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The 10 Most Disappointing College Football Programs Of 2014

There is just over a month left of the college football regular season, and we have a very good idea about most of the sport's prominent programs. While there is always potential for a monumental upset on any given Saturday (sorry, Georgia), we more or less know which teams are contenders, which have some work to do but have impressed this year, and which programs have totally bottomed out.

For every powerhouse like Florida State or upstart like Mississippi State, teams that are having excellent seasons thus far, there are many more that have struggled, and have been real disappointments so far this season. Here is College Spun's list of the 10 teams that have been the most disappointing so far in 2014. 

Get Started: No. 10 - Texas Tech >>>

10.) Texas Tech:

The Red Raiders weren't expected to compete for the Big 12 title—Oklahoma and Baylor got most of the publicity in that regard, while TCU and Kansas State have emerged in the last few weeks—but Texas Tech has been a very consistent program for a few decades now. Texas Tech has not posted back to back losing seasons since 1984-85, and the team has averaged over eight wins per year since Mike Leach took over in 2000. While Tech may not always compete for conference titles, they have been more-or-less a shoo-in for a solid bowl appearance every winter. After Kliff Kingsbury posted an 8-5 record in his first season last year, and began making solid gains in recruiting, it certainly seemed like that would continue. 

Instead, a poor Texas Tech defense has turned into one of the worst in all of college football. The Red Raiders are 124th in the nation in scoring defense, and while the passing attack has been fairly prolific as always (320.3 yards per game, 12th in FBS), the team's scoring has lagged behind. Quite simply, Texas Tech cannot keep anyone out of the end zone, and cannot find it nearly enough to offset how bad that unit is. 

Kingsbury has proven that he can guide a team to the post-season and win games, but he has done with with the players that Tommy Tuberville left behind. Will he find the scoring touch once again, and find a way to improve on a dire situation on the defensive side of the bar? Perhaps, but time is running out to turn 2014 around.

No. 9 UCLA >>>

9.) UCLA:

UCLA is 7-2 and is very much in the mix in a very deep Pac-12 South, but considering how highly touted this Bruins team was heading into the 2014 season, the first nine games have to be a bit of a disappointment. One could argue that UCLA has only lived up to its potential in one game this season, its 62-27 thrashing of Arizona State on September 25. It helps that it happened to be against perhaps the best team that it has played thus far, but in so many other games against lesser opponents, the Bruins have been less than impressive. In wins at Virginia, vs. Memphis, vs. Texas, at Cal, at Colorado, and vs. Arizona, the Bruins average margin of victory has been 5.5 points. Wins mean more than anything, but for a team that had Pac-12 Championship and College Football Playoff aspirations, margin of victory is also a factor.

Like many of the other Pac-12 powers, UCLA's major issue has been on the defensive end. UCLA is 101st in the FBS against the pass, and 77th in scoring defense. Even in that big Arizona State win, the Bruins were torched by Sun Devil back-up quarterback Mike Bercovici for 488 yards in his first start. Needing two overtimes to beat lowly Colorado isn't a great look, either.

UCLA has Brett Hundley, which puts it at an immediate advantage over most other programs, but the rest of the roster, which was thought to be extremely talented, has definitely lagged behind this season, and short of a Pac-12 championship and a little bit of luck around the rest of the college football landscape, the Bruins will probably fall short of preseason expectations.

No. 8 - SMU >>>

8.) SMU:

From 2009-2012, the SMU Mustangs won at least seven games per season and went to four straight bowl games, with 2009 being the program's first winning season since 1997. June Jones had effectively resurrected a program that felt the effects of the "death penalty" it received from the NCAA for decades. In 2013, the Mustangs took a small step back, going 5-7, but no one could have predicted how the 2014 season would go.

SMU is currently 0-7, and somehow, a winless record doesn't fully portray how poorly the team has played. The Mustangs are dead last in the FBS in both scoring offense and scoring defense, and are losing each game by an average of 48-7. The Mustangs have totally collapsed, so much so that Jones resigned on September 8. 

