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The B1G Roast: First-Half Wisconsin could still beat Rutgers

And anyone in the Big XII too.

NCAA Football: Washington at Rutgers
Rutgers leads the nation in piggy-back rides.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Every year at around this time, I think about how school starting is such a glorious time. It meant that all of my friends would be back in Madison and football was starting and there were so many classes for me to skip! I was thinking about how I was as a college student earlier this week and let me tell you something... I was bad. I didn’t show up often to class and when I did I barely paid attention. I one time showed up to a class that I hadn’t been to in a month and the professor was handing back the first midterm. I, uh, had to drop that class.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the University of Wisconsin and everything that it stands for, but I very clearly could have taken better advantage of my time there. I regret not being more involved in the academic side of my college experience nearly every day. The social side of my college experience? I was probably on the Dean’s List for Party Bros. I also met my wife in Madison and many of my best friends and, lastly, I started working at The City Bar as a bouncer one summer, which led me to my career that I love.

I guess what my point is here is that college is ostensibly about going to class and getting good grades so you can go and get a job, but none of that matters if you aren’t passionate. I was not passionate about going to class or about many of the topics I was studying, but when I was I at least went to class and paid attention. Once I started working at a bar, I found something I was passionate about, even though I didn’t know it at the time. I am passionate about hospitality and cocktails and beer and food and providing an excellent dining/drinking experience for you and your friends/family. That’s what you should be looking for as you head back to school this week, or hell, as you continue to work. Look for what you are passionate about and then go do that thing.

Now that I’ve finished my cut-rate graduation speech, let’s get down to talking about some B1G football!

Indiana Hoosiers

S&P+ rank: 48th overall, 67th offense, 32nd defense

Last week’s result: (L) vs. No. 2 Ohio State, 49–21

Biggest strength: Beating aOsu at halftime AND leading 21–20 with under five minutes to go in the third quarter. QB Richard Lagow threw for over 400 yards on 1 million attempts. Simmie Cobbs, Jr., had 11 catches for 149 yards and a TD. I’m happy there are two Simmie Cobbs’s out there. Hosted GameDay and sold out their home opener and honored Lee Corso for something or another. Despite the final score, a pretty great day to be a Hoosier football fan. #moralvictories4ChaosTeam

Biggest weakness: Just didn’t have the horses to run with aOsu. As a team, ran for 17 yards. Gave up 181 yards rushing to freshman running back/house elf J.K. “Dobby” Dobbins. Turned the ball over three times. Have a WR with the last name “Watercutter.” Is there anything less tough to cut through than water? Way to go, guy, you are a child splashing around in a tub. Real intimidating.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (all times CDT) at Virginia

Maryland Terrapins

S&P+ rank: 71st overall, 79th offense, 46th defense

Last week’s result: (W) at No. 23 Texas, 51–41

Biggest strength: I don’t know if you watched any of this game, but it was cuckoo bananas. There was a pick-six by Texas, each team returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown, Texas had a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown, Maryland had two other touchdowns that were 40+ yards AND A MAN NAMED JAKE FUNK SCORED A TOUCHDOWN! Imo, it’s a little embarrassing that Maryland let a team that went 4–8 last year hang around for as long as they did, but a win on the road is a win on the road... even if it’s against a team from the Big XII. Here’s a fun fact: Texas received zero votes in this week’s AP Top 25 after being ranked in the first week. If possible, the AP should go back to Week 1 and take away a few votes from the Longhorns.

Biggest weakness: Starting QB Tyrrell Pigrome is out for the season after tearing his ACL. True freshman Kasim Hill will get the first chance at the QB gig against Towson. He should know that it’ll probably be tougher than his first action against Texas.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 11 a.m. vs. Towson

Michigan Wolverines

S&P+ rank: 9th overall, 45th offense, 2nd defense

Last week’s result: (W) vs. No. 17 Florida, 33–17, in Arlington, Texas

Biggest strength: Getting to play Florida’s offense. For a team that had to replace just about every starter on their entire roster, there is no better way to ease into the season than playing against the melted Army man on the blacktop that is the Gators’ offense. I know they had 200 players suspended, but THEY SUPPOSED TO BE SEC! How does Florida only gain 11 yards rushing in a game?

Biggest weakness: Pick-sixes. The defense only gave up three points, while Wilton Speight gave up 14 points to the Gator defense. Speight was also 11-of-25 throwing the ball. That is #bad. Jim Harbaugh is such a toolshed. He read the team a letter from a Marine veteran to get them fired up for the game. For the last time: FOOTBALL IS NOT WAR! I hope Harbaugh comes out in camo khakis next week to really drive the point home that they are all soldiers (*cues Kellen Winslow interview*)!

