The Worst 16 Teams In College Football, 2017 Edition

University of Kansas coach David Beaty received a lucrative contract extension that doubled his salary from $800,000 to $1.6 million, despite the team's 2-10 record.
Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images
University of Kansas coach David Beaty received a lucrative contract extension that doubled his salary from $800,000 to $1.6 million, despite the team's 2-10 record.

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The Cyclones defensive line loses three starters on a unit that wasn't exactly blowing opponents off the line of scrimmage to begin with. Their failure to pressure the quarterback means receivers will continue to keep running until they get lost in the cornfields. Like an actual cyclone, Iowa State's forecast for this year continues to be a disaster waiting to happen.
Sheridan's Odds: National Championship 12. University of Virginia
Coach Bronco Mendenhall left BYU on a mission to turn the Virginia program around. But after taking a 4-8 team and making them 2-10, Mendenhall may be rethinking why he left his safe space in Utah. Only a token win against Duke kept Virginia from getting blanked in the ACC. The Cavaliers are pinning their hopes on East Carolina transfer quarterback Kurt Benkert, who managed to throw for over 2,500 yards and 21 TDs when he wasn't running for his life behind a very cavalier offensive line.
The transition from the 4-3 to 3-4 defense was so poorly executed, special prosecutor Robert Mueller is investigating whether Jared Kushner was involved. With eight starters back, Virginia is hoping to keep their opponents from scoring 34 points per game as they did last season. But there's only so much Mendenhall can do with the limited talent he has on the roster. If it gets any worse, Virginia may have to secede from the ACC. It's a good thing that Virginia is for lovers, because you're definitely going to need something else to keep you busy on Saturday afternoons.
13. Arizona State University
Annually among the top party schools in the country, it was time to celebrate last year when Arizona State got off to a 5-1 start. But there's nothing like losing the last six games of the season to kill everyone's buzz. It may be a dry heat in the desert, but it doesn't make the hot seat any more comfortable for Coach Todd Graham, who finished with a 2-7 record in the Pac-12 after a promising start to the season. Phil Bennett has been brought in from Baylor as defensive coordinator to solve the mystery of how you can give up 511 rushing yards in a game to your hated rival, Arizona, who happens to be the worst scoring team in the Pac-12. Bennett has to work with a defense that gave up over 40 points in eight different games last year. Gamblers haven't seen this much over-40 action since they visited Key West.
The Sun Devils are also on their third offensive coordinator in three years with Billy Napier, the former Alabama wide receivers coach. Conveniently, he'll get to work with Alabama transfer Blake Barnett at quarterback. The team's lone bright spot, kicker Zane Gonzalez, heads to the NFL, where he'll see plenty of long distance action as the Cleveland Browns' kicker. It's safe to say that without some divine intervention, the Sun Devils are headed for another year of hell.
Sheridan's Odds: The Playoffs 14. University of Arizona
What do you give a head coach who turns a 7-6 bowl team into a 3-9 laughing stock? Unfortunately, if you are the Arizona Wildcats, you give him one more chance. Rich Rodriguez is back to answer all the big questions that Wildcat fans have, such as why did he bench previous starting quarterback Anu Solomon and let him transfer to Baylor in favor of playing the erratic Brandon Dawkins? Dawkins can certainly run with the football, but it's hard to see the upside when he completes only 54 percent of his passes with a mere eight touchdowns and six interceptions. The Wildcats will rely on a ground-and-pound offense, if the diminutive J.J. Taylor can survive the schedule. Last year, Taylor showed promise with 261 yards in four games before a season-ending injury. The Wildcats wide receiver corps continues to come up short with three starters under six feet, which in today's college game will leave you six feet under.
On defense, the team spent enough time on the field to get a sunburn thanks to an equally diminutive front line. The team only has one returning linebacker in DeAndre Miller, and he gets hurt more than a nudist at a cactus convention. After giving up 44.8 points per game in eight conference losses, it only gets worse from here for a Wildcat team that lacks the size to compete in the Pac-12. So which is the real Arizona? Is it the bowl-bound team that Rodriguez coached when he first came to the team? Or is it the Pac-12 bottom dwellers that we've seen more recently. From the looks of it, it's the latter. Any chance of seeing a bowl game for this desert team is only a mirage.
15. Michigan State University
Flat-Earth truthers have finally found a college football team to root for in Michigan State. After a stellar 12-2 season in 2015, the Spartans sailed right off the face of the planet with a disastrous 3-9 season. Given the success Coach Mark Dantonio has had with the program, he deserves a little room to navigate. But when you lose at least a dozen players to transfers, suspensions and even criminal charges, you have to wonder who's running this asylum? The Spartans turn the keys to the offense over to sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke. Though Lewerke's season ended early last year with a broken leg, he looked good passing and even running the ball, with 149 rushing yards on 21 carries. He may need to run some more behind an offensive line that has more holes than Sonny Corleone's corpse.
The defense loses eight starters this year, including their entire secondary. After going from a stingy plus-14 in turnovers in 2015 to a very generous minus-5 last season, it looks like that negative trend will continue. Michigan State once had Magic (as in Johnson), but this year it's more likely that they will get sawed in half by opposing teams.
16. Vanderbilt University
For a moment, it looked like the Commodores had finally turned the ship around. After a 4-6 start to the season, the Commodores blew out Ole Miss and handled Tennessee to squeak out a 6-7 record and a bowl appearance. So what if NC State gave them the worst bowl beating since Martha Stewart used to make her own cake batter? Vanderbilt was making hay in the SEC! But like a great work of impressionist art, the closer you look, the more you wonder how they actually did it. What do Lionel Richie's Commodores, the Commodore 64 and the Vanderbilt Commodore offense have in common? They are all quaint reminders of the past that bear no relevance in the present. With an average of 281 yards of total offense and 18.1 yards per game, these Commodores may want to ditch the boats and build an air force for the 21st century. Nine passing touchdowns for an entire season isn't going to cut it in the SEC's navy. Ralph Webb is solid at running back, coming off a season with 1,283 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. But his chances of running outside this year are about as good as Charles Manson's, as the o-line will be a work in progress.
The defense was strong last season, giving up 24 points per game against bruising opposition. But as star linebacker Zach Cunningham and top pass rusher Adam Butler have moved on to wealthier pastures in the NFL, a command performance is highly unlikely. Yes, Vandy fans, just like the stock market, the SEC is very good at sobering corrections. But at least that means when your team is getting its ass beat, you'll still be able to use your favorite cheer to opposing fans, "It's alright! It's OK! You're going to work for us someday!"
Dishonorable mentions
Teams from the Power Five conferences that will underachieve by winning four to seven games: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Texas A&M, UCLA, Utah, Wake Forest & West Virginia.
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