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First-year coaches, Michigan State's woes and more from a wild Week 9

UniqueThis 5 Oct 28
8:00 AM ET

Between a major early Saturday upset, endless bad weather from coast to coast, and a set of even funkier plays than we're used to from college football, Week 9 was scatterbrained, to say the least. And instead of attempting to focus on one primary storyline emerging from it, let's bounce from thought to thought. Here's a Week 9 hodgepodge for your enjoyment.

First-year coaches

In the preseason, I wrote a piece about what to expect from each of college football's first-year coaches. After Chris Klieman's Kansas State Wildcats took down Oklahoma on Saturday, I figured this was a good time to check on how they're all doing. From upsets to tanking to hospital beds in press boxes to, of course, a serious national title run (so far), it certainly has been an eventful collective first season.

Let's walk back through where I set the bar for each first-year head coach in the offseason -- and how I categorized each team's expectations -- and where they stand now.

Contend for a national title

Ohio State (8-0)

Head coach: Ryan Day
Preseason SP+ projections: seventh overall (projected win total: 10.5)
Current: first (11.5)

Judging teams solely on how they've looked in 2019, the Buckeyes have been college football's gold standard.

Make a run at a division or conference title

Appalachian State (7-0)

Head coach: Eliah Drinkwitz
Preseason SP+ projections: 29th overall (projected win total: 9.9)
Current: 33rd (10.9)

Drinkwitz inherited the Sun Belt's best program from Scott Satterfield and has kept it rolling in his own way. The offense has been brilliant all season, and the defense has caught fire of late.

Houston (3-5)

Head coach: Dana Holgorsen
Preseason SP+ projections: 70th (6.4)
Current: 66th (4.2)

With the news that star quarterback D'Eriq King and receiver Keith Corbin would redshirt after four games, Holgorsen more or less introduced tanking to college football. But here's the thing: The Cougars have been pretty decent since the announcement. There probably isn't a bowl bid in the works or anything, but that was the case pre-tank, too.

Miami (4-4)

Head coach: Manny Diaz
Preseason SP+ projections: 20th (8.8)
Current: 30th (6.9)

Broadly, Miami has been about as good/flawed as expected. The weirdness, however, has been off the charts. The Hurricanes have outgained three conference opponents and gone 0-3 in those games, and they have been outgained by two ACC opponents and gone 2-0 in those games. Figure that out.

Northern Illinois (3-5)

Head coach: Thomas Hammock
Preseason SP+ projections: 73rd (6.9)
Current: 102nd (51st)

NIU has missed out on a bowl bid only once in the past 11 seasons. SP+ gives the Huskies only a 33% chance of avoiding making it two in 12.

Temple (5-3)

Head coach: Rod Carey
Preseason SP+ projections: 62nd (7.5)
Current: 53rd (7.3)

In terms of expectations vs. reality, this season has gone about as planned. The wins over two ranked-at-the-time teams, Maryland and Memphis, and the loss to Buffalo, however, were a creative combo.

Troy (3-4)

Head coach: Chip Lindsey
Preseason SP+ projections: 94th (6.6)
Current: 97th (5.0)

It's a full-on Year Zero for Troy's defense, and while the offense has provided flashes, it hasn't been good enough to make up the difference.

Utah State (4-3)

Head coach: Gary Andersen
Preseason SP+ projections: 43rd (7.4)
Current: 64th (6.9)

The Aggies were 4-0 against non-Power 5 opponents heading into Week 9, but an outright listless performance at Air Force has the rest of the season looking a little precarious.

Make a run at 6-6

Charlotte (3-5)

Head coach: Will Healy
Preseason SP+ projections: 118th overall (projected win total: 4.3)
Current: 110th (5.4)

A huge win over North Texas in Week 9 gave the 49ers a shot in the arm after a four-game losing streak. SP+ gives the 49ers a 47% chance of reaching bowl eligibility.

