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

“Not at all. I don’t want to make excuses, but like I didn’t come here because I thought it was going to be a really easy job. I didn’t come here saying to myself, boy, this will be fun, this will be easy. I came here saying, this is going to be epic. This is going to be awesome. This is going to be a process.” – Matt Rhule, coach of 0-2 Baylor

Here are the stats, facts, and final scores from week two that gave the Fake Punt crew reason to believe in the epic awesome process that is college football.

Ira Klement: Ohio State’s 31-16 loss to Oklahoma isn’t just a box score to believe in; it’s one to marvel at in starry-eyed disbelief. I stood and watched this Ohio State loss — loss! — in a bar surrounded by drunks wavering on their feet, too poor to order a drink for myself, and too unfriendly to have one ordered for me, and watched with glee as the Buckeyes got steamrolled in the second half. This week, Urban Meyer called out the cowardice of first-year head coaches who blame losses on not having “their guys.” So a poetic justice can be found in the fact that rookie coach Lincoln Riley needed no such excuse in his postgame presser. On the contrary, he could enjoy what, as with many things Ohio State, is less rare than you think: a primetime win over the Buckeyes as a Power-Five team in Ohio Stadium. If it were not a dead certainty that by either changing quarterback, or making mincemeat of the rest of the Big Ten (or both), the Buckeyes will wind up hornswaggling the mainstream media into forgiving this loss and putting a 12-1 Ohio State team into the playoff, one might savor it beyond, say, 24 hours. While we are still in the bubble then, here is your moment of zen:

Biff Bluff: The B1G buff in me hates seeing Oklahoma come up north and clobber the B1G’s best in Columbus. So, for the conference’s sake, I hope Ohio State is not the B1G’s best. Sullied with an ugly loss, it is now better for the Big Ten if the Buckeyes have a relative down year, setting the stage for top ten PSU, Michigan, or Wisconsin to make the Playoff instead. If Ohio State goes 12-1 and wins the league, Oklahoma and the Big 12 is better than the Big Ten, regardless of how many times OU loses. They will have done with gusto what no one in the Midwest could. Better for the Lions, Badgers, and/or Wolverines to also beat Ohio State and stake their claim as the conference’s unblemished best.

Petya Lunt:  We referred to OU as PSU’s offensive twin once before, and I still believe it. Trace McSorley and Baker Mayfield were separated during a police raid at birth. So if this is how the OSU defense handles Mayfield’s “running for his life” style of offense and inferior skill position players, then they may be completely fucked against Penn State. Maybe Ohio State just can’t win a shootout this year. If OU had beaten Purdue, then I’d really have been impressed.

Ira: Speaking of the Boilers, their 42-24 win over Ohio was another marvelous marvel of a box score. Indeed, by the false transitive property of college football, the Due’s seven-point loss to Louisville looks even better given the Cardinals’ wide margin of victory over UNC (though scholars will note that UNC suffered an injury at quarterback). The Boilers’ scoff at injury, since they’ve now disproved the theory that when you have two functioning quarterbacks, all you have is a dilemma. Instead, in Elijah Sindelar and David Blough, Purdue has an equation, and it balances perfectly regardless of the variable you plug in for quantity qb. Are they the coolest team in the country? One could be forgiven for wondering…

Petya: I wonder what Michigan’s box score needed to be to believe in it…

Ira: 33-3?

Petya: More.

Ira: 66-6?

Petya: That works.

Biff: Let’s not forget the box score burgeoning Michigan tight end Zach Gentry believes in (besides his 2 catch, 41 yard performance against Cincy yesterday). Michigan’s top New Mexican was up late watching a classic Rio Grande Rivalry between the Lobos and the Aggies. New Mexico had won 35 of the previous 45, but the Aggies stormed up I-25 and pulled out a reverie of a 2 point win in Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque. The Aggies led 30-5 entering the fourth quarter, but got sleepy, gave up 23 points, and some Bhullar had to leap and recover a late onside kick to seal it.

Petya: FCS #2 North Dakota State defeated #6 Eastern Washington 43-10 and should be on a collision course with James Madison, which is more interesting than any collision course in the FBS right now. The Bison lost starting linebacker Nick DeLuca to a “non-ACL” knee injury, and I’m pretty worried that means it’s one of the other ligaments, the deep cuts on the Knee Injury LP, but I think they’ll be fine.

Biff: One of my favorite developing narratives of the 2017 season is Baylor’s disastrous first season under Matt Rhule. After a reckoning to trans FCS Liberty in week one, 0-1 Baylor was still favored by 12 at home against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, a CUSA team that had never beaten a Power Five opponent. Baylor lost 17-10 and sits at 0-2. Now they start playing real teams.

