Sports

UConn keeps getting embarrassed; Clemson’s best days in past?


LSU leads this week’s Misery Index after a 38-27 loss to UCLA. Here are the others that made the index, a weekly measurement of knee-jerk reactions based on what each fan base just watched.

UConn: It’s time to have the conversation about why UConn football exists in its current form. This is a school that cares about basketball so much it was willing to sacrifice football’s affiliation with the American Athletic Conference and go it alone as an independent so basketball could slide into the Big East.

At first, UConn fans talked themselves into this being an appealing option for football. But we don’t need to pretend anymore that it’s true. As we’ve seen since then, independence is an abject disaster for UConn, which reached another low Saturday in a 38-28 loss to Holy Cross.

Holy Cross defensive back John Smith intercepts a pass intended for Connecticut wide receiver Jahkai Gill.

Holy Cross defensive back John Smith intercepts a pass intended for Connecticut wide receiver Jahkai Gill.

OPINION: Honeymoon is over for Ed Orgeron as No. 13 LSU struggles in loss to UCLA

WINNERS AND LOSERS: Georgia, UCLA notch statement wins; ACC has rocky Week 1

ANALYSIS: Believe the hype. New-look Alabama stronger than ever in rout of Miami.

What are you doing here, UConn? What are you trying to accomplish by staying in the Football Bowl Subdivision when every bit of evidence suggests this experiment leads only to lots of bad losses and getting made fun of relentlessly on Twitter? Be who you are as a basketball school and either park your football program in FCS, where it can compete, or drop the sport entirely. If you’re going to lose to the likes of Holy Cross, it’s far less embarrassing to do it when you’re in the same weight class.

Nebraska: The Huskers were able to get their first win of the season, 52-7 against Fordham, but the misery still lingers from a week earlier when they opened the season with a 30-22 loss to Illinois. That same Illinois team, by the way, turned around and lost at home to UT-San Antonio, which means Nebraska’s loss was actually worse than it appeared in the moment.

But at least the Huskers still have their sellout streak, which reached 376 home games thanks to some generous boosters who bought up the remaining tickets and donated them to groups of kids. While that’s certainly a nice gesture, everyone now knows the streak has lost all meaning and perhaps it would be better for Nebraska to just let it die and start focusing on what matters — like who they can get to replace Scott Frost and how to start playing decent football again as opposed to the schlock Frost has offered up through three-plus seasons.

Miami: The only thought a Miami fan should have had after watching that 44-13 loss to Alabama is, “Why did we agree to play this game?”

At some point, you’d think people would get the hint here. Who has it turned out well for to play Alabama in a neutral site season opener? Whether it’s Louisville, Southern Cal, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech or whatever opponent you can come up with, the track record is clear. You’re not going to win. You’ll likely get embarrassed. Or, in the worst-case scenario, it might just break your entire program the way it did for Florida State in 2017.

Sure, the money and the TV time slot are great. But is it really worth it? An offseason of top-10 potential for Miami has now been reduced to the knowledge that it wouldn’t come close to beating Alabama if they played 1,000 times. Doesn’t exactly fire you up for the next 11 games, does it?

Clemson: The two national title banners under Dabo Swinney are never coming down. Deshaun Watson’s game-winning pass to Hunter Renfrow. Depantsing Alabama in Santa Clara. Truly legendary stuff. But what happens when the feeling sets in that the best days might be in the rear-view mirror?

As it turns out, Clemson’s place as college football’s preeminent program has been fleeting. These days, the Tigers are at least a notch and maybe two or three below what they’ve been. To get into the College Football Playoff this season, Clemson is going to have to rely on reputation, not results. The Tigers certainly can’t count on Saturday’s 10-3 loss to Georgia to save them because it was the kind of game that did not flatter their potential as a national title team.

Both times Clemson beat Alabama, it was able to physically compete in the trenches. Against Georgia on Saturday, it got overwhelmed, giving up seven sacks and creating no opportunities to run the football, gaining just 2 yards on 23 attempts.

