2012 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Hot ... Week 12
Who's Not ...
The Bobcats defeated Penn State in Happy Valley on opening weekend. They started 7-0, even having a brief flirtation with the Top 25. However, since peaking in October, Frank Solich's team has hit a wall, losing three of its last four games against MAC opponents. Hope of repeating as East Division champs? Gone. Dreams of winning a conference title? Long gone. It hasn't been the same Ohio, getting fewer big plays on the ground from QB Tyler Tettleton, and not nearly enough stops on defense. In Wednesday's blowout loss to streaking Ball State, the Bobcats were garroted on the ground as part of a 588-yards Cardinals explosion.
One final time for good measure. On the week that the Razorbacks were officially eliminated from postseason contention, it seems apropos to recall that this was a program believed to be among the 10 or 15 best in the country before the season began. It never happened for lame-duck head coach John L. Smith, who oversaw a disaster of Hindenburg proportions in Fayetteville. Despite still being loaded with talent, and not suffering a debilitating injury to a key player, Arkansas was throttled by Mississippi State and QB Tyler Russell, 45-14, to fall to 2-5 in SEC competition.
8. Teams From Kansas
The Jayhawks lost their 20th straight Big 12 game, allowing redshirt freshman QB Sam Richardson to complete 23-of-27 for 250 yards, four touchdowns and no picks in his first start. But, hey, there's always K-State to lift up spirits in the Sunflower State, right? Not this week, as the top-ranked Wildcats fell from their perch in a dreadful loss to sub-.500 Baylor. It's quite possible that the issues in Kansas were contagious, because not far from the state border, Mizzou was losing to visiting Syracuse in a game that probably knocked the Tigers out of the bowl picture.
7. West Virginia
At 5-0, there were whispers that the Mountaineers might be a fringe contender for a national championship. At 5-5, there are concerns that the Mountaineers might miss the postseason entirely. Geno Smith must've been lost for the season, right? Nope. The defense in Morgantown is so bad that it's actually giving up more points than the high-powered offense can produce. West Virginia may have reached a new low over the weekend, cranking out 778 yards on Oklahoma, yet still losing on a Landy Jones touchdown pass with 24 seconds left.
6. Michigan State in Close Games
Mark Dantonio's cardiologist might consider writing a script for a blowout next week, on either side, because these nail-biters cannot be good for the head coach. The Spartans have remarkably participated in seven consecutive games decided by no more than four, losing five of them. They were at it again in East Lansing against Northwestern, falling 23-20 to slip below the .500 mark. The program that began the year No. 13 in the country now needs to win at Minnesota next week just to become bowl-eligible.
5. The Big Ten Leaders Division
The Big Ten hierarchy would have loved for Wisconsin to defeat Ohio State in Madison on Saturday afternoon, but it didn't get its wish. Instead, the Badgers fell in overtime, meaning it's possible that the division's third best team will be in Indianapolis in two weeks to play either Nebraska or Michigan, who are both playing real well. Naturally, the Leaders has been watered down by the ineligibility of the Buckeyes and Penn State, but the four eligible members have missed their marks as well. In fact, if Purdue loses to Indiana on Saturday, the division will send only Wisconsin to the postseason this year.
4. Collin Klein's Heisman Hopes
While the Heisman is a cumulative race, it'll be hard to erase Klein's performance in Waco from the minds of voters. Sure, he couldn't play defense against the Bears, but he also couldn't rally his Wildcats after falling down early. Unable to run the ball once the margin ballooned, Klein's limited passing skills went on full display. Despite facing a feeble Baylor D, he still threw three picks and consistently missed open receivers. Over the last three games, the senior has thrown two touchdown passes and four interceptions. And now that K-State is out of the national title chase, an exposed Klein is probably out of the Heisman title chase as well.
3. Tennessee Head Coach Derek Dooley
There isn't a buyout big enough to keep around Dooley, who was predictably canned by the Volunteers on Sunday morning.
He won't even be given an opportunity to coach the finale versus Kentucky, an indication of the disgust and frustration in Knoxville. The Volunteers have been passed by James Franklin and Vanderbilt, which was painfully obvious in this past weekend's 41-18 loss in Nashville. For the record, and it was a sinfully bad record, Dooley finished his Tennessee tenure 15-21, which included an unimaginable 4-19 versus the SEC and 0-15 against ranked opponents. The Vols have become the Commodores of old, an improbable collapse for such a storied program.
2. Big 12 BCS No. 1 Teams
While the Big 12 has proven that it can get to the mountaintop, staying there has certainly been an issue. Kansas State was the latest member to fail in its attempt to handle prosperity, getting drubbed by Baylor, 52-24, in a lopsided loss from the get-go. Since 2003, the conference is now 2-6 when one of its programs gets to No. 1. No worries from here, Big 12. Now that the Wildcats have lost for the first time this season, it'll be a while before one of your teams is looking down on the masses.
1. USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin
Deflating balls. Deflating reputation, too.
Kiffin and his assistant coaches have had a horrible year in 2012. On paper, the Trojans were many people's preseason choice to end the SEC's grip on the national championship. On grass, they've been the country's biggest disappointment this side of Fayetteville, losing three of their last four games. USC would get a pass if it endured the swath of injuries that, say, Maryland has had this season. But that has not been the case. Nope, the Trojans have simply been a poorly-coached squad, one that hasn't maximized its talent.
Kiffin has been passed by UCLA head coach Jim Mora in a very short period of time. And that's something with which a USC coach hasn't had to contend in many years.
Who's Hot ... Week 12