With the President spending most of the past weekend waging war on professional sports and athletes for their anthem protests against police brutality and institutionalized racism, it led me to think about what watching a football game with Donald Trump would be like.
Would he buy a round? Who would he cheer for? Would he wear team gear? Would I make it longer than a quarter sitting next to him? I think “no” is the answer to all of those questions, but is there anyone worse to watch a game with?
Who would be the worst person to watch sports with in the world? Based on his tweets, you’d think I’d say that Donald Trump would be the worst person to watch sports with in the world and not even think it’s close. The man is opinionated, irrational, prone to outbursts of anger, racist, and unable to see an opposing viewpoint as correct even when he’s been proven wrong.
However, I think watching sports with someone like Jim Harbaugh or PJ Fleck or Bill Belichick would be worse. Harbaugh and Fleck would be terrible because they would be spouting off meaningless platitudes about “heart” and “grit” and “boat rowing” during commercials. Belichick would be terrible because he’d be trying to bang your mom the whole time and muttering under his breath about Cover 3 defenses ... while watching hockey. None of them would probably drink or eat much and they don’t have any interests outside of their profession. At least Trump could talk about what he saw on the news that morning and how angry it made him, or reality shows. He really seems to like reality shows.
Even though watching sports is supposed to be fun, it is inextricably tied to politics and the outside world. You can’t just ignore something for three hours because “the game” is on and athletes should “stick to sports.” No one tells you to “stick to your profession” when you offer an opinion on, well, anything, so why should athletes be any different? Talking about difficult issues should be uncomfortable and while I know you don’t come to B5Q for politics, you probably also don’t come here for a conversation on potential cannibalism.
Sticking to sports is boring. Let’s talk about everything! It’s way more fun and you might even learn something. For instance, I learned how to spell “Poulan Weed-Eater” this week. See, we’re having fun already! On to the best (?) conference in football!
S&P+ rank: 45th overall, 72nd offense, 31st defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Georgia Southern, 52–17
Biggest strength: Freshman Morgan Ellison rumbled for 185 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start. J-Shun Harris II returned a punt for a touchdown for the second game in a row. ESPN tells me that 15 of Indiana’s 16 drives lasted under three minutes. That’s some wild Chip Kelly/anti-Wisconsin shit if ever I saw it ... and I hate it. LET YOUR DEFENSE REST, YOU MONSTERS!
Biggest weakness: During the game, IU honored its first bowl team since 1993, the 2007 Insight Bowl participants. That was the year after coach Terry Hoeppner died of cancer and the team played above expectations and finished with a 7–5 record before, uh, losing the Insight Bowl. It’s a great story about a team overcoming adversity and proof that not every sports story ends like a Disney movie would have you believe. IU has made a bowl the last two years and lost in heartbreaking fashion (#TheKickWasGood) both times. I hope Indiana makes a bowl this year and actually wins. Its fans deserve a Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl (or whatever) Champions hat.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: at No. 4 Penn State
S&P+ rank: 66th overall, 67th offense, 60th defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. UCF, 38–10
Biggest strength: Look, we’ve all seen the video of the Maryland co-ed smashing a beer can on her forehead and chugging the remnants in one fell swoop. The reaction from the young bro afterwards is really great too.
THE TERPS SHOWED UP FOR GAME DAY— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 23, 2017
( : @totalfratmove) pic.twitter.com/BKL9SJvFqA
But can we be serious for a second? How much of that beer actually made it into that girl’s mouth? I’m wagering it’s under 50 percent. It was a great #viral moment for a Maryland fan base that was finally feeling itself a bit, but if we are talking about actual beer consumed ... Maryland fans, much like their football team, fall short. However, my DMV Badger source told me “Maryland students are f*cking crazy” and I’m inclined to believe him. Maybe it’s all the CTE from smashing beer cans against their heads? A good Wisconsin girl knows you should chug beer from a funnel so it all goes into your stomach.