Coastal Carolina (3-4)

Head coach: Jamey Chadwell
Preseason SP+ projections: 117th (4.2)
Current: 104th (5.1)

The Chanticleers have fallen from 3-1 to 3-4, and their odds of bowling have shrunk to 34%. The loser of this week's Troy-Coastal game is all but hopeless when it comes to reaching 6-6.

Colorado (3-5)

Head coach: Mel Tucker
Preseason SP+ projections: 69th (4.5)
Current: 73rd (4.1)

The Buffs nearly beat USC this past weekend after getting blown out twice in a row. The offense is exciting but can't overcome a dreadful D (and most of the reasons for that exciting O will be gone after 2019).

East Carolina (3-5)

Head coach: Mike Houston
Preseason SP+ projections: 112th (5.1)
Current: 116th (4.2)

The Pirates are about where they were expected to be, though a dreary home loss to USF in Week 9 all but finished off hopes of a bowl run.

Kansas State (5-2)

Head coach: Chris Klieman
Preseason SP+ projections: 75th (4.9)
Current: 34th (7.7)

Klieman's first Wildcats squad has already beaten an SEC team on the road (Mississippi State, but it still counts) and a top-5 Oklahoma at home. They are holding their own in a Big 12 with an enormous middle class.

Liberty (5-3)

Head coach: Hugh Freeze
Preseason SP+ projections: 110th (5.7)
Current: 99th (7.2)

Freeze began the season by coaching from a hospital bed in the press box while his team was shut out on the field. But the Flames are 5-1 since an 0-2 start and are all but assured bowl eligibility despite the stink of losing badly to Rutgers.

Maryland (3-5)

Head coach: Mike Locksley
Preseason SP+ projections: 68th (4.6)
Current: 56th (3.9)

In Maryland's three wins this season, the Terps have outscored opponents by an average of 54.3. In five losses, they've been outscored an average of 41-14. It has been a unique go-round.

North Carolina (4-4)

Head coach: Mack Brown
Preseason SP+ projections: 66th (4.5)
Current: 50th (6.4)

Brown's first season back on the sideline has featured three seasons' worth of close games. Seven of eight contests have been decided by one score, and they've won enough of them to make bowl eligibility likely.

Texas State (2-5)

Head coach: Jake Spavital
Preseason SP+ projections: 100th (5.5)
Current: 108th (3.9)

Last season's team was rock solid on defense and horrid on offense. This year, the defense has regressed to the mean, but the offense has barely improved. Bad combo.

Texas Tech (3-5)

Head coach: Matt Wells
Preseason SP+ projections: 54th (6.5)
Current: 45th (4.8)

Between another QB injury and a mind-numbingly awful ending at Kansas on Saturday, Tech's season has gone off course, a victim of the Big 12's extreme 2019 depth.

West Virginia (3-4)

Head coach: Neal Brown
Preseason SP+ projections: 45th (6.0)
Current: 78th (4.1)

Preseason expectations were modest, but they ended up too high for a team with all sorts of QB questions and not enough ready-made talent to overcome QB questions.

Western Kentucky (5-3)

Head coach: Tyson Helton
Preseason SP+ projections: 106th (5.2)
Current: 87th (7.1)

Helton's success has been overshadowed by that of others in bigger jobs, but even after the Hilltoppers' heartbreaking loss at Marshall on Saturday, they still have decent division title odds and excellent bowl odds.

Year Zero

Akron (0-8)

Head coach: Tom Arth
Preseason SP+ projections: 121st overall (projected win total: 3.6)
Current: 128th (0.9)

SP+ gives the Zips a 33% chance of finishing 0-12. The bar for this season wasn't high, and Akron's not going to clear it.

Bowling Green (2-6)

Head coach: Scot Loeffler
Preseason SP+ projections: 128th (3.0)
Current: 127th (3.1)

Better than Akron, at least!

Central Michigan (5-4)

Head coach: Jim McElwain
Preseason SP+ projections: 123rd (3.4)
Current: 111th (6.4)

McElwain has the Chips playing a little above their talent level, and in the MAC, being No. 111 in SP+ is good enough to reach a bowl.

