FSU's D, Notre Dame and other disappointments
There have been quite a few revelations this fall (the Stanford Cardinal, the Pittsburgh Panthers, and RB Dion Lewis and QB Jonathan Crompton of the Tennessee Volunteers, to name a few), but there's always the flip side of things that have proved to be major disappointments. Here are the 10 biggest disappointments of the 2009 season:
1. The defense of the Florida State Seminoles:
Right before the season, longtime FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said this might be his fastest defense ever, which was quite a statement given some of the personnel the Noles have had. However, the group has been a mess right from the opening game -- when they surrendered 38 points to Jacory Harris and a very young Miami offense. The Noles have been plagued by an array of assignment busts and big plays. They've given up more than 40 points three times already, which of course doesn't include the 38 Miami got on them. Yes, this group was pretty young, but the team was still picked to win the ACC Atlantic. Instead, they're fighting just to get bowl-eligible, and they rank 109th in total defense, 105th in rushing defense and 107th in pass-efficiency D. The Noles, once known for their ferocious pass rush, are also 10th in the ACC in sacks (18).
2. The Big 12, overall:
With a huge number of three- and four-year starting quarterbacks returning, some thought this might be the year that the Big 12 would outshine the SEC. Well, those thoughts didn't last long. Before September was over, the league's three most prominent national championship contenders -- Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State -- were reduced to just one, Texas. In fairness, no conference was hit harder by injuries to star players. First, Oklahoma lost standout TE Jermaine Gresham before the season, and Heisman winner Sam Bradford went down in the season-opening loss to BYU. Baylor lost its offensive engine when QB Robert Griffin was lost for the season, essentially short-circuiting the Bears' hopes to end their long bowl drought. Then there was Oklahoma State star WR Dez Bryant's getting shut down by the NCAA. Mike Leach, who hadn't had any quarterback injuries in 20 years of coaching, has had to cope with losing two starting quarterbacks to injury this fall. But that doesn't speak to the failings, again, of the Big 12 North. Kansas, a team ranked No. 25 in the preseason, might not become bowl-eligible and is now dealing with a potential scandal surrounding coach Mark Mangino and allegations of player abuse. Worse still? There's Colorado -- which, after coach Dan Hawkins' bold talk before the season, turned around and lost to CSU and Toledo, midlevel teams from non-BCS conferences. The Buffs actually got blasted by the Rockets on a nationally televised Friday night stage.
Where's ND on this list? Maryland? Michigan's defense? LSU's offense? Big Ten teams? To find out, you must be an ESPN Insider.