With 10 weeks in the book, the Campus Insiders team discusses college football’s best and worst two-loss teams as we enter Week 11.
In my latest 1-128 college football rankings, I have Wisconsin at No. 7 and as the best two-loss team in the country. The Badgers haven’t exactly brought sexy back to college football, but Paul Chryst’s squad is physical and athletic on defense. The offense has its issues, but the defense will keep it in any game, and it’s what led the Badgers to beat LSU. The two losses have come against teams that are fighting for a College Football Playoff berth, which is not out of the question for Wisconsin either.
Stacking up the two-loss Power Five teams, I’d have to say that Minnesota has been the least impressive (though I love what Tracy Claeys is doing with the Gophers). Minnesota dropped games to Penn State and Iowa, which were its two toughest opponents. The Gophers also beat Rutgers by just two points. We’ll see how this squad fares when it battles Nebraska this week.
As for the best, I was torn between the Oklahoma teams, Utah and Auburn. The Pokes should, realistically, be a one-loss team, given that officials have conceded that the Central Michigan outcome was blown. The Sooners have seemingly turned the corner and actually found some semblance of defense. One of these two teams will win the Big 12 this year.
When looking at Utah, it’s pretty mind-blowing that the Utes lost to Cal. They won nearly every aspect of the box score – total yards, turnover battle, penalties, time of possession – but petered out on drives. They also played Washington, the third best team behind Alabama and Michigan, incredibly tough. If the Pac-12 Championship game ends up being a rematch between Utah and Washington, don’t be surprised to see the Utes pull an upset.
Ultimately, I’m going with Auburn based on the running attack and defense. The Tigers have a plethora of backs that can hurt a team, and Sean White provides the perfect complement under center. He’s accurate enough to keep opponents honest and open up those rushing lanes. As for the defense, this is what we expected to see last year when Will Muschamp was calling plays as DC. What a difference it makes with Carl Lawson being healthy. This is a top-25 defense when it comes to yards allowed, and top-10 scoring defense. This is a very, very balanced team.
As for worst two-loss, it’s Florida and that’s not even close. This answer is, really, a slap in the face to the Gators’ defensive players, because the effort they’ve put forth this year is one worthy of a team in title contention. But the offense is so incredibly bad that it snuffs out any positives from the other side of the ball.
This is a team with a kicker capable of hitting from 50 yards, but could only manage 10 points against Arkansas – seven of which came on an interception return for a touchdown. Florida is also the most penalized team in the SEC, which doesn’t bode well for an offense that can barely scrape together double-digit yards in a given series.
I’d give any two-loss team in the nation – be it the ones mentioned above, or Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Washington State, et al. – the edge when playing Florida on a neutral field. There is little to laud the Gators for other than the aforementioned defense and punter Johnny Townsend.
I’m going to have to go with Auburn despite saying Wisconsin the last time we did this roundtable. At that time, I believed the Badgers’ defense was enough to label them the best two-loss team. But the difference in offensive efficiency between Auburn and Wisconsin is vast. The Tigers’ running game stacks up with anyone in the nation, while the Badgers can’t even decide which quarterback to put on the field.
As for the worst two-loss team, I’m sure most everyone else is going to say Florida because they went to Florida and are bitter. But the truth is that Nebraska finally proved it doesn’t belong anywhere near the top 10 after getting trounced by Ohio State. The fact is, I was not impressed with this Cornhuskers team when it was undefeated and climbing the rankings. The Huskers rank in the middle of the Big Ten in both offense and defense, denoting in numbers what they really are – average.
The best two-loss team – and this will show my love for the Pac-12 here – is Utah. Kyle Whittingham is a fantastic head coach, and I love what he’s done with the program. Now, Troy Williams hasn’t been a great quarterback, but as long as he doesn’t turn the ball over, the Utes are fine. Joe Williams has been on a tear since he came out of retirement, and that Utah defense can do some damage. The Utes hung around with Washington, who could be in the College Football Playoff when it’s all said and done.
The worst two-loss team has to be Florida. Listen, I get that Luke Del Rio hasn’t been the same since he got hurt against North Texas, but let’s not act as though he was great before that. The Gators’ four-man backfield has quickly turned into the Jordan Scarlett show, or lack thereof, and the offensive line is extremely banged up. Even the defense is hurting. Jarrad Davis is hobbled with a sprained ankle. Alex Anzalone, unfortunately, has seen another season end early due to injury. With key injuries in the linebacking core, the stout defense suddenly doesn’t look so stout. Though it really doesn’t matter, considering the offense’s inability to stay on the field exhausts the championship-caliber defense.
I’m still going with Auburn as the best team with two losses, and the reason is the Tigers can get it done on both sides of the ball. Wisconsin’s defense is amazing, but no offense can be found from the Badgers this season. Auburn’s running game is No. 3 in the nation in total yards per game, and quarterback Sean White is efficient and, when he has to, can beat you with his arm. The upcoming Georgia game will be tough, but if Auburn pulls it off, the Iron Bowl will be for all the marbles in the SEC West. Remember when that last happened? I think we all do. As my colleague Dave Miller has said five thousand times in the past week, “THERE GOES CHRIS DAVIS!”
Florida is by far the worst two-loss team in the game right now. The offense is more effective at putting someone to sleep than five melatonin pills, and head coach Jim McElwain seems more interested in his next punchline at a press conference than fixing the Gators offensive unit. The defense has basically kept the Gators’ heads above water, and that could turn into an SEC East championship in quite possibly the worst Power Five division. God help Florida if they face Alabama in the SEC Championship.