The coveted top of the 2018 Bottom 10 is decided

ByRyan McGee ESPN logo
Thursday, January 17, 2019

Math is a wonderful thing

Math is a really cool thing

So, get off your ath and do some math

Math, math, math, math, maaaath

It was a dark and stormy night, and the members of the Bottom 10 Selection Committee were scheduled to gather at our customary spot, the DFW Hacienda Courts, located 1 mile and tens of millions of dollars down the road from the swanky Gaylord Texan, where the College Football Playoff people have their meetings.

To say our discussions fell apart would be like describing Dana Holgorsen's hair as "windblown." Jerry Glanville fell asleep. Charlie Weis announced he was bailing because "y'all can't afford me." Watson Brown left to see if his brother needed any help moving his stuff to Chapel Hill. Then Coach Wally Rig made a suggestion: "Call the freaking nerds." So we did.

Typically, the ESPN Stats & Information folks refuse to return our calls. Perhaps it was because the regular season is over or because Glanville filled their voice mail inboxes with Elvis holiday songs, but this time they agreed to use their mystically mysteriously accurate Football Power Index formula to help determine our 2018 champion. "We would totally do it ourselves," I explained, "but our Commodore Amiga is down and we're too scared to use an FPI Ouija board."

We gave them the top bottom five teams and asked them to create a Bottom 10 Playoff. The first round was redundantly divided into divisions. In the Big East Regional, Rutgers would play UConn. In the WAC/MAC Regional, San Jose State would face Central Michigan. The losers of those two simulation loops would play in the Semi-Semifinal and the loser of that game would face the defending Bottom 10 champs, UTEP, in the Bottom 10 Mega Bowl. To keep it even, all games were simulated on a neutral field with equal rest, and Tron was named the white hat referee.

"Move over, Rover," I heard Glanville shouting at Brad Edwards, in his best Jimi Hendrix. "And let the algorithms take over!"

With apologies to Ned Schneebly and Steve Harvey, here's the final Bottom 10 for 2018.

The bad news? In front of a home crowd, Carolina lost in overtime to rival NC State and ended the game with a big fight in the end zone. The good news? They finally defended an end zone.

The 2014 Bottom 10 champs also lost their Rivalry Week contest, to Georgia Southern Not State. Earlier this season they also lost to NC State.

The Cardinals lost to Kentucky in a game that I mistakenly referred to last week as the Commonwealth Cup. It's actually the Bluegrass Belt. Sorry, I'm wrong again. It's the Thoroughbred Throwdown. Wait, my bad, it's for the Pitino Petrino Casino Torino. That's not it either? Well, whatever it's called, the Cardinals lost it. Just as they lost two weeks ago to ... NC State. Man, East Carolina had better be careful this weekend. NCSU is the Bottom 10's Thanos.

Rice entered the weekend ranked in the top Bottom 10 spot but then did the unthinkable and earned their second victory of the year. So if you're scoring at home, Rice, ranked No. 1 in the Bottom 10, beat Old Dominion, which beat Virginia Tech, which beat Virginia (in the actual Commonwealth Cup), which beat Duke, which not only beat Northwestern, a team that beat Purdue, which beat Ohio State, but also beat Army, who took might-be Big 12 champ Oklahoma into OT. Yes, that's how thin the margin is between the Bottom 10 and Top 10. Thin as a grain of rice.

The Spartans Not Trojans are the first team in our countdown that was also a participant in the Bottom 10 Playoff. They won the WAC/MAC Regional via an FPI squeaker, 54.8% to Central Michigan's 45.2%. This is assuming the hackers in Silicon Valley didn't pull a David Lightman and nuke our FPI servers to help the hometown team.

Like Thanksgiving leftovers, revenge tours are best served cold, and the Fightin' Khakis from Ann Arbor land in the Coveted Fifth Spot right out of the icebox. The Wolverines entered the weekend looking like X-Men Wolverine, young and unbeatable. They left Columbus looking like Logan, old, powerless and impaled on a tree trunk.

Here's the shocker of the Bottom 10 Playoff. According to ESPN's FPI simulations, Connecticut won the Big East Regional over Rutgers in a total rout, 79.5% to 20.5%. Honestly, there was a lot of anger in the Bottom 10 Selection Committee meeting room when this result was sent back as a win for the team that'd just set records for the worst defense in FBS history. Then, when we realized that Randy Edsall's incentive-laden contract would have paid him a $10,000 bonus for winning the Bottom 10, we weren't so mad anymore. Except Charlie Weis, he was still mad.

The Scarlet Knots provided America with false hope as they carried a lead over Michigan State into the fourth quarter, then lost. However, the FPI computers handed them actual hope, with a victory over Central Michigan in the Simulated Semi-Semifinal Game Before The Simulated Semi-Big Game, 61.1% to 38.9%.

This season Central Michigan lost to Michigan State, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and the FPI computer, which, when we turned it over and looked at the label, we learned was built in Southern Michigan. However, in the end, the team scored its first victory since defeating Maine on Sept. 22, winning the 2018 Bottom 10 Simulated Mega Bowl decisively, 72.1% to 27.9% over ...

The Minors were on top of the world a mere month ago, having defeated Rice in the Pillow Fight of the Century of the Year. Yet even with that standout "1" on their record, when Rice won again and eliminated itself from the Bottom 10 Playoff field, it opened the door for once-dismissed UTEP. It seized upon that opportunity and successfully defended its championship. Just like Alabama one year ago. Yes, you read that correctly. UTEP 2018 is exactly like Alabama 2017. We don't need any fancy schmancy FPI to verify that.

Waiting List: State of Kent (2-10), State of New Mexico (3-9), Texas State Armadillos (3-9), Ore-gone State (2-10), Arkan-saw (2-10), Kansas Mad Hatters (3-9), Western Kentucky Hillstoppers (3-9), EC-Yew (3-8), every team in Colorado, private-plane tail-number tracking season.