Phi Kappa Fail: Celebrating college football's winless teams

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Let us honor the teams that have survived the first half of the college football season without suffering a win. Which of them will make it all the way?

Any college football aficionado can sing the praises of the sport's best and unbeaten. Sure, every aspect of Alabama's entire football operation is meticulous, carefully crafted, and executed almost without fail to but the highest degrees of precision. But what about the opposite end of the spectrum? What about the teams committing costly turnovers at the most inopportune times, failing to execute repeatedly, and all but snatching defeat from the jaws of victory on a near week-in, week-out basis?

In Phi Kappa Fail, we don't aim to highlight the inequities of any one, or say, a half-dozen football programs; rather, we hope to watch our proud, winless college football teams graduate into the ranks of the non-repeatedly beaten. Because even 1-11 means but for one Saturday, you and your school of allegiance were on top.

Whereas most fraternities look to welcome new members to the fold, we actively seek to watch them leave. From constantly scathed to only usually scathed. Join us as we look forward to these programs' rise from the ranks of the winless into college football's realm of the merely terrible.

Georgia State, 0-6 (Streak: L10)

We begin with more of a pledge than anything; let's call it transitional membership. It's also more than worth noting that this is but the froshiest of froshes, as State's football program is in only its fourth year of competitive football. None the less, Georgia State (of the Georgia Dome garden variety) enters Week 8 winless.  And while in any other year a running of the gauntlet could ultimately result in a bowl berth yet, the Panthers are still transitioning to full FBS membership and won't be eligible for postseason consideration until 2014 at the earliest.

So what particularly makes the Panthers so dreadful? They've played three FCS sides – and lost to all of them (though to their credit, they did take Jacksonville State to overtime). Chattanooga was a particularly rough weekend, when they fell at home to the Mocs, 42-14.

Beacon of hope: Is hope the right word? The Panthers visit former FBS n00b, Texas State. They are 19-point road underdogs. Godspeed, Trent Miles and co. Even another new FBS team in South Alabama can't be considered too much of a failsafe in Georgia State's season finale; USA, the most patriotic team in the country, gave Tennessee all they could handle in Knoxville and actually beat 2013 darling Tulane in the Superdome, 41-39. GSU needs to nip Dennis Franchione's bunch in Central Texas, or they might not get another chance for a win until 2014.

Hawaii, 0-6 (Streak: L6)

Norm Chow coached football for almost 40 years before finally getting the chance to be a head coach. And in his home state of Hawaii, no less! He's promptly gone 3-15 since. Life's cruel pageant, indeed. This year's Rainbow Warriors have been through four quarterbacks and pretty much the full gamut of emotions.

The team's showed signs of a pulse the last three weekends, however, with seemingly potential blowouts turning into closer than expected losses. The offense finally seems to be finding itself after failing to score more than 14 points in the team's first three contests, and all might not be lost yet on the islands.

Beacon of hope: U of H gets three semi-nationally televised games in succession starting in two weeks against Utah State, but will have to settle for a 6 p.m. local time (that means it'll end close to 3:30 a.m. ET) clash with Mountain West foe Colorado State next weekend in the meantime. They are mercifully off this weekend to retool and prepare for the 2-4 Rams.

New Mexico State, 0-6 (Streak: L17)

An orphan program until 2014, the Aggies of NMSU were facing an uphill battle heading into 2013 even before head coach DeWayne Walker walked away from the job... to be a position coach... for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Walker's last team was 1-11, and in many ways, just as dreadful as this year's bunch (that one win was a season-opening home win over FCS Sacramento State).

Beacon of hope: Good news! The Ags are at home this week. Not so good news: they're 19-point 'dogs to Rice. RICE. After losing their annual rivalry game to 2-3 New Mexico 66-17, 19 doesn't sound so bad right about now. And FCS Abilene Christian looms ominously a week away, representing a get-out-of-Phi Kappa Fail-free card.

