Don't follow these Big Ten Leaders

Originally Published: October 31, 2012
By Conor Nevins | ESPN.com

WEEK: Preseason | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | BYE | 11 | 12 | 13

The Bottom 10 inspirational thoughts of the week:


"So here are the jokes if we had had an audience here … let's run through some of these jokes."

-- David Letterman

If David Letterman tells a joke and there's no audience in the studio to laugh, is it still funny?

Letterman delivered his "Late Show" opening monologue to an empty studio Monday as Hurricane Sandy descended upon New York City.

No laughter. No applause. Just a master comedic craftsman creating a philosophical "if a tree falls in the forest" conundrum.

Letterman's performance got the Bottom 10 thinking of the Big Ten Leaders Division. Ohio State and Penn State have distinguished themselves as the class of the division, if not the conference, yet neither is eligible for postseason play because of NCAA sanctions.

The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions faced off as league unbeatens Saturday evening. But if the division's best teams can't even compete for the championship they're on course to qualify for, is it an empty contest?

The Bottom 10 doesn't mean to poke fun at the Buckeyes or Nittany Lions. They can still claim a championship banner. Rather, it turns its attention toward the other "contenders" in the division.

Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois have combined for four league wins -- the Boilermakers and Illini are winless.

Talk about seizing the opportunity. It's enough to earn this four-pack of futility this week's No. 5 spot.

It appears the Badgers will win the division by default, thus earning a trip to Indianapolis to play in the Big Ten championship and a possible Rose Bowl berth. The Bottom 10 will, respectfully, hold its applause for such empty plaudits.

New Mexico State faces Auburn in the Pillow Fight of the Week.

With apologies to Steve Harvey and David Letterman, and in honor of the "Late Show Top Ten List", here are the reasons why your team is on this week's Bottom 10:

ESPN.com's Bottom 10
RANK TEAM 2012 RECORD COMMENT
1. Southern Miss 0-8 "Our games should come with a Parental Advisory warning": Southern Miss declared Saturday's visit from UAB "Take A Kid To The Game" day. After the Golden Eagles lost to Rice 44-17, the Bottom 10 recommends hiding the children, not giving them free tickets.
2. UMass 0-8 "We took a wrong turn on the way back to the Yankee Conference": The Minutemen's evolution as a FBS member is proving to be a painful one. There's just not enough firepower in those muskets to mount a credible case for winning.
3. Idaho 1-7 "Help Wanted (lots of it)": The Vandals fired the first shot in the coaching carousel, dismissing head coach Robb Akey. They followed that by dismissing their starting QB. There are vacancies to be filled at Idaho. Head coaches, quarterbacks, prospective conferences, please apply.
4. New Mexico State 1-7 "At least we're not Auburn": Fallen on hard times? Is your hated in-state rival experiencing a revival of fortune that has seen them put you in their rearview mirror, perhaps for the foreseeable future? Wait a minute, who are we talking about again?
5. Big Ten Leaders Division (sans OSU and PSU) 4-13 (in Big Ten play) "Our championship banner is an oxymoron": "Ladies and gentlemen, please give a round of applause to your BIG Leaders Division champion … oh, never mind. Just don't embarrass us in the Rose Bowl."
6. Colorado 1-7 "Even Vegas can't comprehend how overmatched we really are:" Oregon scored two touchdowns before Colorado had an offensive snap on Saturday, as the Ducks covered a 45.5 point spread in a 70-14 win.
7. FIU 1-8 "Where are you when I need you the most?" F_U will have to take at least a one-week hiatus, as FAU earns a Bottom 10 reprieve after its win over Troy. FIU might have to wait until its Nov. 16 matchup with the Owls before getting similar treatment.
8. Wyoming 1-7 "It's so bad we're furloughing employees": Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen did some soul-searching during his one-week suspension after his profanity-laced tirade. The Cowboys have no choice but to get back on the horse after being bucked by Boise State, 45-14.
9. Akron 1-8 "No, not the father, the son. No, not that son -- the other one": Akron's offense is accumulating a lot of yards and scoring some points under Terry Bowden. The problem is, the other team is putting up much more in both categories.
10. Kansas 1-7 "Narrowly beating us is considered rock bottom": It's hard to envision a comeback road win against a conference opponent being more demoralizing for the victor than Texas' 21-17 win over the Jayhawks.

Waiting list: Army (1-7); Auburn (1-7); Buffalo (1-7); Eastern Michigan (1-7); Hawaii (1-6); "I'm the best Big East QB"; Kentucky (1-8); Memphis (1-7); UAB (1-7); UNLV (1-8).

Conor Nevins is a college football editor for ESPN.com.