10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 2 in the B1G
Unexpected is essentially the perfect word to sum up the first two weeks of the season. All you have to do is look at the B1G standings to realize that the 2020 is probably the strangest year we’ve seen from the conference in quite some time.
Seems appropriate, right?
For bettors, placing money on the underdog has been the safer gamble, as was evidenced over the weekend. Maryland, Michigan State and Northwestern were all underdogs in Week 2, and all three won their games outright. That was the same in Week 1, as well, with three underdogs grabbing victories, as well.
It’s a trend that’s probably going to continue. The weirdness isn’t specific to the B1G, but to college football in general. That’s what is making this year incredibly entertaining.
We won’t talk about all that, though. Instead, let’s talk about this week’s overreactions in the B1G,
Maybe Michigan State isn’t in one Mel of a Hess after all
After last week’s performance against Rutgers, there were serious questions about whether or not Michigan State would win a football game in 2020. A double-digit loss to a program that lost 21-straight B1G games wasn’t exactly the best introduction to the Mel Tucker era.
But here we are, just one week later talking about how Michigan State outplayed and outcoached No. 13 Michigan — the team that Joel Klatt said might be the best Jim Harbaugh has ever coach. Seriously. He actually said that one week ago.
What’s the bottom line? Michigan State isn’t nearly as bad as we expected. Amazing what you can do when you don’t turn the ball over nine times, isn’t it? Also, Michigan isn’t nearly as good as the credit it was receiving after beating Minnesota last week.
At least U-M fans get those high expectations out of the way early this year.
How it started How it ended pic.twitter.com/YTLCtb4UoG
— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) October 31, 2020
Buckle up, because a full week of Harbaugh hate is coming
As Michigan’s hopes of winning the B1G East sail out the window for another year, so too does the common sense of just about everyone associated with college football. Remember that “Is Harbaugh on the hot seat” talk that surfaces multiple times every year? Well, it’s going to fill your social media timelines for the foreseeable future.
The topic of Harbaugh’s job security at Michigan could be trending more than coverage of the upcoming election.
Yes, Saturday’s loss to Michigan State was disappointing. His record is now just 1-5 (!) against MSU and Ohio State in Ann Arbor his his six seasons at the helm. But this is a weird college football season with whacky results, strange circumstances and quirks more peculiar than Harbaugh’s love of whole milk.
Let’s talk about Harbaugh’s job security in 2021. Give him, and the rest of us, a break this season. Please.
Hoo Hoo Hoo, Hoo is in 1st?!
Go ahead and rub those eyeballs one more time for good measure, but no, you’re not looking at the B1G basketball standings. What you’re seeing is Indiana’s football team at the top of the B1G East standings through the first two weeks of the season, just one of two teams still undefeated in the division.
The Hoosiers currently share the top spot with the Buckeyes (also 2-0), but because of alphabetical order, Indiana is listed ahead of Ohio State in ESPN’s official standings. That’s enough for IU to claim it’s the best team in the B1G, right?
Last week, Indiana defeated a Top 10 team (No. 8 Penn State) for the first time since 1987. With a win this week, the Hoosiers start the B1G season 2-0 for the first time since 1991. Next week, IU gets a chance to beat Michigan for the first time since 1987.
If Tom Allen leads Indiana to a win next week, the biggest question in college football will be asked — Hoo’s year is it?
Elite? More like delete (this season)
The teams that were sitting at the top of the B1G last season are asking politely for a redo. Because through the first two weeks of the season, it’s those teams that are struggling the most right now.
Last year, Iowa (10-3), Minnesota (11-2) and Penn State (11-2) all hit double-digit win totals. So far in 2020, they’ve combined for 6 losses, with all sitting at 0-2. In case you’re bad at math, the Hawkeyes, Gophers and Nittany Lions were 32-7 in 2019 and are currently 0-6 this fall.
Wouldn’t you be asking for a reboot, as well?
Yes, somehow, Justin Fields actually got better than last season
When Fields said his goal was to be a better player in 2020 than he was a season ago, I just kind of laughed it off. I knew he was serious because he switched to a vegan diet, the ultimate proof that this wasn’t a bluff. But I didn’t think it was possible for the Ohio State quarterback to actually be better than he was a year ago.
