There’s bad, and then there’s this week’s Bottom 10

  • Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com
  • 2-time Sports Emmy winner
  • 2010, 2014 NMPA Writer of the Year

[Editor’s note: Can anyone stop the Bottom 10 juggernaut that is UConn? There are plenty of candidates, including … Florida State and the Pac-12?]

Inspirational thought of the week:

I got a baby on the East Coast
I got a gig going on the West Coast
(I got a) suitcase full of sorrow
I’m so tired of paying traveling dues
Lonely in the evening
No good make-believing
Anyone else could make me happy
Like my little darling
One of these days I’m gonna pack
My bags and go way back home
Where I can see my baby on the East Coast
I got the blues

— “West Coast Blues,” Nancy Wilson

Here at Bottom 10 Headquarters, located behind the giant swimming pool of bleach where Penn State fans swim in their clothes before White Out games, we spend every Saturday night the same way we spend every Saturday morning, mainlining caffeine like it was being dispensed through a Formula One fuel injector. Why? Because football failure has no concept of the clock. It doesn’t even know what a time zone is. It never stops.

Every fall Saturday, lopsided scores spread across the United States like tentacles, gross, sticky arms that reach into press boxes and post headshaking numbers onto scoreboards, beginning in the northeastern corridor of Storrs and Amherst at noon ET and not stopping until they have entangled the entire map, all the way across the Pacific to Honolulu, a full 15 hours later.

At a time when our nation has never been more divided, when people are so desperate for something, anything, that might sew us all together into one quilt of American unity, they are looking in the wrong places for the solution.

Forget the bookshelves and think tanks of politics and sociology. Instead, they should be digging deep into America’s kitchen junk drawer. You know the one, with the dried-out markers, unwrapped cough drops, leftover sandwich bag twist ties and those coupons you saved but are never going to use.

Beneath all that, there it is: the metaphorical answer. One loose thread in the back of the drawer, the one that’s kind of sticky and is wrapped around a 3-year-old loose raisin. That thread is the key to our unity. The one thread that connects us all, from sea to shining sea and L to dingy L. Losing. Don’t believe me? Read ahead and experience the sweaty, wheezy group hug that is the Bottom 10.

With apologies to Archytas of Tarentum and Steve Harvey, here’s the 2021 Week 3 rankings.

1. U-Can’t (0-4)

After UConn and Randy Edsall parted ways, a columnist for The Daily Campus suggested the Huskies hire Presbyterian College head coach Kevin “Never Punt” Kelley, and with good reason. The PC Blue Hose were off to a 2-0 start, shattering FCS touchdown passing records and scoring 152 points in two weeks. But in their first game after that column was written, Kelley’s team lost to the Campbell Fighting Camels 72-0. That’s how bad UConn is: Even being loosely linked to the Huskies in a student newspaper is a curse. All Bottom 10 eyes are firmly pointed toward Oct. 9, when Connecticut takes a wagon ride to …

2. UMess (0-3)

The Minutemen fell to former Bottom 10 stalwart-turned-bowl game regular, the Eastern Michigan University Emus. This weekend, they travel to the beach to face another former Bottom 10 stalwart-turned-bowl game regular, Coastal Carolina. Then begins what could be an unprecedented Bottom 10 Pillow Fight of the Week trilogy event. The weekend before they host UConn, UMess will face Toledo, which dropped to 1-2 (more on them later). Then, the weekend after the UConn game, the Minutemen will pass down the Pike to the panhandle to play …

3. Florida State Semi-No’s (0-3)

Remember how at the height of the pandemic lockdown we all lost the ability to keep track of time, making some days that we’d had just a week or two earlier feel as if they’d happened like 12 years prior? That’s how FSU’s 41-38 loss to Notre Dame feels now.

4. Minute Rice (0-3)

It had been, well, a minute since Rice was in these rankings, but now it is sinking to the bottom of the pot after being boiled by Arkansas, Houston and Texas throughout the entirety of September — or as they call it at Rice, Southwest Conference Extinction Appreciation Month.

5. #Pac12AfterDark

On Friday on SportsCenter, I dropped some accidental freezing cold take Coveted Fifth Spot prophecy when I was asked what game I was really looking forward to the following day. I said Arizona State vs. BYU, because, “Arizona State is really good, and a win over BYU sets up a huge game at UCLA two weeks from now. While we’ve been talking about Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA are playing great, and all the sudden the Pac-12 might have three teams thinking about a College Football Playoff run.” I went to bed that night on the East Coast, and when I woke up, ASU had lost to BYU and UCLA had lost to Fresno State — and when I pulled down the covers, my bed was full of duck feathers.

6. By The Time I Get To Arizona (0-3)

Speaking of Oregon and UCLA, the Wildcats play them both over the next two weekends after falling to Northern Arizona, an FCS team that was 0-2 following losses to Sam Houston State and South Dakota. So, that should go well.

7. unLv (0-3)

The Fightin’ Tarks played a pair of ranked teams in Arizona State and Iowa State and lost by a combined score of 85-13. Now they will play newly ranked Fresno State. After all those losses to all those States, the Rebs will be in a state of mind that makes one thankful to live in a state built on sin.

8. Ohio Not State (0-3)

The Bobcats fell on the road to the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana by a scant margin of 49-14, and they will continue what seems to be a Spicy Foods of Football tour as they head to Chicago, traveling northwest to face 1-2 Northworstern. The Bobcats are #MACtion’s only winless team, no small accomplishment considering the conference has 12 members and nine of them are 1-2, including Ohio’s next opponent, Akron-monious, which earned its first win of the season by defeating Bryant. When informed of the loss, the alums of Bryant replied, “We have a football team?”

9. Holy Toledo Bottle Rockets (1-2)

Clearly sick of #MACTtion East hogging the Bottom 10 spotlight, #MACtion West fired a rocket to blow out that bulb. Toledo entered its game with then-fourth ranked Colora-duh State as a 14.5-point favorite and with the magically mysterious FPI saying its chances of winning the game were 91 percent. So, of course they fizzled and fell back to Bottom 10 Earth, losing 22-6.

10. How? Why? Yuh (1-3)

The final spot in this week’s countdown came down to Hawaii and New Mexico State, a pair of 1-3 teams. But the Aggies just scored their first win of the season, over South Carolina State, so we gave them the week off. Besides, on Saturday night they play Hawaii, so we’ll let this be settled the way the Bottom 10 gods intended, on the field … in Las Cruces … untelevised.

Waiting list: ULM (pronounced “uhlm”), Kansas Nayhawks, Whew Mexico State, Tulsa Foldin’ Hurricane, The Yew, Northworstern, FI(not A)U, Old Duh-minions, Southern Missed, North Texas Armadillos, Colora-duh State, Georgia Southern Not State, COVID-19.

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