Through four weeks of the 2013 FBS college football season, 14 teams are still in search of their first win. Thanks to the way the schedule falls over the next 11 weeks, the highest that number can possibly be by season’s end is nine, although recent history suggests it will be much lower. There have been only 11 total winless seasons in FBS over the past decade, and never more than two in a single year. In fact, only one team has suffered that indignity over the last three seasons combined. We’ll get to them in a minute.
Our stance here at FootballScoop is that we hope all 126 FBS teams feel the elation of victory at least once this season. Controversial, I know. Here is our breakdown for why each of the unlucky baker’s dozen finds itself looking still in search of that first win, and its prospects of breaking the goosegg. We’ll break things down conference by conference. (Each team in the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC has already won at least one game.)
Connecticut (0-3) – In its third year at UConn, Paul Pasqualoni’s staff does not benefit from the buffer of rebuilding that many schools in this group blame. This house should be fully built by now. On the plus side, the Huskies have improved with each game. But when your season starts with a two-touchdown loss to Towson, it’s hard to go anywhere but up. If Connecticut plays like it did against Michigan, they’ll get into the Win column before Halloween.
The road ahead: at Buffalo, vs. South Florida, at Cincinnati, at Central Florida, vs. Louisville, at SMU, at Temple, vs. Rutgers, vs. Memphis
Outlook: Neither Buffalo nor South Florida are gimmes, but these next two are the ones that the Huskies really need to focus on because the road doesn’t get any easier after these two.
South Florida (0-3) – I’m not sure even Willie Taggart knew the cupboard was this bare when he got to Tampa. The Bulls have been double-digit losers in each outing, lowlighted by a 53-21 loss to McNeese State to open the year. This bus needs an entire new engine, tires and interior.
The road ahead: vs. Miami, vs. Cincinnati, at Connecticut, vs. Louisville, at Houston, vs. Memphis, vs. SMU, at Central Florida, at Rutgers
Outlook: I don’t know where it will come, but I do fully expect Willie Taggart’s team to break into the win column. Willie Taggart took over a WKU team that lost every game the year before and willed that team to two wins in year 1 at WKU and seven in each of the next two seasons. He’ll find a way.
Temple (0-3) – If you want to see the glass half full, Matt Rhule’s team came as close as anybody on this list to winning a game. If you want to see the glass half empty, Temple lost to Fordham on a 29-yard touchdown pass with four seconds showing on the clock. Temple is one of the few teams on this list that shouldn’t really be rebuilding; the Owls didn’t fire their previous head coach, but instead lost him to Boston College. Losing at Notre Dame in week 1 is understandable and the Owls had a good shot versus Houston in week 2 but couldn’t close that one out.
The road ahead: at Idaho, vs. Louisville, at Cincinnati, vs. Army, at SMU, at Rutgers, vs. Central Florida, vs. Connecticut, at Memphis
Outlook: A win stares this team in the face on Saturday, they just have to go to Moscow, Idaho, and take it. If they can’t get that one, though, look out below.
Iowa State (0-2) – Full disclosure, we’re so accustomed to Iowa State’s run of relative success that we didn’t even consider the Cyclones could get to late September without a win on our first run through the standings. Taking two of the first four Saturdays off also helps the Iowa State fly under the radar quite a bit, too. The defense is always solid in Ames, but the offensive talent has evaported under Paul Rhoads. In a conference where winning games requires scoring points, that’s not good.
The road ahead: at Tulsa, vs. Texas, at Texas Tech, at Baylor, vs. Oklahoma State, at Kansas State, vs. TCU, at Oklahoma, vs. Kansas, at West Virginia
Outlook: Thursday night’s game at Tulsa, the teams’ third tilt in 13 months, is certainly winnable. Drop that, though, and Iowa State could find itself like Kansas of late, a victim of the Big 12’s suffocating depth, until closing with Kansas and West Virginia.
Southern Miss (0-3) – The only team saddled with a winless season since 2010 we mentioned above? You’re looking at them. The owners of an FBS-worst 15-game losing streak, Southern Miss has to be the only team in NCAA history to suffer a 15-game losing streak whose last two wins were a conference championship game and bowl game. After blowing a 15-14 fourth-quarter lead to Texas State in the opener, Todd Monken’s team spends all of September on the road, visiting Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State. Plenty of non-AQ teams, winless or not, would struggle with that slate.
The road ahead: at Boise State, vs. Florida International, at East Carolina, vs. North Texas, at Marshall, at Louisiana Tech, vs. Florida Atlantic, vs. Middle Tennessee, at UAB
Outlook: FIU comes first, but there are also other winnable games on this schedule.
Florida International (0-4) – How else can you say it? The Golden Panthers have been brutal this season. Their closest loss was a 34-13 setback to Bethune-Cookman, they’ve already been shutout twice, and they were just beaten 72-0 by Louisville. With a ledger that reads “Opponents 187, Panthers 23”, FIU ranks dead last among eligible teams in scoring offense and second to last in scoring defense.
The road ahead: at Southern Miss, vs. UAB, vs. Louisiana Tech, vs. East Carolina, at Middle Tennessee, at UTEP, vs. Marshall, at Florida Atlantic
Outlook: Southern Miss is a huge game for both teams. Two teams enter, one team leaves.
Miami, Ohio (0-3) – After going 4-8 in each of his first two seasons, Don Treadwell is off to a familiar start in his third year in Oxford. While the RedHawks defense has improved week after week (52 points allowed to Marshall, 41 to Kentucky, 14 to Cincinnati), the offense has followed the same trajectory – scoring 14, then seven, then zero.
