Southern Cal leads this week’s Misery Index after a 42-28 loss to Stanford. Here are the others that made the index, a weekly measurement of knee-jerk reactions based on what each fan base just watched.
Florida State: The Seminoles never needed to officially lose to low-level competition to prove how dysfunctional their program was. Sure, there were near-misses against the likes of Samford in 2018 and Louisiana-Monroe in 2019, which very much contributed to the overall vibe of incompetence around former coach Willie Taggart. But to sink far enough that Florida State could actually drop one of these games?
That’s new, and it happened Saturday on second-year coach Mike Norvell’s watch in a 20-17 loss to Jacksonville State when the Gamecocks (not the SEC variety) completed a 59-yard touchdown pass as time expired. This loss smacks of a program celebrating a bit too hard last week for getting to overtime against Notre Dame in the season opener. Still, even with a hangover, the Seminoles made way too many mental mistakes and should’ve managed more than 133 passing yards against an FCS team that lost 31-0 to UAB last week. Unless something changes soon, the Seminoles are headed down the Tennessee/Nebraska path of former powers flailing around for answers as they find new depths to rock bottom.
Texas: One of the most important lessons of every college football season is that Week 1, for better or worse, is a mirage. Some teams are going to look way better than they actually will turn out to be, and a lot of teams are going to look way worse. The truth starts to emerge in Week 2, when coaches have to go back to work and make adjustments, when the entire game-day process starts to normalize and when there’s film out there for opponents to look at.
Coming out of their season opener — a very solid win over Louisiana-Lafayette — the narrative about Texas was how much more organized and offensively potent they looked under Steve Sarkisian than the previous regime led by Tom Herman. But the narrative now? Let’s just say the Longhorns don’t quite look ready to make the jump to the SEC that’s coming at some point in the next few years. Arkansas completely manhandled Texas, 40-21, rushing for 333 yards while Texas had just 256 total. Though it would be rational to say, “It’s just one game,” Texas doesn’t do rational. It’s never done rational. Sark is going to get plenty of opportunities to fix this program, but unless Texas goes on to have an exceptional year, there’s going to be a big neon sign flashing “ARKANSAS” over his head for the next couple of years.
OPINION: Southern Cal’s embarrassing loss puts Trojans, Helton atop Misery Index
POLL: Oregon, Iowa surge as Ohio State, Iowa State tumble
TOP 25: USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll, Week 2
Washington: During the current century, the only stretch of time Washington has been good at football came in a three-year burst under Chris Petersen. That’s just the unfortunate fact of the matter for the Huskies, and yet Petersen raised the bar so significantly that when he stepped down, expectations of contending for Pac-12 titles were going to fall on his successor. Jimmy Lake, who had been with Petersen at Boise State and during his entire Washington run, turned out to be that guy.
Given all the craziness surrounding last season, and the fact that Washington only played four games due to COVID-19, this is the first real look at the program under Lake. And already, it looks like some changes are necessary. Washington, which started the season ranked No. 21, is now 0-2 after a season-opening loss to Montana and a non-competitive 31-10 effort at Michigan. From the moment the hire was made, Lake choosing John Donovan as offensive coordinator after his questionable work at Penn State looked like a potential issue. But it’s been even worse than expected, as the Huskies failed to crack 300 yards against Montana and only did so against Michigan with some fourth-quarter drives after the game was already out of hand.
Colorado State: From an institutional standpoint, the Rams actually want to be good at football. In the last several years, they’ve built a new stadium and paid very good money for coaches relative to the rest of the Mountain West Conference in pursuit of raising their profile and perhaps a power conference invitation somewhere down the line. But there’s a difference between trying to be good at football and knowing how to be good at football. And the leadership at Colorado State has no idea about the latter.
Mike Bobo? Good guy, bad hire. Didn’t fit at all, didn’t have recruiting ties out West, didn’t work out. So what do the Rams do after five years of that nonsense? They make Steve Addazio, who was run out of Boston College for being thoroughly mediocre and whose entire coaching history had been from Indiana eastward, one of the highest-paid coaches in the league at $1.5 million annually. It made zero sense, and the Rams are an even bigger dumpster fire as a result.
