Powerless: Worst Power 5 teams in Week 2
Two blue-blood programs, both national champions during the 2000s, put on truly embarrassing performances Saturday.
One ended with a coach apologizing all over the place. The other didn’t get to say much at all because he was fired on Monday.
Those are the big highlights among the worst Power 5 performances for Week 2 of the 2021 college football season.
1. Florida State
FSU’s home game against FCS program Jacksonville State aired Saturday night on the ACC Network. Afterward, the network shifted to its postgame studio show and it honestly seemed like analyst EJ Manuel, a former Seminoles quarterback, might burst into tears or throw something at a camera. He kept it together. His alma mater did not. FSU gave up a 59-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game, failing to tackle JSU receiver Damond Philyaw-Johnson as the Gamecocks won 20-17 at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Here is the call from the Jacksonville State radio team:
Jacksonville State hasn’t been to the FCS playoffs since 2018, so it’s not like the Gamecocks are even a power on that level. But the real point is, FSU won a national title in 2013. Has any program ever fallen this far this fast? This has to be the most inexplicable loss in program history and coach Mike Norvell apologized to pretty much everyone in the universe afterward.
Losing 42-28 at home to Stanford isn’t, on the surface, so terrible. Not good, but not atrocious. But the air has been going out of the Trojans’ program for several years and the atmosphere around the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday seemed to be enough evidence.
Most fans had filed out well before USC scored two late touchdowns to make the margin look more respectable than it really was. Stanford led 42-13 early in the fourth quarter. Trojans coach Clay Helton said, “Let’s see at the end of the year. It’s Game 2 and I have total faith in this staff.” The trouble was, the administration no longer had faith in Helton and fired him on Monday, an act that felt like it was coming for years.
One more dagger: Stanford coach David Shaw earned his 63rd career Pac-12 victory, moving past … Pete Carroll, USC’s coach the last time the program won a national title, in the 2004 season.
Technically this is a third former national champion on this list, but that was wayyyyyy in the sepia-toned past (1959, to be exact). Right now Syracuse isn’t even competitive in the ACC and the Orange lost 17-7 at home to Rutgers on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights are no longer the pushover they were a couple of years ago, but Syracuse really needed to win that one to get anywhere near bowl eligibility. Syracuse outgained Rutgers 265-195 but committed 8 penalties for 55 yards and coughed up 3 turnovers while forcing none.
The Fighting Illini lost 42-14 at Virginia and allowed 423 passing yards and a career-high 5 touchdown passes to Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong. Virginia had lost 9 consecutive regular-season nonconference games against Power 5 opposition. And the Cavaliers racked up the most points against a nonconference Power 5 foe since 2009, when they scored 49 on Indiana. Illinois has gone backward on defense in each game this season; after allowing 392 yards in a season-opening win over Nebraska, the Illini allowed 497 in a loss to UTSA, then 558 on Saturday.
The fact that a Big 12 team lost by nearly 4 touchdowns to a Sun Belt Conference team, even on the road, should be shocking. But the fact that Kansas lost 49-22 at Coastal Carolina surprised absolutely nobody. That’s partly thanks to the rise of Coastal as a program, but that’s mostly an indictment on the Jayhawks’ program. Heck, the Chanticleers have now beaten Kansas in 3 consecutive seasons, twice in Lawrence, winning by 5 in 2019 and by 15 last season. So KU is losing ground every year — again, against a Sun Belt program. Yikes.