Weak four of college football saw league action begin in most conferences across the country…maybe.
How did our rooting interests fare? Here are the stats, facts, and final scores from this past weekend that gave us reason to believe in college football.
Petya Lunt: Well, boys, another week in the books, and from my quick read, this was a grocery-store-checkout-line romance thriller. Anybody disagree with that?
Biff Bluff: I was thrilled with the ending to the Penn State-Iowa game, but other than that, I find little evidence in a just world amidst the wreckage of week four’s box scores. It was a Saturday full of dispiriting teases: a bad UMASS team almost beat Tennessee in Rocky Top; Kentucky choked away a two-score lead to lose by 1 to Florida; Toledo led Miami but blew off their rocket too soon; BC was tied 7-7 with Clemson late but folded; Cal couldn’t hang on against USC; South Carolina stormed back to beat Louisiana Tech; and Appalachian State missed a game-winning field goal to beat Wake Forest. Any one of these upsets might have made my day, but instead, it was the kind of status quo week where Alabama wins 59-0, the kind of long Saturday on the couch that would have been better spent in the park, among boxwoods to believe in.
Petya: I hear ya, Biff. But I want to believe in a full Michigan box score for the first time all season. I want to be excited about how John O’Korn played, and I want to revel in some of the throws he made in the second half — throws we haven’t seen from a Michigan QB in years. So you know what, guys? I’m going to. O’Korn’s a lot more than O’K, and who could dislike a fuck-you attitude like this about his former dickhead coach? If this really is O’Korn, and he takes Speight’s job, then combined with Michigan’s top-ranked statistical defense, an above-average to good Michigan offense could mean the East doesn’t belong to Penn State. I’m fucking excited for it.
Biff: Sure, but there’s a flipside to that coin.
Petya: Right, the downside is it hurts the exciting hype bubble forming around what was maybe the most fun team in America. Purdue is officially the best 2-2 team in the country, but after taking a tough beat and perhaps losing David Blough to a bum shoulder, their season may not fulfill its early promise. And that’s a fucking tragedy. Purdue is clearly one of the nation’s fastest rising teams and will win plenty of games in the next few years. I hope not a single ‘Due fan passes up the chance to watch the Boilermakers in two weeks or any week thereafter.
Biff: Ira, you’ve been awfully quiet. Cat husk your corn?
Ira Klement: [clears throat] So it is known: Nebraska is not worse than Rutgers. The numbers speak for themselves: with a 27-17 win, the Huskers are exactly ten points better than the worst team ever to be tangentially associated with the Big Ten.
Celebrating with a darn’-tootin’ elbow at the game’s apogee, Mike Riley secured one more week at the Huskers’ helm, less a rush of adrenaline than a cortisone shot until the next marathon.
His team is now on some kind of tour; don’t call it revenge, because vengeance is sinful. Say instead that 2-2 Nebraska, all expectations drained away, battles now to maintain a passable homeostatis, the 6-6 nature of Buddhahood. If the Cornhuskers’ 2016 schedule was tailor-made for great expectations followed by crushing disappointments, this year’s will test whether Riley can keep the boat at even keel. Having dispatched Rutgers, the Huskers next face Illinois, which always takes two weeks to wake up from a bye. After that, Wisconsin and Ohio State come to town, and then it’s time to face Purdue on the road…
The most confusing thing Nebraska could do now is fire Riley, which, in this confusing time, makes it a one in five shot. More likely, he will see his way clear to dropping this Illinois team while the search for a capable athletic director continues behind the scenes, a decision hopefully finalized by the time the Badgers and Buckeyes roll in, and some hard choices need to be made…
Still, you could not help but feel good for Riley, who despite the victory looked weatherbeat and twice his age, or four times as old as the boyish Chris Ash. Meanwhile Rutgers, facing the near-certainty of a single-win season, ought to have a hard choice in whether to keep Ash in an urn, or sprinkle him over the Raritan River.
Or is Rutgers content to play the Big Ten’s version of Barry Horowitz, the losingest wrestler in WWF history? From a snippet on Horowitz:
Like every match where the audience would already know the outcome before the bell, fans would always hope that, in some parallel universe, Horowitz could win. Eventually, the WWE allowed that to happen with his unlikely victory over BodyDonna Skip.
In some parallel universe, the Scarlet Knights could win; a pity it is not our own. With Morgan State, Rutgers’ version of a BodyDonna Skip, already pinned, fans must wonder: if not Nebraska, whom? If not now, when?
No one; never. Jerry Kill was right to speculate if he’d survive the year. Heads must roll in Piscataway, if they don’t it is merely one more loss, and consequently, Rutgers’ worst case scenario should be adjusted: they stand to face the first 1-12 season in recorded history.
Biff: Who should the Big Ten grab when Rutgers is jettisoned?
Ira: I like this University of Chicago team, which just notched a 28-7 win over Illinois College. To even approach redemption, Jim Delany should invite one of the conference’s original members back to the fold, and eliminate the vile odor left by the Scarlet Knights. Besides, what’s a better market than Chicago?
Petya: That 1-2 D-III University of Chicago team is…not good.
Ira: They could do no worse than Rutgers.
Petya: Imagine how well they could do with North Dakota State. The Bison cleared their schedule of FBS opponents this year, focusing instead on the particularities and peculiarities of FCS football, and they seem to be well on their way to mastering the division once again. The Bison are sick and tired of hearing about James Madison repeating as champs or Youngstown State’s war march. In a 56-0 quelling of the Federalist rebellion of Robert Morris, NDSU RB Lance Dunn scored on all four of his touches. How the hell did Iowa and Iowa State let that kid get outta Waterloo? Embarrassing. After the Jimmies looked sluggish in an uninspiring win over Maine, I believe the Bison are retaking the title this year.
Ira: In a light week, it behooves to put in a kind word for the Buffalo Bulls, who stuffed Lane Kiffin’s Owls on a fourth and three and notched a 34-31 win. The season has already gone on longer than we ever could have expected. But as Wonka once said, the suspense is terrible; I hope it will last.
Petya: It was a lightheaded second half for Colorado, contrary to Buffaloes coach Mike Macintyre’s not-so-clairvoyant predictions. MacIntyre hyped all week how the altitude would be a huge advantage for his team against Washington, and the Buffs hung with UDub all through the first half, trailing only 10-7. Then MacIntyre must’ve gotten a little lightheaded himself, because his team was outscored 27-3 in the second half endurance test. Forget USC. Washington is the team to beat out West.
Ira: Certainly not UCLA.
Petya: Certainly not. Another week of outstanding statistics for Josh Rosen, another loss for his team. A blowout, in fact: 58-34, Stanford. Is that Rosen’s fault? No, not entirely. But the legend of Rosen grows larger even in bad losses. So what gives, mainstream football world? Why’re you so on this dude’s dick? Dick Lagow can throw for 400 yards too when he gets 60 attempts. The ESPN-sanctioned narrative about who’s good and who’s not is so lame.
Ira: A fitting capper to a lame week. Here’s to a limberer week five.