2011 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Hot ... Week 7
Who's Not ...
10. The Air Force Defense
The Academy does a heroic job of defending what matters most; opposing offenses, though, would not be included on that list this year. The Falcons D, believed to be a potential strength before the season started, has become unraveled in recent weeks. They've been tagged for at least 34 points in all four games against FBS opponents, including 59 to Notre Dame two weeks ago and 41 in Thursday night's loss to visiting San Diego State.
What has happened to the perennial Sun Belt Conference heavyweight? The Trojans, who began the year as the heavy favorite to win at least a share of a sixth straight title, has dropped two straight to the league's Louisiana twins from Monroe and Lafayette. An even bigger head-scratcher has been the play of a sputtering offense, which has produced only 27 points in the two losses, and has been ineffective at establishing the ground game.
8. The Pittsburgh Offense
Well, apparently the Panthers' 44-17 steamroll of South Florida a little over two weeks ago was just a fluke. Since that Thursday night game, Pitt has reverted back to its early season form, producing less than 300 yards in consecutive losses to Rutgers and Utah. Saturday's home loss to the Utes was rock bottom … at least that's the hope in Western Pennsylvania; the Panthers generated just 120 total yards, including 50 through the air, and watched their overwhelmed quarterbacks get sacked seven times.
7. Big East Offenses
Pittsburgh wasn't alone in its futility in Week 7. Connecticut and South Florida participated in a 16-10 game that featured just one touchdown and six turnovers. Louisville failed to reach the end zone in its 25-16 loss to Cincinnati. And Rutgers was the first team in a month to be held in check by Navy. If you pieced together a Big East all-star team, it still would have a hard time outscoring some of the better programs from the Big 12 or the Pac-12.
6. Ole Miss Head Coach Houston Nutt
The nuggets of negativity are beginning to pile up around the feet of Nutt, whose fourth season in Oxford has gone from bad to worse. This past weekend's 52-7 loss to Alabama, the eighth straight in the series, was Mississippi's worst since 1981. It also marked the most points scored by the Tide in an SEC game in 21 years. Arkansas, Auburn and LSU remain on the schedule for the 2-4 Rebels, begging the question of whether or not Nutt can survive a second straight losing season at this University.
The Bears are getting a reality check after starting quickly against lesser competition. What else is new? Losers of three straight Pac-12 games, Cal is in the midst of its annual free-fall under embattled head coach Jeff Tedford. The school was throttled at home by USC on Thursday night, 30-9, its eighth consecutive defeat at the hands of the Trojans.
4. The Florida Offense
You know the situation is bad when folks start to miss John Brantley. Yes, injuries have forced the Gators to remove the training wheels on Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, but 27 points over the last three games is still a bitter pill to swallow in Gainesville. Florida was kept out of the end zone against a subpar Auburn defense this past weekend, while generating just 194 total yards of offense. The coaches hope to have Brantley back from his ankle injury in time for the Georgia game two weeks from now.
3. The Georgia Tech Offense
The Yellow Jackets are unstoppable no longer. Since peaking with a 66-point explosion in Week 3, Tech has steadily declined. The program has produced just 21 points in each of the last two games; the modest output nearly cost it a game versus Maryland, and did on Saturday versus Virginia. The Jackets were held below their season average on the ground, and have lost their element of surprise from QB Tevin Washington and the passing game.
2. Arizona State (versus top 10 teams)
The Sun Devils had Oregon backed into a corner late Saturday night. Not only did they grab a third quarter lead, but Ducks QB Darron Thomas had to leave the game with a left leg injury. The party was over at Autzen, right? Nope. Oregon scored 20 of the game's final 23 points, all with backup QB Bryan Bennett behind center, to capture the victory. For Arizona State, it was a colossal lost opportunity, and its 16th consecutive loss to a team ranked in the top 10.
1. The SEC East
Someone is going to be crowned SEC East champ, or sacrificial lamb, as it were. The gap between the East and the West has never been wider, with the latter boasting three top 10 members, and the former having none. Just this past weekend alone, Tennessee was crushed by LSU, 38-7, Florida fell meekly to Auburn, 17-6, and South Carolina barely escaped Mississippi State, which calls the West cellar home. Georgia and South Carolina are the only two East squads with no more than two losses, but the Dawgs are living off the weak portion of the schedule, and the Gamecocks are running on fumes. If the West winner doesn't wind up as the SEC champ, it'll go down as the biggest upset of 2011.
Who's Hot ... Week 7