Next week they travel to Durham to face a Duke team that just thrashed hipster Big Ten West favorite Northwestern. Loss. 0-3. In week four, top 4 Oklahoma comes to town. 50+ point loss. 0-4. Week five, at a top 20 Kansas State. Loss. 0-5.

Mercifully, a bye week will give Rhule and the Bears some time to regroup and get ready to go on the road to 10, potentially top 5 Oklahoma State and everyone’s new favorite Heisman Trophy candidate, Mason Rudolph. 50+ point loss. 0-6. On October 21, Baylor gets a home game against a likely-ranked West Virginia squad. Loss. 0-7. In week nine, 0-7 Baylor hosts Texas in a can’t-lose box score to believe in. Either Baylor continues its winless death march, or Texas loses to winless Baylor!

Baylor’s November slate includes more winnable games at Kansas and at home against Iowa State and Texas Tech. They close with a big loss to TCU. I’m setting the updated season over/under win prop at 1.5 and praying for the under.

Ira: Any of you catch that epic, awesome, functional neutral site game in South Bend?

Biff: It was blacked out in St. Paul because not enough people went to church last Sunday.

Notre Dame just keeps rewarding us with close home losses to ranked teams they led most of the game.

Petya: Also apparently Notre Dame Stadium doesn’t allow animals? So no Uga in attendance.

Ira: A blowout would have had its virtues, but a close loss to me feels more excruciating to the fanbase. It further complicates the uncertainty over what to do about Brian Kelly. A one-point loss to Georgia is like a five-star recruit commitment that you don’t want to fuck up with a coaching change.

Petya: As I watched Brian Kelly reprise his role as epic fuck during his wholly satisfying postgame presser, I couldn’t help but understand why Bob Diaco is so terrified of him. If Brian Kelly were in organized crime, he’d be the kind of guy who had his goons kill the entire extended family of whoever had stolen from or wronged him, a boss whose cruelty went so far that his own men fragged him. Maybe if Kelly hadn’t spent so much time earlier in the day texting weird, threatening shit to Diaco, Notre Dame would have won, and Diaco certainly wouldn’t have needed an entire half to get back to a healthy headspace. Once he got Kelly out of his mind, he shut out the Ducks in the second half and gave the Huskers a chance. I can believe in a 21-0 Nebraska second half box score, even if no one else really can. Stay strong, Bobby! And keep fucking yourself, Brian!

Brook Bikelyn: Um, hello? Something was DEFINITELY wrong with the people keeping score at the Rutgers/Eastern Michigan game? Like, I definitely counted and RUTGERS had 16 points? How is that a loss? Am I missing something? I LITERALLY do not believe in this box score, LOL.

Ira: Brook, I literally share your disbelief in this Illinois final score. A week after unimpressively beating Ball State by three points, the Illini roared to a 13-point win over Western Kentucky that even Lovie Smith was not expecting. Word was he’d set aside a comfortable sum taking the Hilltoppers on the money line, and is doing everything he can to prevent Chayce Crouch from actually running the spread option.

Brook: LOL, Rutgers is going to DESTROY Illinois.

Ira: Love your confidence.

Biff: Whattaya got to say for our Gophers this week, Erma? I blacked out after that JT Barrett interception and missed the Oregon State game.

Erma Gerd: Oh gosh, I hate to admit this, but I was rootin’ for the wildfires over there to go nuts so they’d have to move the game earlier in the day. I had a rough time staying up for the whole thing, and truth be told, I may’ve snuck a nap in at halftime. But I didn’t miss a single one of Shannon’s touchdowns, and PJ’s excitement did more than the pop to help get me through the fourth quarter. Oh, and those announcers talking about the Rodent Bowl — I got a kick outta that! Oregon State’s buzzsaw noise after big plays was fun for a while, but it kept surprising me, made me jump once or twice, I guess that helped me stay up too. I like this Rhoda boy. And All those “Rhoda Boat” tweets were a delight. I think he could be better than Bryan Cupito. And that defense is tough. I see 6-0 still happening! I think I’ll be a heck of a lot more excited about this after I get at least 8 hours in tonight.

Ira: I think we all will, Erma.

Petya: Let’s close this out with a prayer for our risen brother, Michigan martyr Shane Morris. Central Michigan buried Kansas 45-27 behind Shane’s 499 total yards, 5 TDs, and, with Central’s backhanded emphasis, ZERO INTERCEPTIONS.

All: Amen.

Image via MGoBlog/BY-NC 2.0.