, and not for any off-field missteps. After struggling all night to solve an underrated Vanderbilt defensive backfield that picked him off four times, he’s now thrown three touchdown passes in 2011 to seven interceptions. Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier has traditionally had a quick hook with his quarterbacks, which could create an opportunity for backup Connor Shaw to regain the starting job he held in the opener.
1. Arizona Head Coach Mike Stoops
Stoops has never gotten the Wildcats over the hump in Tucson. At this rate, he never will. The coach moved to seven games under .500 for his career after Arizona got thumped by Oregon for its third loss in-a-row. Now, to be fair, the ‘Cats haven’t lost to any patsies in 2011, but it’s now dropped eight straight to FBS schools dating back to last November … by an average margin of 18 points. Stoops simply can’t survive this level of futility much longer.
Who's Hot ... Week 4