[Editor’s note: It all comes down to this. What final weekend scheduling strategy will win the Bottom 10 title? Head-to-head matchups between ranked teams or blowout losses to good teams? One thing we know for sure: Michigan State left no doubt about the Coveted Fifth Spot.]
Inspirational thought of the week:
Someone help me, it’s moving faster than ever
A second chance is another way to remember
I’m going down down, down down, down
I’m going down down, down down
And it all comes down to you
And it all comes down to this
— “It All Comes Down to This,” Aquilo
Here at Bottom 10 Headquarters, located in the back of the savings and loan where universities keep their bags of money labeled “For coach buyouts only, academic types DO NOT TOUCH,” we don’t plan to waste a lot of time this week sifting through turkey bones. That’s because we’re too busy sifting through the bones and numbers that make up the teams and games that will determine the final Bottom 10 rankings of 2021, to be revealed one week from now. Not literally now, like this exact moment, because we aren’t 100% sure when you are reading this, but the final Bottom 10 standings will drop Wednesday of next week.
Actually, the more we think about it, we do have a pretty good idea when and where you are reading this. I’m betting it’s Thanksgiving Day and you are hiding from your family. That means you are more than likely in the bathroom right now, stealthily flicking through your phone behind the only lockable door in the house, to avoid having to listen to your loved ones argue about politics, who is going to host Christmas a month from now and why the Egg Bowl is called the Egg Bowl.
Well, my friend, I want so badly for you stay right where you are. But unfortunately, Uncle Ray needs to get in here because Cousin Marlene used too much oil on the collard greens again. Then again, he’s also a Florida fan, so maybe that’s why his tummy is so upset.
With apologies to Dan Mullen, William Bradford and Steve Harvey, here’s the 2021 post-Week 12 Bottom 10 rankings.
1. UMess (1-10)
Since defeating UConn on Oct. 9, the Minutemen have dropped five straight games by a combined score of 224-69, including two losses to FCS schools, and in the middle of it all fired their coach. Now they travel to face regional rival New Mexico State in the Pillow Fight of the Week of the Year: Endgame.
2. Whew Mexico State (1-10)
But wait, weren’t the Other Aggies in the top bottom spot a week ago? So how did they move into this slot after losing a game by a score of 56-16? Well, first off, that game was at Kentucky, New Mexico State’s second straight SEC visit during the NMSU Getting Paid World Tour 2021. Secondly, they actually held the lead in both of those games, albeit for a combined five minutes, but still. Thirdly, they didn’t fire their coach. Yet. And fourthly, according to ESPN’s bewitchingly horoscopically accurate FPI, the Aggies have a 72.8% chance of winning on Saturday. Also, there is 99.9% chance that horoscopically is not a real word.
3. U-Can’t (1-10)
While New Mexico State and UMass have booked their first meeting for the season’s final weekend in what we believe is an obvious case of smart head-to-head scheduling in search of a Bottom 10 title, UConn has taken a different tack entirely. The Huskies will host 24th-ranked Houston, in the hopes of losing by such an enormous margin that it might push them past NMSU and the Minutemen as the season crosses the finish line.
4. FI(not A)U (1-10)
Meanwhile, the Panthers also clearly scheduled with a late Bottom 10 run in mind, arranging for a season-ending trip to Southern Missed. But the Foldin’ Eagles may have, ah, fowled up Butch Davis’s career-ending strategy, pulling off an upset Week 12 win over Lose-iana Tech and moving themselves out of the Bottom 10 rankings. That might alter FIU’s SOS just enough to keep it from making a fall into the top bottom spot. And to clarify, here at Bottom 10 Stats & Info, SOS doesn’t stand for “strength of schedule.” It’s a literal SOS.
5. Wish-again, State (9-2)
Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud flips a five-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, giving Stroud his sixth TD of the first half.
We’ve already addressed the swamp-like situation at Florida, and we also already had the Gators in the Coveted Fifth Spot one week ago, as they shared it with Texas. This week, Michigan State shares it with no one. They earned every square inch of this space all on their own, unlike what happened in Columbus, where they earned zero inches of any space anywhere except for their seats on the plane home. I’m surprised College Football Playoff selection committee chairman Gary Barta didn’t start this week’s news conference wearing a Michigan Wolverines hoodie and screaming, “See?! We told y’all!!!”
6. Akronmonious (2-9)
Akron lost to archrival State of Kent by a score of 38-0. The Golden Flashes took the traditional Wagon Wheel trophy and used it to roll over the Zips. That’s nothing. This weekend Toledo will have Rockets aimed at the Zips.
7. Indiana? Who, sirs? (2-9)
Indiana entered the 2021 season with a big-armed veteran quarterback, a ton of returning starters and was picked to finish third in its division with a likely eight wins and a nice holiday bowl bid. Now the Hoosiers are 2-9, 0-8 in the Big Ten, on a seven-game losing streak and 15-point underdogs at Purdue, a team with a big-armed veteran quarterback, a bunch of returning starters and in position to finish third in their division with eight wins and a nice holiday bowl bid. It’ll be like that movie “Freaky Friday,” only this will be titled “Supernatural Saturday.”
8. US(not C)F (2-9)
The annual War on I-4 will resume when US(not C)F travels up that highway to face UC(not S)F on Thanksgiving night. Then again, this is assuming that they don’t get stuck on I-4 and end up sitting just south of Orlando surrounded by orange barrels and broken-down minivans until next Thanksgiving.
9. By The Time I Get To Arizona (1-10)
The Mildcats are one of the nation’s five 10-loss teams, but they have stayed away from the top of the bottom of these rankings because over their previous four games they’d earned that lone win and their three losses were all by eight points or less. Then they lost to Washington State 44-18, and then they lost defensive coordinator Don Brown, who has taken the head-coaching gig at UMass for the second time. Props to Coach Brown. It was certainly no small challenge to find a way to downgrade from his current team. But he did it!
10. Vanderbilt Commode Doors (2-9)
Fun fact: My family spends its Thanksgivings in the mountains of North Carolina, and most years we visit the Biltmore Estate, America’s largest private residence, built in 1895 by the Vanderbilt family. There’s a portrait of Commodore Vanderbilt that hangs over the doorway of one of the dining rooms and whenever I am there, it flashes like lightning and lets out a scary laugh and an evil warning that I had better start running or it will still my soul. For years I thought it was a trick painting like in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Turns out I was the only one who ever heard or saw all the scary stuff, and looking back I realize that it only happens when I have Vandy in the Bottom 10 headed into the final weekend of the season. So this year I’m going to the Biltmore with a Ouija board, a garlic necklace and a helmet I stole from one of the suits of medieval armor in the foyer.
Waiting list: Southern Missed, Tulame, unLv, Kansas Nayhawks, Minute Rice, Temple Bowels, Whew Mexico, Arkansaw State, COVID-19.