The 2012 college football season is still young, but it's never too early to start looking at some of the biggest disappointments from the preseason. Arkansas' surprising loss to Louisiana-Monroe knocked it out of the national title picture, while the nation has yet to see Washington State's offense get on track. There's plenty of time for these teams, players and units to turn things around. However, after two weeks, these are our 10 biggest disappointments based on preseason expectations.
College Football’s Top 10 Disappointments After 2 Weeks
1. Arkansas – Yes, there was a drop off expected after Bobby Petrino was fired in the spring, but no one could have predicted Saturday night’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks are a solid Sun Belt team, but this is a game Arkansas should not lose. Losing quarterback Tyler Wilson certainly hurt, but the defense had an awful performance. The Razorbacks held national title hopes coming into the year but could struggle just to finish in the top 15 of the polls at the end of the season.
2. Washington State’s offense – With Mike Leach’s arrival in Pullman, and the return of quarterback Jeff Tuel and receiver Marquess Wilson, big things were expected of Washington State’s offense. Through two weeks, the Cougars have failed to live up to the hype, ranking 104th in scoring and 111th in yards per game (289.5). It’s early in the year, but it was a surprise to see Washington State’s offense sputter against Eastern Washington and BYU. A key reason for the struggles has been the play of the offensive line, which is allowing three sacks per game. Expect the Cougars to find their rhythm on offense as the year progresses, but bigger things were expected out of this unit against BYU and Eastern Washington.
3. Wisconsin – With the departure of a handful of assistant coaches, and quarterback Russell Wilson finishing his eligibility, the Badgers weren’t expected to match last season’s offensive numbers. However, Wisconsin’s offense has been lackluster through the first two weeks, recording only 26 points against Northern Iowa and seven against Oregon State. Bret Bielema has already made one change, firing offensive line coach Mike Markuson and more moves could be coming at the end of the year if Wisconsin’s offense doesn’t improve. Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball has just 181 yards and one touchdown through two weeks, while the Badgers rank 105th nationally in total yards per game. The good news for Wisconsin? The Leaders Division is essentially a three-team race – Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin – with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible to play for the Big Ten title. If the Badgers can find the right mix on the offensive line and get Ball going on the ground, this team can easily win the division title.
4. Auburn – The Tigers weren’t expected to be ranked in the top 10, but most thought this team would be improved. Through two weeks, Auburn clearly has a lot of work to do. The offense ranks last in the SEC in yards per game (295) and 13th in passing (159.5). Quarterback Kiehl Frazier’s performance hasn’t inspired much confidence so far, tossing four picks and completing less than 50 percent of his throws. Despite having some talent on the offensive line, Auburn is allowing two sacks per game and is averaging only 135.5 rushing yards per contest. With SEC games against LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Georgia and Alabama remaining, the Tigers will have its hands full just getting bowl eligible.
5. Pittsburgh – The Panthers were pegged as a darkhorse candidate to compete for the Big East title in the preseason, but it’s been an awful start to Paul Chryst’s tenure. Pittsburgh was dominated by FCS foe Youngstown State 31-17 in the season opener and failed to show much improvement in the Week 2 loss to Cincinnati. The biggest problem for Chryst has been a defense that has allowed 422.5 yards per game and has just one sack through the first two games. As with all of the teams on this list, Pittsburgh has time to turn things around. However, having four head coaches in three years has probably caught up to the Panthers.
6. Big Ten – Two weeks into the season and the Big Ten is off to a bad start. Throw out Northwestern’s wins against Syracuse and Vanderbilt and the conference has no other non-conference victories against BCS competition and Notre Dame (0-7). Ouch. Some of the outcomes weren’t a surprise, but Illinois was expected to challenge Arizona State (not having quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase certainly hurt) and Wisconsin was a heavy favorite to beat Oregon State. Considering the conference doesn’t have many opportunities to earn big non-conference wins the rest of the way, the Big Ten will have to wait until bowl season to get marquee victories against BCS competition.
7. NCAA’s new helmet rule – Yes, safety is important, but this rule is ridiculous. There have been instances through the first two weeks where players are having their helmets ripped off by defenses and are forced to sit out the next play. It’s important for players to keep their helmets buckled tight for safety, but sitting out a play for something the defense is doing just doesn’t make sense – especially since the referees can’t catch everything. And wouldn’t this rule promote more aggressive play if defenses know any player has to miss a play if his helmet comes off? The intent is correct, but this rule could end up costing a team a victory this year.
8. Houston – A year after nearly earning a BCS bowl, the Cougars are off to an 0-2 start and no longer appear to be the favorites to win Conference USA’s West Division. Of course, there were some key personnel losses, but new quarterback David Piland had experience and was joined by 12 returning starters. There’s been some turmoil surrounding this team already, as offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt was fired after the first game. New coach Tony Levine was a questionable hire and has done nothing to ease those concerns.
9. Utah – After finishing 2011 with wins in five out of their last six games, the Utes were picked to be USC’s biggest challenger in the Pac-12 South Division. Utah easily won the opener against Northern Colorado but dropped a 27-20 overtime game against in-state foe Utah State in Week 2. The Utes also lost quarterback Jordan Wynn for the year against the Aggies, only adding to the concern surrounding this team. Although Jon Hays and Travis Wilson could end up being a solid duo at quarterback, Utah does not look like the No. 2 team in the South.
10. FIU – The Golden Panthers haven’t been bad, but this team has a 20-point loss to Duke, who was thoroughly dismantled against Stanford in Week 2. FIU also needed overtime to beat an Akron team that was one of the worst in the nation in 2011. The Golden Panthers are still one of the favorites to win the Sun Belt title, but this team was a trendy upset pick against the Blue Devils in Week 1 and were expected to easily beat the Zips last Saturday.
by Steven Lassan
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