I had grand plans of writing this post on Monday so it would be posted earlier in the week, but my wife was out of town for work all day Monday and Tuesday and my daughter decided those two days would be the best to basically spend every waking moment crying. In her defense, that’s the response most women would have to spending 36 uninterrupted hours with me. So, as I sit here on Wednesday morning typing this nonsense out, it gives me a chance to comment on our incredibly sad men’s national soccer team.
For those who aren’t soccer fans, the USMNT will not be participating in the 2018 World Cup because they lost to Trinidad & Tobago last night. I don’t really know how to explain this other than by saying it is the most embarrassing moment of fandom I’ve had in my life—and I’ve cheered for Philadelphia sports teams for 32 years. The qualifying process for a team in our region is unbelievably easy for a team of the USA’s alleged quality and we did not get the job done.
We fired our coach a few months ago and hired our old coach, whom we had previously fired, to guide us into the World Cup. If that’s not a recipe for instant success, I don’t know what is! Trinidad & Tobago is one of those nations where their national team has players on it that have real jobs. Like, their center back is actually a carpenter or shit like that. The USMNT has players like Omar Gonzalez that score on his own goal. Which is worse? At least the carpenter has some useful, real-world skills.
Everyone involved with the USMNT not named Christian Pulisic or DeAndre Yedlin should be fired or told not to bother checking their email for a national team call-up. For the next qualifying cycle, I want to hear a bunch of names I’ve never heard before and I want them to actually give a shit. Sunil Gulati can eat shit. Bruce Arena can eat shit. Michael Bradley can eat shit. Alexi Lalas can eat shit always, because he’s annoying. Chris Wondolowski can eat shit. Jozy Altidore can eat shit. And me too. I can eat shit for thinking this terrible collection of jackwagons was any good.
OK, now that I got that off of my chest, let’s talk about firing some other people! Let’s get Drew a job with a B1G football program!
S&P+ rank: 38th overall, 76th offense, 22nd defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Charleston Southern 27–0
Biggest strength: Shut-out Charleston Southern and held the Bucs to zero yards passing. That is fairly impressive, although the Bucs do run an option-heavy offense, but what is actually impressive is that this is the seventh time IU has done that in their history! That is outrageous! I looked up how many times Wisconsin had held opponents to zero passing yards and they’ve done it six times (twice against Minnesota LOLOLOL) and I don’t believe that either! Man, college football is a strange sport.
Biggest weakness: The Hoosiers changed starting QBs for this week and freshman Peyton Ramsey had a pretty nice game against Charleston Southern. He threw for 321 yards and rushed for 54 and had three total touchdowns. A man named Ty Fryfogle caught a pass. That is actually a character from Fraggle Rock, right?
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. No. 17 Michigan
S&P+ rank: 78th overall, 78th offense, 65th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 10 Ohio State 62–14
Biggest strength: Ty Johnson returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Max Schadenfreude only lost two of the three fumbles he, uh, fumbled. Look, the Terps got steamrolled and I’ve got to fill this section with something!
Biggest weakness: They are now down to their fourth (fifth?)-string QB after Schadenfreude got drilled in the head and had to leave the game. I know Iowa has AIRBHG but does Maryland get AMQBHG now? It seems like there is some sort of higher power keeping the Terps QBs on the injury report. The Terps only gained 66 total yards so maybe a new QB is just what the doctor ordered? Now that I think about it, there is no AMQBHG because no deity would waste their time with Maryland football. Imagine you’re an omnipotent being and you spend all your time watching Maryland trip over their own dicks every Saturday. Yeah, that’s not happening. I’m spending all my time at the Eternal Donut Tree and watching good teams, like Purdue, play on Saturdays.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. Northwestern
S&P+ rank: 15th overall, 69th (nice) offense, 3rd defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. Michigan State 14–10
Biggest strength: I would like you to look at this section from a local genius’s college football column last week.
Biggest weakness: Alright, I guess Felton Davis III had nine catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. I’m sorry, Felton. The above GIF does not apply to you. Important scheduling note: It’s gonna be hilarious when Michigan loses to Michigan State on Saturday. Consider this an official prediction.
YOU GOT GOT, MICHIGAN! I am moving to Vegas and becoming a professional sport’s handicapper. See y’all never.