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 11 a.m. vs. Cincinnati

Michigan State Spartans

S&P+ rank: 54th overall, 74th offense, 31st defense

Last week’s result: (W) vs. Bowling Green, 35–10

Biggest strength: I can’t think of a game that interested me less than this one. As I was mentally compiling this column, I assumed MSU had a bye to start the season. With this non-conference schedule, I’m fairly confident the Spartans could come in second in the MAC East.

Biggest weakness: I got a lot of heat for my take on raw peppers last week. I received dozens of text messages telling me what an idiot I am for not liking raw bell peppers and none saying how correct I actually am. I guess I know who my real friends are now... no one. Here’s another doozy of a food take: cheesecake is disgusting. Why would you ruin two wonderful things, cheese and cake, by combining them into that monstrosity. PUKE!

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 2:30 p.m. vs. Western Michigan

Ohio State Buckeyes

S&P+ rank: 2nd overall, 8th offense, 7th defense

Last week’s result: (W) at Indiana, 49–21

Biggest strength: House elf Dobby ran roughshod over the IU defense and filled in admirably for the injured Mike Weber while setting the record for freshman rushing yards in a game at Ohio State. Ninth-year senior J.T. Barrett had 304 yards and three touchdowns. DB Denzel Ward had five passes defended, which, while looking impressive, is a mere 7.6 percent of the total passes that IU attempted. Get your shit together, Ward.

Biggest weakness: Slow start on national TV, which will probably bring their next recruiting class average score down to .9975 from .9980. Antonio Williams scored twice but couldn’t get the start over a freshman. (He’d probably have less carries than Jonathan Taylor if he were on the Badgers this year.) Urban Meyer is only 16–0 in his career in season openers, which is barely better than half of the score of their playoff game vs. Clemson last season.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 6:30 p.m. vs. No. 7 Oklahoma

Penn State Nittany Lions

S&P+ rank: 10th overall, 6th offense, 15th defense

Last week’s result: (W) vs. Akron, 52–0

Biggest strength: This seems like a game that didn’t really need to be played for everyone to know what the final score was gonna be. Saquon Barkley is really, really, really good. He averaged 12.3 yards per carry on the day and scored two touchdowns. The Lions have scored 35 or more points in eight straight games. That is a BONKERS stat. At this rate, we are going to have to kick them out of the B1G for being too explosive.

Biggest weakness: The Nittany Lions lost to Pitt last year, which probably kept them out of the CFP. They are looking for revenge this year and I hope Pitt beats them on a last-second fake field goal. If UCLA can win on a fake spike when the clock is already stopped, why can’t Pitt beat PSU that way?

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 2:30 p.m. vs. Pitt

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

S&P+ rank: 102nd overall, 126th offense, 38th defense

Last week’s result: (L) vs. No. 8 Washington, 30–14

Biggest strength: The Scarlet Knights put up far more of a fight against the Huskies than when they played last season and everyone is saying “Rutgers is gonna surprise some people this year!” Look, let’s wait until after the game against EMU before we anoint Rutgers the surprise team of the bottom of the B1G East. I still think MSU will be that team.

Biggest weakness: I have been reading a lot of pirate books to my daughter recently. I don’t know why, but she loves them. I do a “pirate voice” every time a pirate is speaking but I find as I get towards the end of the book I just sound Scottish. Were there any Scottish pirates? I feel like a Scot could slide right onto a pirate ship and no one would be the wiser.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 2:30 p.m. vs. Eastern Michigan

Illinois Fighting Illini

S&P+ rank: 84th overall, 107th offense, 61st defense

Last week’s result: (W) vs. Ball State, 24–21

Biggest strength: Started their second season under Lovie Smith with a win! Mike Dudek is back after missing the last two seasons and he’s making game-changing plays. Lovie Smith used to coach the Chicago Bears and you know something about Chicago? Deep-dish pizza is bad. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat if if you order it... but I won’t be happy about it. Have won 20 (!!!) straight home openers.

Biggest weakness: Needed a blocked field goal as time expired to keep the game from going to overtime. Their QB is named “Chayce” and he only threw for 145 yards. I like neither of those things. Remember that one year the Illini were in the Rose Bowl? That was weird.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 7 p.m. vs. Western Kentucky

Iowa Hawkeyes

S&P+ rank: 45th overall, 114th offense, 14th defense

Last week’s result: (W) vs. Wyoming, 24-3

Biggest strength: “The Outlaw” Josey Jewell had 14 tackles and two sacks. Put the clamps on the starting quarterback for the All-Offseason Hype Team, Josh Allen. I feel like sometimes people who are paid to analyze the NFL Draft don’t watch any college football, which seems like it should be a requirement. Although, Mitch Leidner was drafted in the first round last year, so what do I know? /laughs until hoarse

Biggest weakness: The offense was kinda bad and turned the ball over too much. This is what you get from Iowa, though: a really great defense and an offense that scuffles along all year. They are like a worse Wisconsin in every way. The only thing Iowa does better than Wisconsin is spell their state name more quickly.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 11 a.m. at Iowa State

Minnesota Golden Gophers

S&P+ rank: 63rd overall, 101st offense, 21st defense

Last week’s result: (W) vs. Buffalo, 17–7

Biggest strength: Tyler Johnson had six catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Shenault and Antoine Winfield, Jr., combined for 17 tackles, a sack, and four passes defended. They won, technically.

