Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
Here are some opinions fresh from vacation.
- Expectations aren’t very high for either West Virginia University or Marshall University, based on national college football rankings compiled by 247Sports.
The Mountaineers checked in at No. 47. That ranked WVU ahead of Kansas State (No. 60), Baylor (No. 74), Texas Tech (No. 78) and Kansas (No. 117) in the Big 12, but the Mountaineers trailed No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 17 Texas, No. 20 Oklahoma State, No. 21 Iowa State and No. 31 TCU.
That placed WVU sixth in the Big 12, just as the conference media poll predicted.
The worse news for Mountaineer fans is Group of Five schools such as No. 12 Cincinnati, No. 30 Coastal Carolina, No. 34 UCF, No. 35 Louisiana, No. 37 Appalachian State and No. 39 Boise State were all ranked higher than WVU.
That’s just another reason why this is a linchpin season for WVU head coach Neal Brown.
Meanwhile, Marshall is the second-highest ranked school in Conference USA, for what it’s worth. The Thundering Herd, No. 75, trails only defending Conference USA champion UAB at No. 57 among schools in Marshall’s league.
The problem is C-USA had only six schools ranked among the top 100. Florida Atlantic followed Marshall at No. 79, then came UTSA (No. 92), Louisiana Tech (No. 96) and Western Kentucky (No. 99). Meanwhile, eight schools were ranked in the bottom 30.
And that leads to the real problem.
Conference USA is ranked as the worst FBS league.
There are 10 conferences — five in the Power Five and five more in the Group of Five — and C-USA is rated No. 10. That’s bottom-of-the-barrel stuff, folks.
College Football News’ Pete Fiutak compiled the rankings. And I must say, they appeared to be very accurate. During a review of C-USA, Fiutak had this to say about the league:
“There’s mediocrity overall and too much dead weight at the bottom. The stunning collapse of Marshall at the end of last year was the real story of the 2020 conference season, but UAB was able to come through when it got its shot to win the Conference USA title.
“In the end, though, just four teams finished with a winning record — UTSA and Florida Atlantic joined the Thundering Herd and the Blazers.
“On the plus side for the league, this might be the best UAB team yet under head coach Bill Clark. It’s loaded with experience and talent, and Marshall — under new head coach Charles Huff — should be back to form after the clunker of a finish. Those two teams will be great, but they’re not alone.
“Expect a whole lot more out of a WKU team that’s going to have an offense to go along with the great defense, and expect Florida Atlantic to take another big step forward under Willie Taggart in a strong-looking East. UTSA should be every bit as strong as last season in the West, and Louisiana Tech should be far better with more of an offense.
“And then it gets dicey. Teams like Southern Miss and Rice will be fighters — they should be in the mix to go bowling — but can Middle Tennessee get the program back to form after a few rough runs? Can FIU be night-and-day stronger after a winning season?
“Old Dominion is coming back after opting out on 2020, Charlotte has a tough slate, and UTEP is once again going to struggle, but don’t be shocked if the Monarchs or 49ers rise up and surprise a bit.
“Even so, overall there’s just too much missing to push past the rest of the pack. It doesn’t help that this is one of the strongest seasons ever for …”
Although it is ranked No. 4 among the Group of Five, the Mid-American Conference is considered head and shoulders above C-USA. The Sun Belt is at No. 3, the Mountain West at No. 2 and the American at No. 1.
In my book, the Sun Belt and Mountain West are in a dead heat for the No. 2 spot.
- Austin Kendall’s world tour continues.
Remember the former Oklahoma quarterback, who transferred to WVU? The guy who rallied the Mountaineers to a Bowl win over Army?
Well, now Kendall is at Louisiana Tech. It’s just unfortunate the Bulldogs aren’t on Marshall’s 2021 home schedule. Wouldn’t it have been cool to have WVU’s former starting quarterback taking on the Herd in Joan C. Edwards Stadium?
That would have been the perfect culmination to all the wackiness that is happening in college football.
Maybe postseason, Austin.