Many teams have opened the season with two easy games against weak opponents from small conferences, while others have challenged themselves against formidable foes from Power Five leagues. In either case, squads may have exceeded or failed to meet preseason expectations based on whether they won or lost, their margin of defeat or victory as well as some other factors. In this week’s roundtable, we’re focused on the latter group. Which team has been the most disappointing so far? SI.com's college football writers weigh in.
Andy Staples: Auburn
After the Tigers hired Will Muschamp, the assumption was the defense would get better while the offense would keep humming along with Jeremy Johnson at quarterback. But after Auburn nearly lost to Jacksonville State, it's hard to gauge whether the Tigers have improved at all on either side of the ball. The good news for Auburn is that if it can go beat LSU in Baton Rouge on Saturday, everyone will forget the shaky start to the season.
Pete Thamel: Louisville
Credit Louisville for playing taxing games against Auburn and Houston. But Bobby Petrino gets no credit for the trick play that ended up as an interception in the Auburn game or losing to a 14-point underdog at home. With no good answer at quarterback and Clemson coming to town Thursday, the Cardinals are staring at 0-3. I'd imagine athletic director Tom Jurich is having second thoughts on taking that Thursday night game.
Brian Hamilton: Louisville
Petrino either couldn't settle on a quarterback or couldn't adequately prepare the one he settled on, and the result is a loss to an uninspiring Auburn team and a home defeat to Houston. Maybe both of those programs are in New Year's Day bowls and/or the College Football Playoff at the end, putting a better shine on the rough start. But little about Louisville currently suggests it will match last season's nine wins, which in theory it should have been able to do. The only thing worse than the 0-2 start? It very easily could become 1-5 if the entire operation doesn't come together soon.
Lindsay Schnell: Auburn
To review: I picked Auburn as my national champ, and Arkansas as my surprise team. Excuse me while I hide under my desk. Both these teams have been disappointing, and Auburn has been downright pathetic. It underwhelmed against Louisville and only beat Jacksonville State because of the Gamecocks' cowardly game-ending strategy. Forget the postseason, I'm worried about everyone on their SEC schedule right now. Also, Jeremy Johnson, if you're reading this: STOP THROWING THE FOOTBALL TO THE OTHER TEAM.
Zac Ellis: Auburn
Yes, I picked a 2-0 team. And maybe this is a selfish pick; the Tigers were my preseason national champions, after all. But did anyone expect this from Auburn? Gus Malzahn's squad blew a 24-0 lead in its opener against Louisville, then Jacksonville State nearly looked like Appalachian State to Auburn's Michigan last weekend. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson has thrown five picks in two games and Will Muschamp's defense seemingly can't stop FCS opponents. If the Tigers don't shape up, SEC play could get ugly.
Colin Becht: Louisville
A team that appeared to have the potential to rise into the ACC's elite is now in serious risk of opening the season 0–3. I expected the Cardinals to be 1–1 at this point, but that assumed Auburn would look like a potential SEC champion. Louisville's season-opening loss now looks like a wasted opportunity, and its defeat to Houston was just sloppy. A Bobby Petrino team having this many offensive issues, especially a revolving door of quarterbacks, is confounding. If the Cardinals don't fix their turnover problems and find a steady option under center, they could easily be 1–5 by mid-October after dropping matchups with Clemson and at North Carolina State and Florida State.
Ben Glicksman: Arkansas
Bret Bielema’s squad finished last year with a bang, routing LSU, Ole Miss and Texas in three of its final four games. Yet after a Week 2 home loss to Toledo—a game in which the Hogs carried 31 times for 103 rushing yards—talk of a Razorbacks resurgence has dissipated. Arkansas still has playmakers, but its identity is in question, and the outlook for a preseason dark-horse playoff contender is now just dark. Plus, the road ahead appears daunting for a program that has gone just 2–14 in SEC play since Bielema took over: The Hogs play Texas A&M, Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn in succession from Sept. 26-Oct. 24.
Gabriel Baumgaertner: Penn State
Christian Hackenberg entered the season as one of the nation’s most touted quarterbacks and a potential first-round draft pick in next year’s NFL draft. Through his first two games (against Temple and Buffalo), he is 25-52 for 231 yards, one touchdown, one interception and has been sacked 10 times. Given how miserably his offensive line protects him, Hackenberg isn’t completely at fault for his sagging numbers. But any talk of the junior signal caller leading Penn State to a surprise season looks to be overblown after two uninspiring performances.
Chris Johnson: Arizona State
In the preseason, the Sun Devils were pegged as a contender in the Pac-12 South. Through two games, however, they look more likely to finish near the bottom of the division. After underwhelming in a 21-point, season-opening loss to Texas A&M, Arizona State entered the fourth-quarter tied with FCS foe Cal Poly on Saturday. Coach Todd Graham’s team should cruise against New Mexico this week, but it’ll need to perform better than it has so far to hang with No. 6 USC on Sept. 26.