College football season is one of the best sporting seasons in the world, but it certainly comes with it woes. For example, Rutgers playing Michigan woes. These stats are NSFW. No team (internally, at least) expects to come out and put on a laughing-stock performance like that one on Saturdays, but it’s inevitably going to happen to a few teams this year.
Some teams just have this kind of year.
So, in no particular order, here are some teams that might produce some unintentional comedy during the 2017-18 college football season.
Listen, there’s almost no possible way Ole Miss is going to go 12 full games without doing something impeccably fail-worthy this season.
Rebel fans shouldn’t have high expectations for interim head coach and Guy Who Buys A New John Deere Tractor Every Month Matt Luke this season. Luke has followed David Cutcliffe around and had some co-offensive coordinator experience, but this season is heading right for the dumpster.
Sanctions and losses loom for this team. Ole Miss has been the only non-Clemson team on the planet to play with Alabama the past few years, but the scoreline for this year’s game is more likely to look like something closer to the 78-0 Michigan-Rutgers debacle.
There’s a solid 73% chance that the Rebels fumble more snaps than touchdowns scored in that game. If the school lets players who were recruited on lies to Ole Miss transfer at some point, Oxford might just become home of the surrender cobra for a few years.
Chris Ash inherited the worst mess among messes last season, and the Scarlet Knights proved that in more than a few ways en route to a 2-10 record in his first year. Sure, the team is better this season, but only because it literally couldn’t get worse. Rutgers’ 2016 offensive numbers were so bad that they refused to be a part of this list to avoid further embarrassment.
If the good news is that the team gets better, the bad news is everything else. Poor Rutgers still has to play Washington, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State this season. Those games alone guarantee a horrible beating. The Scarlet Knights are at the top of my list to let a kickoff die on the field of play, like a punt, and have an opposing team recover as an onside kick.
Joey Freshwater has taken his talents to South Beach! Well, almost. In a weird, totally Lane Kiffin move, the former Alabama offensive coordinator and avid Twitterer took a surprise head coaching gig for the Owls of Florida Atlantic back in December. You know, before Alabama played in the Peach Bowl (which he coached in!) and didn’t coach offense for the Tide during the title game.
Now, Kiffin will try to turn a 3-9 Florida Atlantic team into a Conference USA contender. That probably won’t happen this year. Almost every team that finished above the Owls in the division last season got better. Still, Florida Atlantic’s offense averaged 39 points a game in its last four games of 2016, so woo! But the defense gave up almost 44 points a game, so boo. “Offensive genius” Lane Kiffin has to remodel and reboot a defense or try and score 50 points a game to win consistently. Big 12, anyone? There is a large chance this team loses multiple games by not having the ball last or throwing a last-minute interception.
The (former?) Champions of Life have a lot of unproven talent in 2017 in places like quarterback, running back, receiver, defensive line, line- wait, I’m just naming all of the position groups. The Vols had a loaded roster last season and lost to South Carolina and little brother Vanderbilt. Butch Jones is on the hot seat, and his slogans won’t save him if the Vols disappoint this year — something they have never done in the past decade. Even Jones’ departure/firing would lead to more Champion of Life jokes. Heck, there’s a Life Champion tracker. If Tennessee loses to Vanderbilt again, Knoxville might burn more couches.
Hey whadya know, a Lovie Smith-coached team is on a negative list! The Fighting Illini return just eight (!!) starters this season, and the two returning quarterbacks completed a combined 56 passes in 2016. The good news is that Illinois plays in the same conference as Rutgers, so we can all assume that the Fighting Illini won’t literally be the worst team in the Big Ten. However, the offense only averaged 18.5 points a game against teams not named Murray State and probably won’t be working many miracles this season.
The schedule does them no favors, as Illinois plays one of the best Conference USA teams in Western Kentucky and a talented Charlie Strong-led South Florida squad in Tampa. We all know how good Charlie Strong is at making teams in orange look bad.
Georgia has all the pieces in place to win the SEC East division crown this year, and the Bulldogs have never fallen short of any deserved winnings recently. “Georgia’d” could be a thing of the past, but last year’s team wasn’t all that impressive. The Dawgs beat two opponents by double digits (South Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette, both by 14) in 2016. Jacob Eason has shown flashes of greatness, but also plenty of inconsistency.
Any team that loses to Vanderbilt at home should be ridiculed for at least a full calendar year. The Bulldogs haven’t beaten Tennessee in two tries, Florida in three and we still don’t know how to rank Kirby Smart as a head coach. This his team will probably go 8-4 while Mark Richt sips a piña colada and laughs.
Let’s work down the Michigan-under-Jim-Harbaugh checklist: Division title? Negative. Beating Ohio State? Negative. Making a New Year’s Six bowl game? Check, but the Wolverines lost the game. Now Michigan loses much of the talent that got it to the Orange Bowl, while division foes Penn State and Ohio State reload and are primed for playoff runs. We can’t deny Jim Harbaugh’s coaching ability, he’s a darn good coach. But it really looks like Michigan is going to finish third in the Big Ten East… again. Just avoid all late game punts or short fourth downs on defense! Harbaugh is college football’s “Most Likely to Get Ejected” coach, and the Wolverines are bound to miss out on a big win with some crucial break going their opponents’ way.
The worst defense in the FBS plays quite a handful of the best offenses in the country in the Big 12. Texas Tech had a No. 10 draft pick in quarterback Patrick Mahomes and won just five games (two of them were against Stephen F. Austin and Louisiana Tech!). If you want your offensive guys to pad some stats, just schedule the Red Raiders. It doesn’t matter what kind of offense Kliff Kingsbury puts together this year, because the defense will just challenge it in a scoring match. In a bad way. Texas Tech fans have the most bipolar cheer-to-surrender-cobra ratio in the country while at Jones AT&T Stadium. The Red Raiders are guaranteed to lose at least three games while having scored 40 or more points.