June 25, 2011

Which will be the nation's worst team

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football. This weekend, we will have two roundtables - one Saturday and one today.

TODAY'S QUESTION: We are up to teams ranked 66th-70th in our 1-120 countdown. But forget for a moment the focus on teams that should be OK this season. Who do you think is going to be the worst team in the nation?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
Usually, I'd just put down the team expected to finish last in the Sun Belt. But I'm inclined to go with Memphis. Look at it this way: Last season, the Tigers played eight teams that ranked between 66th and 119th in scoring defense, yet Memphis still was the second-lowest scoring team in the nation. The defense wasn't much better (eight opponents scored at least 48 points). Memphis' quarterback has transferred and its best player may be Tom Hornsey. He's the punter. And he's from Australia.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I think it's Memphis. Here's all you need to know: The best player on the team may be the punter. Yes, the punter. Enough said. This just isn't a good job, as resources are thin and support minimal. And is Larry Porter a capable coach? The jury remains out. Want more? The program is plagued with issues at almost every position: offensive backfield, offensive line, linebackers, secondary, return teams. You get the picture. This is a pitiful team.

David Fox's answer:
Picking the worst team in the nation might be tougher than picking the best. Finding the candidates are easy - about three teams each in the Sun Belt and WAC, two in Conference USA, the MAC and Mountain West. But to pick someone truly awful - a team that has a chance to go winless - takes some work. I believe UNLV has the right mix. A matchup with FCS member Southern Utah is the only game I would pencil in as a win, and that comes after road trips to Wisconsin and Washington State and a home game against Hawaii. UNLV may be significantly discouraged by that point in the season. The Rebels have the right mix to be the nation's worst: A young, first-year starting quarterback, a young offensive line, just three returning starters on defense. Bobby Hauck built a winner at Montana, and I believe he'll eventually turn around UNLV. Still, this is the coach's second season. He's still in the process of installing his system. Then, look at the schedule; the non-conference portion is tough enough, but the Rebels add Boise State to the Mountain West slate and go to TCU to finish the season. Even the "easier" conference games are on the road - Wyoming and New Mexico. It's a recipe for a rough season in Vegas.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Even though the WAC as a whole is going to take a big step back this season, it's not going to help New Mexico State. The Aggies were pitiful on offense last season and will have issues this season at quarterback, running back and wide receiver; while the line could be OK, it won't matter. The defense lost its best player and doesn't force turnovers. The Aggies signed 11 junior college transfers in a quest to win now, but New Mexico State still is the worst team in the nation.

Steve Megargee's answer:
The safe bet in this instance usually is to go with a school from New Mexico. After all, New Mexico has finished 1-11 in each of Mike Locksley's two years as coach. The Lobos' in-state rival hasn't been much better. New Mexico State has gone a combined 16-58 over the past six seasons. The Aggies have won a total of four games against FBS programs over the last two years, and two of those wins came over New Mexico. I'm guessing New Mexico will improve just a bit this season. Quarterback Stump Godfrey showed some signs of promise late last season, and the Lobos' defense has a couple of 100-tackle guys in linebacker Carmen Messina and safety Bubba Forrest. New Mexico State has an uncertain quarterback situation and nobody of Messina's level on defense. I'm guessing this season the Aggies are the worst of the FBS teams.


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