Ahh, the first week of the college football season. Everything is filled with hope as you look forth upon an expanse of fall Saturdays and imagine the joys, beers and cheers of a successful season. We spend hundreds of days waiting for it, and then it arrives.
And then your favorite team loses to some team you’ve never heard.
I’ve got some bad news for you if your team lost to a would-be cupcake. Your team is probably not going to win the national championship. But the good news is they probably weren’t going to anyway.
Cheering on your team isn’t really about that, anyway. It’s about finding ways to be happy.
So what can your team do? Pretty much anything! That loss didn’t even count in the conference standings. Everything else is still on the table!
But your team might not be any good. Let’s rank the teams who failed at eating delicious bakery treats Week 1, and rank them from least doomed to most doomed.
NOT REALLY DOOMED
Result: 45-42 loss to Eastern Washington
Two important things.
The first is that Eastern Washington is the freakin’ truth. They’re on a four-year run of scaring the hell out of the Pacific Northwest. In 2013, it was a win over ranked Oregon State. In 2014, Vernon Adams passed for 475 yards and seven touchdowns in a 59-52 loss at Washington. Adams transferred to Oregon, and EWU paid him a visit and hung 42 on the Ducks.
Pac-12 teams: DO NOT SCHEDULE THESE DUDES. They will show up with a quarterback ready to throw for 800 yards, some wide receiver will catch six touchdowns and your fans will shoot your defensive coordinator out of a cannon into the sun. Then the school has to pay for his funeral in absentia as his body flies through outer space.
The second important thing is that this is Washington State. WSU lost to an FCS team last year and finished 9-4 with a bowl win over Miami. They put up 42 points against EWU, which means the offense is working, and that’s all Mike Leach needs.
I’ve always thought it’s funny that we use "Anything is Possible" as a motivator in sports, because, yeah, that means you can win the NBA championship, but it also means you can go 0-82. Wazzu embraces that. Yes, they can lose to an FCS team and still have a great season. They just lost to a team that isn’t allowed to have as many players, and I still think they can beat the Washington team everybody’s hyping.
DOOM STATUS: None. Wazzu will probably go 11-1 and Fireball will rain from the Pullman skies and Mike Leach will build a stairway of points to heaven.
Result: 18-16 loss to BYU
The Wildcats lost to a pretty good BYU on a field goal in the closing seconds. That means they’re roughly as good as a pretty good BYU, which is frequently Power 5-quality. They’ll be fine. This doesn’t really fit the definition of a cupcake loss.
That said, BYU appeared to have more fans than Arizona in Phoenix, ceding neutral-site advantage. I’m just impressed with Mormons’ omnipresence.
DOOM STATUS: MEH.
OKAY, KINDA DOOMED, DEPENDING ON YOUR DEFINITION OF DOOM
Result: 33-23 loss to Houston
Please do not read this as us calling Houston a cupcake. Houston is one of the best teams in college football, and technically happens to not be from a Power 5 conference, thus earning Oklahoma a spot here.
The weird thing here is not that Houston is capable of beating the Big 12’s best team. It’s that Houston isn’t in the Big 12. Dear Big 12: What the hell are you waiting for?
The Sooners entered with championship hopes, and they should still have them. Oklahoma seemed like the best team in the Big 12, and it still could be. The Playoff will not turn down a team that sweeps a round-robin schedule in a power conference, especially if that team can beat Ohio State in Week 3.
But the margin of error has slimmed. Going undefeated in conference play is HARD. Last year’s Oklahoma was really really good, and it got tripped up by a pretty mediocre Texas.
DOOM STATUS: ONLY A LITTLE DOOMED.
HEY, GETTING SORTA DOOMED OVER HERE
Result: 22-21 loss to Western Michigan
It’s hypothetically surprising that a Big Ten team that won 10 games last year was in a dogfight with a MAC team at all. Except it’s really not? Western Michigan ain’t your average MAC team. P.J. Fleck has been recruiting wayyyyyy above a MAC level, better than some Big Ten teams, and it showed with an 8-5 season last year that culminated in a Bahamas Bowl win.
And last year’s Northwestern wasn’t as good as its record. It got to double-digit wins with a weak schedule, an incredible defense and a lot of close wins. They somehow managed to win 10 games and get outscored, 162-148, on the season.