Biggest weakness: Hoo boy, there is a lot to unpack here. Michigan has now lost eight of their last 10 games against “little brother” Michigan State. Combine that with losing nine of their last 10 against Ohio State and you have a recipe for, well, you have a recipe for a really crappy football team that can’t beat its rivals. The Wolverines also lost to Notre Dame the last time the two teams played. Michigan has the most wins of any college football program ever and they are just shitting all over that legacy in the last decade. Jim Harbaugh can’t finish higher than third in the B1G East and can’t beat anyone of consequence in conference. At least he addressed his abysmal record against MSU and OSU after the game... oh wait, he ducked the questions like he’s Trump’s press secretary. Harbaugh’s best win at Michigan is last year’s loss in double-OT at Ohio State. Another banner hire, Michigan. John O’Korn completed under half of his passes unless you add the three passes he completed to the Spartans. The team lost two fumbles and should probably just cancel all future games if there is rain in the forecast. They got a delay-of-game penalty on their last drive, which is just some mighty fine coaching/play-calling. Michigan football eats butt.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at Indiana
Michigan State Spartans
S&P+ rank: 26th overall, 84th offense, 10th defense
Last week’s result: (W) at No. 7 Michigan 14–10
Biggest strength: Well, well, well, MSU. You are going to make me talk about you this week, huh? Fine. I’m not going to like it, though. You beat Michigan and that’s great, but you also passed for 94 yards, went 2-for-14 on third down, didn’t score in the second half, were out-gained, had less time of possession and committed 11 penalties. Hmm, I’m having some issues being nice to MSU, apparently.
Biggest weakness: Alright, let’s try this again! MSU forced five (!!) turnovers and handled the monsoon in Ann Arbor better than the Wolverines. If MSU ends up having a great season, I’m just going to assume it is because they’ve been using my column as bulletin board material all year. This team is trash and so is Michigan.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 7 p.m.: at Minnesota
Ohio State Buckeyes
S&P+ rank: 1st (!!!!) overall, 3rd offense, 6th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Maryland 62–14
Biggest strength: Had five different players rush for a touchdown. Hassled Maryland’s QBs into six sacks and recovered two fumbles.
Biggest weakness: However, despite the impressive performance in the win over Maryland. the Buckeyes received some devastating news on Saturday: they are now worse than the Iowa State Cyclones. Look, I don’t make the rules but if you lose to a team at home that then loses at home to Iowa State, you are now worse than Iowa State. I look forward to buying my “ISU B1G East Championship” gear! GO CLONES! God, can you imagine losing to Iowa State at home, in football? I hope the ‘Clones planted a flag in Baker Mayfield’s living room.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: at Nebraska
Penn State Nittany Lions
S&P+ rank: 4th overall, 14th offense, 9th defense
Last week’s result: (W) at Northwestern 31–7
Biggest strength: It took Saquon Barkley an entire half to get going but he eventually scored two touchdowns and Trace McSorley completed 15 straight passes, setting a school record against a frazzled Northwestern defense.
Biggest weakness: I took my daughter to an infant gym class this week. That shit is hilarious! You just let them roll around on mats and stuff, and then they cry because they are disoriented. It was the first time my daughter had ever set foot in a gym and, following in her father’s footsteps, it’ll probably be another three years before she goes back. This gym offers gymnastics classes for older kids and I can’t wait for my daughter to be yelled at by a stern, mustachioed, Eastern European man for being too fat as an eight-year-old.
This week’s schedule: BYE
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
S&P+ rank: 94th overall, 122nd offense, 36th defense
Last week’s result: BYE
Biggest strength: Since it’s fall now, I think we should get this out in the open and discuss the best kind of pie. During fall, you eat one of two pies: apple or pumpkin. If you’re eating anything else, you are a crazy weirdo and I won’t listen to you. I’m a pumpkin pie man myself, but I’m certainly not going to kick a plate of apple pie out of my kitchen. Throw some whipped cream on the pumpkin and some vanilla ice cream on the apple, and you’ve got yourself a dessert feast going. Which pie do you prefer? If you say something crazy like, “Durrrrr, I like key lime pie in the fall,” I’m going to have Rosin ban you from every SB Nation blog.
