You guys, I had quite the weekend in Madison! Well, I guess it was technically 30ish hours since I worked Friday night and also Sunday night in Minnesota, but my Saturday in Madison was awesome! I got to use my season tickets for the first time this year, saw a bunch of friends that I hadn’t seen in years, I saw Wisconsin beat Michigan, I called my mom while hammered for some reason, I took my buddy Tank’s jacket and then he and I wrestled shirtless and I also got a good night’s sleep because my daughter stayed in Minnesota with Grandma and Grandpa.
I was thinking about the difference between the NFL and college football last week and why I’ve drifted away from the NFL, while my favorite team is in the midst of its best season in years natch, but not strayed from following college football rabidly every week. A lot of the problems between the two games are identical (concussions know no level of play after all) and the NCAA might be even stupider than the NFL...so why do I give college football a pass?
I grew up in Philadelphia’s suburbs and loved the Eagles from a very young age, with a brief fling with the Packers (whom my Dad cheers for) while they were winning a Super Bowl in 1996, but young me also loved the Badgers from a very young age (because my Dad also cheers for them and is a graduate). When I decided to go to Wisconsin I think my Dad was proud, at least I’d like to think so...I guess I’ve never asked him. I’m sure he wasn’t proud of how I spent much of my time (and his money) while I was there, but I did get a lot out of college too. I made some of my best friends there and I met my wife there. I also discovered my love of hospitality and bartending, which has turned into a career.
Whenever I go back to Madison all of those things wash over me anew and I’m reminded of all the wonderful memories, and some crappy ones, that I made in my time there. Those “college experiences” are intertwined with the “college athletics” that are played by Wisconsin and help to hide some of the terrible things that college athletics stand for. I don’t think about, ‘Why isn’t Jonathan Taylor being paid?’ when I’m tailgating before the game. I’m thinking, ‘Remember when Tank beat six girls in survivor flip cup?’
This is the greatest scam that the NCAA has ever pulled on us. It has become so interwoven in the college experience that people are willing to look past their inconsistencies and horrible rules because going to college football games makes people feel good. I love the University of Wisconsin with all my heart and I had a great time there this past weekend, and I sometimes wonder what it would take for me to not care about the Wisconsin football team...and honestly that scares me a bit.
Anyways, let’s talk about some B1G football that didn’t really matter this week because everyone knew Wisconsin was going to play Ohio State in the conference championship game in August!
S&P+ rank: 51st overall, 98th offense, 26th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Rutgers 41-0
Biggest strength: The best six-loss team in the country proved their mettle again by wailing on Rutgers for four quarters and a lightning delay. Morgan Ellison ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns, while Cole Gest added another touchdown and 104 yards on the ground. Gest went on to say after the win, via NJ.com, "It's amazing. "I'm just very happy right now. How am I even playing Big Ten football?" We don’t know either, Cole. We don’t know either.
Biggest weakness: The defense was outstanding for the Hoosiers, forcing two fumbles and sacking a variety of Rutgers quarterbacks four times. Greg Gooch, a name that will never not make me laugh, had two of the sacks and Robert McCray III had four quarterback hurries. If IU can beat Purdue on Saturday (for the fifth time in a row, mind you) they’ll be bowl eligible and will probably lose in controversial fashion on a special teams play. Tradition is tradition after all.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at Purdue
S&P+ rank: 109th overall, 112th offense, 76th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at Michigan State 17-7
Biggest strength: Max Bortenschlager Hindenburg threw for 121 yards and has fully encapsulated the disaster that is Maryland’s season.
Jermaine Carter, Jr. and Isaiah Davis each had a dozen stops on defense and as a whole the defense only gave up 20 passing yards.
