The season began, for most teams, 16 days ago. And yet here we sit, on Sept. 17, and the majority of teams have already hit the quarter-mile mark on the 2018 season. Life comes at you fast in college football.
As the season barrels into its second quarter, let’s take a quick look at all the FBS teams still looking for their first win, with a few notable exceptions.
Season to date: Losses to North Texas (46-23), TCU (42-12) and Michigan (45-20)
Time to worry? No. Dating back to a 51-10 loss to Louisiana Tech in last year’s Frisco Bowl, the Mustangs are 0-4 in the Sonny Dykes era with a cumulative score of 184-65 in the wrong direction. But don’t hit the panic button just yet. The Frisco Bowl is a wash considering Dykes took over just days before the game, and SMU’s 2018 schedule to date may very well be the most difficult in the entire country. A bowl trip seems highly unlikely, but let this staff get in a couple fair fights before passing judgment.
Florida State (1-2)
Season to date: Losses to Virginia Tech (24-3) and Syracuse (30-7), win over Samford (36-26)
Time to worry? Yes and no. We covered Florida State’s fall in Nuggets, and it’s been one of the most covered stories of the year thus far. Let’s just say a GoFundMe drive to buy out Willie Taggart three games in wasn’t part of the plan. When things get this bad, this quickly, it’s never just about the current staff. Taggart and staff didn’t leave their football knowledge in Eugene. FSU is in the midst of changing schemes, but any development is hamstrung by an offensive line submerged by poor evaluations and poor health. The team won’t step forward until the line improves, and until then the poor line play has the possibility of engulfing the entire season. This four-second clip is a pretty good summation of where things stand right now in Tallahassee.
Yeah. Deondre Francois has had enough. pic.twitter.com/wUnj9Kpnl5
— Eric Robinson (@_Eric_Robinson) September 15, 2018
North Carolina (0-2)
Season to date: Losses to California (24-17) and East Carolina (41-19); Game vs. UCF cancelled.
Time to worry? Yes. It feels like so long ago UNC started 11-1 in 2015. After losing Seth Littrell to North Texas, the Heels have slipped to 8-5 in 2016, 3-9 a year ago and 0-2 this year (with Hurricane Florence sparing UNC a likely 0-3 start). North Carolina is 2-13 in its past 15 games against FBS opponents, and the 41-19 loss at struggling ECU rivals only Rutgers’s 55-14 loss at Kansas as the worst performance by a Power 5 team to date in 2018.
Iowa State (0-2)
Season to date: Losses to Iowa (13-3) and Oklahoma (37-27); Game vs. South Dakota State cancelled.
Time to worry? No. In all likelihood, the Cyclones don’t belong on this list. Iowa is second nationally in scoring defense, and OU is 10th in scoring offense. A home game against Akron awaits on Saturday, so their time here is probably short. But a gauntlet awaits after that, back-to-back-to-back games against No. 17 TCU, No. 15 Oklahoma State and No. 12 West Virginia, the first two on the road. This team will need to improve fast to avoid a 1-5 start.
Season to date: Losses to Colorado (33-28) and Troy (24-19); Game vs. Akron cancelled.
Time to worry? No. Like Iowa State, Mother Nature robbed Nebraska of its likely first win. The Troy loss was disappointing, sure, and the 0-2 start will make a bowl trip an uphill climb, but this team should improve as the season goes along, especially once quarterback Adrian Martinez returns.
Season to date: Losses to Northwestern (31-27), Eastern Michigan (20-19) and Missouri (40-37)
Time to worry? No. Losing to Eastern Michigan is never part of the plan, but the offense is up from 67th to 13th nationally in yards per play. The defense, though, has dropped from 52nd to 114th.
Season to date: Win over Texas State (35-7), losses to Ohio State (52-3) and Kansas (55-14)
Time to panic? Yes. Losing by 40-plus to Ohio State is expected in Piscataway, even acceptable. Losing by 40-plus to Kansas is not. The Jayhawks officially and emphatically passed the torch as the worst Power 5 program to Rutgers on Saturday, and as such Rutgers must evaluate how much progress has been made in the 7-20 Chris Ash era.
Old Dominion (0-3)
Season to date: Losses to Liberty (52-10), FIU (28-20) and Charlotte (28-25)
Time to panic? Possibly. ODU has followed 2016’s 10-3 breakthrough by going 5-10 since the beginning of 2017.
Season to date: Losses to Northern Arizona (30-10), UNLV (52-24) and Tennessee (24-0).
Time to panic? No. The Miners are off to an 0-3 start to the Dana Dimel era, sure, but that’s just a snapshot of the program’s overall 15-game losing streak. UTEP will need to swing an upset to get a win on the board this year.
Season to date: Losses to Arizona State (49-7), Baylor (37-20) and Kansas State (41-17)
Time to panic? No, but place a bookmark here. UTSA is one of the few (only?) teams to play three Power 5 opponents thus far, but the trend line is a cause for concern. After starting the Frank Wilson era at 11-9, the Roadrunners are 1-6 in their last seven games. UTSA has a nice shot to get back to .500 with Texas State, UTEP and Rice coming up. Losing defensive coordinator Pete Golding to Alabama has been tough blow.
