NCAAF Teams
Ryan McGee, ESPN Senior Writer 363d

Bottom 10: Houston joins our power(less) rankings

College Football, Houston Cougars, Kansas Jayhawks, Iowa State Cyclones, Massachusetts Minutemen, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Rice Owls

The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:

They met on the dance floor in the old high school gym,
He fell like a rock, she kinda liked him.
And his heart beat like thunder, as they moved cross the floor,
When the music was over, she slipped out of his arms, and out the door.

So close, yet so far away.
So close, yet so far away.
We believe in tomorrow, maybe more than today.
We're so close, so close, yet so far away.

-- "So Close," Hall & Oates

Here at Bottom 10 headquarters, located in the guest room of the penthouse Brent Musburger rents to store all of his old network blazers, we do a lot of looking live, but we're not usually looking live at the games to which the rest of the nation is looking live.

Thusly, on Saturday we were honed in on Rutgers at Minnesota. That's where the Scarlet Knights had trailed 21-0 in the first quarter, but stormed back with a chance to tie the game at 24-24 midway through the third quarter ... but missed the PAT. Then they had a chance to tie the game at 31-31 early in the fourth ... but failed on the two-point conversion. Then they finally took the lead 32-31 with four minutes remaining ... but surrendered a 13-play, 59-yard drive. In the middle of it all was a backbreaker third-and-1 play when the Gophers ball carrier looked stopped, but spun and spun and spun like the "+" button on his controller was stuck ... and he broke a 9-yard run to set up the game winning field goal with 6 seconds left to play.

So close, yet so far away.

Seeking some sort of writerly symmetry, I reached out to the man who wrote those lyrics. Daryl Hall was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, became famous in Philadelphia and currently resides in New York. A life lived within the gravitational pull of Rutgers. So surely he could relate, right? "Mr. Hall politely requests you get off of his property," said a security officer at the gate of Daryl's house, where I could hear him singing with, I think it was Michael McDonald. "Mr. Hall says to tell you the rules are the same here as they were that time you jumped onto his bus outside of Dorton Arena in Raleigh in 1986. You creep him out. Go away."

So close, yet so far away.

With apologies to Oates and Steve Harvey, here's this week's Bottom 10.

1. FA(not I)U (1-6)

The Owls stumbled against the Fightin' Byes of Open Date U. after officials called for a late clock runoff. This week it's a visit from Western Kentucky, which according to the mysteriously accurate ESPN Stats & Information department FPI formula has an 86.5 percent chance of winning. In a related note, that same FPI formula gives our Bottom 10 Stats & Info department a 1.2 percent chance of understanding how the FPI formula works.

2. Rice (1-6)

Speaking of FPI, why are we even wasting it on games that don't matter? Because here at Bottom 10 HQ there's only one game that matters, and that's the Nov. 5 Pillow Fight of the Century, aka the Owl Bowl, when FA(not I)U visits Rice. As of right now, FPI says Rice has the edge with a 62 percent chance of winning, but also says that the rest of us have a 100.8 percent chance of winning simply because the game is being played.

3. Buffalo Bulls not Bills (1-6)

Should either of the Owls get their acts together, the MAC East stands ready to fill the breach. Or spill the bleach. The first round of the one-and-somethings MACtion bunkhouse stampede got underway last weekend when previously 13th-ranked one-win NIU housed previously eighth-ranked one-win Buffalo 44-7.

4. Bowling Green (1-7)

Meanwhile, previously seventh-ranked one-win Bowling Green lost to previously 12th-ranked one-win My Hammy of Ohio 40-26. Now currently fourth-ranked one-win Bowling Green will travel to currently 16th-ranked two-win NIU, but not until next week on the night after Halloween.

5. Houston (6-2)

How was the week in Houston? To quote Ricky Bobby, "Well, let's see. I got mauled by a cougar ... Wait, I am a cougar. ... I got mauled by a Mustang, I didn't get invited to join the Big 12, and my Crystal Gayle shirt is ruined. Other than that, it was great."

6. Fres-no State (1-7)

It's Pitchfork Season in the Bottom 10 and the latest team to run their coach out of town is Fresno, who fired Tim DeRuyter. During Monday's Championship Drive podcast, Ivan Maisel threw out some names of potential coaching candidates, including former Fresno bench-warming QB Lane Kiffin. As soon as we were done recording the pod, I immediately wrote a letter to Santa saying I wanted to change the first item on my wish list from an Evel Knievel action figure to Lane Kiffin becoming the head coach at Fresno State.

7. Kansas Nayhawks (1-6)

You can always tell it's time for Halloween when cable television channels start filling up their programming calendar with horror movies. For example: Kansas at Oklahoma and Kansas at West Virginia.

8. I-Ow!-A State (1-6)

A friendly warning: Assuming we all come out of the Owl Bowl with our wits still intact, we need to immediately brace ourselves for what comes the very next weekend, when Iowa State travels to Kansas for the Auntie Em Bowl.

9. UMess (1-7)

Two weeks ago, UMass surrendered 690 yards to Louisiana Tech. On Saturday, South Carolina scored more than 20 points for the first time this season. The Minutemen are the best thing to happen to improving male performance since ... well ... since a joke I can't write here without being fired.

10. In a Rut-gers (2-6)

The Knights host Open Date U. this weekend. Curiously, FPI gives the Fightin' Byes a 42.7 percent chance of winning.

Waiting list: EC-Yew (2-5), Feeling Ill-inois (2-5), Marshall (2-5), My Hammy of Ohio (2-6), State of Kent (2-6), NI-Whew (2-6), San Jose State (2-6), UL(not L)M (2-5), commenting that a team is cheating and refusing to comment on those comments.

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