College football rankings: Pitt joins Bottom 25 as Panthers continue to struggle with ACC foes

25. UAB 3-7 A week after totaling 614 yards in a 45-42 win over FAU, UAB failed to score a touchdown and was outscored 21-0 in the fourth quarter of a 31-6 loss at Navy. As bad as the offense was for the Blazers, it’s the defense that’s been most problematic in coach Trent Dilfer’s first season. Every FBS opponent has reached at least 30 points on UAB. (Last week: NR) 24. Eastern Michigan 4-6 It was looking so good back in mid-October when the Eagles reached 2-1 in MAC play with back-to-back wins over Ball State and Kent State. But after a three-game losing streak, the Eagles have their backs against the wall. They must win their final two games against Akron and Buffalo to get bowl eligible for a third straight season. (NR) 23. FIU 4-6 Middle Tennessee’s domination of FIU last week last week was so thorough that it sent the Blue Raiders surging out of the Bottom 25 and left the Panthers tumbling in at No. 23. It was 31-6 at halftime and never got better. FIU surrendered three touchdown passes of 20-plus yards and allowed the Blue Raiders to return a fumble for a touchdown. (NR) 22. Stanford 3-7 The roller coaster ride continued Saturday with a 62-17 bludgeoning at the hands of Oregon State. The lopsided loss followed a 10-7 road win at Washington State for Stanford. It’s feast or famine for the Cardinal in Year 1 under Troy Taylor as nice wins against WSU and Colorado are juxtaposed with a bunch of ugly losses. (NR) 21. Pitt 2-8 Saturday’s 28-13 loss to Syracuse solidified this year as as the lowest win total of Pat Narduzzi’s nine season on the job. It will also be just the second time that the Panthers have failed to reach bowl eligibility in his tenure. The joys of a 2021 ACC Championship and Peach Bowl appearance seem like a distant memory. (NR) 20. Hawaii 4-7 Hawaii’s defense is legitimately improving after looking like one of the nation’s worst for the season’s first two months. The Rainbow Warriors used a 4-0 turnover edge to upset Air Force 27-13 last week for their second straight victory. (11) 19. UTEP 3-7 Matching last season’s total of five victories is going to be tough after a 21-13 loss to Western Kentucky last week. The Miners draw a hot Middle Tennessee team before closing against unbeaten Liberty. Thus another season of regression is likely in store. (16) 18. Charlotte 3-7 Charlotte snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, surrendering 16 unanswered points over the final minutes of regulation and overtime to fall 44-38 against Memphis. It could have been a signature win for first-year coach Biff Poggi. Instead, it was just the latest loss in a tumultuous first season for the former Michigan associate head coach. (17) 17. Virginia 2-8 Virginia is now 1-5 in one-possession games after losing 31-24 at Louisville on Thursday. The Cavaliers have an upset win at North Carolina on their resume, but it’s been an otherwise-frustrating second season for coach Tony Elliott. UVa has often been close but rarely the victor. (22) 16. San Diego State 3-7 San Diego State won 12 games during the second season of Brady Hoke’s second coaching stint back in 2021. Since then, the Aztecs are 10-13. Thus, it’s no surprise the 65-year old Hoke announced his retirement Monday following a seventh loss in the past eight games. SDSU is one of the Mountain West’s better jobs, and it’s time for a new direction. (20) 15. Buffalo 3-7 It looked as if Buffalo may ascend all the way from No. 2 in the Bottom 25 to no longer ranked when the Bulls won three of four games to reach 3-5 last month. Since then, they have lost two straight and fallen out of the running for a bowl. While this team isn’t as bad as it looked early, it’s still not good. (18) 14. Temple 3-7 With quarterback E.J. Warner healthy, Temple still has a chance to beat last season’s three-win total. But doing so will require winning at UAB this week or against Memphis on Nov. 24. When Warner was injured earlier this season, this looked like the worst FBS team. The Owls are at least somewhat-competent offensively with him. (13) 13. New Mexico 3-7 New Mexico is down 10 spots in the Bottom 25 after a 42-14 loss at Boise State. The Lobos have been outscored 98-28 the past two weeks and continue trending in the