Everyone loves power rankings, at least it seems that way when several different outlets post them for several different things. In a sport that already has so many different polls, including power rankings, trying to sort teams out in terms of quality has become an exercise in futility. Plus, when one stops to think about it, college football is only interested in ranking things from "best" to "not best, but still okay."
Due to the sheer number of college football teams, rankings and/or power rankings are not comprehensive, as their NFL counterparts tend to be. Usually when I'm reading NFL power rankings I'm more interested in seeing how bad teams are doing, because the teams doing well are typically more covered by the media as it is.
So, welcome to the Race to the Bottom Power Rankings. Every week I am going to scour box scores looking for performances that are so bad they're noteworthy. These are by no means authoritative, are not meant to be taken seriously, and are only meant to be a change of pace from focusing on how well teams are doing.
Due to the volatile nature of college football, teams may drop in and out week-to-week. There is no sense of inertia here. If someone performs poorly, I will include them. Ugly wins against bad teams are fair game, as are ugly losses against bad teams. This is not meant to highlight beatdowns of bad teams at the hands of good ones either (looking at you Southern Miss-Mississippi State). I'm limiting myself to ten teams, so if you find something that you feel would merit a good honorable mention, post it in the comments.
126. Florida International
WEEK 1 RESULT: Lost 14-12 to Bethune-Cookman (FCS) at home
Two years ago this December FIU fired head coach Mario Cristobal, a man who had led the Golden Panthers to consecutive bowl appearances (and one win!) in 2010 and 2011. The reason? A 3-9 season, to which FIU's athletic director Peter Garcia remarked, "we've gone backwards." If two bowl appearances at a mid-major isn't enough to buy a man one season of goodwill, Cristobal's firing is definitely proof that God exists and that he has a sense of humor. FIU went 1-11 last year, and are quickly on their way to an unwinfeated 2014 by dropping a game to the FCS Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. The Wildcats proved that they were literally and figuratively out of FIU's league (they went 10-3 last season, 7-1 in the MEAC), even though they weren't particularly good on Saturday, only outgaining FIU by 53 yards. Neither team turned the ball over either. Bethune-Cookman was simply better than FIU, which is exactly where AD Pete Garcia expected them to be after firing Cristobal, I guess.
WEEK 1 RESULT: Lost 27-7 to UT-San Antonio at home
I had the pleasure of attending this game while I was in Houston for LSU's tilt with Wisconsin over the weekend. TDECU Stadium is Houston's new home venue, and it's a wonderful place to take in a ballgame. The Cougars' recent rebrand and new stadium had the crowd buzzing outside the stadium and right up until kickoff, where it quickly began rolling downhill. Houston turned the ball over six times, four of them on interceptions by sophomore signal caller and 2013 AAC Rookie of the Year John O'Korn. UTSA enjoyed great field position all night as a result, with none of their scoring drives being more than 60 yards. The Cougars' drive chart for this game was a thing of beauty, especially the "Fumble, Fumble, Fumble, Downs, Interception, Interception" sequence. Houston rushed for -26 yards, which is par for the course in their high-powered passing attack, though 42 of their rushing yards disappeared on a single botched punt. But the fact that the Coogs lost by only 20 is the most surprising thing about this game.
WEEK 1 RESULT: Lost 37-7 at home to Temple
Yes, I know this game was delayed, played on a wet field, the debut of a new head coach in Derek Mason, and that Vanderbilt has higher expectations in the post-James Franklin era. These are all valid points. However, it's hard to excuse allowing Temple to go 23-26 passing, which includes a line of 23-24 for Owls starter PJ Walker. Temple nearly outgained Vandy by 100 yards on the ground, while the Commodores' trio of quarterbacks went only 16-34 combined for 224 yards. Vandy turned the ball over an astounding seven times, including two interceptions from quarterback Johnny McCrary, who only threw the ball thrice. Much like Houston, it's a wonder that this one wasn't worse.
123. Iowa State
WEEK 1 RESULT: Lost 34-14 to North Dakota State (FCS) at home
If college football had a promotion/relegation system like professional soccer, North Dakota State would be playing in the Mountain West by now. I'm sure everyone has heard of their five year streak of beating FBS teams, so this isn't surprising. Coupling that with how bad Iowa State is and with the stat line, one could say that the Bison are literally twice as good as the Cyclones. NDSU outgained the 'Clones 506 to 253 and had exactly twice their score. Iowa State was forced to abandon the run after finding themselves in a 13-point hole at the start of the fourth quarter, and several key injuries left them reeling before that. It's the second loss to an FCS team in as many years in Ames, and it appears that 2014 won't be any better than 2013.
122. NC State
WEEK 1 RESULT: Won 24-23 at home against Georgia Southern
I said that ugly wins would be on here. The adage I live by is that ugly wins are wins after all. However, NC State can't feel good about a one-point win to a new Sun Belt team on the first week of the season. The Wolfpack found themselves down 17-3 at the half to Georgia Southern's new offense, which sadly has changed. The Eagles don't option their opponents to death anymore, something I found extremely upsetting. Still, Georgia Southern managed to outgain NC State on the ground by 73 yards, and carried a 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter. It took three second half Jacoby Brissett (remember him?) touchdowns for the Wolfpack to upend the Eagles, who nearly gave Brissett the experience of playing for Florida that he missed out on in 2013.
121. Eastern Michigan
WEEK 1 RESULT: Won 31-28 at home against Morgan State
Yes, we've all seen Eastern Michigan try breaking down the cinder block wall, a clip that your grandma is bound to post on your Facebook wall come bowl season. Morgan State carried a 28-21 lead to the fourth quarter and outgained the Eagles 479-391, and were in it until the last drive, which was delayed due to weather. The contest appears level from looking at the box score, but regardless, the post-Ron English era is off to a gilded start, which is a metaphor for every EMU victory ever when you consider their 43% program win percentage.
120. Wake Forest
WEEK 1 RESULT: Lost 17-10 at ULM
In fairness, first-year head coach Dave Clawson knew that Wake Forest was going to be bad. He's clearly building for the future by playing freshman QB John Wolford, so this result isn't unexpected, but that doesn't mean it's not bad. Wake Forest showed how extensive the rebuild is going to be by recording less than 100 yards of total offense and only five first downs. By comparison, the defense gave up 352 yards while the Demon Deacons' special teams unit blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown, probably their lone bright spot in the game. But, because of the growing pains in the program, they rank low (or high, whatever) on the RTTB scale.
WEEK 1 RESULT: Won 43-34 over Western Michigan at home
Who cares about defense? Western Michigan outgained Purdue 456-407. It's hard to tell anything about either program at this point, but I'm including Purdue based on their sheer "Purdue-ness." It's a quality I cannot define, but I can point out when I see it. Western Michigan managed to row the boat for 243 yards through the air and averaged 6.7 yards per rush, while Purdue won the ground game and didn't have to pass while holding a lead. I can't tell if PJ Fleck has WMU on the up and up, or if Darrell Hazell has Purdue on the right track, or if this is a case of bad teams playing zero defense and being entertaining. Both teams can be bad. Both teams might be improved. But Purdue just feels like they should be here for some reason.
118. TIE - Florida/Idaho
WEEK 1 RESULT: Game suspended due to rain
Will Muschamp won't keep his job for long if he can't figure out how to control the weather. Luckily Idaho plays in a dome, so Paul Petrino doesn't need to worry about the weather. He only needs to worry about the fact that he coaches at Idaho.