The feeling is an all-too-familiar one for college football fans on fall Saturdays.
You're sitting on your couch, at a bar, maybe even in the bleachers, watching the team--the team you live and die with--play. And they're not playing well. They're struggling, big time. You can feel a loss coming, and when it arrives, it seems to hurt more than anything you've ever felt.
This was supposed to be our year, you tell yourself. Not anymore.
No sport in the world places more importance on a single game than college football. Even with the invention of the Playoff, increasing the number of teams that get to play for a title from two to four, any loss can end your team's chances of competing for a title.
Losing is suffering.
Sometimes, this feeling, albeit a less painful version, comes after a win. Maybe a key player got hurt or the team just didn't play to expectations.
No matter how the feeling arrives, the suffering, disappointing emotional state is commonplace in America during the sixth day of the week from late August through December. It was certainly present during Week 2, a week that saw a couple of upsets, a couple of blowouts, and some way-too-close contests against non-FBS schools.
Which fan bases experienced the most pain in Week 2?
Presenting the 10 College Football Fan Bases That Suffered The Most In Week 2:
No. 10, South Carolina
Game result: Defeated East Carolina, 33-23
No college football fan base had a bigger letdown to open the 2014 season than South Carolina's. The Gamecocks were blown out by Texas A&M in Columbia, 52-28, allowing first-year starting quarterback Kenny Hill to march up and down the Williams-Brice Stadium field with ease. Week 2 was supposed to be the week Steve Spurrier's program got back on track, though. This was going to be the week when the Gamecocks showed they have the talent to compete for an SEC East title.
It didn't really happen. South Carolina struggled with East Carolina, eventually winning by 10 points. The Gamecocks trailed, 13-10, halfway through the second quarter. They led, 20-16, at halftime, before rattling off 10-unanswered points in the third quarter to, mostly, pull away.
Still, it's a disappointing result for a team projected by many to be the favorite in their division. If there are positives to take away from the win, it's that quarterback Dylan Thompson looked decent, throwing for 266 yards and a touchdown. Running back Mike Davis performed well, too, rushing for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
A better result is surely needed this week, though, as South Carolina hosts Georgia.
No. 9, Northwestern
Game result: Lost to Northern Illinois, 23-15
It doesn't seem like too long ago that ESPN's "College GameDay" was headed to Evanston, Ill. to watch an undefeated Northwestern team host Ohio State. During most of that contest, the Wildcats seemed primed for an upset victory.
Times have changed. Quickly.
">September 7, 2014
As mentioned in the tweet, Northwestern's football program is 1-9 since that game. They've started the 2014 football season quite poorly, getting blown out in the opener against California, 31-24, and losing in Week 2 to Northern Illinois, 23-15. The loss this past week was especially painful. Northern Illinois, a respectable MAC team, is still a MAC team. MAC teams, despite their recent success against Big Ten schools, are not supposed to be able to beat Power 5 teams. They did this past week, though, and it looks like Northwestern is on pace for many more losses this season. Next: No. 8, Iowa >>>No. 8, IowaGame result: Defeated Ball State, 17-13This summer, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit offered a dark horse contender for the College Football Playoff. "I think you gotta look out for Iowa," Herbstreit told Sporting News. "That's about as off the radar as you can get." Thus far, Herbsreit's pick doesn't look so great. Sure, Iowa is undefeated, but the Hawkeyes have yet to look like a team capable of even competing against top-level competition. This past weekend's game was especially troubling. Iowa struggled, mightily, against Ball State, eventually winning by a mere four points. The Cardinals led, 13-3, at the end of the third quarter. Iowa needed a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Duzey with a minute left to take the victory. Ball State, with only 219 yards of offense (compared to 455 by Iowa), was able to stick around because Iowa kept making mistakes. The Hawkeyes had two turnovers lost, both fumbles. Thankfully for Iowa fans--and Herbstreit--the schedule doesn't get much tougher. It's somewhat possible the Hawkeyes could keep winning with this type of play until November, when they face Wisconsin and Nebraska in back-to-back weeks. Next: No. 7, Vanderbilt >>>No. 7, VanderbiltGame result: Lost to Ole Miss, 41-3If you're a college football fan, you've surely been upset watching your team play. Have you ever been as upset as this Vanderbilt fan, though? It's doubtful.
">September 6, 2014
This Commodores' loyalist got so frustrated watching his team play the Rebels that he ripped his shirt off, threw it onto the field, and stormed out of the stadium. That's passion.
It's likely also a good representation of how most Vanderbilt fans are feeling so far this season. The Commodores lost James Franklin to Penn State this offseason, but hopes still remained relevantly high in Nashville with the arrival of Stanford's defensive coordinator, Derek Mason.
Nothing has gone as planned, though. Vanderbilt has lost its two games by a combined score of 81-10, getting blown out by both Temple and Ole Miss.