Biggest weakness: Maryland lost its second QB to a season-ending ACL tear in three games. Freshman Kasim Hill joins Tyrrell Pigrome on the sidelines and that is a damn shame. Max Bortenschlager, the fourth-string QB, is now under center and he is every bit as good as you’d expect the fourth-string QB at Maryland to be.
Fun fact: Since 2012, Maryland has used two (!!!!!) players at QB that either played linebacker previously or went on to play linebacker later in their career.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at Minnesota
S&P+ rank: 9th overall, 45th offense, 2nd defense
Last week’s result: (W) at Purdue, 28–10
Biggest strength: The defense. It lost something like 100 starters from last year’s unit and is still dominant this year. The Wolverines gave up 10 yards in the second half. That is astonishing. Wilton Speight got hurt and John O’Korn, who has been playing quarterback at various schools since the elder Bush was President, came in and “game-managed” his way to a victory. This team is basically that one Ravens team with Trent Dilfer that made the Super Bowl.
Biggest weakness: Bitching and moaning about every little thing. Boo hoo, Harbaugh, your locker room didn’t have air conditioning? Back in my day, we had to play football up hill both ways in both the blistering heat and the numbing cold. If I were him, I’d save all the good, climate-controlled areas for the defense and let the offense roast in the dingy visitor’s locker room. Gotta keep the aces in their places, Jim.
This week’s schedule: BYE
Michigan State Spartans
S&P+ rank: 37th overall, 77th offense, 24th defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. Notre Dame, 38–18
Biggest strength: Pass. I care more about Kevin Durant’s alternate Instagram accounts that he uses to defend himself in comment threads than I do about this Michigan State football season.
Biggest weakness: You guys watched American Vandal on Netflix yet? It’s really good. It’s a story done in the style of Serial or Making a Murderer, but it’s all about a high school in California and a bunch of dongs drawn on teachers’ cars. As a young man that went to an all-boys private school on the east coast, let me tell you: those who could draw the best dongs on things were hailed as kings. It’s, uh, good to have girls around sometimes.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 3 p.m.: vs. Iowa
Ohio State Buckeyes
S&P+ rank: 2nd overall, 4th offense, 9th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. UNLV, 54–21
Biggest strength: Ohio State had seven different receivers catch touchdowns in this game. I don’t think Wisconsin has had seven different receivers catch touchdowns this decade. J.T. Barrett threw five of them in not even a half of play. Dobby the House Elf had 95 yards in less than a half of play too. He’s impressive. UNLV is, uh, not.
Biggest weakness: Congratulating themselves before the game is even over. These Buckeyes think they’re so great! Rubbing it in poor UNLV’s face by high-fiving during the game! I’m outraged and can’t wait for someone (looks in the President’s direction) to denounce this practice of showmanship that is clearly disrespectful to the opposing team and America’s pastime: being mad at stupid things.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: at Rutgers
Penn State Nittany Lions
S&P+ rank: 7th overall, 7th offense, 12th defense
Last week’s result: (W) at Iowa, 21–19
Biggest strength: Saquon Barkley is so good. He had 305 total yards and a touchdown and was basically untackleable, per usual. I watched the highlights of this game and audibly gasped during his one run where it looked like he was going to be tackled on the sideline and then stopped on a dime and scampered for 40 more yards. He also straight-up leapt over a dude for a first down in one of the most athletic plays I’ve seen in a while.
Things that are :— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) September 27, 2017
1. Saquon Barkley in the gym
2. Saquon Barkley on the field
3. This Saquon Barkley @PennStateFball montage pic.twitter.com/AWVFyvagdC
Kirk Ferentz called him “that running back” and “a phenomenal player,” so it’s good to see that Kirk read the scouting report. Trace McSorley had kind of a crappy game, but that game-winning touchdown was beautiful. I hate Penn State a lot.