The Mustangs joined the American Athletic Conference this season, and as mentioned above, did not have a great 2013. Another lackluster season was not a crazy thought. However, having both the worst offense and defense in the sport is pretty unbelievable.

No. 7 - Stanford >>>

7.) Stanford:

The massive run of success that Stanford has had under Jim Harbaugh and now David Shaw is the main reason that the Cardinal appear on this list, but Stanford fans have gotten used to very strong teams that contend for conference titles and top-flight bowl games. This year, the Cardinal are 5-4, and with the final three games against Utah, Cal, and UCLA, there is a real chance that the team fails to qualify for a bowl for the first time since the 2008-09 season, Harbaugh's second year with the team.

Stanford's struggles are not too difficult to explain. Sustaining the 11+ win average that the Cardinal has had over the last four years is extremely difficult, especially for a program that isn't a classic recruiting power like an Alabama, Ohio State, or even conference rival USC. Only so many Andrew Lucks, Toby Gerharts, and Shayne Skovs come around. 

On the field, red zone offense has been a major issue for the Cardinal. The team is only scoring on 64% of its trips to the red zone, which ranks 125th out of the 128 FBS teams.Stanford's defense has lost a number of top players over the years, but is still very good. However, that unit can only do so much while the Cardinal offense continues to have such huge scoring issues.

No. 6 - North Carolina >>>

6.) North Carolina:

Last season, UNC was one of the preseason favorites in the ACC Coastal Division, had a disastrous beginning to the season with a 1-5 start, and rebounded to finish with seven wins. This season, UNC was one of the preseason favorites in the ACC Coastal Division, had a disastrous beginning to the season with a 2-4 start, and...well, that part hasn't been written yet. After losing their fourth game, a trip to South Bend to take on Notre Dame, the Tar Heels rebounded to beat Georgia Tech and Virginia, but were destroyed by a peaking Miami team this past weekend, 47-20. 

North Carolina has a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball, but the Tar Heels' defense is worse than the offense is good. UNC is surrendering over 41 points per game, and at one point allowed at least 50 points in three of four games, against East Carolina, Clemson, and Notre Dame. While those are all good offenses, UNC did little to impede them at all.

Larry Fedora is a good offensive coach, and accomplished a lot while he was head coach at Southern Miss. However, he has not proven that he is able to put together a team that can compete on the defensive side of the ball, and when the ACC Coastal is so winnable on a yearly basis, it is fairly inexcusable that his teams are finishing in the middle of the pack.

No. 5 - Florida >>>

5.) Florida:

Give the Gators some credit, they went out this weekend and won one of the most difficult games on their schedule, and a rivalry game at that. On paper, Florida had no business playing with Georgia. Instead, all they did was blow out the Bulldogs, a team that was considered a serious College Football Playoff contender. Will Muschamp's team has some fight left in it, and the team plays hard for him, but with all of the talent in Gainesville, the Gators are still incredibly disappointing. 

To save his job, Muschamp likely needs to at least get Florida into a bowl game, and that may not be enough on its own. That looks a lot more attainable with the Georgia win, but it is still no slam dunk. At 4-3, Florida's only other wins are against Eastern Michigan, Kentucky (in overtime), and Tennessee. With Vanderbilt and Eastern Kentucky left on the schedule, six wins is definitely possible, but a 6-5 season is still incredibly underwhelming, especially on the heels of the 4-8 2013 campaign. 

Florida should finish over .500, and with the Georgia win, the season is probably already better than 2013. However, expectations are far higher than that for the Gators. If Muschamp saves his job, there will definitely be a number of disappointed UF fans, even if the team manages to grab a spot in a late-December bowl game.

No. 4 - Virginia Tech >>>

4.) Virginia Tech:

On September 6, Virginia Tech picked up one of the most impressive victories of this college football season, beating Ohio State in Columbus 35-21. Since, the Hokies have gone 2-5, and find themselves at the bottom of the Coastal Division. Virginia Tech has gone from trendy potential playoff-crasher to a program that many think needs a change of direction. Virginia Tech's impressive bowl streak, which goes all the way back to 1993, is in serious jeopardy. At 4-5, Virginia Tech needs to win two of its final three games to become eligible. While Hokie fans can probably pencil in a 'W' next to the Wake Forest game, winning a game against Duke will be a serious challenge, and rival Virginia is a much improved club. 

