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Opening weekend college football losers looking to rebound

Ten teams that were a combined 94-37 in 2012 lost their openers last weekend and will try to keep their bowl dreams alive.

September 06, 2013|Chris Dufresne
  • Georgia running back Todd Gurley, right, breaks a tackle by Clemson's Bashuad Breeland during the Bulldogs' loss Saturday. Georgia could find some redemption in the rankings with a win over South Carolina this week.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley, right, breaks a tackle by Clemson's… (Richard Shiro / Associated…)

A weird thing happened last weekend to 10 proud bowl teams that went a combined 94-37 in 2012: They all lost.

This is bounce-back (or else?) Saturday for Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Texas Christian, Brigham Young, Boise State, San Diego State, Georgia, Oregon State, Utah State and Vanderbilt.

The theory that it's better to lose early in college football is true, but it depends on what you're playing for. Teams that lose early from the Southeastern Conference are always in much better shape than common-folk conference schools. In fact, you can argue that among last week's 10 losers, only Georgia and Vanderbilt can rebound all the way back to the Bowl Championship Series title game.

Virginia Tech, because its loss was to defending champion Alabama, could feasibly win out and make a case — unless that case is against Alabama.

Everybody else is picking shattered-dream pieces off the floor.

Schools that lost to 1-AA opponents — Oregon State, Kansas State, San Diego State — are almost mortally wounded and playing for pride until further notice.

"We certainly don't want a game like this to define how it's going to go," Oregon State Coach Mike Riley said of last week's loss to Eastern Washington.

Falling to 0-2 would cause program nerves to fray and rivets to snap.

This is how it looks from the country assessor's office:

• Georgia. It could break two ways. The Bulldogs can immediately stem the pain of last week's three-point loss to Clemson with a home win over South Carolina in the SEC opener. A loss almost certainly takes Georgia, a team five yards away from last season's title game, out of the chase. The problem is getting past Steve Spurrier, who went 11-1 against Georgia at Florida and has won three straight against the Bulldogs as South Carolina's coach.

• Kansas State: The school honored Coach Bill Snyder with a statue last week and ceremonies were followed by a stunning defeat to 1-AA North Dakota State. The Wildcats will be 0-2 if they overlook Sun Belt power Louisiana Lafayette.

• Virginia Tech. The Hokies played well in a 35-10 loss to No. 1 Alabama but were sabotaged by special teams and dropped passes. The road to recovery starts with what should be a get-well "W" against Western Carolina. Beware, though, the hangover ghost of James Madison.

• Texas Christian: The Horned Frogs played Louisiana State tough but just couldn't quite match the Tigers' manpower. TCU should get to 1-1 with a home game against Southeastern Louisiana but is probably looking at a second or third loss down the Big 12 line.

• Boise State: The 32-point loss at Washington was the team's first in double-digits since a 14-point defeat at Washington in 2007, and the program's worst defeat since 48-13 at Georgia in 2005. What Boise needs to stay in the BCS race is for Washington to keep winning while the Broncos start their own streak Saturday against Tennessee-Martin.

• San Diego State: A shocking loss to Eastern Illinois means a 0-2 start unless the Aztecs can somehow shock Ohio State in Columbus. At risk here is program momentum established by former coach Brady Hoke and continued by Rocky Long.

• Utah State: There was no shame in losing a tough one to in-state rival Utah, but now the Aggies face a daunting trip to Air Force with an upcoming trip to USC.

• Brigham Young: The Cougars lost a rain-drenched opener at Virginia and must hold off Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns in Provo, Utah, to avoid 0-2.

• Oregon State: Historical storm warning. The Beavers went into a tailspin after dropping the 2010 opener to 1-AA Sacramento State. Will another bad loss ruin another season? Up next: Hawaii.

• Vanderbilt: Did you know the Commodores had the SEC's longest winning streak, seven games, before last week's wrenching loss to Mississippi? Vandy will start a new streak at home against Austin Peay, but there's no telling yet how long the Ole Miss ache might linger.

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