The road ahead: at Illinois, vs. Central Michigan, at Massachusetts, vs. Akron, at Ohio, vs. Bowling Green, at Kent State, vs. Buffalo, at Ball State.
Outlook: Just a feeling, but we see Miami finding a few wins in this group.
Massachusetts (0-4) – UMass is 1-15 since moving to the FBS, with a composite score of 612-180 in favor of the opponent. They’ve lost by 17 points or more 11 times in 16 games. Is it too soon to ask if moving up from the CAA to the MAC was a mistake? And if so, what can Charley Molnar and his staff possibly do?
The road ahead: at Bowling Green, vs. Miami (Ohio), at Buffalo, vs. Western Michigan, vs. Northern Illinois, vs. Akron, at Central Michigan, at Ohio
Outlook: One would think with both Miami (Ohio) and Western Michigan coming to town that UMass has a shot. It won’t be easy; but if they play well…
Western Michigan (0-4) – The Broncos started respectably under new head coach P.J. Fleck, playing Michigan State to a 26-13 score. Since then, Western Michigan lost to Nicholls State, then lost to Northwestern by 21, and then lost to Iowa by 56. The boat is rowing in the wrong direction. As a program, Western Michigan has dropped six consecutive games and nine of their last 10.
The road ahead: vs. Kent State, at Toledo, vs. Buffalo, vs. Ball State, at Massachusetts, at Eastern Michigan, vs. Central Michigan, at Northern Illinois
Outlook: The good news is they still have both UMass and Eastern Michigan on the schedule, unfortunately both are on the road. No way PJ Fleck goes winless, right?
San Diego State (0-3) – The Aztecs have to be the most perplexing team left looking for its first win. This is a team that shared the 2012 Mountain West title with Boise State and Fresno State, and returns its coaching staff led by head man Rocky Long. The year opened with a 40-19 stunner to Eastern Illinois (who has turned out to be a very good team), then a predictable blowout to Ohio State. Saturday’s loss was the most encouraging and frustrating yet, after San Diego State took a 27-14 lead against Oregon State, only to see it turn into a 34-30 loss capped by a 16-yard interception return for the clinching score.
The road ahead: at New Mexico State, vs. Nevada, at Air Force, vs. Fresno State, vs. New Mexico, at San Jose State, at Hawaii, vs. Boise State, at UNLV
Outlook: Not that this statement will make them happy, but San Diego State fans can sleep well knowing this schedule is in front of them. They will not go 0-for… No chance.
Hawaii (0-3) – A Norm Chow coached team should be better than this on offense, right? Hawaii tied for 100th last year with a 21.17 scoring average, and has mustered just 36 points through three games in 2013. The defense has played up to its 35.67 points against average to date this season, giving up 31.3 points in defeats to USC, Oregon State and Nevada.
The road ahead: vs. Fresno State, vs. San Jose State, at UNLV, vs. Colorado State, at Utah State, at Navy, vs. San Diego State, at Wyoming, vs. Army
Outlook: This is a challenging one. You keep thinking Hawaii is going to play like “Hawaii” but then they don’t. Who knows how a Hawaii at UNLV game turns out. Colorado State traveling to the islands, maybe? Army having to make the long trip the final weekend? Yeah, all are solid maybes. In the past one would feel confident; but right now, who knows?
Georgia State (0-4) – In its first year in the Sun Belt, Georgia State is technically only 0-1 as an FBS member – and 0-3 against the FCS. Not only were the Panthers 41-7 losers to West Virginia, they’ve also dropped games against Samford, Chattanooga and Jacksonville State. Wherever you are on October 5, remember to hold a quick thought for Trent Miles’ bunch. They’ll be at Bryant-Denny Stadium taking on Alabama.
The road ahead: at Alabama, vs. Troy, at Texas State, at Louisiana-Monroe, vs. Western Kentucky, vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, at Arkansas State, vs. South Alabama
Outlook: Oh boy. This could be tough. Hopefully 22 players survive the Alabama game. After that, lets give it all we got but,wow, this one isn’t easy to see.
Idaho (0-4) – Thank God for the Sun Belt. After the implosion of the WAC following last season, Paul Petrino’s program will only have to spend one season in football purgatory before joining the a conference full of teams from Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia starting in 2014. They’ll still be the most isolated program in the continential United States, but at least they’ll have help filling out a 12-game schedule. As for the on-the-field product, the next time the Vandals hold a team to less than 40 points will be the first.
The road ahead: vs. Temple, vs. Fresno State, at Arkansas State, at Ole Miss, vs. Texas State, vs. Old Dominion, at Florida State, at New Mexico State
Outlook: First, lets try to knock off Temple before they find their groove. Its not easy after that. Although that tilt in the final weekend vs New Mexico State could be important.
New Mexico State (0-4) – Repeat everything you just read about Idaho – including the part about holding opponents to less than 40 points – but reduce the isolation in relation to the rest of the Sun Belt by about 1,500 miles and add in relative proximity to Texas and Arizona, plus lots and lots of sunshine.
The road ahead: vs. San Diego State, at New Mexico, vs. Rice, vs. Abilene Christian, at Louisiana-Lafayette, vs. Boston College, at Florida Atlantic, vs. Idaho
Outlook: One would think New Mexico State should a team in the beginning stages of moving from Division II to FCS, nine times out of 10; however Abilene-Christian won’t be an easy W. If you’re looking for a win over an FBS opponent, though, you may have to wait until late November.
Again, if it were up to us every team on this list would win at least once. But it’s not and, unfortunate as it is, one to three teams could be left standing when the music stops 11 weeks from now. To everyone on this list, just know that we’re pulling for you.