Biggest weakness: Let’s be very serious here for a second: I went to the Badgers game on Saturday and was paying exactly zero attention to this game because I was hoping that UVa was going to beat Miami somehow. Also I had a cocktail or three before the game so I was barely paying attention to the Badgers game, let alone this travesty of a college sporting event. You should go down to the Rutgers section and read about bagels instead of thinking any more about Maryland football.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs.No. 10 Penn State
S&P+ rank: 17th overall, 69th offense (nice), 8th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 5 Wisconsin 24-10
Biggest strength: Michigan’s defense was as good as advertised and kept the Badgers, most notably Heisman Trophy Contender aka Yung YAC aka Jonathan Taylor, bottled up in the first half and much of the third quarter too! Khaleke Hudson had nine tackles and 1.5 sacks and Devin Bush picked off an ill-advised Alex Hornibrook pass. Donovan Peoples-Jones was the only spark the Wolverines had on offense. Quinn Nordin made his only field goal attempt, which I’ve been told is like seeing Jim Harbaugh order anything but milk with dinner in its frequency.
Biggest weakness: Not that Brandon Peters was moving the offense with an Aaron Rodgers-esque efficiency, but after Peters left with an injury and John O’Korn came in there was no doubt that Michigan wasn’t scoring again. Peters was 9-of-18 for 157 yards and O’Korn was 2-for-8 for ::scoffs under breath:: 19 yards. The team averaged 1.6 yards per carry on 37 rushing attempts. Got fooled on Nick Nelson’s punt return for a touchdown.
It reminded me of DeSean Jackson’s Miracle At The Meadowlands 3 punt return for a TD where he dropped it, everyone on the Giants abandoned their lanes and he housed it.
Much like the Giants, Michigan can kick rocks forever. Going over to Maize N’ Brew was an interesting experience as I tend to avoid other team’s blogs when we play them, but most there seemed to admit that Wisconsin was the better team. There were, however, numerous calls for both coordinators to be fired, for Andrew Van Ginkel (with an “el” people, spell it correctly) to be fired into the sun for a “dirty” hit (it wasn’t) and for the refs to be jailed and tortured (probably fair, B1G refs are dog vomit). This poster on some random blog was a bit...less forgiving in his analysis.
In year three of The Grand Harbaugh Experiment it should be noted that Michigan finally won’t finish third in the B1G East like they had in his first two years!
::double checks old timey calculator on my desk::
Oh, it’s because they’ll finish fourth. MICHIGAN IS BACK BABYYYYYYYY! Eat butt forever, Harbaugh.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. No. 9 Ohio State
Michigan State Spartans
S&P+ rank: 35th overall, 106th offense, 6th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Maryland 17-7
Biggest strength: They ran the dang ball pretty well against Maryland and against a blizzard/rain storm/fog warning. Has every game this season that MSU has been involved in been affected by a weather delay/act of God? It sure seems like it. If I were God I’d keep the weather coming because no one deserves to see Brian Lewerke go 2-of-14 for 20 yards in a major FBS game. I guess he did rush for 63 yards and a TD, so maybe I should take it easy. On the other hand, no...I won’t do that. Lewerke would need an act of God to complete 60 percent of his passes regularly. LJ Scott rumbled for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Biggest weakness: You’ve got to respect MSU’s wide receivers for not turning in their jerseys at the end of this game, like the Notre Dame players did in Rudy, in protest of Lewerke’s performance. Also, they must’ve been blocking well for the team to gain all of those rushing yards. I’m giving the MSU wide receivers my Gruden Grinder Award of the Week. That’s not already a thing is it? I’m pretty sure I just made it up.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. No. 10 Penn State
Ohio State Buckeyes
S&P+ rank: 1st overall, 4th offense, 12th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Illinois 52-14
Biggest strength: In the beginning of the third quarter an Ohio State player fumbled and some jamoke from Illinois returned it for a touchdown. Urban Meyer was so mad he put his starters back in the game. Oh, did I forget to mention that the score was 38-0 at halftime and Meyer had taken his starters out to rest up for Michigan? Urban Meyer is a psychopath and I think the team from Criminal Minds should investigate him because there is no way there aren’t bodies in his basement.
Biggest weakness: Let’s take a look at some of the stats from this laughable game:
Ohio State had 27 first downs, 543 total yards and just over 37 minutes of time of possession. They also went two for two on fourth down because, say it with me now, URBAN MEYER IS A PSYCHOPATH!
Illinois, on the other hand, had five first downs, 105 total yards and just under 23 minutes of time of possession. They also never went for it on fourth down because, say it with me now, LOVIE SMITH DOESN’T KNOW HE’S A COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEAD COACH!
