10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 5 in the B1G
Oh, Penn State.
Those aren’t just the words muttered through a disgruntled sigh, that’s how many wins the Nittany Lions have compiled through five weeks of the season. O. Zero. Zilp. Zilch. Nothing. OK, you probably get the idea.
For the first time in program history, Penn State is 0-5 to begin the season. It’s starting to look more and more possible that James Franklin’s team ends the year without a single tally in the win column, which is truly remarkable considering how vulnerable so many teams have looked in 2020.
Ever since the ruling that Michael Penix Jr. scored on the 2-point conversion in overtime, Penn State has looked like a different team. The spirits of the Nittany Lions have been broken and it’s been evident with their performances in the ensuing four games.
Now that we’ve got our weekly “Penn State still hasn’t won a game?!” bit out of the way, let’s look at some other overreactions from Week 5 in the B1G, shall we?
The Boilers were Pur-screwed out of a win…
I’ve watched a lot of college football over a long period of time and I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed a call that bad in such a critical moment. And in case you missed it from Friday night, here’s the play that cost Purdue a win against Minnesota:
This, apparently, is offensive pass interference. It cost Purdue the game. pic.twitter.com/bhSllcgtaN
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) November 21, 2020
If you’re thinking, “Wait, where the hell was the pass interference?” then you’re just like the rest of us. Unless you’re a fan of the Golden Gophers, in which case you should just keep scrolling past this, take your win and enjoy it with your Thanksgiving feast this week.
ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt thought the call was so egregious that he offered to pay Jeff Brohm’s fine if the Purdue head coach let loose and ripped into the officiating crew after the game. While Brohm was clearly frustrated, he didn’t smash any chairs into the ground, pound his fist through the table or throw the laptop across the room.
Well, at least he didn’t do any of that in front of the camera.
…But let’s give some credit to Minnesota
Despite having 22 players out due to injuries, COVID-19 and contact tracing, Minnesota showed up for the Friday night game. And that’s more than they can say about last weekend, getting blown out by Iowa.
The passing attack looked better, Mohamed Ibrahim did his thing and the defense made just enough plays — a blocked kick at the end of the 1st half and an interception at the end of the game — to get the win.
Minnesota had a solid effort given the circumstances. So when someone tries to talk to you about that pass interference call (c’mon, you know it was awful), just drive your fingers into your ears, close your eyes, start singing “Rah, rah, rah for Ski-U-Mah…” and walk away.
Give Tom Allen the Coach of the Year award now
Personally, I think the Indiana head coach should be awarded the presidency for the work he’s done in Bloomington this season. To avoid having both sides claim fraud, though, I’ll settle for Coach of the Year.
Does it sound weird after a loss? Maybe. But Indiana is 4-1 this season and just went toe-to-toe with the team that’s supposed to be one of the three best in the entire country. Not only that, the Hoosiers overcame a 35-7 deficit to Ohio State in the second half and had a chance to tie the game on the final drive.
Indiana of old would’ve just rolled over, but not this team.
Results not enough? How about we listen to another one of Allen’s epic postgame speeches. Even after a loss the man finds a way to motivate his players. That’s not an easy thing to do.
Proud of our fight!! I love this team. pic.twitter.com/K4PHDkPnmv
— Coach Tom Allen (@CoachAllenIU) November 21, 2020
Nebraska doesn’t have a culture problem, it has a coaching problem
Sooo, let’s talk about Scott Frost, shall we? Because there’s been an awful lot of talk about Frost feeling that Nebraska is getting close to turning a corner and really catapulting to the top of the B1G. When I watch the Huskers, the only feeling I get is similar to the grumbling I feel after eating a gas station burrito.
OK, I don’t actually eat those things, but you understand my point, right?
The bottom line is that if the Huskers were truly close to turning a corner, they wouldn’t be getting blown off their home turf by a bad Illinois team. A loss is one thing, but being laughed off the field is another.
I, too, thought Frost was the right guy to lead Nebraska’s program. Maybe he still is the one to get this thing heading in a positive direction. But I lose more faith in that belief each week.
How did Fitzy know?
Have time for a quick trip down memory lane? Let’s take a look at this quote from Pat Fitzgerald last season, right before the final game of the year against Illinois. You know, when the Wildcats were 2-9 and the team’s cumulative GPA was higher than the offense’s scoring average?
“I’m sorry we didn’t get it done for you, but we will,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ll see ya at the B1G Championship next year. How does that sound?”
