2011 Who's Hot & Not
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Who's Hot ... Week 11
Who’s Not ...
Bob Toledo might be the happiest ex-coach on the planet for being relieved of his duties pertaining to this mess. Since displaying a pulse against UAB on Sept. 17, the Green Wave has lost eight straight games, barely showing up since the administration fired its coach on Oct. 18. Tulane reached a new low last week, bowing meekly to Houston in front of a sparsely populated Superdome crowd, 73-17.
The Orange has been a microcosm for the team that’s unable to handle prosperity. Since shocking West Virginia, 49-23, on Oct. 21, and appearing to be a Big East contender, the program has flopped in three consecutive losses. The latest, a 37-17 defeat at the hands of reeling South Florida, could leave Syracuse on the outside of the bowl picture. Its defense got dressed by usually inconsistent QB B.J. Daniels, and the offense produced just one touchdown in five red zone chances.
8. The Illinois Offense
On Oct. 8, the Illini scored 41 points against Indiana, getting three touchdown passes from Nathan Scheelhaase, and 308 balanced yards on the ground. Since that point, the school has produced a grand total of 42 points over the last four games, all losses. Scheelhaase and the backs are still in the backfield, but Illinois has been unable to execute or protect the ball as it coughs and wheezes its way to the finish line. It’ll be interesting to see the impact on head coach Ron Zook if the program finishes 0-for-the second half of the year.
7. Georgia Tech (when opponents have time to prepare)
It’s never easy getting ready for Paul Johnson’s triple-option, but the task becomes a little more manageable when there’s an extra week to prepare. On Oct. 15, Virginia came out of its bye week by stuffing the Yellow Jackets, and handing them their first loss of the season. And then this past Thursday night, Virginia Tech used its week off wisely, holding Georgia Tech 85 yards below its season average on the ground in a 37-26 victory. It also allowed five sacks, an enormous number for a ground-based attack that only threw the ball 11 times in the game.
6. Wake Forest (after the third quarter)
Hey, if games only lasted 45 minutes, the Demon Deacons might be bucking for a spot in the top 10 with a couple of weeks remaining. No such luck. They’ve been outscored 103-37 after the third quarter this fall, blowing second-half leads against Syracuse, Notre Dame and Clemson this past Saturday. The latter was a particular heartbreaker that Wake Forest led 28-14 toward the end of the third quarter, and could have parlayed into an Atlantic Division title.
5. Arizona State
It’s official. No one wants to win the Pac-12 South, a division USC would capture if it wasn’t ineligible. A few hours after front-running UCLA lost to Utah, 31-6, the Sun Devils failed to take advantage of their good fortune in the Palouse. Unable to hold on to a fourth-quarter lead—or slow down redshirt freshman QB Connor Halliday—Arizona State lost for the second straight game, and third time in the last four weeks. Seeing the first significant action of his career, Halliday picked apart the ASU secondary for 494 yards and four touchdowns on 27-of-36 passing.
Yeah, it’s understood that this isn’t the same team without starting QB Tyler Bray, but still … 4-6 and wins over just Montana, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Middle Tennessee? Unacceptable. After getting thoroughly embarrassed by Arkansas over the weekend, the Volunteers are winless in SEC games, needing to beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky just to qualify for a second-rate bowl game. Your leash is getting considerably shorter, Derek Dooley, making 2012 absolutely essential for the embattled head coach.
3. Washington (versus the Pac-12 elite)
It comes as no coincidence that this season has unraveled for the Huskies as the competition has become stiffer. They were 5-1 and ranked in the middle of October, when the bottom fell out. U-Dub has been a dud in the face of the Pac-12’s three top programs, falling to Stanford, Oregon and USC by a combined score of 139-55. Even the once-prolific offense is sputtering, the product of a mealy offensive line that was whipped for 15 combined sacks by the Cardinal, Ducks and Trojans.
2. Oklahoma State’s Critics
The number of folks doubting the Cowboys as legitimate National Championship contenders dwindled considerably Saturday afternoon. In a game billed as a possible bear trap in Lubbock, Oklahoma State treated Texas Tech like a piñata in a 66-6 obliteration. The defense delivered its tightest effort of the season, and the Brandon Weeden-led attack might have scored 90 had it not pulled back in the name of sportsmanship at the end of the third quarter. OSU is heating up at the right time, looking like a bona fide threat to do more than just show up in New Orleans on Jan. 9.
1. Penn State
By every imaginable measurement, this was the worst week in the storied history of Penn State football. Its reputation has been besmirched irreparably, its legendary head coach has been dismissed unceremoniously and its tight-knit community has been torn apart at the seams by the scandal involving former defensive assistant Jerry Sandusky. Oh, the Nittany Lions also lost a pretty important football game on Saturday, falling to Nebraska, 17-14, to breathe more life into Wisconsin and Ohio State in the Big Ten Leaders Division race.
Who's Hot ... Week 11