Western Kentucky (0-3)
Season to date: Losses to Wisconsin (34-3), Maine (31-28) and Louisville (20-17)
Time to panic? No, but place a bookmark here, too. The Hilltoppers have been getting leads, they just haven’t been able to keep them. WKU raced to a 21-0 lead against Maine, but then allowed the Bears to score 31 straight points. On Saturday, WKU coughed away a 14-0 lead on Louisville. WKU has been a mirror image of UTSA: After beginning the Mike Sanford era at 5-2, WKU is 1-8 in its last nine games.
Season to date: Win over Duquesne (63-15), losses to Boston College (55-21), Georgia Southern (34-13) and FIU (63-24)
Time to panic? Yes. Mark Whipple is 62-65 as UMass’s head coach, but 13-39 in his current tenure, which began in 2014. Any evaluation of the coaching staff must also include a stock-taking of the program’s status as an FBS Independent.
New Mexico State (0-4)
Season to date: Losses to Wyoming (29-7), Minnesota (48-10), Utah State (60-13) and New Mexico (42-25)
Time to panic? No. The Aggies went to their first bowl game in 60 years in 2017, but winning in Las Cruces remains tremendously difficult. Doug Martin’s crew goes to El Paso on Saturday.
Central Michigan (0-3)
Season to date: Losses to Kentucky (35-20), Kansas (31-7) and Northern Illinois (24-16)
Time to panic? No. Central Michigan is riding the first 3-year bowl streak in program history, and Maine comes to campus on Saturday.
Miami (Ohio) (0-3)
Season to date: Losses to Marshall (35-28), Cincinnati (21-0) and Minnesota (26-3)
Time to panic? Yes. They’re in Year 5 of the Chuck Martin era in Oxford, and a proud program is still waiting on its first winning season. Miami is 16-36 under Martin, and 24-64 since Mike Haywood left for the Pittsburgh job in 2010. All this at a program with 22 conference championships and a nickname as the Cradle of Coaches.
Colorado State (1-3)
Season to date: Losses to Hawaii (43-34), Colorado (45-13) and Florida (48-10), win over Arkansas (37-29)
Time to panic? Keep an eye on this one. Mike Bobo went exactly 7-6 in each of his first three seasons after inheriting a 10-2 team from Jim McElwain. Colorado State’s defense ranks 126th in yards per play. How much of that is a function of the schedule and how much is the Rams’ own issues?
San Jose State (0-3)
Season to date: Losses to UC Davis (44-38), Washington State (31-0) and Oregon (35-22)
Time to panic? Yes. Brent Brennan is 2-14 in San Jose, but that record is but a symptom of a larger overall problem. Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette Journal noted that San Jose State has yet to post a single winning season in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball or baseball since joining the Mountain West in 2013.
Season to date: Losses to Cincinnati (26-17), Oklahoma (49-21) and Fresno State (38-14)
Time to panic? No, but it is time to recalibrate. UCLA was never going to be the just-add-water situation Oregon was, but it’s jarring to see a coach with a 46-7 college record struggle like this. Kelly’s Oregon teams lost those seven games by 51 combined points. His UCLA teams are already 20 points beyond that, three games in. Given the opportunity to do it over again, UCLA power brokers would still trade Jim Mora for Chip Kelly. These first three games have uncovered two uncomfortable truths in Westwood: 1) The program is further behind than it appeared, and 2) Kelly is no longer ahead of the rest of the sport like he was at Oregon.
Season to date: Win over UNLV (43-21), losses to Stanford (17-3) and Texas (37-14)
Time to panic? Maybe! Clay Helton is 28-12 at USC and the Trojans are the reigning Pac-12 champions. Since beating Stanford for last year’s Pac-12 title, USC has dropped three straight games to Power 5 opponents, all by at least 14 points. The temperature in Los Angeles is significantly hotter than it is nationally. Much to the chagrin of the fan base, the putrid state of the Pac-12 South may allow USC to rally from here.
Season to date: Win over Eastern Illinois (55-20), losses to Colorado State (34-27) and North Texas (44-17)
Time to panic: No. Like Florida State and UCLA, the Arkansas staff is undergoing a major rebuild while at the same time executing a total scheme overhaul, which has led to some pretty dreadful results. Unlike FSU and UCLA, though, Arkansas’s poor start has been made all the more painful by self-inflicted wounds. The Hogs blew a 27-9 third quarter lead in Fort Collins, low-lighted by Chad Morris electing to punt on a 4th-and-1 at midfield to open the fourth quarter with a significant size and strength advantage on his side. On Saturday, Arkansas was not only blown off its home field by North Texas, the Mean Green exploited the Hogs’ poor attention to detail to create a viral sensation.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 15, 2018
Like with Florida State’s offensive line and UCLA’s, well, everything, Morris doesn’t have the quarterback on campus to run his offense, and until that player is in place nothing will change. Cole Kelley threw four interceptions and was booed when he took the field to start the second half. His backups threw two more. To date, Arkansas quarterbacks are 128th nationally in passing efficiency against FBS opponents. Considering the Hogs play in the toughest division in college football, it seems the situation may get worse before it gets better.