Temple, 0-6 (Streak: L7)

Temple came mighty close this past Friday night against Cincinnati, missing some easy layup chances before ultimately dropping their sixth straight, 38-20. In Weeks 3 and 5, the Owls lost by a total of three points. While the transition back to a (temporarily) BCS (or equivalent) league has been a rough one, the Owls likely represent the best of our sad bunch.

Beacon of hope: First-year head coach Matt Rhule (he of just 38 years on this planet) and his Owls are actually favorites in this coming weekend's game, hosting the United States Military Academy. Though Army is just a three-point road underdog, Temple looked too competent too often last week to not finally put it all together Saturday afternoon.

If all else fails, the Owls end the season with Connecticut and at Memphis, which could mean something literally unheard of around these parts: a winning streak. Speaking of the Huskies...

Connecticut, 0-5 (Streak: L6)

You almost don't even remember that the Huskies are in the ranks of the winless, particularly not after their near miss against Michigan. UConn infamously opened their season with a lost to FCS Towson, and the UM game aside, has never really looked the part against even paltry opposition like USF.

Head coach Paul Pasqualoni was unceremoniously fired after the team's fourth straight loss to open the season, and though their The American conference slate doesn't exactly read like a venerable murderer's row, it isn't out of the question that they run the gauntlet in the wrong direction.

Beacon of hope: Interim headman T.J. Weist leads leads Connecticut into Ohio against his former employers at the University of Cincinnati where they're promptly two touchdown underdogs. The aforementioned Temple remains a possibility a month from now and a season finale against Memphis may also spell a victory yet.

Miami (OH), 0-6 (Streak: L10)

Former Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell was given his walking papers, and though the RedHawks were far more competitive against lowly UMass than their first five opponents, they still have nothing to show for it.

Ohio's Miami has only managed to score as many as 14 points two times so far on the season and also have a 41-7 loss to Kentucky and a 50-14 loss to Illinois to their names. Though things might be worse if they were in a league more rigorous than this year's MAC, the opportunities remaining for a possible win are few and far between.

Beacon of hope: This weekend may very well prove to be MU's last legitimate shot at a win this season. In-state rival (and fellow cellar dwellers) Akron visits Oxford, but Miami still finds themselves 7.5-point home underdogs. If interim HC Mike Bath can't push the right buttons to lead the RedHawks to a victory, it might be up to next year's head coach to reverse what could then be a 16-game losing streak and counting.

Southern Mississippi, 0-5 (Streak: L17)

Arguably the worst team of this entire bunch, the Golden Eagles are on their third coach in as many years, and the first of that bunch who left is shepherding a 1-4 UNC team. Funny how that works.

USM lost two weekends ago in soul-crushing fashion to Florida International, believed to be by some the worst non-transitional program in all of FBS. And though not-exactly-great Florida Atlantic and UAB remain on the horizon for Southern Miss, they may face their face share of lumps in the interim. This coming weekend's trip to face East Carolina means USM is a 22.5-point underdog.

Beacon of hope: Middle Tennessee State is the best of USM's final four opponents at 3-4, with the 109th-best passing offense and 101st-best scoring offense in the country.

And now, a word from our fraternity's president:

Western Michigan, 0-7 (Streak: L9)

Our first bowl-ineligible team in 2013. You won't mistake P.J. Fleck's first team anytime soon for being world-beaters. From their 2013 resume:

  • A four-point home loss to FCS Nicholls State.
  • A 59-3 loss to Iowa.
  • A 33-0 conference loss to Buffalo.
Beacon of hope: UMass is a miracle cure-all elixir, and going to play a team that lost to Maine in a cavernous NFL stadium can give anyone a renewed look on life. Before they get to go to Foxboro though, they get to play host to a Ball State team coming off a road win against Virginia. As 19-point underdogs, they might be wise to try to keep the team as fresh as possible for what may be their best and only hope at a W come next weekend.

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