Same thing happened last year against Ohio State and the year before that against LSU. That’s a trend, folks. Despite those issues, Clemson’s schedule is so weak it would be a shocker if the Tigers aren’t 11-1 going into the ACC championship game. But it will be a record filled with the emptiest of calories — and deep down, Clemson fans who’ve seen what great teams look like know that better than anyone.

TRENDING TOWARD MISERY

Colorado State: A lot of colleges would want Urban Meyer to coach their team. But that doesn’t mean you should let him choose your coach. Two years ago, Colorado State relied heavily on Meyer’s advice in selecting his former assistant and close friend Steve Addazio — a hire that looked like a bizarre fit in every way on paper and has turned out even worse in reality. Though the sample size is still small, the Rams’ 42-23 season opening loss to South Dakota State did not suggest Addazio is the guy to help that program reach its potential.

North Carolina: Granted, drawing a road game at Virginia Tech is a pretty tough opener. But the Tar Heels played like a team that spent all summer believing their own hype and made a ton of mistakes in a 17-10 loss to the Hokies. Now, North Carolina has to hit the reset button on those top-10 expectations and hope that there’s enough talent to give star quarterback Sam Howell at least a little help in putting together a nice season. In the bigger picture, North Carolina fans can’t be too upset at Mack Brown yet because they wouldn’t have even sniffed this much success without his injection of energy and competence in the recruiting operation. However, Friday’s loss was another piece of evidence that Brown’s teams play better when they’re under the radar than when they’re expected to do great things.

Stanford: Almost six years to the day when Stanford lost a so-called “body clock game” at Northwestern that probably kept them out of the College Football Playoff, the stakes were much lower Saturday when the Cardinal had to come east for an early kickoff at Kansas State. Blame the 11 a.m. start time if you wish — that’s 9 a.m. for Stanford players’ body clocks — but David Shaw’s team was just plain bad in a 24-7 loss. Stanford had just 233 total yards of offense, which has kind of been a trend since that 2015 season. After a run of years when Stanford was in the mix for playoff bids and top-10 rankings, Shaw has won just eight of his last 19 games. And most of those were not in the Eastern or Central time zones.

Georgia Tech: There is nothing subtle about Geoff Collins and his efforts to brand Georgia Tech’s program. If you like slogans, hash tags and social media swag, you’ll love the coach who carries around a Waffle House cup with him everywhere he goes. But all that stuff starts to look gimmicky if wins aren’t coming. And at Georgia Tech, the accusations of style over substance are going to get louder after a 22-21 loss to a Northern Illinois team that went 0-6 last season. Georgia Tech battled back in this game from a 14-0 deficit and had the lead in the final minute, but failing to close the deal dropped Collins’ record to 6-17. Everyone knew this job was going to be difficult as Georgia Tech transitioned away from the triple option, but Collins can’t use that as an excuse forever.

Indiana: This is not a program or a fan base used to preseason expectations, but the Hoosiers came into this season riding a wave after last year’s surprising 6-2 record and No. 13 finish in the coaches’ poll. It didn’t even last a week. Indiana got exposed in pretty much every way by Iowa, 34-6, gaining just 233 yards of offense and falling out of contention by halftime. There now has to be a legitimate fear that Indiana’s magical run in 2020 was just a unique moment in time, not a sustainable or repeatable trend.

TOTALLY REAL AND IRRATIONAL MESSAGE BOARD THREADS

“What is O currently bringing to the table that any one of us couldn’t bring?” – Tiger Rant

“We need to call off the Clemson game, for the safety of our players, much like we shut down last season.” – The Boneyard (UConn)

“Changes need to be made, but it won’t happen, I hate it” – Tiger Net (Clemson)

“Geoff Collins is what happens when you order a football coach on Wish” – Sting Talk

“We have Al Golden reduxxx” – Canes Insight

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: UConn, Nebraska, Miami join LSU in Week 1 Misery Index

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