10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 7 in the B1G
Questions about whether Ohio State is really a national title contender were silenced this weekend after a 52-12 drubbing of Michigan State in East Lansing. Over in Madison, Indiana sent a similar message to the nation with a 14-6 victory over Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Buckeyes were without six starters, 17 more scholarship players, head coach Ryan Day and three assistant coaches. The Hoosiers got a win without starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Both teams overcame some serious obstacles to show the world that they’re not chumps.
So, how about the College Football Playoff selection committee take that into consideration this week when the latest rankings are released. Would that be too much to ask? Actually, it might be. I won’t get my hopes up for logic and reasoning to prevail. We’re six years into this thing and I still don’t understand the criteria used to rank teams.
Probably because there is no regulated criteria. Weird.
Anyway, enough about the College Football Playoff rankings, we’ll talk about that on Tuesday. Let’s take a look at some of the things I’m overreacting to following Week 7 in the B1G:
Here’s the understatement of a lifetime: Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker is the most underappreciated assistant coach in the history of college football. Oh wait, I might’ve taken it too far. No, you know what, I’m going to stand by that remark. One statistic that flashed across the television screen this weekend has me digging in my heels on this conversation.
Iowa defeated Illinois 35-21 on Saturday, marking 21 consecutive games the Hawkeyes have held opponents under 25 points in a game. That’s three times longer than any other current streak of its kind in the sport. The last time Parker’s defense allowed more than 25 points was on Nov. 23, 2018 to Nebraska, a game Iowa won 31-28, by the way.
Go ahead and read that last paragraph again. I’ll wait. I made it short so you can review it as many times as you’d like without spending an entire day on it.
Sure, I could break out a ton of other statistics to support my case and attempt to convince you that my thinking is right on Parker (which it is). I’m not going to do that, though. That one statistic alone should be enough to make you think “hmmm, maybe that defensive coordinator at Iowa knows what he’s doing.” If it doesn’t, I can’t help you. And neither will any other stats I would share with you, so let’s save some time on that, shall we?
Indiana has reason to be “upset”
Don’t call it an upset.
That was essentially the message Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor sent out on social media on Saturday night after the Hoosiers downed another Top 25 opponent. No. 12 Indiana defeated No. 16 Wisconsin 14-6 to improve to 6-1 on the season. And after the game, ESPN labeled the victory an “upset” over the Badgers. That did not sit well with Philyor, and for good reason.
“UPSET?!?!? OPEN YALL EYES!” Philyor wrote on Twitter. “YALL BETTER PUT SOME RESPECT ON OUR NAME! REAL TALK.”
I’d like to reiterate Philyor’s first point — Open your eyes!
Yes, Vegas had Wisconsin listed as a two-touchdown favorite in this game (which was asinine in the first place) and that QB Michael Penix Jr. wasn’t playing. Technically, the Hoosiers were an underdog. But any network, reporter, media person or college football fan calling Saturday’s victory an upset simply hasn’t been paying attention.
Seize the Day
This is going to sound a little strange considering it’s the No. 4 team in the country, but I thought Ohio State looked like a national championship contender for the first time this season in Saturday’s 52-12 win over Michigan State. The opponent may not have been all that impressive, but the Buckeyes’ dominance in the game certainly stood out.
Ohio State was without head coach Ryan Day and three other assistant coaches, six starters (including three offensive lineman) and a total of 23 players. The Buckeyes had played just one game in three weeks and the Spartans were coming off an upset win over Northwestern.
None of it mattered. Justin Fields looked like a Heisman Trophy quarterback, the offensive line held up most of the game, the defense was suffocating and the coaching didn’t miss a beat.
Believe it or not, it probably worked out better for Ohio State that it was dealing with so many absences this week. Why? The impressiveness of the victory only increases because of the perceived degree of difficulty. This might be enough to give the Buckeyes a bump up to that No. 3 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings this week.
The return of Adrian Martinez
Remember the good ol’ days when we talked about Martinez potentially being a Heisman Trophy candidate? How he was the future of Nebraska’s offense and that he would be the one to get the program steered in the right direction?
Maybe anointing him Nebraska’s lord and savior was a bit premature and the hype has essentially been abandoned over the last year-and-a-half, sitting in an empty dumpster somewhere. But there may now be reason for hope.
Ever since Scott Frost made the decision to make Luke McCaffrey the starter a few weeks ago against Penn State, Martinez has looked like a much better quarterback. Over the last two games against Iowa and Purdue, the junior has completed 41-of-50 pass attempts for 416 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 73 yards and an additional three scores.
No, those aren’t Heisman numbers, but they’re certainly serviceable. Particularly the no interceptions part. As Ron Burgundy would say, that’s “kind of a big deal.”