Unless something drastic changes, that’s exactly where Northwestern will be. My question is, how did he know? What made him think after that 3-9 season a year ago that the Wildcats would be the best team in the B1G West again?
Maybe it was a Magic 8-ball, or maybe he took part in a psychic reading. Or, maybe he just saw something from last year’s team that gave him confidence heading into 2020. It can’t be that simple, can it?
Justin Fields is human…apparently
Ask me if I thought Justin Fields was capable of throwing 3 interceptions in a single game before Ohio State played Indiana, and my response probably would’ve resembled that of the girl tasting Kombucha for the first time. I might’ve given it a thought for a second, but it would’ve been a definite “no.”
I guess I was wrong.
The Indiana defense had a field day (do you see what I did there?) attacking the Ohio State quarterback and disrupting the Buckeyes’ potent passing attack. Fields threw as many interceptions against the Hoosiers on Saturday as he had all of the 2019 season — 14 games in total. That’s insane.
Fields is still one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Nothing changed their. But it is good to know that he is human, capable of making mistakes. After the first three games of the season, I was seriously beginning to wonder.
Hall of Ferentz
Do you know what’s dumb? That’s there’s even really been a debate about whether or not Kirk Ferentz belongs in the Hall of Fame. The man has been the head coach at Iowa for 22 seasons — that alone is merit enough to be on the ballot. In this era of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, that’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment.
You know the one thing I’ve done for 22 years? Nothing.
Saturday, Ferentz became the fourth coach in history to win 100 B1G football games. He’s claimed 177 victories as the head coach of the Hawkeyes, led his team to six double-digit win seasons, won a pair of conference titles and reached the B1G Championship Game. There is no more debating.
Once Ferentz’s career is over, his next stop should be Atlanta.
💯 B1G wins list:
"It probably means I got there a little slower than those guys." pic.twitter.com/AwXKvMqzJ5
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 22, 2020
Why hasn’t Cade McNamara been starting all along?
Was anyone else drinking coffee at 10 p.m. (yes, that’s a thing for me most weekends) and thinking, “Hey, this Cade McNamara dude is pretty good. Why hasn’t he been the starter from the beginning?”
Michigan’s offense looked so much better once McNamara stepped in on Saturday night — and yes, I understand it’s Rutgers. Maybe that’s why McNamara looked so good, but he was so impressive that he’s certainly earned the opportunity to be the starter.
This may sound weird, but I actually do give some credit to Jim Harbaugh for not pulling the plug on Joe Milton so quickly. He was forced to learn on the fly, so he deserved a chance to work through some of his struggles. But that may not happen much longer.
At this point, Michigan might as well keep McNamara at the No. 1 spot and see what happens. Maybe the Wolverines can finish the year .500 — and yes, that’d be a significant accomplishment considering how poorly this season has gone.
Cade McNamara is in the game at QB.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 22, 2020
Lovie Ball is back. Is it going to stick around?
Illinois is going to have to open up a bakery with all the freshly-baked turnovers it’s produced over the last two weeks. After getting 3 takeaways last weekend against Rutgers, the Fighting Illini forced 5 more turnovers this week against Nebraska.
That only means one thing: our favorite phrase in the B1G is back. It’s fun to yell “Lovie Ball!” again. How long will it last, though? Illinois has games against Ohio State, Iowa and Northwestern remaining on the schedule.
You may want to enjoy this week as much as humanly possible, Illinois fans.
I’m not confident Ohio State is definitively the best team in the B1G
Ohio State has played four football games during the 2020 season, and the last three have me kind of scratching my head. Yes, I understand the Buckeyes are 4-0, but have you seen them play in the second half of games against Penn State, Rutgers and Indiana? This team hasn’t played a full 60 minutes of football yet.
Indiana is a really good football team, but Ohio State nearly blew a 35-7 lead in the 2nd half. Last year, that wasn’t a thing.
The secondary has been picked apart and Justin Fields, as we’ve mentioned earlier, looked human. I know it’s 2020, but nothing through the first four games has shown me that Ohio State is a national championship-caliber team. And, to be honest, I’m not longer certain that it’s head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the B1G.
Ryan Day’s team is still the B1G’s best. Don’t try to contort that comment. And because of the remaining schedule, I don’t believe the Buckeyes will lose a game in the regular season. But I’m not so sure Northwestern can’t hang around with Ohio State in the B1G Championship Game and have a chance to spoil the Buckeyes’ title hopes.
Ohio State will have to prove it can play 60 minutes before I’m willing to say this is definitively the best team in the B1G again.