The celebrations of ascension to Power Five status have died down and reality is setting in for the four new members of the Big 12 who have temporarily swelled the conference's ranks to 16 teams before the departures of Oklahoma and Texas for the SEC after this season. BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF chose to take the money and the prestige associated with making the jump, and now they are taking their losses.
Entering Week 10, those four teams are a combined 3-17 in their inaugural seasons of Big 12 play. Life has been particularly tough for the three former AAC schools in the mix. Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are a combined 1-14 in Big 12 games. The Bearcats have fallen so far that they are in this week's Bottom 25.
The newcomers are bound to increase their collective total of Big 12 victories in the weeks ahead, partly because they will be playing each other. Cincinnati's next two games are against UCF and Houston. The Knights and Cougars face off on Nov. 25 to cap the regular season.
Losing isn't fun, but you know what is? Miniature golf courses and on-campus waterparks reserved specifically for student-athletes. Oh, and you know what else is fun? Being able to afford 10 new deputy associate executive senior assistant athletic directors. With all their new money, the four Big 12 newcomers should be able to afford the Power Five high life now. Meanwhile, their fans are left contemplating: Is this really better than what we had?
Bottom 25 rankings
After years as the QB1 of the Bottom 25, Tom Fornelli has passed the baton to David Cobb this season. We're still using Fornelli's power rankings to determine the order -- with the No. 1 ranking belonging to the worst FBS team -- but the written jabs are from Cobb.
|The double transition of a new coach and a change in conference always figured to be tough for Cincinnati. It's gone even worse than expected as the Bearcats have now dropped six straight after a 45-13 loss at Oklahoma State. (Last week: NR)
|Indiana gave Penn State a significant scare on the road Saturday before falling late. With their toughest games in the rearview, the Hoosiers may be able to save some face against a manageable November slate. If not, it will be hard to justify bringing coach Tom Allen back. (23)
|23. San Diego State
|San Diego State ranks 112th in total offense and 110th in total defense, yet it still has a shot to become bowl eligible. Is that sad or impressive? (20)
|Vanderbilt is now 2-19 in SEC games under third-year coach Clark Lea after losing 33-7 at Ole Miss. The Commodores face obvious hurdles on the path to success in college football's modern era, but their general lack of competitiveness is concerning. (25)
|The pickaxes are swinging in El Paso, Texas as UTEP continues to climb out of a hole and escape the Bottom 25. After a 1-5 start, the Miners have won two of their past three, including a 37-34 win at Sam Houston on Saturday. (13)
|20. Michigan State
|Michigan State should consider canceling the rest of its season. The Spartans have lost six straight, don't have a head coach and still must play Ohio State and Penn State. The only thing that November will bring is more embarrassment. (24)
|UAB hosts FAU in a battle of first-year coaches on Saturday as Trent Dilfer and the Blazers take on Tom Herman's Owls. Things are trending in a better direction for Herman, who has won three of his last four. The college football learning curve for Dilfer is proving predictably steep. (19)
|Stanford out-gained the mighty Washington offense 495-460 and won the turnover battle 2-0. In the end, the Cardinal fell just short of a stunning upset. You just never know what you're going to get with this team as Year 1 under Troy Taylor continues to be a roller-coaster. (21)
|17. Middle Tennessee
|Middle Tennessee's passing offense is rounding into form. Its defense remains an issue. The Blue Raiders dug themselves quite a hole early and now must win their final four games to get bowl eligible for a third straight season. (16)
|16. Western Michigan
|Western Michigan snapped a four-game losing streak against Eastern Michigan with a 45-21 drubbing of its directional rival. Give the Broncos credit: when they win, they win big. But they also tend to lose big. (11)
|After getting drubbed against Washington and Oklahoma in Weeks 2 and 3, Tulsa appeared to get on track with consecutive wins over Northern Illinois and Temple. Now, the Golden Hurricane have become a Category 4 disaster while getting outscored 111-20 in losses to Rice and SMU in their last two games. (NR)