I think he is, though. It’s only been two weeks, but Fields looks really, really, really good. I could probably throw the word “really” in there another 25 or 30 times, but I’ll save you some reading.
Through two games, Fields has completed 48-of-55 passes for 594 yards and 6 touchdowns with 50 rushing yards and an additional score. The stats are impressive enough, but it was really a completed pass while falling to the ground and completely off balance that made me toss my hands into the air and ask, “How is it possible this kid better?!”
Justin Fields, how? pic.twitter.com/MglOF1NKOi
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 1, 2020
It might be impossible for Illinois to defend the pass
Here’s the stat line for Illinois’ pass defense in 2020:
- 49-of-56 for 619 yards and 7 touchdowns with 0 interceptions.
That’s an 87.5% completion rate for opposing quarterbacks. Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz completed 20-of-21 pass attempts in Week 1 and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell was 29-of-35 on Saturday. It’s legitimately one of the most ridiculous defensive statistics I’ve seen in awhile.
So, pro tip to everyone else in the B1G West, just throw the ball against the Illini. They literally cannot stop it.
Here’s an acronym for you, Minnesota — WITH
WITH — What In The Hell? That’s really the question for the Golden Gophers right now. With the defense looking pretty bad against Michigan, several key players missing and the special teams a complete cluster(you know what), nobody really expected Minnesota to follow up the 11-2 season with an undefeated year, or anything close to it.
But a loss to Maryland? Blowing a 17-point lead in the 4th quarter on top of that? That’s a new low for P.J. Fleck’s team in his four seasons in the Twin Cities. The Terrapins are not a good football team, and the Gophers made them resemble Clemson or Alabama in those final 15 minutes on Friday night.
Minnesota has quickly turned from a B1G West contender to potentially the worst team in the conference. And that’s really not an exaggeration.
Speaking of Maryland…how about Taulia Tagovailoa?
I know it was Minnesota (I still can’t believe I just typed that out into a story), but give Tagovailoa a ton of credit from bouncing back after a horrendous 3-interception performance against Northwestern. He proved to have a short memory, and it’s a big reason why Maryland was able to take down the Gophers on Friday night.
Tagovailoa completed 26-of-35 passes for 394 yards and 3 touchdowns while rushing for an additional 64 yards and 2 scores on 8 carries, which included the game-winning touchdowns.
Could this be the start of a dynasty in College Park? Probably not. At least not this year. But the Terps could be a lot more fun to watch over the next seven weeks if the QB gets into a rhythm.
Dock the pay of the officials who overturned Rutgers’ 8-lateral miracle
Hold their paychecks, take their whistles, maybe even throw them in jail for a few days. OK, OK, I went too far. But seriously, the B1G officials in Piscataway cost fans and Rutgers one of the greatest moments of the college football season in 2020. And, to be quite honest, it was probably one of the best, most ridiculous plays the league has seen in recent memory.
Rutgers scored on a 4th-and-forever by just throwing the ball around the field 8 times, getting a few lucky bounces (which turned out to be unlucky) and was able to race down the field for a touchdown to pull within a single possession of Indiana.
One of those pitches was ruled an illegal forward pass, giving Indiana the ball. At the snap of a finger, we went from witnessing one of the most exciting plays in the sport to watching Indiana kneel it 3 times for a 37-21 victroy.
— no context college football (@nocontextcfb) October 31, 2020
The B1G standings are just plain weird
With the exception of Ohio State being 2-0, the standings in the B1G are weird. It’s really so 2020, if you think about it. I’ve already talked about Iowa, Minnesota and Penn State all sitting at the bottom of the league with 2-0 records, which is crazy enough.
But Purdue, Indiana and Northwestern join Ohio State as the four teams still sitting with perfect 2-0 records and leading their respective divisions through two weeks. It could last for at least another week, too.
Northwestern and Purdue don’t play until Week 4 in the B1G and Indiana and Ohio State will go head to head in Week 5.
To tell you just how crazy those 2-0 starts are, never in the history of the B1G, have Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern all started 2-0 in conference play in the same season. 2020, y’all.