Late in the evening, as my Twitter timeline seemed to be exploding with one pal or another venting their frustration over their (currently-winning) team's gross incompetence, it occurred to me that the list of teams whose fanbases are actually happy with their performance could probably be counted on one hand. With the appropriate dollop of snark, I suggested the list consisted of three teams: Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, and the inexplicably undefeated Texas-San Antonio.
(A hint: if any AP or Coaches' poll voters put UTSA on the ballot, you'll know that the responsible party is nothing more than a microcephalic automaton who just happened to notice the Roadrunners are 5-0 and figured they must be good. They are not. They have beaten New Mexico State, fellow FBS newcomer South Alabama, winless FCS squad Georgia State, and two Division II teams. No. No, the Roadrunners are not worthy of a single vote, and will not be until Halloween; at that point, if they're still unbeaten, they'll at least have wins over Rice, San Jose State, and Utah State. Which should be good for a spot at the bottom of someone's ballot.)
Surprisingly, the only argumentative responses I got from that statement were from a Husker fan who's perfectly content at the moment, and another gentleman who opined that Florida and Georgia might be happy. I contest the latter assertion, but I'll allow that Florida fans might be pleased. That's five teams who have nothing whatsoever to bitch about, and two of them are off the radar for the nonce.
#1 Alabama beat Ole Miss 33-14. The disaster: Alabama was held scoreless for an entire quarter, and therefore the season must be about to collapse into an unmitigated disaster. This is nonsense. Alabama is still Alabama, and won easily against a divisional opponent who everyone seems to perceive as craptastic, but has actually shown a lot of heart, fight, and offense so far.
#2 Oregon did the exact same thing they seem to do every week; they let their opponent, Washington State, stay in the game for 30 minutes before finally remembering that their transmission does, in fact, have multiple gears and racing off to a 51-26 win, keyed by a Cougar series of downs which saw Wazzu get to the Oregon 17 just before halftime and then progressed sack, sack, sack, punt. At the time, Oregon led 23-19; the sequence seemed to shatter Connor Halliday's confidence, and Oregon was off to the races as soon as the second half began. Don't worry about Oregon, unless you hear an odd shearing sound emanating from the locker room during halftime. At that point, you might want to see if you can salvage a drive shaft during the third quarter.
#3 Louisiana State was never actually in danger against Towson, and won 38-22. However, the mostly unanimous takeaway at this point is that Zach Mettenberger's just not very good, and a very talented LSU team is underperforming horribly. This is a real concern, not a mirage. LSU could be in serious trouble when they meet their primary antagonists in conference play.
#4 Florida State, likewise, seemed to be in no danger of actually losing to South Florida. There was no offensive explosion like last week against Clemson, though, and the 30-17 final score was somewhat underwhelming given the fact that South Florida doesn't seem to be all that good. Still, Florida State has done nothing to cause this year's "they're back" bandwagon to roll into a ditch, so calm down.
#5 Georgia got into a ridiculous shootout with Tennessee which was only topped by the one we'll talk about in two paragraphs. There's a certain point at which the only thing a score proves is that neither team can defend worth a damn; that point is right around 80 total points unless it's a wide margin of victory. 71-24 would send a message. 51-44 does not. Georgia is prime for their annual faceplant; it's just a matter of time.
#6 South Carolina beat Kentucky 38-17, and you'd probably think that was just about right if the score was the only information available to you. Kentucky led 17-7 at the half, and the Gamecocks did just about nothing at all right in the first half. South Carolina is, of course, South Carolina; they're likely to reward their fans' disgust with sweet, sweet vindication of that disgust.
#7 Kansas State was idle, and thus managed to avoid doing anything to antagonize its fan base. In fact, the results of the day are encouraging for the Wildcats. West Virginia has shown they're beatable on offense, and an examination of the numbers indicates that K-State may well be one of the teams equipped to keep Geno Smith in check. Further, Texas and Oklahoma State both snapped open their trenchcoats and exposed themselves. The Cowboys weren't really a concern, but the Wildcats have to feel good about their season-ending meeting with the Longhorns. Lastly, TCU's failure to capitalize on five interceptions has to make the KSU defense feel they can shut down the Frogs.
