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As for those other Tigers, Clemson (4-5) was ranked ninth in the AP's preseason poll, the voters having every reason to be impressed by a squad that was overwhelmingly favored to win the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Clemson featured the top three vote-getters in forecasting for ACC player of the year: quarterback Cullen Harper and runners James Davis and C.J. Spiller. The defense, ranked among the country's best a year ago, added perhaps the best recruit of coach Tommy Bowden's tenure in Da'Quan Bowers.
Unfortunately, the Tigers lacked toughness in the trenches, which was evident in their very first game. Alabama romped to a 34-10 victory, holding Clemson to 0 yards on the ground while rushing for 239 itself.
Even though Bowden had signed a rich new contract during the offseason, the school finally grew weary of another promising season gone awry. Bowden was forced out with his team at 3-3, handing off the job to interim coach Dabo Swinney.
Clemson wasn't the only school to opt for a change at the top.
Tennessee, which like Auburn went against character by trying to switch to a spread, found it was easier to change coaches. Phil Fulmer was told to pack up his office at the end of his 17th season, even though he had 150 wins and a national championship on his resume.
While Fulmer's players angrily denounced the school's decision, they hardly played like they cared last week. The Volunteers went down meekly to Wyoming, 13-7 -- on homecoming no less. Their record now at 3-7. Fulmer's final season will be a losing one.
"You just don't want to finish up that way," the outgoing coach said.
Michigan won't be making a coaching change this season, but the Wolverines might be wondering if they might the right call in hiring Rich Rodriguez as Lloyd Carr's very expensive replacement.
While the guys in the funny-looking helmets figured to drop off after losing offensive stars Chad Henne and Mike Hart, no one thought the switch to Rodriguez's spread offense would be this difficult to execute. Michigan (3-7) lost five in a row, knocking it out of bowl consideration for the first time in 35 years.
Back at Rodriguez's old school, the situation is a little better but still far short of projections. West Virginia, with Pat White and Noel Devine leading the offense, started the season eighth and looking toward No. 1. The Mountaineers (6-3) may not even win the much-maligned Big East, dropping into a three-way tie for first with an overtime loss to Cincinnati last Saturday.
Arizona State (3-6) has been a huge disappointment. Ranked 15th in the preseason, the Sun Devils began showing their true colors with an overtime loss to UNLV. They lost their next five games, as well, before ending the tailspin with a victory over winless Washington.
Finally, let's give a nod to Wisconsin in our hall of shame. The Badgers, ranked 13th at the start, stumbled through a four-game losing streak and head into their final two games at 5-5.
Forget championships. They're not even assured of being eligible for a bowl.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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