Box Scores to Believe In: The Fake Punt Reviews Weak Three of College Football

Weak three of college football amounts to the dog days of pre-conference play. Across the nation, teams are trying to get better without embarrassing themselves; and some are even succeeding.

As the chorus of voices builds before in-conference kickoff, we present the stats, facts, and final scores from a weak three that barely gave us reason to believe in college football.

Ira Klement: NIU 21, Nebraska 17. I believe in the power of this box score to reveal to Huskers fans what cannot be denied any longer: with Brady Hoke gone and Darrell Hazell fired, Mike Riley is the most unqualified coach in the Big Ten. In fact, Hoke and Hazell are righteous company for Riley, since they all field the same bland, fake, soft, unmotivated sort-of-teams. Riley has proved as good at Hoke at squandering talent, and both men’s personal magnetisms hinge on the (alleged) notion that they are “good guys.” In fact, super-Hokey is Riley’s blind faith that Nebraska is a brand that sells itself seemingly regardless of outcome. Michigan, Hoke, Riley, all forget what’s stated in the fine print of any financial advisor’s contract: past performance is not indicative of future results.

Should have been traded like horses at midfield

Here’s another fact: only three times ever have the Huskers started 1-2 — and two of those were under Gentle Mike. So it is time, Nebraska, to face, with the grim bravery of the condemned man, the fact that nice guys do not finish first, not even in the Big Ten West — and that they can definitely lose to Rutgers. (How fortunate it is that Nebraska, in addition to having no coast, has few bridges.)

Biff Bluff: Nebraska is in a dark, far-from-where-they-need-to-be place.

Petya Lunt: I think I finally figured out what #Neb19aska is in reference to. They want to be ranked 19th when all is said and done.

Ira: Unless they fire Gentle Mike and hire someone cool, I am for totally jettisoning them from the conference.

Biff: I’m for re-hiring Pelini.

Petya: You know he just played a convicted rapist, directly disobeying President Tressel and his AD?

Biff: I’m for re-firing Pelini.

Petya: In response to the firestorm engulfing his otherwise thriving program, Pelini said, “You have to be happy for the kid. This isn’t about me.”

Ira: Unreal. Also, did you know that in a search for “Mike Riley coach,” you get this:

I’m amazed the third option isn’t “How do you open a sardine can if it’s missing a tab?”

Petya: Or what about “who coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1989?”

Biff: Penn State used to be in a dark, far-from-where-they-need-to-be place. But everything’s fine now. In fact, everything’s great.

Ira: Ugh, I know. Can Penn State start losing again?

Biff: I don’t even like Penn State, but this team is easily the most fun outfit in the Big Ten right now. They are a ficken blast. They play with that rarest of college football qualities: joy.

Ira: What kind of asshole puts up 56 on Georgia State?

Petya: What kind of asshole ices Georgia State’s kicker with nine seconds left in the fourth quarter in a 56-0 blowout?

Biff: The kind of asshole like me, who has Penn State’s defense on his fantasy team.

Ira: Let’s talk about Purdue’s 35-3 win over that JV SEC squad, Mizzou. I’m disappointed the Tigers scored a field goal. Everything else about the Boilers’ beating down a bad SEC team was — not just encouraging — invigorating. Mizzou is Purdue from two years ago: weak, unimaginative, identityless. Meanwhile, the Boilers looked like Texas Tech from the late aughts: throw-maniacs who may kill you most on the ground. As good as those passes between Blough and his targets — especially Brycen Hopkins — looked, still more lethal was Tario Fuller and others leaking out of the backfield like an odorless toxin.

Yet there was a moment from Saturday’s game I’d like stricken from the record: Jeff Brohm chewing out David Blough for a bad throw late in the third quarter with the score at 28-0. That was a nauseating, Sabanesque loss of temper, a joyless moment. I saw some Purdue beat writers digging the perfectionist coach routine. Me, I prefer Brohm relax and let the Big Ten’s Golden Blough play football.

Speaking of studies in comparative religion, Petya, what’d you make of that tussle between the Mormons and the…what is Wisconsin again?

Petya: Lutheran?

Ira: Sounds about right.