Biggest weakness: I don’t want anybody to get it twisted. This game means nothing. Penn State isn’t any worse than we thought and Iowa isn’t any better. A night game at Kinnick with a highly-ranked opponent is always going to be close and end on some crazy play. That is an immutable law. The Nittany Lions should just count their lucky stars that they made it out alive.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. Indiana
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
S&P+ rank: 79th overall, 121st offense, 23rd defense
Last week’s result: (L) at Nebraska, 27–17
Biggest strength: In a battle of the two worst teams in the conference—a B1G Toilet Bowl, if you will—Rutgers gamely battled equally-awful Nebraska but fell short on the road to its western equivalent. Kiy Hester had seven tackles and a pick-six for the Scarlet Knights. A 10-point loss to your closest competition, talent-wise, isn’t a huge loss for Rutgers, but it’ll have to beat Nebraska next year at home in order to not fall too far behind its mirror image in terms of football prestige and talent.
Biggest weakness: I don’t know, man. Everything was pretty bad for Rutgers. Head coach Chris Ash said the team wore down in the second half and had “a lack of a deputy on the defensive line.” I’d argue that they need a sheriff on the defensive line and they have TOO MANY deputies. Although, that one song leads me to believe that someone shot the sheriff but did not shoot the deputy ... so maybe deputies are harder to block or something? This analogy has really gotten away from me.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: vs. No. 11 Ohio State
Illinois Fighting Illini
S&P+ rank: 88th overall, 108th offense, 67th defense
Last week’s result: BYE
Biggest strength: My daughter has started to roll over regularly and it is hilarious. She’ll only do it if we put trash, like empty chip bags or something, just out of her reach. I’m worried that my daughter has designs on becoming a hobo and riding the rails around this country. If you ever see an infant in a Badger onesie alone on a boxcar, please message me so I can go and get my daughter.
Biggest weakness: I mentioned this the other week, but I’m going to New Orleans this weekend for a wedding. If any of you have recommendations on where to go and what to eat, please share them in the comments. I’ve never been and I’m extremely excited to explore the city. Oh, uh, Illinois blows ... I guess? Who cares?
This week’s schedule: Friday, 7 p.m.: vs. Nebraska
S&P+ rank: 43rd overall, 84th offense, 20th defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. Penn State, 21–19
Biggest strength: As if there was any doubt that a game between these two teams would have a safety and a weird scoreline like 7–5 or 5–0 at some point. Josey Jewell had another outstanding game with 16 tackles, a fumble recovery, three tackles for loss, and a pick. Akrum Wadley tried to match Barkley with his performance, but even his 155 total yards and two touchdowns paled in comparison.
Biggest weakness: You should get hazard pay for playing in Iowa City at night as a ranked team. That shit is terrifying. I love that the Iowa fans wave to the kids in the children’s hospital every game now. That’s really sweet. I hate being nice to Iowa. Nathan Stanley sucks, I don’t care about his 12:1 TD:INT ratio. He just ...he sucks, OK?
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 3 p.m.: at Michigan State
Minnesota Golden Gophers
S&P+ rank: 39th overall, 94th offense, 15th defense
Last week’s result: BYE
Biggest strength: I am very proud of the B5Q commenting community for remaining so open-minded about the idea of trying human flesh, expertly prepared by an award-winning chef. I knew it would be about 50/50 in terms of people who are curious and people who are horrified. I think we need a week off from the molten-hot food takes that I deliver here, so let’s try this easy, agreeable one on for size: Everyone knows that the lemon-lime flavor of Gatorade is the worst one. No one could possibly disagree with that!
Biggest weakness: You seen this shit that is happening in college basketball? The FBI is involved, man! Rick Pitino (is his son next?!?!?!?!?!) is fired because you only get five scandals when you are the head coach at Louisville and then you’re finished! I’m pretty sure they give you a punch card like at your local coffee place. I can’t imagine our old friend Bruce Pearl lasts much longer at Auburn, as he is already hemorrhaging five-star recruits. I think everyone who follows college sports even in passing knows that there is an unsavory, seedy underbelly to it since the kids don’t get paid (which they should, but that’s another argument for another time). I think there will be a lot more to come from this investigation and probably any team that is any good will be affected. Remember what Tark said.