Biggest weakness: Fall is also the time for specialty bourbon releases and hoo boy do some people freak out about this stuff. All of the Van Winkle line of bourbon comes out shortly and the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection has slowly been released throughout the country already. Most liquor stores I know do a lottery for people to get a chance to buy these bottles, so you are unlikely to stumble across one in the wild and honestly... it’s not that big of a deal. You can find some whiskey at your local liquor store that is comparable to these rare bottles and you’ll only have to pay $30-$50. I think it is fun and cool to try some of these rare bourbons, but you shouldn’t spend all of your time and money to try and get one. Hell, any good bourbon bar will get an allocation of these and you can try them there, albeit at a hefty markup.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at Illinois
Illinois Fighting Illini
S&P+ rank: 100th overall, 116th offense, 74th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at Iowa 45–16
Biggest strength: When I was growing up, I played a lot of tennis. Why yes, I am a white, East Coast suburbanite that went to private school. How’d you guess? Anyways, because I was kind of a weirdo, I used to only hit a slice backhand. It was a technique that very few kids used and it honestly used to flummox better players that I’d beat, but my parents wanted me to hit a two-handed, top-spin backhand because that was a “better” shot. My mom even went so far as to offer me $5 for each one I hit in a match. What I’m trying to say is that Jeff George, Jr., got the start for the Illini and threw three picks. I wonder what he is going to buy with the $15 he got from his father for continuing the family legacy? If anyone wants to play tennis, I’m an excellent doubles partner. I’ll bring Vitamin Water for both of us and everything!
Biggest weakness: After living in Chicago for five-plus years, I have a number of friends that went to Illinois. Last week’s column seemed to needle one of them particularly well. He sent me seven texts in a row, including one GIF of the Illini celebrating a win which I’m assuming was from 2005, questioning this blog’s integrity as well as my own which... fine, I don’t have much, and then threatened to post my phone number on the internet so Illini fans could harass me. He ended his tirade by saying, “Say hi to your wife and daughter for me!” Then we talked about soccer for a while. He’s a good friend. He’s also Colombian and said we are all welcome aboard their bandwagon for the World Cup this summer. Colombia: the official soccer team of Bucky’s 5th Quarter! VAMOS COLOMBIA!
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. Rutgers
S&P+ rank: 42nd overall, 87th offense, 21st defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Illinois 45–16
Biggest strength: Josey Jewell had 10 more tackles. Ho-hum, another double-digit-tackle day for him. Akrum Wadley bounced back from three straight subpar games with 115 yards and two touchdowns (one receiving). Everybody, Illinois included, waved to the kids at the children’s hospital and that just makes me so happy every week.
Biggest weakness: I got all worked up about Illinois sucking and forgot to include these excellent quotes from head coach Lovie Smith:
“That’s never a good thing,” said Illinois coach Lovie Smith about George’s turnovers.
“We have to ask ourselves, ‘Was there improvement from the Nebraska game to this one? Yes is the answer,” said Smith, whose team lost to the Huskers 28-6 last week. “You do have to trust the process. We are.”
First of all, how do you invoke “trust the process” to such a blatant tanking job that has no end in sight? Hinkie had a plan, dammit! I hope Joel Embiid posts something on Instagram making fun of Smith. Second of all, “That’s never a good thing” is the most hilarious response to a reporter asking about your quarterback throwing three interceptions. Reporter: “Hey, Sunil Gulati, you just re-hired Bruce Arena, who lost to Trinidad & Tobago to miss the World Cup. What are your thoughts?” Gulati: “That’s never a good thing.” Third of all, what process could Smith possibly be referencing? I guess they scored more points than against Nebraska. Illinois is so laughably bad that I need two different teams’ sections to properly document it.
This week’s schedule: BYE
Minnesota Golden Gophers
S&P+ rank: 54th overall, 99th offense, 19th defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. Purdue 31–17
Biggest strength: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
Biggest weakness: Purdue turned to ball over about 1,000 times and is also Purdue and Minnesota STILL couldn’t beat them. If you could use one boat to describe Minnesota’s season, it would probably be the Lusitania, which sank in a record 18 minutes after being hit by an errant Conor Rhoda pass, but I’ll have to check Wikipedia to make sure. This Gopher season is going just wonderfully for those of us who live here and cheer for Wisconsin.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 7 p.m.: vs. No. 21 Michigan State
S&P+ rank: 50th overall, 73rd offense, 35th defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. No. 9 Wisconsin 38–17
Biggest strength: OMG do you remember how Nebraska fans were all, “We can hang with Wisconsin, we’ve beaten Rutgers and Illinois the last two weeks and we are on a roll!” That level of optimism is like looking at an empty glass, thinking it’s half full, and then tripping and breaking the glass on the ground and impaling your leg with one of the shards and then going to the hospital and finding out you have to amputate the leg because it’s gangrenous. And also your dog ran away. Nebraska has lost six out of seven games to Wisconsin since joining the B1G. Go screw yourselves forever, Huskers.
