Misery Index, Week 3 notebook: HS teams may play better than Colorado; Nick Rolovich embarrassing Washington State

·7 min read

Florida State leads this week's Misery Index after a 35-14 loss to Wake Forest. Here are the others that made the index, a weekly measurement of knee-jerk reactions based on what each fan base just watched.

Colorado: The Buffaloes have played eight quarters of football against FBS teams. They have scored a grand total of one touchdown. That was nearly enough last week to beat Texas A&M, which eventually scored with 2:41 left to snatch a 10-7 victory away from Colorado. But against Minnesota this week, Colorado set a bar for offensive futility that is probably out of reach for any team in the country the rest of this season.

Over the course of a 30-0 loss, Colorado’s offense had 11 possessions. Five of them resulted in three-and-outs, three more lasted five plays or fewer, and one ended on a first-play fumble. By the time it was over, Colorado netted 63 offensive yards, including a minus-19 tally on 21 rushing attempts. There might be high school teams in the state of Colorado that could have performed better than that. It would be difficult for anyone to do worse.

Minnesota's Boye Mafe helps sack Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis.
Minnesota's Boye Mafe helps sack Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis.

Louisiana Tech: When you have a 20-point lead with 12 minutes remaining, as this team did two weeks ago against Mississippi State, you’re supposed to win the game. Louisiana Tech did not. When you have any lead with 36 seconds left and the opponent has to go 73 yards to beat you, as this team did Saturday against SMU, you’re supposed to win that game, too. Louisiana Tech did not.

In terms of heartbreaking defeats and straight-up choke jobs, it will be hard for anyone to reach the heights that the Bulldogs have achieved already this season. You could understand, perhaps, how the Mississippi State game got away from Louisiana Tech, even if coach Skip Holtz went into a shell way too early and played not to lose. But allowing SMU’s Tanner Mordecai to dance around in the pocket and throw up a prayer on the last play of the game from the 33-yard line that got tipped and caught by Reggie Roberson? That’s a big missed opportunity for a Conference USA team that will be remembered for its inability to close.

MISERY INDEX NO. 1: Top spot goes to Florida State after 0-3 start

WINNERS, LOSERS: Michigan, USC, Wake Forest on the rise

WEEK 3 OBSERVATIONS: Oklahoma's offense sputtering

Pittsburgh: We are already in the seventh year of Pat Narduzzi at Pitt, and yet they all basically look the same. Except for a win over eventual national champion Clemson in 2016, Pitt is perpetually stuck in the vortex of winning most of the games it’s supposed to win — but never doing much more and occasionally doing less. This week, the Panthers did a lot less in a 44-41 loss to Western Michigan.

For context, Western Michigan lost by 33 points to Michigan a couple of weeks ago, so this isn’t a game Pitt should have been overly worried about. Instead, Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for six touchdowns and still lost because the Panthers allowed 517 yards and lost the turnover battle 3-0. It was the first time Pitt lost to a team from the Mid-American Conference since Akron in 2014, and it certainly doesn’t look like the kind of progress Panthers fans hoped to see by this point in Narduzzi's tenure.

Miami: It looks more and more like Manny Diaz is going to be the fourth consecutive coach not to work out at Miami. For a program that did nothing but hire winners from Howard Schnellenberger to Jimmy Johnson to Dennis Erickson to Butch Davis, it’s almost unfathomable that the Hurricanes keep winding up here, once again trying to figure out why they’re not able to leverage their natural resources and powerful brand into a competitive product. After this week’s 38-17 loss to Michigan State, Miami is 1-2 and could very well have been 0-3 if not for a close call last week against Appalachian State.

But it should be instructive for Miami that the latest dose of reality came against Michigan State, a program that was down in the dumps at the end of the Mark Dantonio era. Michigan State doesn’t have as complete a roster as it will have eventually under Mel Tucker, but it’s only taken him 18 months to put in an infrastructure and culture that makes it look like he knows what he’s doing. Michigan State plays with purpose and belief that it can beat teams with more talent. Miami runs the other direction when it gets too tough. If that continues, the Hurricanes will have to admit that they made another mistake.

TRENDING TOWARD MISERY

Northwestern: You could get a case of whiplash looking through the Wildcats’ results the last few years. In 2018, they finished 8-1 in the Big Ten and made the conference championship game for the first time. The next year, they dipped to 3-9 and couldn’t really beat anyone. Then last season, Northwestern bounced back and finished in the top-10 for the first time in a decade-and-a-half under Pat Fitzgerald.

Now, they’re back to being a bad football team. We know that because only bad football teams are going to lose to Duke this year, which Northwestern did on Saturday, 30-23. Not only did Northwestern give up 558 yards to a Duke team that lost to Charlotte in Week 1, it seems like pinning its hopes on Clemson transfer quarterback Hunter Johnson (6-for-16, 75 yards, three interceptions) isn’t going to pay off.

Utah: It’s been more than a decade since the Utes left the Mountain West Conference for the greener pastures of the Pac-12. But this year, Utah’s old conference mates are getting their revenge. Not only did the Utes lose to in-state rival BYU last week for the first time since 2009, they followed it up with a 33-31 overtime loss to San Diego State. Remarkably, the Aztecs won the game despite just 44 passing yards, converting 2-of-15 on third downs and missing a 36-yard field goal in the first overtime. The end result is that Utah, after being one of the more consistent programs in the Pac-12, looks like a pretty big disappointment this year at 1-2.

Toledo: One can only imagine all the pats on the back Toledo players received over the past week when they returned home from an exciting 32-29 loss to Notre Dame. Though the end result was disappointing, it’s human to take some satisfaction in playing that well against a big-name program. But that’s also why coaches hate moral victories: It’s easy to fall into a trap the next week against a lesser opponent.

Any positives Toledo took out of South Bend disintegrated Saturday at home in a disastrous 22-6 loss to Colorado State -- the same team that lost to Vanderbilt and South Dakota State in its first two games. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that much for Toledo, whose primary goal is always winning the MAC title. But so-called “good losses” don’t look so good when they’re followed by legitimately bad losses.

Washington State: Head coach Nick Rolovich could have easily ended the nagging subplot to the Cougars’ season by either acknowledging that he’s getting the COVID-19 vaccine, as the state of Washington has mandated for university employees, or offering a clear explanation for why he will try to get an exception. Rolovich has done neither, ensuring that he keeps getting asked about it, producing awkward exchanges that undoubtedly embarrass a significant percentage of fans and administrators at the school.

And the scrutiny is only going to increase after a 45-14 loss to USC, a game in which the Cougars completely collapsed after leading 14-0. At 1-2, there’s little evidence Rolovich is up to the scope of the job he has — on or off the field.

TOTALLY REAL AND IRRATIONAL MESSAGE BOARD THREADS

“Kool Aid drinkers have switched to bourbon” - Warchant (Florida State)

“Worst coached game in last 15 years?” - Canes Insight (Miami)

“Did CU even prepare for this game?” - NetBuffs (Colorado)

“No run game, no defense, no adjustments no hope!” - Panther-lair (Pitt)

“Is WSU football about tailgating, culture and not winning?” - Cougfan (Washington State)

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Dan Wolken on Twitter @DanWolken

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College football Misery Index notes: Nick Rolovich an embarrassment