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at Michigan
Penn State Nittany Lions
S&P+ rank: 8th overall, 14th offense, 14th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Nebraska 56-44
Biggest strength: A whole mess of records were set by Penn State’s, uh, record-setting offense. Saquon Barkley wormed his way back into the Heisman Trophy race with 224 total yards and three touchdowns (which set the school’s career touchdown record...as a junior). Mike Gesicki caught two touchdown passes and is now the leading touchdown getter for a PSU tight end, and you know that’s a good record to have because Kyle Brady went to Penn State. I’m pretty sure. I’m not looking that up. [editor’s note: I did, and you’re right, Drew.]
Biggest weakness: Trace McSorley threw for 325 yards but Tanner Lee had more soooooo, that’s a definite weakness. Only scoring 56 points on Nebraska’s “defense” is kind of a letdown for the vaunted PSU offense. Also, giving up 44 points to Nebraska’s “offense” is a scholarship-losing level offense IMO. #FireJamesFranklinAndHireKevinSumlin
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: at Maryland
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
S&P+ rank: 107th overall, 123rd offense, 50th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at Indiana 41-0
Biggest strength: I’m gonna go ahead and assume there were none based solely on the scoreline and also the Rutgers. I need to tell everyone about a new taste sensation that was just introduced to me this week! Trader Joe’s sells an Everything But The Bagel seasoning and holy cow does it make eggs taste AMAZING!
My sister-in-law brought some over and then my wife made breakfast sandwiches with it...English muffins, eggs over medium, spinach, cream cheese and the Everything But The Bagel seasoning was a religious experience.
Biggest weakness: Speaking of bagels, there is a newish bagel place in Minneapolis called Rise Bagel Co. and the two sisters that own the joint make a mean dang bagel. They studied Advanced Bagel Arts (??) in both NYC, where Rutgers is the B1G team of note, and Montreal, where the Canadiens are the Rutgers of the NHL’s Eastern Conference, and brought their findings back to the Twin Cities for the rest of us to enjoy. A good bagel is often difficult to find in the Midwest and count me excited that Rise Bagel Co. is in my life. The last time I was there I also got a parking spot right in front, which is tough in the North Loop neighborhood and I was very proud of myself.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 3 p.m.: vs. No. 17 Michigan State
Illinois Fighting Illini
S&P+ rank: 118th overall, 122nd offense, 84th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 9 Ohio State 52-14
Biggest strength: What? No. This is where Drew’s NBA Corner goes. The Celtics might go 80-2. They’ve now won 16 games in a row and Kyrie Irving, who thinks the Earth is flat, scored 47 points in an OT win over the hapless Mavericks to keep the streak going. I bet he thinks if they keep streaking they’ll fall off the edge of the Earth out into...space? Where do flat-earthers think you go once you reach the end of the Earth? Your favorite player’s favorite team, the Sixers, walloped the Jazz and gave the Dubs everything they could handle. Joel “Not Even Mad, This Is Funny To Me Actually” Embiid continued his masterful trolling of, well, everyone by referencing the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals (people forget that) and by goading Donovan Mitchell into a technical foul which Embiid admitted to “flopping” after the game.
I want Embiid to play quarterback for the Badgers. Quietly, the Rockets have won their last five road games by more than 15 points and James Harden has averaged 40 points and 10 assists over the last two weeks. In lame news, Michael Porter, Jr., the Mizzou stud freshman, got injured this week and may miss the entire season. He was projected as a top three NBA pick this year. Since he’s hurt he has to be drafted by the Sixers now. It’s Process Law.
Biggest weakness: The Illini’s quarterback was four for 14 for 16 yards. I’d rather have my daughter spit up in my mouth than watch Illinois football...which has already happened multiple times, so you know I’m not lying, Illinois.
"If you stay in coaching long enough, you have games like this where the (other) team is better than you from start to finish," Illinois coach Lovie Smith said, via the Herald and Review. "They dominated us on both sides of the football," he said. "We had an opportunity early on a third-down play and we got a penalty. It was all downhill from there."