Any sense of optimism held by Commodores' fans at the beginning of the season is likely already gone.
No. 6, Stanford
Game result: Lost to USC, 13-10
The loss to the Trojans was disappointing for Stanford fans for a number of reasons:
- It's a loss.
- It's a loss to USC.
And, perhaps most importantly:
3. It's a loss in a type of game Stanford usually wins.
The Cardinal's program is known for a couple of things, but mostly, it is its ability to play hard-nosed, tough football, that usually results in wins in big games in low scoring fashion. This USC-Stanford game was that type of contest.
There were only 23 points scored, total, and USC's offense did not reach the 300-yard plateau. Stanford was more efficient in nearly every aspect of the game except the two most important ones: converting drives into points and holding onto the ball. The Cardinals turned it over twice, had two missed field goals, a turnover on downs inside USC's five-yard line, and had to punt twice from inside the Trojans' 40-yard line.
This was a game Stanford should have won.
No. 5, Nebraska
Game result: Defeated McNeese State, 31-24
In its more-than-a-century-long history of playing football, the Nebraska Cornhuskers have never lost to an FCS team. History was nearly made this past weekend.
McNeese State hung with the Huskers for nearly 60 minutes. Nebraska won the game in the contest's waning seconds on a 50-plus yard incredible touchdown reception by running back Ameer Abdullah.
Victories don't get any closer to feeling like losses than Nebraska's win over McNeese State did. Following the game, Bo Pelini said the Huskers' locker room was as somber as he's seen after a win.
">September 8, 2014
Nebraska faces Fresno State and Miami in back-to-back weeks to prove it's better than what it showed against the Cowboys.
No. 4, Michigan State
Game result: Lost to Oregon, 46-27
Have you ever watched an adult arm wrestle a child? The adult will toy with the kid, allowing their arm to be pulled close to the table. Then, the arm will rest there, inches away from being defeated, as the child tries with all its might to pin the adult. And then, bam! The adult uses its strength and pins the child with ease.
That's what watching this Oregon-Michigan State game felt like.
For a half, the Spartans outplayed the top-five Ducks, leading Oregon in Autzen Stadium, 24-16, at halftime. A win on the road would have put Michigan State in incredible position to make the College Football Playoff. Then, in the contest's final 30 minutes, Oregon became the adult, outscoring Mark Dantonio's squad, 28-3.
A decent effort in a tough environment against a great team resulted in a blowout loss for the Spartans. That has to be incredibly frustrating.
No. 3, Ohio State
Game result: Lost to Virginia Tech, 35-21
As I watched the Ohio State-Virginia Tech game last Saturday night, I was texting back-and-forth with a friend, a fellow OSU alumnus and die-hard Buckeye fan. As the game progressed, my friend got progressively more upset.
"They're not good. Urban is overrated," he wrote at halftime, OSU trailing, 21-7. "This is an 8-4 team if I've ever seen one."
"They're a joke," he said when Virginia Tech regained the lead in the fourth quarter.
"This all sucks," he stated when the Hokies wrapped up an upset road victory following a pick-six late in the final quarter. "Gimme Jimmy Tressel back."
My friend would later admit he was overreacting a bit, but the sentiment in his texts is likely one that was shared by most Buckeye fans during that game. Ohio State, in the Urban Meyer era, had not lost a regular season game prior to the contest against the Hokies. With Braxton Miller injured, four offensive linemen and Carlos Hyde gone, Ohio State now looks vulnerable.
Ohio State fans appear to be learning this. They're not happy about it.
No. 2, Texas
Game result: Lost to BYU, 41-7
No fan base endured a bigger swing of emotions from Week 1 to Week 2 than Texas'. The Longhorns opened the season with a blowout win against North Texas, defeating the Mean Green, 38-7. In Week 2, though, the David Ash-less Texas squad was blown out at home by BYU, 41-7, in a game that was, clearly, never close.
The Charlie Strong era at Texas has not gotten off to a great start. Strong, before the game, put up signs around his facility featuring BYU's 2013 stats. He wanted someone--a leader, hopefully--to tear them down. No one did.
It appears that the rebuilding process in Austin could take some time. He wants to run the program like he did Louisville's and it looks like, for that to happen, Texas fans will have to endure some losses.
No. 1, Michigan
Game result: Lost to Notre Dame, 31-0
Losses don't get much worse than the one Michigan had against Notre Dame this past Saturday.
Not only did the Wolverines get blown out by a rival, they were blown out in what could be the final game ever against that rival. Michigan didn't really succeed in leaving Notre Dame impressed with the Wolverines' program.
Brady Hoke's team was outclassed in nearly every facet of the game. Most notably, the Wolverines turned the ball over four times, including three interceptions by quarterback Devin Gardner.
No fan base felt worse this past Sunday morning than Michigan's.