wrong direction under fourth-year coach Danny Gonzales. This isn’t exactly a tradition-rich program, but surely UNM harbors greater aspirations than perennial Mountain West doormat. (23) 12. Tulsa 3-7 Tulsa’s losing streak is up to five games after the Golden Hurricane fell just short against AAC power Tulane on Saturday. The Green Wave needed a 100-yard kickoff return and some late-game fortune to survive for a 24-22 win. Closing against North Texas and East Carolina gives first-year coach Kevin Wilson a chance to at least build momentum going into the offseason. (12) 11. Ball State 3-7 What’s up with all these Bottom 25 teams winning last week? Ball State bested Northern Illinois 20-17 for its second victory in the last three games. The Cardinals still haven’t scored more than 24 points in a game against FBS opposition. That could change against against lowly Kent State this week in a Bottom 25 Battle Royale. (8) 10. East Carolina 2-8 East Carolina finally earned its first win of the season over an FBS foe by knocking off FAU 22-7 on Saturday. But at this point, there’s nothing that can salvage a painful season of regression under fifth-year coach Mike Houston. After going 15-10 over the past two seasons, the Pirates have cratered in an embarrassing way at a time when the AAC is supposed to be getting easier. (5) 9. Vanderbilt 2-9 Vanderbilt has lost nine straight since starting 2-0 with wins against Hawaii and Alabama A&M. Some might be wondering what role the Commodores will serve in the expanded and even more competitive SEC moving forward. The answer is simple: Vanderbilt is here to play baseball and to be an automatic win for other football teams in the league. (15) 8. Sam Houston 2-8 At long last, Sam Houston finally has a win over an FBS team as an FBS program. A 24-21 victory over Kennesaw State on Nov. 4 apparently broke the dam, and the Bearkats followed up with a 42-27 win at Louisiana Tech last week. Even if this squad wins out, finishing outside the Bottom 25 will be tough after an 0-8 start. (4) 7. UMass 3-7 It would be hilarious if lowly UMass, of all teams, ended Liberty’s undefeated season this week. But the Minutemen might get caught looking ahead to the FBS Independent Bottom 25 Game of the Century against UConn next week. (9) 6. Southern Miss 3-7 The Golden Eagles had their wings clipped in September and October. But November is bringing new life for Southern Miss, which has suddenly won two straight. USM is creating holes for star running back Frank Gore Jr. He’s 30 yards away from surpassing 1,000 yards for the second-straight season. Unfortunately, a seven-game losing streak doomed this team’s chances of escaping the Bottom 25. (2) 5. ULM 2-8 When you’re 2-8 and those two wins came in early September, the last thing you need to see is a game at Ole Miss on the schedule. That’s what ULM is dealing with this week as the struggling Warhawks close with roadies against the Rebels and Louisiana. (10) 4. Akron 2-8 Beating the worst FBS team in the country must have taken a toll, because Akron followed up its 31-27 win over Kent State with a 19-0 loss at Miami (Ohio). The Zips mustered just 212 total yards. They were so woeful offensively that they lost by 19 points despite giving up only 11 first downs and 50 yards passing. (7) 3. Nevada 2-8 To simultaneously rank 120th in total offense and 125th in total defense like Nevada does is quite impressive. Usually, the defense is so bad that the offense ends up ranking respectably because it’s always playing catch up. Or, if the offense is horrible, the defense will rank respectably because the opponent doesn’t need to rack up a ton of points or yards. (2) 2. UConn 1-9 UConn has been outscored 103-9 losses to Tennessee and James Madison. This week, the Huskies may be tempted to overlook FCS foe Sacred Heart considering that an FBS Independent Bottom 25 Game of the Century at UMass is coming on Nov. 25. (6) 1. Kent State 1-9 Kent State ranks 127th in total offense and 130th in scoring offense. The Golden Flashes even rank 127th in net punting, which is terribly concerning since they are punting an awful lot. In fact, only Iowa has punted more this season. This team’s only win came against an FCS foe, and eight of its nine losses are by double digits. (1)

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