Hey! This, yet again, sounds like Lovie might know that he’s a football coach. However, his take that one early third down play was the Illini’s downfall against aOsu makes me question if he’s ever seen either his, or Ohio State’s, team play before.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 3 p.m.: vs. No. 23 Northwestern
S&P+ rank: 62nd overall, 113th offense, 21st defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. Purdue 24-15
Biggest strength: Is...is this the same team that dismantled Ohio State a few weeks ago? That game must’ve been from a few years ago when Iowa was undefeated, right? Head Coach For Life Kirk Ferentz really Ferentz’d this one up. I feel bad for Josey Jewell, who had 13 tackles, two sacks and three passes defended, because he had to play like an animal all year on this trash can that has been knocked over by the wind of a team. Joshua Jackson too. I hope they get drafted by a good NFL team.
Biggest weakness: Iowa’s punter averaged under 30 yards per punt AND THAT SORT OF SHIT WON’T STAND ON A KIRK FERENTZ TEAM, BUSTER BROWN! I DON’T THINK HIS NAME IS BUSTER BROWN, BUT I’M HEATED AND I’M GOING TO CALL HIM THAT BECAUSE I THINK MY MOM WOULD CALL ME THAT WHEN I WAS IN TROUBLE! If Trump really wants to Make America Great Again, he’ll fix Iowa’s punting problem by Friday. It’s our last true natural resource.
This week’s schedule: Friday, 3 p.m.: at Nebraska
Minnesota Golden Gophers
S&P+ rank: 85th overall, 115th offense, 35th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 23 Northwestern 39-0
Biggest strength: Here’s a fun numbers game for you: Minnesota had two more first downs than they had turnovers and had three more turnovers than they had pass completions. If Demry Croft’s QBR was 0.6, what were the other numbers? I’ll just tell you because nobody knows what QBR means or how it’s calculated. Minnesota had seven first downs, five turnovers and two pass completions. TWO PASS COMPLETIONS IN AN ENTIRE GAME BY A TEAM THAT ISN’T ARMY!
I am frothing at the mouth for the Badgers defense to face Croft. He should probably just get caught plagiarizing this week so he gets suspended because P.J. Fleck runs a clean program and doesn’t stand for any of that nonsense. Thomas Barber had 15 tackles. That’s pretty good.
Biggest weakness: Minnesota hasn’t beaten Wisconsin in 13 tries and has only won twice since 1995. The all-time series is currently tied at 59-59-8 (Wisconsin has never lead in the all-time series record). Minnesota needs a win to become bowl eligible. Wisconsin needs to win to finish the regular season 12-0 and set up a colossal showdown with Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and a spot in the CFP on the line. These teams have rarely been good at the same time so this is quite possibly the biggest game in the rivalry’s storied history since 1901 when an undefeated Wisconsin shut out an undefeated Minnesota 19-0.
It’s Axe Week. Let’s get it. Or, more accurately, let’s keep it.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
S&P+ rank: 96th overall, 70th offense, 102nd defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 10 Penn State 56-44
Biggest strength: Tanner Lee threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns and zero interceptions. In fact, in his last five games he’s only thrown three picks total and those all came against Northwestern! Nebraska’s record in those five games? 1-4. With the one win being by one point...against Purdue. Maybe Lee wasn’t the Huskers problem after all.....
Biggest weakness: Look, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow and I don’t want to alarm any of you but if you or your relatives like white meat over dark meat you, or they, are literally police and shouldn’t be trusted. White meat is only good for the late night turkey sandwich you make once you get drunk enough and forget how much you’ve already eaten.
I know we talked about bourbon in the comments the other week, but make sure you buy a nice bottle of whiskey to bring to Thanksgiving, if whiskey/drinking is your thing, because your family will appreciate your thoughtfulness. And if they don’t, then you can drink it all and return all their Christmas presents from your phone. I’m bringing a bottle of Brenne, a French single malt because I’m extra fancy, and some Yuengling, a Pennsylvania lager because I’m a dirtbag. I contain multitudes.