Georgia Tech (2-5)

Head coach: Geoff Collins
Preseason SP+ projections: 79th (4.3)
Current: 98th (3.2)

It was very obvious that Tech wasn't going to enjoy much of 2019, and the loss to The Citadel certainly emphasized that. But the Miami win gives the Jackets at least a LITTLE bit of proof-of-concept for the stretch run.

Kansas (3-5)

Head coach: Les Miles
Preseason SP+ projections: 108th (2.8)
Current: 84th (3.6)

Miles has done just well enough in Lawrence to highlight his biggest misstep to date: hiring Les Koenning as his offensive coordinator (after first choice Chip Lindsey took the Troy head coaching job). He fired Koenning after only six games -- which included a 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina -- and replaced him with creative young Brent Dearmon. After two games and 85 points, it's pretty clear Dearmon should have had the job all along.

Louisville (5-3)

Head coach: Scott Satterfield
Preseason SP+ projections: 82nd (4.2)
Current: 61st (6.7)

If there were three finalists for the First Year Coach of the Year award, they would be Day, Klieman and Satterfield. Satterfield is obviously benefiting from the wretched state of the ACC (see below), but the Cardinals are a game from bowl eligibility and, per SP+, have a 21% chance of winning eight or more games. Going from a destitute 2-10 to that is impressive, no matter the conference strength.

UMass (1-7)

Head coach: Walt Bell
Preseason SP+ projections: 125th (3.6)
Current: 130th (1.2)

UMass almost certainly didn't hire Bell with the thought of winning big immediately. That's ... uh ... good.

The ACC Coastal is just too ACC Coastal this year

For a few weeks now, I've been sharing my friend Justin Moore's (@tfgridiron on Twitter) simulations regarding what we need to make a giant, six- or seven-way ACC Coastal tie (preferably everyone at 4-4) a realistic possibility. In Week 7, we needed Miami to beat Virginia, and we got it. In Week 8, Virginia Tech beat UNC as preferred. Last week, we requested three results -- Miami over Pitt, Louisville over Virginia, and Duke over UNC -- and got two of them.

The result of our wishes being mostly granted: a sweet, beautiful mess. Virginia and UNC "lead" this leaderless division with 3-2 records, Virginia Tech and Pitt are a half-game back at 2-2, Duke and Miami both come in at 2-3, and Georgia Tech, despite general awfulness (98th in SP+), is just 1.5 games back at 1-3.

Virginia visits UNC this week, and the winner will be the outright favorite entering the home stretch. But at 41st and 50th, respectively, in SP+, there's no reason to think either still couldn't be caught.

I asked Justin once more to look at the most four-win-favorable results for this coming week's games. Here's what he produced.

"The overall odds of six finishing 4-4 are 1-in-1055. If Georgia Tech beats Pitt and UNC beats UVA, it moves to 1-in-375. Neither of those? 1-in-2700."

Go Jackets, and go Heels.

A moment to pause and appreciate video game glitches

Consider this a mid-column palate cleanser. When it comes to pure, WWE 2K20-level, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" plays, the college football gods were extremely generous in the bounty they gave us in Week 9. Behold:

Texas Tech literally handed Kansas the game for no reason whatsoever.

What just happened

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 27, 2019

Shea Patterson, on his way to a huge, easy win, intentionally threw backward and with the wrong hand.

Somebody explain this decision by Shea Patterson to me

— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) October 27, 2019

Purdue's Danny Corollo showed us what happens when you forget to hit the button at both the top AND bottom of the punting meter.


— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) October 26, 2019

Duke-UNC gave us a nice example of what happens when you test out a game's new functionality in a real game without practicing it first.


Duke RB Deon Jackson's pass is intercepted at the goal line by Chazz Surratt, sealing North Carolina's 20-17 homecoming win.

San Jose State's Bailey Gaither basically reached through an Army defender to score, which has to be a glitch of some sort.


Bailey Gaither pulls off one of the grabs of the year.