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It's Lonely At The Bottom

Greg Robinson loves to tell us that the process for turning around a football program is long and arduous. It doesn't happen overnight, people.

Or does it? It's been a wacky college football season (which seems redundant really, aren't they all?). One of the big reasons is the emergence of so many programs that seemed at death's door as recently as last season. Many of them have returned to respectability. A few are even ranked. One's already bowl eligible.


So with the Orange still in dire straits at 1-5 and with a prognosis for the rest of the season that looks grim at best, I thought it might be interesting to put Gregger's
theory to the test. I decided to take a look at all the of 2007's bottom dwellers and see how they're doing in 2008. How does Syracuse's "progress" match theirs? The results are, well, you can probably guess...

(I stuck to BCS conferences but also include Notre Dame (natch) and the Mountain West, which is more of a BCS conference this season than the Big East.)


Conference: ACC
Team:
Duke
2007 record:
1-11
2008 YTD:
3-2
Prognosis:
If the season ends today, Duke has a better overall and conference record than Miami. Mull that over for a second. They've beaten some mediocre teams (Navy and Virginia) and gotten beat down by anyone good, but for the Worst Team of the 00's, three wins is three wins.

Conference:
Big Ten
Team: Minnesota
2007 record: 1-11
2008 YTD:
6-1
Prognosis
: They're already bowl eligible. Seriously. It's their best start since 2003 and they're not done yet. 8-9 wins is very possible. Give Tim Brewster the Coach of the Year Award now.

Conference:
Pac-10
Team
: Washington
2007 record:
4-9
2008 YTD
: 0-5 Prognosis: Congrats Huskies, you're actually doing worse than we are. Granted, the schedule has been BRUTAL (Oregon, BYU, Oklahoma, frisky Stanford and Arizona). But if there's any more certain thing than Greg Robinson's impending firing, it's Ty Willingham's.

Conference: Pac-10
Team:
Stanford
2007 record: 4-8
2008 YTD:
4-3
Prognosis
: Quite a job Jim Harbaugh has been doing. It's been slow and steady but he's already got a couple signature wins to hang his hat on and now the Cardinal are gunning for a bowl berth. Not bad for a bottom-dweller from last season.

Conference:
Big 12
Team
: Iowa State
2007 record:
3-9
2008 YTD:
2-4
Prognosis: Things started out great for the Cyclones with a 2-0 record. Then they started playing real teams. Now they're 2-4 and the road doesn't get any easier with Nebraska, Okla State, Colorado and Missou ahead. Look for the Cyclones to finish in about the same spot as last season.

Conference:
Big 12
Team:
Baylor
2007 record: 3-9
2008 YTD:
3-3
Prognosis
: The Bears have already matched their previous season win total and they've got a little buzz to them with their QB Robert Griffin maturing quickly. The Big 12 schedule is downright criminally brutal so don't expect too many more W's but the Bears are heading in the right direction. Now they just need to find an easier conference to play in.

Conference: SEC
Team: Mississippi
2007 record:
3-9
2008 YTD:
3-3
Prognosis
: If all Ole Miss does this year is hang their hat on a win in the Swamp over Florida, that'll be good enough. They've got a chance to win five games this season, six if they can muster another upset. Either way, they're on their way up.

Conference:
SEC
Team:
Vanderbilt
2007 record:
5-7
2008 YTD:
5-1
Prognosis
: The feel-good undefeated start ended last weekend but that doesn't mean this isn't still an amazing season so far for the Commodores. Ranked and heading for a bowl berth, they've got nothing to be ashamed of. Duke, Kentucky and Tennessee all look winnable from here on out.

Conference: Mountain West
Team:
UNLV
2007 record:
2-10
2008 YTD:
3-3
Prognosis:
The Rebs already have a win over a ranked team (ASU) and that's one of their two wins over BCS opponents (Iowa State). They might not get too many more W's in the gritty MWC but they've already improved.

Conference:
Independents
Team:
Notre Dame
2007 record:
3-9
2008 YTD:
4-2
Prognosis
: The Irish are clearly a better team than last season, even if that doesn't make them a good team overall. They've got a decent chance to go bowling and sneak into the Top 25 by the time the season's over, thanks to an upcoming schedule that include Washington AND Syracuse.

Conference:
Big East
Team
: Syracuse
2007 Record: 2-10
2008 YTD:
1-5
Prognosis
: If the Orange are lucky they'll repeat their 2007 performance. While they have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, one has to wonder if its due to their getting better or their opponents getting worse. Either way, it's not going to be enough for the Orange to build on the season that came before and they remain one of the few 2007 BCS bottom-dwellers who will repeat that honor.