This week’s schedule: Friday, 3 p.m.: vs. Iowa
S&P+ rank: 49th overall, 82nd offense, 30th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Minnesota 39-0
Biggest strength: Justin Jackson had 166 yards rushing and will end up as the fourth leading rusher in conference history after this weekend’s game against Illinois. He’s also rushed for over 1,000 yards in all four years he’s played, joining Ron Dayne and seven other dudes that have done that. Ever. As fans of a team that churns out talented running backs we should probably give a tip of the ol’ cheesehead to Justin Jackson. /tips cheesehead //falls over because I’ve had 15 drinks already if I’m wearing a cheesehead
Biggest weakness: I spend much of this column making jokes at just about everyone’s expense but I think it’s high time I pay a few compliments to the person that allows me to write this column every week. My wife is an amazing woman. She raises two children, although one of those children watches the other one during the day and then goes to work at a bar, works full-time from home and still finds time to make food for all of us. The only thing she won’t do is fold laundry and I totally get that. Folding laundry is basically torture. She makes sure everyone is taken care of in her life, friends included, and is always willing to lend a helping hand unless it is to fold laundry. And again...I totally get that. I love her dearly and am proud and honored she chose me to have a family with. I can’t wait to watch her tear up while reading this! I didn’t even mention her farting once!!! Dammit.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 3 p.m.: at Illinois
S&P+ rank: 38th overall, 75th offense, 27th defense
Last week’s result: (W) at Iowa 24-15
Biggest strength: Elijah Sindelar, who sounds like the starting left back for the Dutch national team, hucked three touchdowns and zero picks. Anthony Mahoungou hauled in seven catches (two touchdowns) for 135 yards as the Boilermakers wisely threw away from Joshua Jackson. They made Kirk Ferentz say this, via the Washington Post: "We knew what the challenge was. The whole idea was to play better, and we didn't do that."
Biggest weakness: So, I’ve watched the last two Badgers basketball games and I’ve noticed that our finishing around the rim is still maddeningly inconsistent. Ethan Happ still misses bunnies and Khalil Iverson drives to the rim so quickly and ruthlessly and then he gets there and it’s like he has to solve a calculus equation on the backboard before he can hammer-dunk it home. On the bright side, Brad Davison looks great and the rest of the conference is really, really gonna hate him (which makes him all the better) and it looks like Aleem Ford could provide some much needed long distance shooting. Also, Greg Gard changed his starting lineup after the loss to Baylor because Davison and Ford looked like the only two who gave a hoot during the Badgers comeback. In both games, the Badgers ended the first half poorly and started the second half poorly. That’ll be addressed in practice, I’d imagine. This team is going to be fun, and extremely frustrating, to watch this year. Everyone should be back next year and the Final Four is in Minneapolis! JUST SAYING! Um, Purdue played well in football. They didn’t have any weaknesses.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. Indiana
S&P+ rank: 4th overall, 41st offense, 1st defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. No. 24 Michigan 24–10
Biggest strength: Yung YAC rumbled for 132 yards on 19 carries, Kendric Pryor scored on another end around, Nick Nelson scored on a sweet punt return, A.J. Taylor caught a freaking dart from Alex Hornibrook for the go-ahead and deciding touchdown. T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly were both MONSTERS on defense and my Beautiful, Bouncing, Bulging, Brazilian, Baby Boy [Rafael Gaglianone] made all of his kicks. The defense held Michigan to 58 yards rushing. That’s good. Wisconsin’s defense is good.
Biggest weakness: Mannnnnnnnnnnnn, Hornibrook isn’t gonna ever make it easy on us, is he? I’m starting to think he might, and I mean this as a compliment, have a short term memory problem. The man literally never remembers that the previous drive he threw a back-breaking interception and just goes back out there and drops dimes for touchdowns.
I guess Hornibrook did go to Malvern Prep and those meatheads could barely string together a sentence, let alone remember what happened to them a few moments ago. WOOO! GO HAVERFORD!!! I wonder if anyone would notice if I turned this into an Inter-Ac Football blog? Probably not.
Can we also talk for a second about Paul Chryst? That guy is like a bowl of oatmeal watching paint dry and IT WORKS FOR HIM! The team clearly loves him and he’s been recruiting at a fairly high level and...I JUST DON’T GET IT! Is he a completely different guy in the locker room? Does he have an Anger Translator like President Obama?
Whatever Chryst is doing he should just keep doing it and not listen to dolts like me that demand charisma and funny quotes from their sports figures. #TrustChrystsProcess
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: at Minnesota