4-5 would have been disappointing for the Hokies no matter what happened in September, but the game against Ohio State only makes this one worse for the program's fans. In beating the Buckeyes, Virginia Tech proved that it was a talented side, and that Beamer could still win the big game. Since then, the program has done nothing to inspire confidence, and the famous home field advantage at Lane Stadium is all but gone—Virginia Tech is 2-4 at home, with its only two wins coming against William & Mary, and Western Michigan. Could this be the end of Beamer Ball?

No. 3 - Texas A&M >>>

3.) Texas A&M:

Texas A&M has really run the gambit of season expectations so far this year. Heading into the season, the team had a quarterback race that didn't seem to have a definitive winner, it had the shadow of departed Heisman winner Johnny Manziel looming over it, and it had the incredible SEC West to contend with. After its blowout win of South Carolina to open the season on August 28, quarterback Kenny Hill was an instant Heisman front-runner, Texas A&M was being put into early playoff projections.

Eight games later, the outlook for Aggies football is far closer to what it was before that South Carolina game than after it. Hill has ceded the quarterback job to freshman Kyle Allen (and was later suspended), the defense remains a major issue, and the SEC West...well, everyone was right about that, the West is probably even tougher than expected. Even that huge South Carolina win no longer looks impressive, with the Gamecocks at 4-5. 

Texas A&M already has six wins, so it will go bowling, and there are still a few chances to add to that total. The November 15 home game against Missouri certainly looks winnable. However, after the start to the season, Texas A&M fans have to be incredibly disappointed with how things have progressed, even if the South Carolina win was not actually as telling as it seemed back in August.

No. 2 - Michigan >>>

2.) Michigan:

The Michigan football season has not gone well...that much is obvious. The 4-5 record is incredibly poor for a program with the prestige of the Wolverines, but it is the circus that has enveloped the program that really makes it stick out. Brady Hoke has not only underachieved on the field, but he's made questionable decisions when it comes to player safety and well-being. Athletic director Dave Brandon has already resigned after embarrassing e-mail exchanges between he and Michigan alumni and fans leaked. The team's offense is broken, and has struggled with multiple quarterbacks at the helm.

Basically, Michigan needs a reboot on the entire football program. With Brandon gone, Hoke will probably be let go at the end of the season, making it two straight failed head coaching tenures for the program. The Big Ten has a number of strong programs, but there is room at the top of the conference for Michigan. It will be up to the new athletic director, whoever that may be, to make an incredibly pivotal hire and rebuild the football program. If a third straight coach fails, it may be difficult to win back a large chunk of the fan base, after the way it has been alienated in recent years.

No. 1 - ??? >>>

1.) South Carolina:

If Texas A&M was on this list, South Carolina has to be, right? As mediocre as the Aggies have looked since the August 28 game at Williams-Brice Stadium, they still beat a South Carolina team that was expected to win the SEC East, by 24 points. Even with that loss, the Gamecocks won back some support with wins over ECU and Georgia, two very good teams, in the following weeks. However, since those two games, the team has gone 2-4, with the only wins coming against a very poor Vanderbilt team, and FCS program Furman. 

The SEC East is a much easier path to the conference championship and potentially the College Football Playoff than the West, especially this season when every team in the division has had major issues. However, not only have the Gamecocks failed to capitalize, but with losses to Kentucky and Tennessee, they may finish sixth in the division. Florida should be a beatable team, and that game definitely means a lot to Steve Spurrier, but UF may be re-energized by its big win over Georgia. 

As massively disappointing as the year has been for the Gamecocks, many SC fans will tell you that it can all be erased with a sixth-straight win against hated arch-rival Clemson. However, the Tigers have one of the country's best defenses, and should have star freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson back by November 29. If the Gamecocks finish towards the bottom of the SEC East, miss a bowl, and lose to Clemson in a year when they were expected to fight for a playoff spot, this season will have been an unmitigated disaster in Columbia.

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