Preseason AP Top 25 teams that are currently stuck in limbo
So much for those magazines and polls that everyone put a lot of emphasis on before the start of the 2018 season.
With eight weeks of College Football completed, seven teams that had a lot of hype during the off-season have not solidified their premature ranking and are now in a forgotten place. No one is expecting much from these teams for the remainder of the year and the best these squads can hope for is to play spoiler to other highly-ranked opponents remaining on their schedule.
All seven teams will have a tough hill to climb with finding their way back into the rankings. Still, the opportunity is there to make a late push, but they all will need to win the rest of their games to have a chance. If the mediocre play continues, their seasons will be considered a complete disappointment and they’ll be viewed as underachievers.
Auburn: The Tigers came into the season at No. 9 and was expected to compete in the SEC West. However, Auburn is 5-3 on the season and currently has a losing conference record at 2-3. The Tigers season started off with a bang after they defeated Washington in the opener, but after conference losses to LSU, Tennessee and Mississippi State, the team is struggling to stay afloat in the SEC West pool. Quarterback play has been spotty and the defense hasn’t been as dominant as the unit was early on in the season. Liberty seems like the only winnable game remaining on the schedule to get the Tigers to bowl-eligibility. With Texas A&M and rivals Georgia and Alabama looming, it’s far-fetched to believe Auburn will finish the regular season with seven wins.
Florida State: It’s hard to believe that the Seminoles came into the season ranked at No. 19. After all, Florida State was coming off a seven-win campaign in 2017 and had a new coach in place. The season has been a disaster from the start, after losing the home-opener to Virginia Tech and squeaking by FCS foe Samford. Florida State also lost conference road games to Syracuse and in-state rival Miami. Florida State has yet to beat a Power 5 team with a winning record. Head Coach Willie Taggart has his team playing better as of late, but nowhere near where the Seminoles were expected to be. A win at home against Clemson this Saturday will show Taggart has the program heading in the right direction.
Miami: The Hurricanes were trending up coming into this fall. Miami was coming off a 10-win season, played in the ACC Championship Game and returned a senior quarterback. However, LSU humbled Miami in the season-opener, but the team won five-straight games before losing to Virginia on the road last week. Head Coach Mark Richt is scratching his head wondering what to do next after he already shuffled his quarterbacks. The good news for the Hurricanes is that they are 5-2 on the season, has only one conference loss and their schedule gets easier for the next five games. Out of all teams on this list, Miami has the best chance to climb back into the rankings by winning out and potentially reaching the Conference Title Game for the second-straight year.
Michigan State: The Spartans were expecting to do big things in 2018 after a 10-win campaign last season. Michigan State came into the season ranked at No. 11 and was supposed to challenge for a Big 10 Title. That’s not the case after seven games. Michigan State is 4-3 on the year, with double-digit losses to Northwestern and in-state rival Michigan. The offense has regressed from last season and the defense hasn’t been as dominant as expected. Luckily for the Spartans their schedule gets a lot easier in the next five games and the team gets Ohio State at home. The opportunity is there for Michigan State to finish with eight wins to close out the regular season, but that’s not enough to validate its’ Top-15 ranking to start the year.
Southern California: The Trojans were expected to take a step back after losing their record-setting quarterback, a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver and key leaders on defense. Still, the polls had USC as high as 15th in the rankings, but the program sits at 4-3 after seven games. Head Coach Clay Helton seat is pretty warm after last week’s double-digit loss to Utah on the road. USC’s defense has allowed 36 or more points three times this season and true freshman signal-caller JT Daniels has struggled with consistency. The next two games against Arizona State and Oregon State are winnable, but the last three against California, UCLA and Notre Dame will be a challenge. The reigning PAC-12 Champs will need to win the rest of their conference games to have a chance at clinching a berth in the Title Game for a second-straight year.
TCU: The Horned Frogs lost a ton on offense from last season, including a great quarterback, so it was mind-boggling for the AP Poll to have them at No. 16 to start the year. TCU is 3-4 after seven games, 1-3 in Big 12 play and have lost two-straight conference games. Head Coach Gary Patterson can forget about making it to the Big 12 Championship Game for a second-straight year. The good news is that the Horned Frogs will need to win three of their next five games to become bowl-eligible. The bad news is that three of TCU’s next four games will be on the road and the team has yet to win a conference road this season. The defense was expected to carry this team in 2018, but with the offense struggling mightily, don’t be surprised if TCU fails to make it to a bowl game.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies started the year at No. 20 and had all the momentum after beating Florida State at the Doak in the season-opener. However, the embarrassing loss at Old Dominion was a huge blow to Virginia Tech and with a 4-3 record after seven games, it’s obvious that the team hasn’t recovered. Bud Foster’s defense has been the biggest disappointment of the season and the Hokies have allowed 45 or more points in their three losses. The blowout loss to Georgia Tech has halted momentum, but Virginia Tech is still 3-1 in conference play and has the opportunity to make a run in the Coastal Division to clinch a berth in the ACC Championship Game. It’ll be interesting to see if the Hokies can save their season and finish on a high note.