Commentary

'Coming Home' to futility

Originally Published: October 13, 2010
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

WEEK: Preseason | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:


"I took a ride in a world
I'll be spinnin' for the rest of my life
I feel your heart beatin' baby
Oooh sometimes it cuts like a knife
So are you tough enough for my love?
Just close your eyes to the heaven above
I'm coming home.

I'm coming home."


"Coming Home," Cinderella

Penn State fans went home last week, and the Nittany Lions' 33-13 homecoming loss to Illinois made it not-so-Happy Valley.

It was Penn State's sixth homecoming loss in 45 seasons under coach Joe Paterno, who might be headed home for good if the Nittany Lions can't get things turned around. Penn State is 0-2 in Big Ten play and 3-3 overall after losing consecutive games to Iowa and Illinois. It's the first time the Nittany Lions have lost consecutive games by 20 points or more since 1984.

At least Pittsburgh fans can't celebrate the Nittany Lions' misery. The Panthers lost at Notre Dame 23-17 last week, dropping their record to 2-3 overall. Pitt was the preseason favorite to win the Big East championship but its only victories have come against FCS foe New Hampshire and woebegone Florida International.

Cinderella front man Tom Keifer can't be happy about coming home to such football futility. Keifer, who helped found the glam-metal band in Philadelphia in the 1980s, just wrapped up Cinderella's first tour in four years. According to reviews, Cinderella's music and hair are better than ever.

Believe it or not, the Bottom 10 celebrated a Cinderella story of sorts last week, too. New Mexico and New Mexico State played for bragging rights -- the Aggies were playing for much more than that, if you believed the threats of an on-campus strike -- in one of the more epic Pillow Fights of the Week in recent Bottom 10 history. Fortunately for the Aggies' manhood, they won the game by a 16-14 score after Tyler Stampler kicked a 22-yard field goal with 1:56 to play.

There won't be nearly as much at stake when Eastern Michigan plays at Ball State on Saturday in this week's Pillow Fight of the Week. The Eagles have lost 18 games in a row; the Cardinals have fallen back into obscurity after being relevant for about three months in the last decade.

With apologies to Steve Harvey and Cinderella (the guys with the poofy hair, not the doll with the blonde hair), here's this week's Bottom 10:

ESPN.com's Bottom 10
  RANK TEAM '10 RECORD COMMENT
1. New Mexico 0-6 "Push, Push:" It has to only be a matter of time before the Lobos push, push coach Mike Locksley out the door, right? He has a 1-17 record after losing to rival New Mexico State last week.
2. Eastern Michigan 0-6 "Take Me Back:" Eagles coach Ron English, a former defensive coordinator at Michigan, might be clamoring to return to the Wolverines after his team lost its 18th game in a row, 52-6 at Vanderbilt. And the Wolverines might take him back given how their defense is playing.
3. Western Kentucky 0-5 "Sick for the Cure:" Not even last week's trip to Florida International could cure the Hilltoppers' losing ways. Western Kentucky's 28-21 loss to the Panthers was their 25th defeat in a row.
4. Akron 0-6 "Fallin' Apart at the Seams:" The Zips had five turnovers in last week's 28-17 loss at Kent State, which returned an interception for a touchdown and fell on a fumble in the end zone for another score.
5. Pittsburgh/Penn State 5-6 "Don't Know What You Got (Til It's Gone):" Penn State fans have to be wondering if life will be better without iconic coach Joe Paterno. Pitt fans have to be wondering if their luck would be any better if coach Dave Wannstedt shaved his mustache.
6. Memphis 1-5 "Nothin' for Nothin':" The Tigers, who lost to Louisville 56-0 last week, have found the perfect recipe for ineptness: They rank 116th in points scored (13 per game) and 113th in points allowed (39.2).
7. Rice 1-5 "Heartbreak Station:" It wasn't too long ago that the Owls actually played in a bowl game. Last week's 44-24 loss to UTEP was their 15th loss in 18 games.
8. San Jose State 1-5 "Somebody Save Me:" Trying to slow down Nevada's high-octane offense in last week's 35-13 loss was bad enough. Now the Spartans have to play No. 3 Boise State at home Saturday night.
9. North Texas 1-5 "Second Wind:" After losing their last two games by a combined six points, it might only be a matter of time before the not-so-Mean Green catch their second wind. Saturday night's home game against Florida International might be the antidote.
10. Minnesota 1-5 "Shake Me:" Gophers coach Tim Brewster wanted to shake Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema after the Badgers went for a two-point conversion late in last week's 41-23 loss. Brewster needs to be more concerned about his team's inept play.

Waiting list: Duke (1-4), UAB (1-4), another Georgia arrest, Marshall (1-4), North Carolina's dismissals, Ball State (2-4), Northwestern's kicking game, Bowling Green (1-5), Southern Cal's defense, Colorado State (1-5), Texas Tech's onside kicks, UNLV (1-5), Washington State (1-5), paying Ryan Leaf, Tennessee (2-4), Florida Atlantic (1-4), Miami's return to glory, New Mexico State (1-4), Utah State (2-4).

Mark Schlabach covers college football for ESPN.com.

Mark Schlabach | email

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