The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:
I got that stuff that you can't bump in your car
Steady lurkin' on my enemies to settle the score...
And if you gotta problem now's the time to speak up
Because I'm blowing up I'm never gonna stop
Just let me go, I'm on my own, a rolling stone and I'm in the zone
Don't let me fall just let me know when we'll make it through
No matter what the price may be, for clarity I'll make it home
Just let me go, I'm on my own, a rolling stone
-- "Rolling Stone," Falling in Reverse
It was late Sunday night in the marshlands of South Florida and I was finally headed back to the hotel. Kyle Busch had just won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in dramatic fashion. I'd interviewed him for SportsCenter, loaded up my backpack and started the first steps of my trudge to the rental car, when a representative from Busch's team stopped me.
"Here you go, man, enjoy these." It was a giant bag of M&M's, Busch's sponsor. I was pumped. It was late. I was starving.
As I left the Homestead-Miami Speedway, my mind officially began the process of shifting from being obsessed with auto racing's best to sifting through the wreckage of college football's worst. Don't get me wrong, the Bottom 10 is always on my mind, and as I spent four days in the greater Miami area, even if I'd wanted to forget it, the people wouldn't let me.
Angry fans of The U stopped me a total of six times to tell me that I was an idiot. On Friday, a guy in a Florida Atlantic University T-shirt told me he was offended that the Owls didn't receive more serious consideration for the top spot (little did he know how their weekend was going to go).
I needed a safe haven. A place away from large crowds where I knew I could find security via solitude. When I asked local authorities if they knew of such a place, they all suggested the Georgia Tech-Miami game at Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Land Shark/Sun Life Stadium.
It had all been a lot to process. My mind was cluttered. And now, as I left the racetrack I needed some sort of inspiration to get my head back on the Bottom 10 mental track. I ripped open the bag of M&M's and drove out over the exit road, a long dirt path that was only slightly less bumpy than the Baja 1000. After bouncing over one particularly large berm, the bag flew into the air, scattering M&M's into the floorboard. They had been, like our new official Bottom 10 rock band, Falling In Reverse. They rolled around on the floor mat like lost souls, eventually gathering as a group and then retreating en masse underneath the passenger's seat, never to be seen again.
Instantly, I was back in Bottom 10 mode. All at once inspired, but still starving.
With apologies to Jeff Gordon and Steve Harvey, here's this week's Bottom 10.
1. UC(not S)F (0-11)
It's Rivalry Week, which means it's time for teams across the nation to do battle for trophies and barrels and axes and cups. Meanwhile, on Thanksgiving day, UC(not S)F will host US(not C)F in the annual Middle Florida Middle Consonant Classic. Just two years ago it was UCF that was good and USF that was battling for the Bottom 10 title, but now USF has managed to slingshot around UCF like it was a Sweet and Low packet on Nicole Kidman's leg. Oh, oops, sorry -- I'm still trying to shift out of NASCAR mode.
2. Kansas (0-11)
When the Las Vegas lines were released for Week 13 and Kansas State was listed as a 20-point favorite on the road vs. the Nayhawks, I received several tweets and emails expressing outrage that the spread should have been much larger. But shouldn't we be more outraged that Vegas released a line on this game at all? Or organizing an intervention for that one guy out there who is actually putting money down on this game?
3. Louisiana Monroe (1-10)
I displeased some Notre Dame fans when I suggested in Monday's Flipping The Field column that they were at a significant disadvantage by not playing a game during the final weekend of the season. That's when the conference championships are happening and the one time the College Football Playoff committee actually watches games together. The same might be said for UCF and Kansas in their Bottom 10 title bout. The Knights and Nayhawks will be done after this weekend, while the ULM Warhawks will have one more to play, a guaranteed Pillow Fight of the Week against New Mexico State. But first, there's this week. More on that coming up.
4. Why, oming? (1-10)
After falling to San Diego State, the Cowboys host their season finale against UNLV. Before the game, team mascots Pistol Pete and Hey Reb! will participate in the traditional world's most politically incorrect mustache competition.
5. SEC East
This isn't just about South Carolina losing to The Citadel. This isn't just about Georgia being pushed by Georgia Southern Not State. This isn't just about Florida being pushed by longtime Bottom 10 resident FA(not I)U. It's not even about an FAU receiver being very literally pushed by a Florida defender. This isn't just about Kentucky needing to schedule a Bottom 10 resident to end a five-game losing streak, and that team wasn't even Van-duh-bilt, another Bottom 10 regular. Nor is it about Missouri and Tennessee finding points harder to come by than a pair of opening-night tickets to the new "Star Wars" movie. No, this is about a longtime group effort that's taken place while the SEC West has been crazy good. It's the college football equivalent to "Battle of the Network Stars" when CBS would have Delta Burke and Joan Van Ark on a tug of war team against NBC with Mr. T and Mark Harmon.
6. The Boys From Oopsilanti (1-10)
One week after falling to UMess in PFOWY7A, Eastern failed to cover the spread against the Fightin' Byes of Open Date U. This weekend they travel to Central Michigan for the final stage of the Central/Eastern/Western round-robin tournament.
7. North Texas Forty (1-10)
The SMU Musdangs won over Tulane, their second victory of the season. Here at Bottom 10 headquarters, located in the same portable storage unit where Rece Davis stores his puns, we were panicked that the state of Texas might not be represented for the first time in forever. Then the Mean Green was rolled by the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee in the Primary Colors Classic. Then the Bottom 10 staff got mad at me because I actually wrote "first time in forever" and we all got the "Frozen" soundtrack stuck in our heads.
8. Charlotte 2and9'ers (2-9)
If you were reading that SEC East passage and wondering what Bottom 10 team was kind enough to help Kentucky get off the snide -- er, shnyed --er, schneid, it was these guys. Let's also pause for a moment and realize we're finally to the point where Charlotte fans can duct tape a "2" over the "4" on their school nickname hoodies.
9. Huh-why-yuh (2-10)
To clarify, these are the Rainbow Warriors football team, not Jeff Gordon's pit crew (OK, sorry, no more race car references). This weekend they wrap up their season by hosting the Pillow Fight of the Week of the Year 8 (PFOWY8), as they take on their natural regional rival, Louisiana-Monroe. As I watch the game (and I will) I will reenact the Matthew McConaughey lunch scene from "The Wolf of Wall Street" by chanting the abbreviations of these two schools -- ULM and UH -- and pounding on my chest.
10. UMess (2-9)
The bad news? The Minutemen lost to My Hammy of Ohio, ham-handing the RedHawks their first road win in 22 games. The good news? If I'm reading these new NCAA guidelines right, I think UMass might still be bowl eligible!
Waiting list: Oregon State (2-9), Army Black Nots (2-9), FA(Not I)U (2-9), Pur-Don't (2-9), Merry-Land (2-9), LSU boosters breaking their piggy banks.