Petya: Brigham Young hadn’t been this blindsided since Buchanan declared war. And even that was less of a bloodbath than Saturday’s matchup. The Badgers ran and passed all over the Cougs, and the defense was filthy. Wisconsin linebackers really are like shark teeth: there’s always another one behind to take its place. The fact that Rutgers was the only other B1G school to offer Jonathan Taylor “Thomas” a scholarship is humiliating for the league. New Jersey recruiting pipeline, huh Harbaugh? And for the first time since Russell Wilson, Wisconsin seems to have a great real and fantasy QB in Alex “Do I Make You” Hornibrook. So, it begs the question: does he make you horny, Brook?

Brook: Um, ew. OBVIOUSLY I’m saving myself for Kyle Bolin. But, hello? He’s not accepting my Facebook friend request? FEELING PATHETIC. However, SCREW him because not only did Johnathan Lewis accept my friend request, he liked a picture of me from two years ago so you know he was SCROLLIN’ —

All: Can you not?

Brook: Wait, can I talk about Rutgers? THANK YOU. Finally, the Scarlet Knights WON a game (also, SO LAME they haven’t reversed the score on the Eastern Michigan game yet!?!). But, hello? Can they just let Gus Edwards get more touchdowns because I LITERALLY dropped Raheem Blackshear last week…

Ira: Rutgers is certainly the cream of the MEAC, Brook.

Brook: Um, what? LOL.

Biff: I don’t eat MEAC, but I like MAC, and Kansas losing to two straight MAC teams pleases me. I think Kansas should be relegated to that conference. This year, I predict they would go 2-6 and I would enjoy every loss.

Petya: California football cannot be entrusted to the timid and the MEAC. And by the way, it looks like it hasn’t been. Those entrusted with Cal football right now look neither timid, nor weak, nor meek, nor MEAC. Their win over Ole Miss — any win over Ole Miss, by anyone — is a box score to believe in. In fact, my hot take of the week is that 3-0 Cal, owning wins over ACC and SEC teams, upsets media darling USC next week.

Biff: Cal’s a sneaky good 3-0 team. Likewise Kentucky. Vandy is 3-0 as well.

Ira: Those Commodores were victorious over another team you’ve been bullish on, Biff: KState. Any comment there?

Biff: K State was supposed to be sneaky good.

Ira: How sneaky of them to be sneakily not-good. Or not as sneaky good as Vandy.

Petya: Speaking of well-heeled private schools, Northwestern did everything they needed to do to exorcise the Blue Devil. Before dismissing the result of this game entirely, remember that Bowling Green gave Michigan State a wee it o’ trouble in week one…though maybe that tells us more about Sparty than the Falcons. In any case, BGSU isn’t the the worst team in FBS. And even if they are among the worst, the Wildcats still did exactly what they should have done and gotten the hand-crank offense started, and how. It was foolish to think Northwestern could challenge Wisconsin (and Purdue) for the West crown, but they certainly could still win 9 games if they keep playing like that.

Ira: I also want to say a small something about San Diego State beating the PAC-12 version of Northwestern (i.e. Stanford), 20-17. Actually, I have very little to say on the matter, except I wound up watching Steve-Jobs-throws-a-fit clips on Youtube last night, and was reminded how much I hate Silicon Valley.

Petya: Me too, Ira. You know what else I hate? Josh Rosen hype. Am I the only one who thought the second-to-last touchdown pass against A&M was an absolute fucking duck that only should have resulted in points going the other way?

Ira: Which is why I love that Memphis-UCLA result. Losers on Twitter were ready to bury Memphis after the Tigers attempted one of the wonkiest fake field goals ever drawn up using piss on Astroturf: a flicker from the holder to the kicker, who tried to run, then, failing, heaved the ball downfield for an endzone interception.

Josh Rosen looked at that pass and said “Hold my beer.” On UCLA’s subsequent drive, Rosen he threw a ball so bad, the receiver had to interfere so it wouldn’t get picked. Given how the Bruins should have lost to Texas A&M two weeks ago, it was fair to presume they were playing on borrowed time. In fact, Petya, if I’m not mistaken, Rosen’s turd in the Memphis game was from the exact same distance — own 37 to opponent’s 36, for 27 yards — as the POS you described. Is it possible the universe was correcting itself for giving Rosen a pass on that pass?

Petya: Call it the Rosen Principle.

Ira: Biff, you’ve been quiet.

Biff: I’m ready for conference play.

Petya: Before we go, one more thing: after that USC-Texas game, I want to re-believe in that Maryland 51, Texas 41 box score.

Ira: Hear hear.