In 2013, Northwestern won five games with a team that probably deserved to win eight. Last year, Northwestern won 10 with a team that probably deserved to win seven. This year, they’ll probably be good enough to win seven or eight again.
The best thing about Northwestern last year was its ability to randomly win close games and never ever lose them. Some would say this was luck. But the Wildcats have already lost one this year, so whatever gods were helping them last year may have bounced.
DOOM STATUS: WELL, THEY’RE PROBABLY NOT NOT DOOMED
Result: 21-20 loss to South Alabama
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! Look, I’ve been waiting for South Alabama’s entire FBS tenure to chant that.
The Bulldogs could’ve beaten South Alabama. They doinked a late game-winning field goal attempt, leading to some primo crowd reactions. But beating South Alabama should not be a prize for Mississippi State. The Jaguars were not expected to be a particularly good Sun Belt team.
Mississippi State suspended 5-star freshman Jeffery Simmons this game for repeatedly punching a prone woman on camera. As a nation, we’ve started to take notice of the pathetic punishments given to athletes who beat women, and Mississippi State’s was among the most pathetic. It was only for one game, when Simmons’ assault probably called for expulsion or a year-long suspension.
The people who presided over Simmons’ punishment said something about their expectations for this Mississippi State team. They expected the Bulldogs be good, so good that they were willing to trade their appearance of decency for winnable games.
It also told us something about their expectations for the South Alabama game. They considered it a win so easy, they could afford to suspend Simmons.
Now they’re not just a team that tolerates violence towards women, they’re a team that tolerates violence towards women and isn’t that good at football.
DOOM QUOTIENT: Irrelevant. I don’t particularly care about whether Mississippi State does well or doesn’t do well. I do believe that sports teams need to stop coddling athletes who beat women.
OH, WE’RE DOOMED OVER HERE
Result: 44-35 loss to Southern Miss
This headline said it all: Kentucky gave up 34 unanswered points to the coordinator it fired and lost to Southern Miss at home. Losing to Southern Miss would’ve been bad. Losing to Southern Miss like that is a sign the football gods are laughing at your pain.
The game could serve as a metaphor for the past few Kentucky seasons, all of which started decently as the Wildcats handled the non-conference only to completely collapse with the rigors of SEC play. This time, there will not be anything to collapse from.
And it could also serve as a metaphor for Mark Stoops’ Kentucky career. It seemed like he’d be the guy to rebuild Kentucky, especially after some strong recruiting to begin. And now ... well, he just lost to Southern Miss four years in.
DOOM STATUS: DOOMED, BUT TO BE FAIR IT’S HARD TO GO 6-6 AT KENTUCKY
Result: 25-20 loss to Northern Iowa
This is the third time in 10 years Iowa State has lost to Northern Iowa. UNI is a consistent contender in the FCS. Iowa State is a consistent contender for the worst team in the Big 12.
The last two times, Iowa State turned out to suck kinda hard, going 3-9 in 2007 and 2013.
There was some good — Allen Lazard is a really good receiver and had 129 yards — but there’s not a lot of reason to expect Iowa State not to suck kinda hard again.
But they get to play Kansas, so that should be a win.
DOOM STATUS: DOOMED, BUT WE ALREADY KNEW THAT
Result: 37-20 loss to FCS Richmond
Virginia fans probably thought they could ride their brand new Bronco Mendenhall to a win over the Spiders. But they got trapped in those spiderwebs, and the Spiders feasted on Virginia’s innards, all eight limbs tearing at Virginia while their disgusting Spider face smiled a horrible Spider smile. I really hate spiders.
Richmond is a really good FCS team, making the semifinals last year. It’s okay to lose in Year 1 to really good FCS teams.
But it’s probably not okay to lose by three scores to an FCS team. The Hoos gave up 524 yards of offense. A running attack hypothetically led by former 5-star recruit Taquan Mizzell should be a strength, but the Cavs got only 38 yards on 21 carries.
There’s a bright future with Mendenhall, perhaps the best coaching hire of the offseason. Good things might be a few years away.
DOOM STATUS: LOOK, JUST DON’T GO 0-12, OKAY
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