Biggest weakness: Played two quarterbacks because PJ Fleck probably saw how well it worked for the Badgers last year in the Cotton Bowl. However, neither of them played particularly well. Averaged 3.3 yards on 51 carries as a team, truly living up to their conference’s motto, “Just over three yards and a cloud of dust to barely beat Buffalo.” Fleck also said this: “You better always appreciate a win, no matter how you get it.” I mean, maybe if you were on the road against a team that wasn’t Buffalo I could see saying this. But you weren’t. You were at home. Against Buffalo. Ugh, I hate PJ Fleck.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 9 p.m. at Oregon State

Nebraska Cornhuskers

S&P+ rank: 34th overall, 62nd offense, 24th defense

Last week’s result: (W) vs. Arkansas State, 43–36

Biggest strength: Tre Bryant had 192 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Tanner Lee was not Tommy Armstrong, Jr., which, as we’ve always said, is a... good (?) thing. I don’t know, Nebraska’s quarterback situation has befuddled me since Eric Crouch left. Their fans will probably calmly react to a new defensive coordinator’s scheme getting TORN APART by Justice Hansen (what a name!) and the vaunted Arkansas State Red Wolves offense.

Biggest weakness: LOL JK! Bob Diaco didn’t speak with reporters after the game on Saturday and was basically called a coward until he spoke to the media on Monday and said his absence was “a product of a lack of communication and miscommunication.” The Trump administration is embarrassed for you, Nebraska football. Diaco also said that the defense followed his game plan perfectly. I... YOU GAVE UP 36 POINTS TO ARKANSAS STATE AT HOME, YOU HORSE’S ASS! I can’t wait until Wisconsin plays Nebraska.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Oregon

Northwestern Wildcats

S&P+ rank: 42nd overall, 65th offense, 27th defense

Last week’s result: (W) vs. Nevada, 31–20

Biggest strength: Clayton Thorson had four total touchdowns and Justin Jackson ran for over 100 yards. Thorson also dropped this gem in regards to his two one-yard TD rushes: “I love it,” Thorson said. “Everyone else does all the work, and I punch it in.” That’s the kind of leadership/jokes you want from your junior QB.

Biggest weakness: The Wildcats were losing to the Wolfpack at halftime. Can I ask a serious question? Do college kids use Snapchat to communicate with each other? Like, instead of texting? Do people under the age of 23 still text? I’m an old man and the only nudes I’ve seen on Snapchat are of my friends’ babies at bath time.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at 11 a.m. at Duke

Purdue Boilermakers

S&P+ rank: 97th overall, 89th offense, 94th defense

Last week’s result: (L) vs. No. 16 Louisville, 35–28, in Indianapolis, Ind.

Biggest strength: Hung with Louisville and Lamar Jackson for the entire game! Forced three turnovers! Started their long journey back to relevance with a tight game against a top-tier opponent!

Biggest weakness: Jackson had 485 total yards and two touchdowns. Coughed up four turnovers. Still have a really, really, really long journey back to relevance despite playing a tight game against a top-tier opponent.

This week’s schedule: Friday at 7 p.m. vs. Ohio

Wisconsin Badgers

S&P+ rank: 12th overall, 44th offense, 4th defense

Last week’s result: (L) vs. Utah State, first half 10–10; (W) vs. Utah State, second half 49–0

Biggest strength: Alex Hornibrook was efficient and didn’t turn the ball over through the air. Jonathan Taylor was as advertised and could be a special player in the Badgers’ backfield. Troy Fumagalli got his Mackey Award campaign off to an excellent start. The defense forced four turnovers and Joe Ferguson returned an INT 99 yards for a touchdown.

Biggest weakness: Look, that first half was bad. There were drops by receivers, mistakes by the offensive line and misreads by the defense. I’m willing to give the Badgers a pass on their first-half performance because of how good their second-half performance was, but come out slow against Lane Kiffin and the Hootin’ Owls of Florida Atlantic...

This week’s schedule: Saturday 11 a.m. vs. Florida Atlantic