Resistible Connecticut meets movable Massachusetts on Saturday in the worst game of this or any season of college football. Or maybe just the worst game since last Saturday, when the Huskies went to Vanderbilt and lost on a last-second field goal.
On paper, the Huskies and Minutemen represent a matchup that can only be loved by family members, degenerate gamblers and sickos rubbernecking the Football Bowl Subdivision equivalent of a 10-car pileup.
But it can be appreciated by almost anyone for the magnitude of what is set to unfold at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium: On the opposite end of the spectrum from the projected SEC championship game between Alabama and Georgia, the pairing of the Huskies and Minutemen is a loser-take-all battle for the bottom.
More than a month into this season, the only thing that’s certain is that UConn and UMass represent the worst of the worst. Unlike how the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs have surged ahead of the pack, however, there are way more than just two teams in the mix for last place in the FBS.
While accurate to say that Akron already has matched its high for wins in a season under coach Tom Arth, it should be added that the Zips are 1-4 after going 1-17 in Arth’s first two years. Does that represent progress? Akron’s win is against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Bryant and the four losses are by a combined 140 points, including a 17-point loss to Ohio.
The Wildcats showed flashes of competitiveness against Brigham Young and Oregon but remain the only winless team in the Power Five. There’s also the matter of perhaps the worst loss of any team in the country: Arizona lost 21-19 to Northern Arizona, which has in turn lost to Sam Houston State, South Dakota and Northern Colorado.
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Arkansas State (1-4)
Traditionally one of the most consistent programs in the Group of Five, Arkansas State is off to a miserable start under first-year coach Butch Jones. Defensively, the Red Wolves have failed to hold five FBS opponents under 41 points and 540 yards of offense; in losses to Tulsa and Georgia Southern alone, ASU allowed more yardage (1,203) than Georgia, Wisconsin, South Alabama, San Diego State and Iowa State have all season.
Losing to Vanderbilt hasn’t even been the low point of the Huskies’ season. That belongs to last month’s 38-28 loss to Holy Cross, which was followed two days later by coach Randy Edsall’s abrupt retirement. (His second tenure with the program was not quite as successful as his first.) But credit where credit is due: UConn has hung tight with Wyoming and the Commodores, which reflects well on interim coach Lou Spanos.
Florida International (1-4)
Last week’s 58-21 loss to rival Florida Atlantic makes it more and more likely that 2021 will be the program’s final year under coach Butch Davis, who led the Panthers to three straight bowl bids but has dropped 11 of his past 12 games. FIU is one of just four FBS teams allowing more than 500 yards per game, more than offsetting the production of an offense that ranks 32nd nationally in yards gained per play.
Every win should be cause for celebration after one of the worst years in FBS history: ULM did not hold a lead at any point during a miserable pandemic season. New coach Terry Bowden has two wins, one against Troy, but the background numbers paint the picture of a team still among the nation’s worst. The Warhawks rank 122nd in yards given up per play and are averaging an FBS-worst 3.3 yards per snap on offense.
The Minutemen have dropped 16 straight games, all by two or more touchdowns. This year’s team might be a little bit better: Boston College only won by 17 points and Eastern Michigan by 14, so there are some very, very subtle signs of improvement. But UMass is also an underdog at home against the Huskies, which speaks for itself.
New Mexico State (1-5)
We also have this to look forward to: New Mexico State playing host to UMass in the season finale. The Aggies have sandwiched five losses around last month’s win against South Carolina State, with the high probability of dropping every game — which includes trips in November to Alabama and Kentucky — before meeting the Minutemen.
Ohio lost to Duquesne three weeks before beating Akron, which should help define where the Zips falls on the MAC and FBS ladder. It’s been a rough year for the Bobcats, who lost longtime coach Frank Solich to retirement late in the offseason and are headed for only the program’s second losing season sine 2006. But don’t be surprised if they turn it around: Ohio could start stacking wins in conference play given the wealth of mediocre-or-worse teams in the East division.
Perhaps the toughest schedule in the Group of Five has left UNLV as one of four winless teams in the FBS. Three opponents — Arizona State, Iowa State and Fresno State — were ranked in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll. The fourth FBS opponent, Texas-San Antonio, is one of seven Group of Five teams still unbeaten. Even the 35-33 loss to Eastern Washington to start the year is understandable: EWU is No. 4 in this week’s AFCA FCS Coaches’ Top 25 and one of four teams receiving first-place votes. This slate has left UNLV in last place in the Mountain West in yards per game and second from the bottom in yards allowed per play.
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg