Powerless: Worst Power 5 teams after Week 1
We spend time praising underdogs who pull off upsets every weekend in college football.
But let’s take a moment to “honor” the losers of those upset games, shall we?
This list of worst Power 5 teams is based mostly on Week 1 performance. But some other inept programs are noted even if they won in Week 1. Especially if their fans stormed the field to celebrate a 3-point win over an FCS program. Yes, Kansas, I’m looking at you.
So here are the Powerless Power 5 programs after Week 1.
What. On. Earth. This program was supposed to play in the Pac-12 Championship game in 2020 before the Huskies backed out because of COVID-19 concerns. UDub is supposed to contend in the North Division again in 2021. To do so, Washington will have to shake off one of the most embarrassing losses in program history. Montana was 1-17-1 all-time against the Huskies, who went into Saturday ranked 20th in the AP poll. But the FCS Grizzlies shocked host Washington 13-7 for their first win in the series since 1920, despite being outgained 279-232 and earning just 10 first downs. FCS teams are now 5-358 all-time against ranked FBS teams dating to 1978, according to ESPN.
It’s not shocking that the Commodores lost a game on Saturday. They were 0-9 last season in an all-SEC slate and last won on Nov. 23, 2019. The victim that day? East Tennessee State, the team that extended Vandy’s misery on Saturday and started Clark Lea’s coaching reign in Nashville on an awful note. In gaining revenge for that 2019 defeat, ETSU almost equaled Vandy in yards (the Commodores held a 321-314 edge) and forced 3 turnovers while surrendering none. Quay Holmes gained 149 yards on 23 carries for the Buccaneers. This just in: Quay Holmes is not the best running back Vandy will face this season. A 23-3 home loss to an FCS team is ignominious even by Vandy standards.
David Cutcliffe is one of the most well-respected coaches in college football. He is third on Duke’s all-time victory list as he begins his 14th season in Durham. But the glory of his early reign in charge of the Blue Devils — 6 bowl games in 7 seasons from 2012-18 and an ACC Coastal Division championship in 2013 — feels pretty distant now. That seems even more true after Saturday, when the Blue Devils lost 31-28 at Charlotte. The 49ers had never defeated a Power 5 program in 6 attempts going into Saturday, has only been playing football since 2013 and only joined the FBS in 2015. Duke has lost 15 of its past 18 games. When does basketball season start?
The Jayhawks are the only team in the top 5 of this list that won in Week 1. So why are we trying to ruin KU’s good vibes after the program’s first victory since Oct. 26, 2019? Well, did we mention that their fans rushed the field after a last-minute comeback victory against FCS program South Dakota? Then again, it’s hard to tell kids to act like they have never been there before when, after an 0-9 campaign in 2020, the sophomores on campus had literally never been there before. Going 21-108 in an 11-year span will do that to a fan base, I guess. The Jayhawks have not won more than 3 games in a season since going 5-7 in 2009, Mark Mangino’s last year as coach. Lance Leipold is KU’s 6th coach since then.
Losing to BYU is no shame, but when the Wildcats did so on Saturday, 24-16 in Las Vegas, it extended the longest losing streak in program history to 13. And this was a post-Zach Wilson BYU that toppled the Wildcats. It’s puzzling why Arizona has sunk so far. Granted, Arizona isn’t the biggest recruiting hotbed in the country, but the state does produce some talent, plus California and Texas are within easy reach. But of the top 20 high school prospects in Arizona from the 2021 signing class, according to 24/7, just 1 signed with the Wildcats — and he was 20th on that list. New coach Jedd Fisch has a long project ahead, following big-name coaches Rich Rodriguez and Kevin Sumlin.
Baylor: The Bears are coming off of a 2-7 season and did not exactly impress anybody in Week 1, barely beating Texas State 29-20 in a game where the Bobcats got the ball back late with a chance to tie it.
Georgia Tech: Northern Illinois is not the first MAC team to pull off a road upset and it won’t be the last. But this is a bad NIU program that beat the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, where the rebuild continues.
Illinois: Just when this program gives its fans hope by topping Nebraska, the Fighting Illini lose at home to a UTSA program that has never had more than 8 wins in a season since joining FBS in 2012.
Oregon State: The most recent bowl bid in Corvallis came in 2013. The Beavers had a chance to gain a road win against a pretty average Purdue team to open 2021 but fell short.
Washington State: Utah State scored the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left to send Wazzu to its 11th loss in the past 15 games. The Cougars don’t even offer the excitement of losing 67-63 anymore.