Last weeks opening slate of games is in the books and as usual, the attrition on the Shortlist to South Beach is wide ranging and includes some unexpected strike-throughs. The following 39 teams find themselves taken out of the running for a national championship and for all intents and purposes, playing out the string on 2012 with 11 games to go:
Penn State, Colorado, California, Washington State, Pittsburgh, Boise State, Houston, Tulsa, San Diego State, Wyoming, Hawaii, Idaho, UNLV, Southern Miss, Marshall, UAB, SMU, UTEP, Rice, Tulane, Navy, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Oh), Bowling Green, Buffalo, Akron, Massachusetts, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, Texas State, UTSA, FIU, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama and North Texas.
In what has to be one of the worst opening weeks in Shortlist prediction history for me a whole seven teams won games last week I called for them to be taken out at the end of and they are:
1) Iowa State continues to exceed expectation under Paul Rhoads, as even a losing season thanks to last year's bowl loss can't dampen the good feelings of beating the best team in the nation for my money in Oklahoma State in 2011 or spoil the opener of this one, as they win 38-23 in Ames over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. I don't expect the Cyclones to last here on the Shortlist until the end of the month, but for the time being they remain the dominant weather pattern in the mid-west of the country thanks to the victory.
2) Colorado State sticks it to their 'older brother' Colorado in Denver 22-17. The Rams and Buffaloes rivalry is one of the most underrated in all of college football and when they play at a neutral site like they did this year and often do, it's a fantastic atmosphere that really translates well even over the broadcast. All you have to hear is the roar of the Rams partisans as the clock wore down during this game to realize just how much a win like this makes their season, anything else being just icing for them the rest of the way although now a bowl game is a distinct possibility for them.
3) Nevada turns up the tempature on California coach Jeff Tedford several notches by winning in Berkley 31-24. Chris Ault is in the Hall of Fame for his coaching of the Wolfpack, Tedford won't be for his job with the Bears whenever it ends sooner or later. Draw your own conclusions why this upset happened at Cal for only the second time in 109 years.
4) Ohio goes on the road and wins a game I spent a long time thinking about calling for them to win 24-14 against some state university once of great renown for playing football. Frank Solich isn't winning at the clip he was at Nebraska but he's also not running just the triple option anymore with the Bobcats. I'd also be hard pressed to name a more impressive win in his entire coaching career either, opponent defections be damned, and this year just might shape up now for an unlikely return to the BCS for the man who watched a national title get ripped from his grasp at the hands of the greatest college football team in history over a decade ago.
5) Louisiana Tech gets a hurricane assisted entry into this list although they only managed to not lose, instead of win, thanks to the postponing of their game at Texas A&M in a first for the Shortlist.
6) Texas State's sideline is where the latest Dennis Franchione career revival is taking place as it gets off to a flying start as they take out the once mighty Houston Cougars in Houston, 30-13. Whoever says coaching doesn't matter has never tried to get a Bobcat to take down a Cougar successfully before, obviously, as in 2010 the final was 66-28 the other way.
7) University of Texas-San Antonio coach Larry Coker, you might remember him, joins Frank Solich as a Shortlist prediction spoiler in week one with a 33-31 nail-biter of a win against South Alabama in Mobile. Say what you will about Miami's all time win percentage leader, who now boasts a career record in FBS play of 61-15, but building a program from the ground up is just the type of job his steady hand is best for and he now has a chance to stay on the Shortlist with the easiest schedule in the nation until the end of the month with this win.
In addition, 10 teams lost games last week that caused them to be taken out of Shortlist contention right away. The out of the running programs are:
1) Penn State. Good riddance.
2) Colorado. Wow, the Pacific Athletic Conference sure got stronger by just going with two additions instead of actually adding the good teams from the Big 12, didn't they? Once the Buffaloes fire Jon Embree maybe they can hire Kordell Stewart or Rashaan Salaam in a desperate attempt to recapture their relevance of a generation ago next? No, I don't think that would work either, actually.
3) California. On a personal level, my feelings about this school's football program are accurately summed up by the Latin saying from the third Punic War; California delenda est. Why you ask? Only the CEO knows and he isn't talking about it either. Let's all just move along.
4) Pittsburgh wins the award for most embarrising first week Shortlist elimination of 2012 by paying Youngstown State a metric ton of money to come to Heinz Field and beat them 31-17. Would Todd Graham fared any better than Paul Chryst? Who cares, what I really want to know is just how much extra money is the ACC really expecting from adding these guys and Syracuse to the TV rights negotiations? Right about now Dave Wannstedt looks like a good replacement in Pittsburgh, at least he got upset by FBS teams instead.
5) Memphis finds a way to lose to UT Martin, a team they beat handily in 2009 during a season they finished a whopping 2-10, 20-17 at home. Now playing for their third coach in four seasons, this program is the definition of unsettled and still has light years to go to find any relief from the problems that plague it.
6) Houston, speaking of unsettled programs, sees their offensive coordinator resign after their loss to Texas State, no word on which type of gun was pointed at him while he submitted that piece of paper yet, however.
7) Tulsa's singular Hurricane loss leaves only the real Hurricanes on the Shortlist in 2012, which combined with the fake Miami's exit, means there's no confusion possible for the rest of the year when it comes to Miami Hurricane predictions here. Now, about outlasting that other UM . . .
8) Idaho has seen some good days under coach Robb Akey at the Kibbie Dome, Thursday's opener was not one of them however as they lose 20-3 to Eastern Washington, their former Big Sky opponent. No wonder they called off the series in 1995.
9) Middle Tennessee was supposed to be back near the form that won them 10 games four seasons ago, apparently McNeese State didn't get the memo as they spoil the opener in Murfreesboro for the home team, 27-21. How Rick Stockstill's perennial league favorite responds from here is anybody's guess but you figure they still have to win more than the two games they did last year, right?
10) South Alabama proves they have a long way to go to join their SEC in-state brethren as football powers by losing at home in one of the most entertaining games on opening night. This result should be the opening act of what will be the first losing season in school history, which will take away the only bragging point their fans have over their in-state brethren at this point.
There are a total of 19 teams this week I'm predicting will be eliminated from the 2012 Shortlist, they are:
Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Syracuse, Nevada, Fresno State, Air Force, New Mexico, UCF, East Carolina, Army, Central Michigan, Ball State, Utah State, New Mexico State, Texas State, Louisiana, WKU, ULM and FAU.
Enjoy the games this week and join me back here next week as the Shortlist to South Beach continues to work its way to the halfway point of eliminations and the resulting jump from tracking the eliminated to following the favorites for 2012's national championship game.
Copyright 2012 by Christopher Whelpton for Canespace.com