|It could be tempting to pin Army's struggles on the realities of modern college football, which seemingly work against schools with lofty admissions standards and low NIL resources. But if you go that route, what's the explanation for Air Force's 8-0 start? (15)
|The glory of a 2-0 start seems like ancient history as ULM has now dropped six straight following a 34-24 loss to Arkansas State. But hey, at least the Warhawks' three losses since a 55-7 defeat against South Alabama have been competitive. (18)
|UConn is now 1-4 in one-possession games after losing 21-14 at Boston College. It was rather miraculous that the Huskies were in the game considering that Boston College owned a 30-10 edge in first downs. Next up are road games against Tennessee and unbeaten James Madison. Yikes. (12)
|This statement from Charlotte coach Biff Poggi following the 49ers' 38-16 loss against FAU on Friday night is a good synopsis of how the season is going. "I am extremely disappointed with our comportment as a football team against FAU," Poggi said. "I have made the decision to immediately suspend various players for our game against Tulsa." (14)
|10. Ball State
|Ball State is headed to play Bowling Green on Wednesday after an ill-timed break. The Cardinals finally beat an FBS opponent and then have to wait 10 days to play again? That's tough. Barring a perfect finish, this team will miss out on Bowl Season for a second consecutive year. (10)
|Temple is coming off a bye, and heaven knows the Owls needed one after a 55-0 loss to SMU. Thankfully, quarterback E.J. Warner is back practicing this week after missing a couple of games with concussion symptoms. But the Owls could play Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, and it still wouldn't save this team. (8)
|Hawaii began the season with consecutive games of 350+ passing yards against Power Five foes Vanderbilt and Stanford. It suggested that the Rainbow Warriors might be a potent offensive squad under second-year coach Timmy Chang. But there was nothing potent about Hawaii as it produced just 198 total yards in a 35-0 home loss to San Jose State last week. (9)
|UMass snapped a seven-game losing streak and picked up its first win since Week 0 when it squeaked past Army for a 21-14 win. Considering the program totaled three victories over the previous four seasons, progress has officially been made for the Minutemen. (4)
|6. East Carolina
|East Carolina's spiral following consecutive winning seasons continued Saturday with a 41-27 loss to UTSA. The Pirates surrendered 515 yards rushing to the Miners. Now comes a visit from No. 22 Tulane as ECU appears to be barreling toward its worst record since 2004. (7)
|After living at No. 1 in the Bottom 25 during an 0-6 start marked by a 22.2 point average margin of defeat, Nevada is turning into a monster. The Wolf Pack have won back-to-back games including a 34-24 victory over New Mexico on Saturday. Nevada jumped out to a 24-0 lead to mark six-straight quarters without allowing a point. (3)
|This week's "prove your college football fandom" matchup is Akron vs. Kent State. If you tune in for that one on Wednesday night, you'll skip to the front of the line at the gates to football heaven. The Zips rank 128th in scoring offense while the Golden Flashes rank 130th. (6)
|3. Sam Houston
|It's not even funny anymore. It's just sad how Sam Houston continues to find ways to lose during its first season at the FBS level. Four of its last five defeats have come by a single possession. The most recent loss came when UTEP's Buzz Flabiano hit a 32-yard field goal in the final seconds to down the Bearkats 37-34. (5)
|2. Southern Miss
|Southern Miss racked up 588 yards and 33 first downs, won the turnover battle and held a 10-point lead on two occasions in the second half. Yet, it lost 48-38 at Appalachian State anyway as the Mountaineers scored 20 unanswered points to close the game. At least running back Frank Gore Jr. finally got loose with 247 yards rushing and a pair of scores. (2)
|1. Kent State
|Kent State didn't lose Saturday, which made for one of the most successful weeks of the season for the Golden Flashes. Granted, they were off in advance of a Wednesday game at Akron. But you've got to celebrate the positives where you can find them with a team that ranks 130th in scoring offense. (1)