I also love this Jerry Tarkanian quote: "Nine out of 10 schools are cheating. The other one is in last place."— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) February 11, 2015
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. Maryland
S&P+ rank: 42nd overall, 78th offense, 25th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Rutgers, 27–17
Biggest strength: They have a job opening at athletic director less than a week after we roasted him in this very column! I like to think that the Nebraska Board of Regents read last week’s Roast, didn’t understand any of it, and then fired Shawn Eichorst because we made fun of him. Since the Board of Regents clearly does read this column, allow me to throw my hat into the ring for the athletic director position. I have many years experience of applying to college athletics jobs for which I have no qualifications for and I definitely won’t bring the entire department down from the inside to the benefit of Wisconsin, uh, if hired.
Biggest weakness: Booed National Interception King Tanner Lee mercilessly after he threw yet another pick-six.
On an actual, serious note: Brian Towle, a great contributor over at Corn Nation, suddenly passed away Wednesday morning. I never met Brian, but we would occasionally interact on Twitter and yammer about college sports. He seemed like a great guy and the glowing remembrances from his friends and co-workers at Corn Nation confirm that fact. Please go read their post and keep his wife and two young children in your thoughts.
Editor’s note: Corn Nation has set up a GoFundMe.com fundraiser to help Brian’s family pay for his funeral as well as other expenses. To anyone that is inclined to donate, anything you can contribute will be immensely appreciated.
This week’s schedule: Friday, 7 p.m.: at Illinois
S&P+ rank: 40th overall, 51st offense, 35th defense
Last week’s result: BYE
Biggest strength: I don’t get to go to the movies with my wife anymore, mostly because I work nights and also because we have a 6-month-old monster who lives in the room next to us and hates sleep, but I bought Wonder Woman when it came out and we watched it the other night (with limited interruptions!). I thought it was good, and definitely better than Batman vs. Superman, and I have high hopes for the new Justice League movie. It’s cool that my daughter lives in a world where a female-directed superheroine movie was so well received by critics and nerds alike. I do wish they had shown her invisible plane, though. I’ve always wondered how that shit even works.
Biggest weakness: Goodness, there were a lot of byes last week and I haven’t even gotten to Wisconsin yet! I don’t have much more random crap to talk about. I, uh, bought some new ice cube trays so that they’ll be a little more square now. It’ll be nicer for cocktails that I make at home. Shit, I am boring.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at No. 10 Wisconsin
S&P+ rank: 72nd overall, 64th offense, 73rd defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. Michigan, 28–10
Biggest strength: Hipster College Football Fans’ favorite team was beating the mighty Wolverines at halftime! Linebacker Markus Bailey had two sacks. The Boilermakers had their first sellout since Joe Tiller’s last game in 2008. PURDUE FOOTBALL IS BACK, BABY!
Biggest weakness: Well, it was back until the second half started. Purdue converted as many third downs as you did on Saturday. The Boilermakers rushed for 30 yards ... total. I’m mentioning it again because I’m still not sure I believe it, but they gained 10 yards total in the second half. Their QB hurt his arm or his shoulder or some part of his body that helps in throwing a football. Maybe Purdue football isn’t back, baby.
This week’s schedule: BYE
S&P+ rank: 5th overall, 27th offense, 4th defense
Last week’s result: BYE
Biggest strength: Schell’s out of New Ulm, Minn., makes an Oktoberfest that rivals New Glarus Staghorn. I’ve done a side-by-side comparison and while I still prefer Staghorn, I can’t readily get that here in Minnesota, so Schell’s will do just nicely in the interim. We just put an Oktoberfest on at work that is from Iowa. IOWA IS MAKING GOOD BEER, PEOPLE! Craft beer is crazy!
Biggest weakness: Can you believe they’re taking 30 Rock off of Netflix on Oct. 1? That show is great and quite quotable. The amount of times I hum “Working on My Night Cheese” is probably not healthy, but it is a classic Bob Seger song.
Editor’s note: 30 Rock is at least going to Hulu.
Reminder! If you’ve been to New Orleans and have places to hit up (especially a good liquor store with a nice whiskey selection), let me know!
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. Northwestern