Tuesday, September 6, 2016

College Football: (Week One) The Misery Index. (OK, so your team lost...)

You know the drill (unless you are an Alabama fan) the football season starts and you are full of hope and optimism. You look at the roster, the schedule, your coaching staff (unless you are LSU) and you think "this is OUR year".  The year your team finally reaches up and grabs the brass ring of the College Football Playoff where they will then go on a run and play in the CFP Championship game. Where. They. Will. Win.

You've already planned your travel, have asked everyone in your family, in advance, for additional travel money for your birthday and Christmas.  All that's left to do is navigate 13 games (12 if you're in the Big XII). It's all out there in front of you, destiny and one of the ugliest championship trophies ever designed.

Then the mostly 18-22 year old young men on which you are basing all the aspirations of your life go out and get thumped. Not only do they just lose, they do so, in your mind, in the most soul-sucking way. All is lost. Cancel Christmas and go ahead and plow down the football stadium.  No reason to move forward now. You've made the snap-decision to give up college football for a year. You'll take up gardening, or go for long Saturday hikes instead. You're not watching this crap school's team again until they hire a coach who can actually win.

This is all well and good except, and you know this, you won't be digging in the gardenias next Saturday, you'll be doing what you always do: Watching College football and hoping against hope that you can still make it as a one-loss team.

With that in mind it's time to take a look at the misery index, the amount of trouble that teams are in given the fact that they lost a high-profile game in week one.  And while it's silly to say that any team is eliminated from the CFP after one loss, some losses are worse than others.

1. Notre Dame (Misery index: 2.0) Yes the loss to Texas was a stunner, totally unexpected to fans-of-Irish-Eyes. However.

Reasons to hope: It was a loss on the road to a team that has an outside chance to win the Big XII. Texas will be ranked after beating you and you still have that long list of cupcakes "traditional rivals" on your schedule that will allow you to pile up wins. You also have some games with the relatively soft (this year) ACC and a game against USC, which looks to be as soft as a pillow this year. (more on them later.)  Plus, you're Notre Dame, and the CFP is BEGGING to get you in because you have what every college wants, a huge, nationwide, fan-base.

Reasons to despair: You have a good QB in Kizer, but your head coach seems intent on making sure everyone gets a participation award. This means that you're sure to see Zaire play at least some on the coming weeks.

Still, if Brian Kelly can figure out that Kizer is a stud, you still have the pieces in place to get to the playoff and make a run.  Dry those Irish Eyes.

2. Ole Miss (Misery Index: 4.2) Index does not include the potential that you're going to have to vacate all wins this year due to NCAA investigation.

Reasons to hope: Lookit, despite the fact that you blew a pretty good lead on Monday Night it was clear in that collapse that there's a ton of talent on this team. Kelly is a good quarterback and Engram was a stud WR in defeat. All in all your Rebels are a good team that played a bad game. Unfortunately.....

Reasons to despair: There is a growing thought that your coach is just not hardwired to win big games. His offense is great, but it's a one-trick pony. You may never just "run out the clock" when you need to.  And your QB is related to Jim Kelly (who, BTW, was looking GREAT on TV last night. Good to see) who is best known for losing four straight Super Bowls.

Still, if you can put it together against the SEC you'll automatically get the SEC "shine" that should still get you into the playoffs.

3. LSU (Misery Index: 6.8) Les Miles' seat is uncomfortably warm right about now.

Reasons to hope: You still have Leonard Fournette, and a pretty good o-line that can carry you to the win in a LOT of games. You also have a decent defense. And your schedule is still favorable this year.

Reasons to despair: You also are coached by a man who doesn't seem to understand how to run an advanced offense, or how to properly use the assets at his disposal.  And Cam Cameron is a fossil wrapped in a relic offensively. Also, Brandon Harris is your starting QB which is a problem. A BIG problem.

On the bright side, it appears that Charlie Strong and Kevin Sumlin can possibly do enough to save their jobs so you might win the Tom Herman derby next off-season.

4. OU (Misery index: 8.0) You should BEG the preseason rankings people to rank you 11-25 in the future.

Reasons to hope: Mixon looked good, and your defense played well (at times), plus you're playing in a Big XII conference that didn't exactly appear to be world-beaters over the weekend. Plus, if UH runs the table and you do as well you might get in if the ACC, Pac-12, B1G and SEC beat themselves up. Alabama appears to be a lock, but the other three slots are still wide-open.

Reasons to despair: It is really starting to appear that Bob Stoops should have fired Mike Stoops instead of Brent Venables a few years back. And Baker Mayfield showed early signs of having a Trevor Knight "Oh my Gawd" fall apart year following a good year. Plus, UT-Austin looked pretty damn salty against Notre Dame, and you couldn't even beat them LAST year when they weren't that good.

To be honest this feels like an 8-4 OU team, which is what we see when they play without that chip on their shoulder all too frequently.

5. USC (Misery index: 9.9) Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here. (Sort of)

Reasons to hope: OK, you lost, 52 to freaking 6.  But this is Alabama and they have a history of doing this to teams in week one. Plus, the only team in the Pac-12 that looks to be pretty good was Stanford.

Reasons to despair: Where to we start? You got housed by Alabama and your team didn't just seem to quit, they rolled up into the football equivalent of the fetal position. There was a time that you couldn't even cleanly execute the center/QB exchange. Also, Son of "Love Coach" appears to be slightly in over his head. This wasn't just a whooping, it was a soul-sucking whooping.

On the bright side, you have the Los Angeles Rams to distract you this year.

Extra Credit: Mississippi State. (Misery index: off the scale) This, is bad.

Reasons to hope: Wait until NEXT year!!!!

Reasons to despair: You just got beat by a school that's only been playing tackle football since 2009. AND you were a 20+ point favorite to boot. Add to this the fact that your head coach is desperately searching for a way out of town and you have a long, ugly road ahead of you.

Oh well everyone:  On to Week 2!!!!

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