2012 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Hot ... Week 2
Who’s Not ...
The Cougars miss head coach Kevin Sumlin and QB Case Keenum even more than anyone might have guessed. A year after winning 13 games, and flirting with a BCS bowl game, Houston has already lost more games than it did throughout all of 2011. In the Week 1 upset loss at the hands of Texas State, the offense was AWOL, resulting in the hasty departure of coordinator Mike Nesbitt. On Saturday, the Cougs cranked out almost 700 yards, yet it still wasn’t enough in a 56-49 loss to Louisiana Tech. The school has already burned two home games without picking up a win, a troubling sign for the rest of the season.
9. Penn State PK Sam Ficken
Forget Silas Redd. Anthony Fera may have been the costliest departure for the Nittany Lions. Since taking over once Fera left for Texas, Ficken has been a disaster for the special teams unit. Saturday in Charlottesville, for instance. Penn State outplayed Virginia on the road, but the placekicker left 13 points on the table, hooking an extra point and missing 4-of-5 field goal attempt. His final whiff at the end of regulation ensured Penn State of a second straight loss, 17-16.
8. Colorado coach Jon Embree
Embree got a justifiable free pass as a rookie in 2011, taking over a dilapidated program from Dan Hawkins. However, the coach was supposed to pilot the Buffaloes in a northerly direction this year, even if they remained well on the outskirts of Pac-12 contention. Instead, Embree may already be putting himself and his staff in a precarious situation. Colorado is off to an unimaginably bad start, losing to rival Colorado State in Denver and FCS Sacramento State in Boulder on a last-second field goal. The Buffs expected to be 2-0. At 0-2, Embree could be headed toward probation if his kids fail to make a dramatic turnaround.
Save for a rash of injuries or a player revolt, it’d be hard to imagine the Paul Chryst era in Pittsburgh getting off to a worse start. Five days after falling to Youngstown State in a humiliating opener, the Panthers—and their head coach—appeared lost in a 34-10, nationally-televised loss Cincinnati. Facing a rebuilding Bearcats D, Pitt allowed six sacks of Tino Sunseri, and didn’t break the goal line until there were just 34 seconds left on the clock. Life won’t get any easier with this week’s visit from Virginia Tech.
6. Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier
Frazier won’t be the last hurler to struggle in the face of the Mississippi State secondary, but he looked particularly lost in Starkville on Saturday afternoon. The sophomore is even rawer than many assumed when he won the job in the offseason, completing less than half of his throws, and throwing four interceptions and just one touchdown pass in the first two games. Against the Bulldogs, he played frightened and tentative, turning the ball over five times. He’s Auburn’s guy for now, but if he continues to play scared and tentative, Gene Chizik may have no choice but to summon Clint Moseley from the bench.
5. Alabama in Pass Pro
Does the star-studded Crimson Tide O-line have a problem protecting the quarterback? ‘Bama shockingly ranks 113th in the country in sacks allowed, yielding eight in the first two games. Western Kentucky, of all opponents, got to AJ McCarron six times over the weekend, including three sacks from speedy senior DE Quanterus Smith. The breakdowns against the Hilltoppers may wind up being a blip on the screen that gets rectified in practice. However, if ‘Bama has ongoing problems on the edge, it’s the kind of issue that could cost the team once SEC play begins.
4. Wisconsin on the Ground
In a stunning departure from recent history, the Badgers are having an unusually hard time getting off the ball in 2012. Despite opening the season against Northern Iowa and Oregon State—and having Montee Ball in the backfield—Wisconsin has rushed for just 203 yards, and is averaging 2.9 yards a carry. An inability to generate a push against the Beavers is the main reason that the Badgers are 1-1, unranked and a little lost through the first two weeks of the new campaign.
The Hurricanes suffered one of their worst losses in recent history, bowing meekly to Kansas State in Manhattan, 52-13. The outcome was a stark contrast to this time last year, when the game between the two programs went down to the final seconds. Miami was no match on Saturday, getting schooled on both sides of the ball by QB Collin Klein and the Wildcats. While the offense was in disarray, the defense was toothless and completely lost for a second consecutive weekend. The ‘Canes are a mediocre football team, with a long way to go under Al Golden.
2. The Arkansas D
Long before QB Tyler Wilson left the game with concussion-like symptoms, the offense had staked the Hogs to what should have been a comfortable 28-7 lead versus Louisiana-Monroe. Turns out it wasn’t enough. Arkansas repeatedly allowed the Warhawks to convert, including an inexcusable 6-of-7 times on fourth downs to squander the three-touchdown cushion. The then-No. 8 team was no match for QB Kolton Browning, who vexed the Razorbacks for 481 total yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winning scamper in overtime.
1. The Big Ten
The league that seems to begin every year with a chip on its shoulder may already be without a legitimate contender for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game … just two weeks in. Ohio State has looked great, but the Buckeyes are ineligible in 2012. This past weekend was a disaster for the conference. Wisconsin lost to a middling Oregon State team a week after escaping Northern Iowa. Iowa bowed to Iowa State a week after escaping Northern Illinois. Illinois was garroted by Arizona State. Penn State is 0-2, with a loss to a MAC opponent. Michigan nearly got picked off by Air Force in Ann Arbor. And Nebraska took it on the chin at UCLA. It’s been a rough start for the Big Ten, no matter how the first two weekends are sliced.
Who's Hot ... Week 2