#8 Stanford didn't do anything to anger its supporters on Saturday, either. That, of course, is because they lost on Thursday, and therefore it's hard to argue with their bitter ruminations. Moving on.
#9 West Virginia scored seventy freaking points and racked up 807 yards of offense on #25 Baylor, including 656 passing yards and 8 TDs from Geno Smith, so you know why Bears fans are pissed. You'd think Mountaineers fans would be happy; actually, most of them seem to be happy, which may speak more to the mental health of the Mountaineer fanbase than anything else. Sure, the press is already to hand Geno Smith the Heisman (which is stupid, what with it still only being September), but since West Virginia also gave up 63 points and 700 yards of offense, maybe they need to be a little irritated. For both teams, this defensive profligacy is a major concern. Neither team is particularly potent on the offensive line, meaning teams which can apply pressure are going to be a problem. Worse, neither team is even remotely potent on the defensive line; expect teams with a running game to gash both of these squads.
#10 Notre Dame was idle, but Notre Dame fans hate everything anyway. The ugly win at Michigan still looms as a harbinger of problems, especially against Miami. Keep an eye on that one. #11 Florida was also off this week, and we've conceded they seem to be pretty happy with their lot in life. For now. They are, after all, Florida fans, and something horrible is destined to happen in the absence of the Tebow. However, it's entirely possible that horrible thing won't happen until the SEC Championship Game.
#12 Texas escaped Stillwater with a 41-36 win in a game which ended with Oklahoma State very nearly completing a miracle hook-and-umpty-laterals play to score the winning touchdown. The way the Longhorn offense battled back in the fourth quarter to regain the lead twice is something the Texas fanbase is clutching to their hearts for comfort... because the Texas defense, their vaunted defense which was supposed to be the backbone of the team, sucks. The 31 points they gave up last week to Mississippi? Not a fluke. We thought Baylor/West Virginia was going to be like a slot machine hitting the jackpot, and it was. Next week, West Virginia will not score 70, because Texas has a better defense than Baylor even so. Texas will not score 63, either, because their offense isn't as good as they suddenly think it is. Look for this one to be something like a 56-49 game. Don't ask me who's going to win.
#13 Southern Cal was idle. Their fans are still mad about last week's loss to Stanford. The ones that aren't are probably the sort who think Lane Kiffin is a genius anyway. Really, the only glaring problem in Los Angeles is that they can be bullied by a team that's not scared of them.
#14 Ohio State won 17-16 at #20 Michigan State. It was not a thrilling defensive battle with moments of offensive genius. Braxton Miller committed three turnovers in Michigan State territory on the afternoon, and that really says all you need to know. Buckeyes be mad, yo. It hardly matters whether Ohio State has real problems on the field, of course, since they're not going anywhere anyway. But Miller has to get the offense under control, or at least himself. You're not going to keep winning if you don't protect the oblate spheroid.
#15 Texas Christian once again put forth an exemplary defensive effort, holding Southern Methodist down in a 24-16 win. Of course, those 16 points are more than TCU had given up in the previous three games this year, and the win was really a result of Garrett Gilbert's strange and inexplicable fetish for throwing passes to people wearing purple; just as he had in the game against Kansas State in 2010, Gilbert threw five interceptions. TCU has a problem, and the fans can't be happy about it: they have no offense. Yes, the Frogs are going to work wonders keeping the likes of David Ash and Geno Smith in check. But TCU only managed to score 20 points on Kansas, for chrissake. You think that even with that defense, they can outscore West Virginia or Texas? And they may hold Kansas State to 17 points or so, but can they score on the Wildcats at all?
#16 Oklahoma was off this week, and they're still tearing at their garments after last week's loss to K-State. They have real problems, though, as Landry Jones has proven himself to be exactly what the pie-eyed have been claiming he is: unable to adapt when things don't go his way, he wilts under pressure. The line of scrimmage is also a disaster for the Sooners.
#17 Clemson handled Boston College 45-31. The "31" part of that is the problem, considering the opponent was, you know, Boston College. Still, Clemson can score with anyone. Will it be enough?
#18 Oregon State survived thanks to an interception in the final minute, escaping Tucson with a 38-35 win over Arizona. Honestly, the Beavers may not be too upset. After all, they weren't actually supposed to contend anyway, and here they are unbeaten going into October with two conference wins already in their pocket.
