- Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com
- 2-time Sports Emmy winner
- 2010, 2014 NMPA Writer of the Year
Inspirational thought of the week:
Now the race is on
And here comes pride up the backstretch
Heartache’s going to the inside
My tears are holding back
They’re trying not to fall
My heart’s out of the running
True love’s scratched for another’s sake
The race is on, and it looks like heartaches
And the winner loses all
– “The Race is On” by George Jones
Here at Bottom 10 Headquarters, located in same room as the computer server that houses all the drafts of Lane Kiffin’s reserve supply of clapback tweets, we are up on the wheel with a lead foot in the throttle like Ross Chastain at Martinsville Speedway. There’s only one lap remaining in the race that is the 2022 college football regular season, and the white flag is out.
For those of you who don’t follow NASCAR, we must explain that the white flag doesn’t mean surrender, it means the end of the race is imminent and the next flag shown will be the checkers. In other words, there’s one week left before we declare a champion. But this also isn’t the Valleydale Meats 500, is it? It’s the Bottom 10. And in this world, everything is a surrender flag, no matter how hard any man — even a 12th man — might try to disguise it as something else.
With apologies to Cornelius Tacitus, E. King Gill, former Tennessee State defensive end Joe “Turkey” Jones and Steve Harvey, here are the post-Week 12, pre-Thanksgiving Bottom 10 rankings.
1. UMess (1-10)
The Minutemen lost their second consecutive Pillow Fight of the Week, following up the heartbreak of their near win at Arkansas State with a solid showing in front of tens of fans at Kyle Field, losing to Texas A&M 20-3 after trailing by only 10 points for most of the second half. This despite at least two of their players spending the entire game unable to hear anything because the Corps of Cadets decided to reenact the Battle of Lexington and Concord during the pregame.
2. Colora-duh (1-10)
Speaking of the American Revolution, Washington was victorious against the Buffaloes, a win iced by a fourth-quarter TD catch that was hauled in, of course, by a receiver named Sam Adams II.
3. Akronmonious (1-9)
Speaking of Buffaloes, Akron was supposed to have played the Buffalo Bulls Not Bills, but apparently Elsa of Arendelle is either a Zips alum or has some money down on the Bottom 10 title race, because someone dumped 77 inches of snow on the city over the weekend and postponed the game indefinitely.
4. US(not C)F (1-10)
Speaking of Bulls and inclement weather, USF lost a 48-42 track meet to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. It was just a warm-up for this week’s annual Thanksgiving weekend hyperactive rivalry matchup with UC(not S)F, aka the War on I-4. I’m not entirely sure that the Black Friday 2017 edition of this game ever actually ended, just as I am not entirely sure that anyone ever actually gets off I-4 once they get on it.
5. Good Ol’ Rocky Slop (Whew!) (9-2)
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, stunt pilot-turned-Air Force general Jimmy Doolittle trained his legendary Raiders for their bombing attack on Tokyo just outside of Columbia, South Carolina, not far from the Williams-Brice Stadium, home of the South Carolina Gamecocks. The fleet of B-25s would bomb the same piece of earth over and over and over and over again, refuel, and then bomb it again and again and again and again, day after day after day. On Saturday night in Columbia, with USC up 63-38, the ghost of Doolittle was heard saying, “Damn, Cocks, that’s enough.”
6. North by Northworstern (1-10)
Northwestern of now feels like the Northwestern of the 1980s as it rides the nation’s longest losing streak, a slump that has reached nine losses. According to the magically and creepily accurate ESPN FPI computers, there is an 81.7% chance that the Artists Formerly Known as Ill-ugh-noise will extend that streak to 10. If that happens, the Mildcats will be throwing a formidable résumé onto the table of the Bottom 10 Selection Committee next week. And seeing as how that table is actually just an old TV tray we found at a trailer park “estate auction,” there’s going to be quite the moment when it collapses and spills Natty Light all over the lap of committee chairman Charlie Weis.
7. Whew Mexico No-bos (2-9)
The Mountain West’s Bottom 10 incursion brings to mind the words of Lando Calrissian at the Battle of Endor when he asked, “I wonder what those Star Destroyers are waiting for?” Only instead of giant, weapons-laden spaceships, it’s a fleet of recycled Trailways buses. The No-bos have crashed this party via eight straight losses, and a season-ending tenth defeat at the hands of Bottom 10 Waiting Listers Colora-duh State could be what Whew Mexico needs to stage its own version of the Holdo Maneuver.
8. No-vada (2-9)
Meanwhile, the Oof Pack has also dropped nine straight, having already gotten their Colorado State loss out of the way back in Week 5. Now, suddenly, we have a Pillow Fight of the Week of the Year of the Century coming that was on no one’s radar just a few scant weeks ago, but now might be the game with the biggest impact on the final Bottom 10 standings. Against who? Or whom? Or whomever? Or whatever my English teacher would tell me to write here but I am too excited to recall correct grammar?
9. unLv (4-7)
These guys! Our old friends from Earth’s largest Roomba are in these rankings for the first time this season. Is it unusual for a four-win team to be here this late in the season? Yep. But that’s what happens when you slide into the end of that season like me when I lived in Connecticut, thinking I could drive my Pontiac Grand Am on ice. The Other Rebels’ losing streak just reached six thanks to a 31-25 loss at season-long Bottom 10 stalwart Huh-why-yuh.
10. Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (4-7)
Okay, first off, you don’t get out of the Bottom 10 after barely beating the top/bottom team at home, even if you were only in the Coveted Fifth Spot, and especially when you started the fall in the preseason Top 10. Secondly, you totally are docked lack-of-style points when you fire a cannon at a couple of dudes praying in the pregame and also that shirtless towel relay thing. And finally, did I do this just to get a rise out of people in College Station because it’s Thanksgiving and angry SEC fans in my inbox are just as delicious as dressing with gravy and those baked marshmallows scraped off the top of the sweet potato pie and eaten all on their own like candy? You can’t see me right now, but I am responding with a “Gig ’em” thumbs up. And yes, that’s a baked marshmallow on the end of my thumb.
Waiting List: Arkansaw State, Colora-duh State, Huh-why-yuh, Lose-ee-anna Tech, Charlotte 3-and-9ers, Old Duh-minions, Northern Ill-ugh-noise, Stampford, In A Rut-gers, No-braska, Temple of Doom, your drunk uncle taking the turkey leg and eating it in front of your face while talking politics.
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