Biggest weakness: Rushing defense. If you put on a Wisconsin jersey in the state of Nebraska, you can legally run to the front of any line that has formed for anything. Hungry for a hot dog and there is a long line at the cart outside of your office? Pop on a Badgers jersey, and suddenly you have some sweet, sweet street meat in your hand. Can’t get the bartender’s attention because it is three-deep at the bar? Make sure you brought your Jonathan Taylor jersey, because now you’ve got a seat at the bar, a brandy old fashioned, and food on the way. Forgot to get tickets for the new Star Wars? Just bring your UW jersey to the box office, and you get to sit halfway up the theater in the middle in the reclining seat with the fold-down table. It’s literally the law.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: vs. No. 9 Ohio State
S&P+ rank: 73rd overall, 83rd offense, 58th defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. No. 4 Penn State 31–7
Biggest strength: Clayton Thorson only got sacked four times, which is a marked improvement from his game against Wisconsin. Otherwise, they sucked worse than the USMNT against Trinidad & Tobago. I’m just kidding. It wasn’t nearly that bad for NU.
Biggest weakness: Since Pat Fitzgerald took over as head coach at Northwestern, the Wildcats are 9–25 against teams ranked in the top 25. Almost half of those wins came against Wisconsin btw. God, I hate Northwestern. Since 2012, the Wildcats have had as many seasons winning 10 games as they have winning five. I know Fitzgerald is a legend in Evanston, and the fact that anyone is even talking about NU football is kind of a miracle, but is it time to think about making a change? Is Fitzgerald really going to get Northwestern to whatever the next level is for them? Maybe this is the best level that Northwestern can hope for, though, and maybe having an alumnus as head coach is exactly what the university wants. I don’t know, I try not to think too much about Northwestern or their football team now that I no longer live in the city where they are the 11th-most popular college football team. I just want there to be more job openings in the B1G for me to apply to.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: at Maryland
S&P+ rank: 52nd overall, 56th offense, 52nd defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Minnesota 31–17
Biggest strength: Purdue is 3–2 (1–1) and has already matched their win total for overall and conference wins. ERECT A STATUE OF JEFF BROHM! Seriously, Brohm should be in contention for the B1G Coach of the Year. Fleck is in contention for whatever the worst B1G coach of the year award is. I think it’s called the Brady Hoke Memorial Award for Coaching In-excellence. Is Brady Hoke dead?
Biggest weakness: None. Purdue has no weaknesses after their beautiful and inspiring performance against Minnesota. PURDUE WANTS BAMA!
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: at No. 7 Wisconsin
S&P+ rank: 7th overall, 22nd offense, 8th defense
Last week’s result: (W) at Nebraska 38–17
Biggest strength: Jonathan Goddamned Taylor. Tanner Lee was a pretty big strength for us too. Nick Nelson had a really nice game as well. I had Saturday night off for some reason and I had a couple of beers, which was also a strength. Does this mean that the Purdue game is the biggest game of the season now?
Biggest weakness: Jason Kirk wrote an interesting post about how Brett Bielema and Gary Andersen struggled after leaving Wisconsin, and I mean, what did you expect? They went to Arkansas and Oregon State, respectively. What a pair of tire fires. I want to take it a step further, though. What about Dave Aranda? He left Wisconsin and LSU has turned into a laughingstock, including a loss to Wisconsin, since he’s been the defensive coordinator. Matt Canada is their offensive coordinator now and that is just plain offensive (nailed it!). Justin Wilcox is 3–3 at Cal, with all three losses coming in conference. So, the Curse of Alvarez is a real thing... right? Chryst even struggled at Pitt before wising up and coming home to Madison. Don’t cross The Don, friends. His curse is real.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. Purdue