#19 Louisville barely survived a very waterlogged contest with suddenly-hapless Southern Mississippi, winning 21-17. Their fans are not happy with this, but they really need to consider the situation. Slippy-sliding around Hattiesburg is not a circumstance that's going to lead to a big win, no matter the opponent. What I'm saying, Louisville, is that you are 5-0, and you are in good shape, so be quiet.
#20 Michigan State, we already covered; since their offense might not even be able to score 30 points on Baylor, they're pretty upset in East Lansing. A real problem, and they need to figure out how to make the scoreboard work if they want to contend.
#21 Mississippi State was idle; they're still perplexed over having to survive against Troy last week, and also they are Mississippi State and haven't had anything to be happy about forever anyway. But things are pretty bright in Starkville, really. This may be the season they were supposed to have last year, and they may actually be the second best team in the SEC West. For Bulldog fans, that's got to be a win in the final analysis.
#22 Nebraska is happy. They are happy because they may actually win the Big Ten, largely because nobody else wants to; also, because they beat Wisconsin 30-27, even though they had to fight back from an eleven point deficit to do so. However, this may be a case where optimism is misplaced. Nebraska is still flawed, Taylor Martinez is still an adventure, and Ohio State looms.
#23 Rutgers... okay, they're happy, too. Except for the fact that I completely forgot about them, so I'm sure they're now really mad and feeling disrespected. If so, my work here is complete. Still, the Scarlet Knights are in good shape for the moment. We'll just have to see how things start playing out in conference play to get a real read.
#24 Boise State led New Mexico 25-0 at halftime. Bronco fans are now irate because they only won 32-29. No, we cannot explain this, and we're not even going to try. Bottom line, Boise's just not very good this year.
#25 Baylor, we already discussed. They are giving up 400 yards per game of offense, and that's just not going to get it done no matter how good Nick Florence might be. They're going to be lucky to get bowl eligible if they don't figure out how to stop people.
Who else is angry? Georgia Tech's angry after losing at home, by 21 points, to Middle Tennessee State. Indiana's angry, because they are now officially the losingest program in Division I-A history after losing to Northwestern, with whom they'd been tied when they woke up this morning. (Northwestern's not happy; they gave up 21 third-quarter points and almost choked this one away.) Army's mad; they lost to FCS Stony Brook, badly. Illinois? Crushed by Penn State. Penn State? They're Penn State, and it is 2012.
Missouri's pissed; they almost lost to Central Florida. Minnesota lost their unbeaten season to Iowa, who still has to remember they lost to Central Michigan. Central Michigan's mad; they got the crap kicked out of them by Northern Illinois, who I guess we can add to the "happy" list. Arkansas... well, let's not beat up on the infirm after Texas A&M (whose fans are never happy anyway) already stomped them like roaches. Nevada, Miami (OH), Tulsa, and Purdue all exploded for tons of points, and still struggled with horrible opponents. The other Miami now has a full game lead in the ACC Coastal, but not only is their defense awful but Stephen Morris threw for over 500 yards yesterday and nobody even noticed.
Ohio's mad. They almost lost to freakin' UMass, although they escaped and remained unbeaten. Virginia Tech's mad, because they're 0-2 in the Big East after losing to Cincinnati. Iowa State went into the fourth quarter only trailing Texas Tech by a point; they gave up ten in the final quarter.
Some other guys are happy, I guess. Louisiana-Monroe is perpetually happy at this point, and beating Tulane 63-10 doesn't hurt. Arizona State's in a good mood after beating California, and UCLA crushed Colorado to wash the taste of losing to Oregon State off their palate. Western Kentucky's in great humor, as they'd be undefeated had they simply had the sense not to visit Alabama. Utah State and Toledo posted nice wins, so they're content.
It was one of those days. Almost no team actually in the picture had a good day; you have to go all the way down to #18 in the poll to find a team which played and whose fans may be perfectly satisfied with today's results. Even the idle teams are a little miffed, because Stanford's the only team in the top 19 who lost, so any upward movement beyond sliding up a place is going to depend on nuanced voting rather than just looking at scores.
And we know that's not going to happen.