2011 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Hot ... Week 8
Who’s Not ...
Quietly, the Knights have been one of the nation’s biggest disappointments of 2011. The favorite to repeat as Conference USA champion has now dropped four of the last five games to slip below the .500 mark. UCF reached a new low on Thursday night, becoming UAB’s first victim of the year. The Jeff Godfrey-led offense has produced just three touchdown passes in seven games, and the once-impenetrable D has been ordinary the last two weeks.
9. The Service Academies
With a little over a month left in the regular season, not one of the nation’s three service academies is above .500. Heck, even VMI out of the FCS is sputtering at 1-6. Air Force, considered in the preseason to be the best of the trio, put up a good fight at Boise State, but dropped its third straight game. Navy has lost five in a row, including as a favorite on Saturday to East Carolina. Army is 2-5, falling meekly to Vanderbilt this past weekend. Is it possible that the Falcons, Midshipmen and Black Knights will all fail to become bowl-eligible in 2011?
It was a bad week all-around for the Hoosiers and rookie head coach Kevin Wilson. On Saturday, they were outclassed by Iowa, 45-24, falling to 0-7 against FBS opponents. Of greater long-term importance, Columbus East (Ind.) High School QB Gunner Kiel backed off his commitment to Indiana earlier in the week. The five-star pocket passer represented hope for the future in Bloomington, but now that he’s rebooting the recruiting process, it’s just a matter of time before he comes to his senses, and goes in a different direction, such as Notre Dame, Alabama or Oklahoma.
7. The Utah Offense
How valuable is QB Jordan Wynn to this program? Ever since he was injured on Oct. 1 against Washington, the offense has careened out of control. Former junior college transfer Jon Hays has not been the answer behind center, throwing seven interceptions this month, including three in a hideous overall performance against Cal on Saturday. The Utes have now sunk to the Pac-12 cellar in total offense, generating more than 322 total yards just once all year.
What a disappointment. Yes, injuries have played a factor in Columbia, but by this time of year, just about everyone has suffered at least a handful of physical setbacks. Pegged as a possible landmine game for opponents every other week, it’s the Tigers who are getting blown up. The one-time Big 12 sleeper has now fallen below .500 after getting spanked by visiting Oklahoma State, 45-24. Mizzou has had four opportunities to make a statement this fall, and flopped each time.
What the heck has happened to the Illini offense over the last two weekends? The attack that was so potent behind QB Nathan Scheelhaase earlier in the season has gone into hiding this month. A week ago, Illinois managed just seven points en route to its first loss of 2011. This past Saturday, it was blanked for the first 52 minutes by DT Kawann Short and the rest of Purdue in a 21-14 loss in West Lafayette. Back-to-back losses have torpedoed earlier dreams of a Leaders Division crown.
Four SEC teams have yet to win a conference game this season. The Volunteers are one of them. Since Sept. 10, the program has won just a single game, beating Buffalo on Oct. 1. And since losing QB Tyler Bray to a broken thumb three weeks ago, Tennessee has failed to produce a touchdown pass, while averaging eight points a game in losses to Georgia, LSU and Alabama. Although UT has a soft enough schedule to earn a middling bowl invite, Derek Dooley has been unable to move the program forward in his second year in Knoxville.
3. The Big East
At least the conference was able to point to West Virginia as a possible banner-holder and Top 25 member. Not any longer. The Mountaineers were thumped by Syracuse on Friday night, 49-23, at the same time league-leading Rutgers was sputtering in Louisville. Parity is not a good thing when everyone is mediocre. Unless the new flavor of the week, Cincinnati, can run the table, the Big East might be sending an unranked team to a BCS bowl game in two months.
2. Life After Cam on the Plains
Everyone knew Auburn wasn’t going to get better in the first year without Cam Newton at the controls. Few, however, thought the offense would be this disoriented. The Tigers have used three different passers, with the same miserable results each time. After getting handled by LSU, 45-10, Auburn has now gone four consecutive games without scoring more than 17 points, losing two of them. Quarterbacks Barrett Trotter, Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier have been a bigger part of the problem than the solution, throwing two touchdowns and four picks over that time.
1. The Future of Rick Neuheisel
Just dismiss whatever rumors or speculation swirls around about the job status of the UCLA head coach over the next few weeks. The end game is that under no circumstances can AD Dan Guerrero bring sel back for a fifth year in 2012. As if the 18-26 career mark isn’t disturbing enough, the coach’s Bruins were embarrassed on national TV Thursday night by Arizona, 48-12. You know, the same 1-5 Wildcats squad that canned its head man Mike Stoops a little more than a week earlier. The situation in Westwood just isn’t going to get better until there’s yet another shake-up at the top.
Who's Hot ... Week 8