There are still two games left in the season, but perhaps a benching for Martinez was the best medicine. He appears to have bounced back in a positive way and is playing some really good football right now. Just don’t resurrect that title of “lord and savior” just yet, Huskers.
B1GCats are B1G(West)Champs
Northwestern clinched the B1G West title and a spot in the conference title game because this weekend’s game against Minnesota was canceled. I can only hope that the celebration song was NSYNC’s Bye, Bye, Bye, because that’s really the only appropriate way to celebrate the most boring and uneventful division-clinching weekend in history.
Seriously, there are generations of former Cubs players who will roll over in their graves when they learn how “Chicago’s B1G Team” claimed a division title in 2020.
Moore harm than good?
This is probably going to sound really dumb at first, but stick with me here, OK? I think Purdue is actually in a worse spot with Rondale Moore on the field right now. Sounds bizarre for a star wide receiver who was a consensus All-American as a freshman, doesn’t it?
Before you throw your cold pizza and Twinkies at my face, let me explain. Moore is one of the two best players on Purdue’s roster, along with running mate David Bell. He’s a bolt of lightning in a football uniform and has the ability to turn a botched play destined for a 4-yard loss into a 78-yard touchdown run. Moore is still one of the most exciting players in college football.
When he’s on the field, though, the play-calling gets — what’s a nice way to say this? Terrible. That’s on Jeff Brohm. His insistence to get Moore the ball without regard to situation or defensive scheme is like watching a disgruntled parent who caught their child smoking behind the bleachers force them to inhale an entire pack of cigarettes.
Did that make you uncomfortable? Maybe a little angry? Now you know what it’s probably like to be a Purdue fan right now.
The 900 Club
We all know this isn’t the year Penn State expect. Sitting a 2-5 is about as far from a B1G title and a College Football Playoff bid as a team could possibly get. Well, unless the Nittany Lions were 0-7, of course.
The good news? Even in this less-than-idea year, Penn State hit win No. 900 for the program, an incredibly impressive milestone. And the Nittany Lions did it against Rutgers. So that’s something, right?
Penn State was hoping to make history this season, and while simply hitting 900 program victories wasn’t exactly what the program had in mind, at least it’s something.
Needy baby, greedy baby
Curious just how important the money is in college football? You’re probably going to get a lesson at some point in the next week. That’s assuming Michigan can’t play Ohio State on Dec. 12 and the Buckeyes wouldn’t hit the six-game minimum requirement to compete in the B1G Championship Game.
If that game gets called, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez has already said that the B1G will reconsider adjusting the minimum requirements — essentially knocking Indiana out as the East’s representative in the title game to make room for the Buckeyes.
And that, almost certainly, will happen. Hopefully someone has the “Show me the money!!!” scene from Jerry McGwire cued up and ready to play when that announcement comes through. And maybe a few clips from any of the 10,000 interpretations of A Christmas Carol where Mr. Scrooge talks about loving the almighty dollar.
I get it. This is a pandemic year, schools and conferences are bleeding because of revenue losses. That College Football Playoff money would certainly provide some relief. But changing around the rules this late in the game is just such an obvious money grab that I can’t really support it.
Also, there’s a reason I write about this stuff and am not the one making the actual decision.
Where in the world is commissioner Kevin Warren?
Speaking of Barry Alvarez, has he taken over the B1G? He’s the only one talking to the media right now, discussing contingency plans and potential conversations about adjusting requirements for the B1G Championship Game, if necessary.
You know, things a commissioner tends to do. I’m pretty sure that’s in the job description somewhere.
Has anyone seen Kevin Warren? Has anyone heard from him? Do we need to send a text message every 45 seconds to see if he ever responds? Or do a wellness check? We may have to reconstruct the Carmen Sandiego jingle for the B1G commissioner.
It’s very strange that he’s hiding behind the curtains with such important weeks approaching for the league. You’d think he’d have something to say about all of this.
Rivalry games in Champions Week? Hey, it could happen!
Did I sound like J.P. from Angels in the Outfield with that second part of the headline? That’s what I was going for. Enough of that and back to my idea for Champions Week on Dec. 19.
Let’s go ahead and assume that Michigan-Ohio State is called off due to COVID-19 concerns within the Wolverines’ program. Because the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe (Minnesota-Wisconsin) was canceled earlier this year, there’s an opportunity for the B1G to feature a pair of rivalry games on the schedule during Champions Week.
Obviously, these would not be cross-division clashes. But, hey, the B1G is already thinking about (and absolutely, 100% will) changing the rules around already. So what if, by some minor miracle the athletic directors vote against altering the requirements for a title game appearance, we play Michigan-Ohio State and Minnesota-Wisconsin in Week 9?
Why not? This year has been weird enough already. Let’s end the season with “The Game” and the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe the way the football gods intended.