College Football Teams That Might Have Given Up
by Trevor Whenham - 11/01/2007
We're getting into the nitty gritty of the college football season. For the teams that are in contention for conference titles or the national crown this is a tense and exciting time, and players have no problems with motivation. For many teams, though, the season is over several weeks before the games are done. In some cases the season was over before it started. By the time November rolls around players are sore, and listening to the coach isn't as fun as it used to be if you aren't winning. Every year we see teams pack it in and quit for their last few games. Obviously, that creates a betting opportunity. Here are seven major conference teams that could play like the offseason has already begin as they close out the season.
Nebraska - It's way too easy to pick on this team, but I have no shame so I am going to do it anyway. After a promising start, this team actually believed that they could beat USC in week three. Oops. They were crushed then, and little has gone right since. Now they are playing without their starting quarterback for the rest of the year, and their coach is a dead man walking. They've barely been showing up the last few weeks, so why would they show up down the stretch?
Texas - They lost to Kansas State and Oklahoma, didn't beat Baylor like they should have, and needed a record setting fourth quarter to get past lowly Nebraska. A season that had some promise now only has enticing post-season possibilities if Oklahoma absolutely tanks down the stretch, and that's not going to happen. The remaining three games obviously matter, because all games matter, but the opponents aren't enticing, and it would be very easy for the Horns to coast to the finish.
UNC - Butch Davis came into North Carolina with much hoopla, and people probably expected miracles. With the exception of a nice win over Miami, there has been little that is miraculous about this year. They just aren't very good. Davis may be able to keep the ship upright because he is new and he is building for the future, but it is equally possible that this year ends with a decided whimper.
USF - It seems hard to believe that just two weeks ago South Florida was the toast of the country after a stunning start. Two losses later, that No. 2 ranking is a distant memory, and Big East contention is, at best, a long shot. This isn't a team with a long history of success, or a long history of anything for that matter. They are a young squad that has never been here before. There is a very good chance that they won't handle this newfound adversity well, particularly if they spent a lot of time reading their own headlines earlier in the year.
Minnesota - At this point I am just picking on weaklings. The fact that the Gophers aren't competitive in the Big Ten is not likely a surprise to anyone. The problem is that they aren't competitive outside the conference, either. Losses to North Dakota State and Florida Atlantic are not morale boosters, and it's hard to get up for a game after seven losses in a row. Last week they were manhandled by a vulnerable Michigan team that was without its star quarterback or running back. Tim Brewster is building for the future, and has made some surprising recruiting breakthroughs, but it's hard to imagine that the players want anything more than for this nightmare season to be over.
Cal - Like USF, Cal is not far removed from being the second ranked team in the country with a clear path to the national championship game. Now they have lost three in a row, and nothing at all is going right. They are totally out of the Pac-10 picture, and have only a second rate bowl game to look forward to. The core players have another year of eligibility, and they have to be frustrated by continually coming close but not close enough, so it would not be surprising at all to see the team quit down the stretch.
Florida - It hasn't been an ugly fall from grace, but this team hasn't exactly defended their national title with fierce domination. The loss to Auburn wasn't the best, but none of their setbacks have been absolutely humiliating - they didn't lose to a team the caliber of Stanford or Appalachian State. They have three losses, though, and the loss to Georgia will make it very difficult for them to win the SEC East. Tim Tebow is a great QB, but he's not healthy and he has to be frustrated by his total lack of run support. You could argue that coach Urban Meyer is too good to let this team throw the rest of their season away, but it's been a long time since Meyer has had to come to terms with mediocrity, so we don't know how he will react in this situation. Next year is already brighter thanks to the players coming in, so it could be tempting for the team to look towards next season at the expense of this one.