After a blowout season-opening loss to South Dakota State, Colorado State showed the true depth of its awfulness in a 24-21 loss at home to Vanderbilt — the same Vanderbilt program that had lost 11 straight games and just a week earlier scored only three points against East Tennessee State. Colorado State is in the middle of a total systems failure here, and each week is making the school’s leadership look more and more clueless.
TRENDING TOWARD MISERY
Ohio State: We can’t say that the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff hopes are over after a 35-28 loss at home to Oregon, but they’re definitely going to be challenged to get back in the conversation. But after watching Ohio State kind of muddle through two games against Minnesota and now an Oregon team that was missing two of its best defensive players in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Justin Flowe, does anyone actually believe this team is going to be capable of putting up a fight against the likes of Alabama?
The Buckeyes’ best hope is that the rest of the non-Alabama division ends up being as flawed as they are, which may well be the case. But with a defense that has given up 80 points through two games, it looks like Ohio State is going to have to win lots of shootouts to get to the finish line with just one loss. Good luck with that.
Miami: The only thing Hurricanes fans should have felt good about leaving Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday night was the remarkable rescue of a stray cat that was on the verge of falling from the upper deck. In a game where Miami was on the verge of losing to Appalachian State before pulling out a 25-23 victory on a 43-yard field goal with 2:04 remaining, the cat turned out to be the star of the show. “If the cat will help us in our red zone offense, I’ll see if we can give it a scholarship,” head coach Manny Diaz joked. The Hurricanes, though, are looking far more like a team that’s going to have to — ahem — scratch and claw to stay above .500 than the top-10 threat they were purported to be this year.
NC State: If there’s any fanbase in the country whose high expectations have been beaten down so many times that they start to wonder if they’re ever allowed to have nice things, it’s this one. After a summer full of hype about this being Dave Doeren’s best team ever as he approaches a decade on the job, after a really solid-looking blowout win in Week 1 against South Florida that raises expectations even higher, NC State travels to SEC country and throws up all over itself with three turnovers and a missed field goal in a 24-10 loss to a middle-of-the-pack (at best) Mississippi State team.
Iowa State: There was always too much preseason hype around the Cyclones, a phenomenon that occurred because coach Matt Campbell has been a cult favorite of the media for quite some time, and because they brought a lot of great pieces back from a team that finished 9-3 last season and won the Fiesta Bowl. But the reality for the Cyclones is that they’re still operating at a talent deficit against really good teams, and perhaps the strange nature of last season due to COVID-19 made their run a little bit fluky.
Iowa State shouldn’t be judged too harshly for Saturday’s 27-17 loss at home to Iowa, which happens to be a very good team. But any notion that the Cyclones were a College Football Playoff threat was exposed as pure fantasy.
Illinois: Nobody should have expected that Bret Bielema was going to have this moribund program completely turned around in a matter of months. But part of the euphoria over Illinois’ season-opening win over Nebraska was that perhaps the seeds of something interesting had been planted and that the path toward lasting competence wouldn’t be as rocky as fans feared.
Instead, it’s been a harsh trip back to reality over the last two weeks for Illinois, which lost 42-14 at Virginia on Saturday. With a bigger body of evidence now, including a 37-30 loss to UTSA the previous week, we can safely say that Illinois will be fortunate if it wins even one more game this season.
TOTALLY REAL AND IRRATIONAL MESSAGE BOARD THREADS
“Let’s just hope it’s all over” – WeAreSC (USC)
“Herman would have won this game” – Orangebloods (Texas)
“We’ve become a Big 12 team” – Bucknuts (Ohio State)
“This loss might cause my divorce” – Warchant (Florida State)
“There is no reward for caring for this program” – Canes Insight (Miami)
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College football Misery Index notes: Texas trouble; Iowa State exposed