Going into the season, these teams had high hopes as high as a playoff berth and a national title shot, but these teams have fallen flat, and that’s putting it nicely.
Guilty as charged, I had the Badgers picked as one of my four teams to make the College Football Playoff this season. With a great offensive line, running back, and defense, it looked like this would be the year the Badgers put it all together. But this season looks to be a slide from last season’s Orange Bowl victory. With wins over Western Kentucky and New Mexico, it looked like last year’s West division champs would cruise through non-conference play, but they were thumped by BYU at home. A month later, they went on the road to Michigan and got whacked. Northwestern, who is now the West Division leader, beat Wisconsin by two touchdowns, leaving the Badgers in shambles.
As someone who grew up as an Auburn fan, this one hurts. Auburn returned Jarrett Stidham at quarterback and a defense that ranked among the elite units in the entire nation last year. The season started off fine with a win over Washington and had the lead over No. 12 LSU at home, but ever since the second half of that game, the offense has been anemic.
Gus Malzahn, who used to be known as an offensive wizard, has lost his stride since the magical years of Cam Newton and Nick Marshall. Since winning their first two games, the Tigers are just 3-3 and have gone from playoff hopeful to a team on the fringe of even making a bowl game. The Tigers are at 5-3 with Texas A&M, Georgia, Liberty and Alabama left on the schedule. The only almost-certain win for Auburn is Liberty, so a 6-6 season is certainly in the radar.
Last season, Miami was just a win away from winning the ACC Championship and making the College Football Playoffs. Ever since the loss to Pittsburgh last season, the Hurricanes have not been the same. Mark Richt’s squad started out with a blowout loss to LSU, which isn’t a death blow since LSU has turned into one of the nation’s best teams. But the Hurricanes are now 2-2 in the ACC after consecutive losses to Virginia and Boston College and sit at fourth in the Coastal Division.
The Miami defense is still elite and ranked second in the FBS in total yards per game, so what gives? For the past two games it has been turnovers. In a three-point loss, the Hurricanes threw three picks between Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry. Last year, some said the Hurricanes were a year ahead. Now, it looks like they’re a year behind.
Washington came in as the near-consensus favorite to win the PAC-12 and was even tapped by some to make the playoffs. The season started off with a close loss to Auburn in a neutral site. The Huskies only dropped to No. 9 in the polls. But the past couple weeks have dealt death blows to the season. The Huskies lost to Oregon on the road in overtime and then on the road at California. In every loss this season, the Huskies have had opportunities to win, but they couldn’t close. If even two of those losses had been turned into wins, Chris Petersen’s squad would likely be in the playoff hunt. But for now, they’re all but out of the conversation.
TCU Horned Frogs
TCU lost to Kansas. End of story. But seriously, the Horned Frogs have nearly made a 180 from last year and not in a good way. They played hard against Ohio State and lost in a neutral site, which wouldn’t be a killer in the Playoff Committee’s eyes. But since losing to the Buckeyes, Gary Patterson’s squad is just 1-4 with the lone win coming over Iowa State at home.
TCU has the second-best defense in the conference behind Iowa State, but at 3-5 the Horned Frogs are on the outside looking in for bowl season. The back of the schedule lightens up a little bit except for a road game at West Virginia. If they lose to the Mountaineers, the team will need to win each of the other three remaining games just to achieve a .500 record.