10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 8 in the B1G
The “regular season” in the B1G is over.
It feels a little weird saying that, doesn’t it? Rarely do we say that a conference’s regular season has come to an end with the knowledge that there’s still a week in which all teams are scheduled to play. But because of B1G Commissioner Barry Alva…I’m sorry, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez coining the phrase “Champions Week,” next Saturday’s slate of games has a bit of a postseason feel.
Hooray! All of your favorite teams have reached the postseason. Congratulations on this monumental accomplishment!
This weekend lost something with a few of the biggest rivalry games in the league called off due to issues related to the pandemic. Still, we were able to watch five football contests on Saturday afternoon, and we should be happy about that.
Now then, let’s talk about some overreactions, shall we?
How weird was that?
Did you ever think there’d be a season that would end without Michigan-Ohio State on the schedule? And how about no Indiana-Purdue to make matters worse? It was really strange to be watching the final week of the B1G regular season with neither of those matchups available on the television screens.
Sure, we probably know what the results would’ve been for those two games, but college football is missing something without seeing those matchups on the schedule. Hopefully this is the only time we have to endure this form of cruel and unusual punishment the football gods handed down.
We should all promise to never make fun of the results of “The Game” ever again, now that we’ve realized just how much we’ve missed it.
WTF has an entirely new meaning
Instead of “What the (expletive),” the popular millennial acronym has a brand new meaning in the B1G: “Why the flip?!”
Penn State freshman running back Keyvone Lee and Iowa senior wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette both decided it was a good idea to showcase their incredible athleticism on a national platform on Saturday. Fans of the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes held their breath and probably threw something at their televisions out of pure anxiety watching it, too.
Lee was the first to show off his gymnastical (I don’t think that’s a word but I’m rolling with it) abilities following Penn State’s win over Michigan State. The freshman did a standing backflip and stuck the landing to celebrate the Nittany Lions first home win of the season. The display of athleticism would be enough to impress Simone Biles. Most importantly, no running backs were injured during the making of “The Flip.”
— The Daily Collegian (@DailyCollegian) December 12, 2020
The same could not be said for Smith-Marsette. The Iowa star celebrated a long touchdown catch and ultimate victory over Wisconsin by front-flipping his way into the end zone. His decision landed him in a walking boot, thanks to a crash-landing.
If a gold medal was on the line, Smith-Marsette would have been seriously disappointed. As Kirk Ferentz said after the game, “He learned a painful lesson.”
Oh boy, Ihmir Smith-Marsette has a lapse in judgment and celebrated his way into the end zone by doing a front flip that injured his leg. He’ll use this as a learning experience and ya won’t see it happen again. Wishing you a speedy recovery @_ihmirr_ #iowafootball #Hawkeye pic.twitter.com/PJNjdhpFhx
— Coach Beauchamp (@beauchamp_coach) December 12, 2020
As cool as it was to see that much athleticism on display, I’d like to send a message to both Lee and Smith-Marsette: Please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t do that again. The risk is so much higher than the reward and you both have incredibly high NFL-level talent.
OK, carry on.
The shoe was on the other foot
How ironic was it that, on a day when Ohio State couldn’t play Michigan in “The Shoe,” that the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff hopes received an incredible boost thanks to an actual shoe?
Florida defensive back Marco Wilson picked up the cleat of an LSU player and launched it 20 yards down the field after a 3rd down stop late in the game. The Gators would’ve gotten the ball back with a chance for a game-winning drive, but instead the Tigers drilled a 57-yard field goal to win the game. That essentially knocks Florida out of the Playoff picture.
Unsportsmanlike conduct for…
— Tony Clements (@TonyClementsTC) December 13, 2020
It was perhaps the dumbest penalty since last year, when Ole Miss lost to Mississippi State because of the dog urination penalty at the end of the game.
Can we finally put Indiana in the Top 10 and give Tom Allen and the Hoosiers the respect they deserve? I know they didn’t play this weekend, but IU playing actual football games and beating real-life opponents never seemed to help its cause. Maybe the Saturday off will help get this program into the Top 10.
Florida dropped a second game, Miami lost in a big way to North Carolina. There’s finally a path for Indiana to get inside the Top 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings. But, let’s be honest, the Hoosiers should have been in there long ago.
Good job on the committee to actually reward Indiana for having a free Saturday rather than moving it higher in the poll when it actually beat an opponent like a 16th-ranked Wisconsin team on the road.
Let’s just go ahead and call it like we see it — unless a team is vying for an actual spot in the Top 4, the committee isn’t watching these games. There’s absolutely no way based on how these rankings look every week.
Champaign? More like Sham-Pain
So this is your rebuild, Lovie? Another blowout loss to Northwestern at the end of the season to fall to 2-5 on the year? Big. Yikes.
Illinois was supposed to field its most experienced, most talented team of the Smith era in 2020. Certainly, the pandemic played a role in the Fighting Illini’s plans at a back-to-back bowl build and the possibility of climbing up in the B1G West standings this year. but EVERYONE was faced with the same circumstances.
This isn’t so much about the overall record as much as the performance on the field. This was the second-straight year Illinois was laughed off the field by Northwestern. It’s another season of inconsistency and questions about the direction of the program.
Before the season started, I didn’t think there was a chance that any B1G head coach would be fired at the end of the season. Illinois AD Josh Whitman has some serious thinking to do this week — if he hasn’t done it already.
Frost warning (seriously this time)
Yes, back-to-back topics on coaching hot seats. I’m not apologizing for it, I avoided this topic for most of the year. And as much as I thought Scott Frost was going to be the one to turn around the Nebraska football program — he still could be, by the way — there’s just very little evidence of this program making improvements.
A week after beating Purdue on the road, Nebraska turned around and looked terrible against a Minnesota team that hadn’t played a game in two weeks and was without 33 players. With a win over the Gophers, the Huskers would’ve had a legitimate chance to end the year with a .500 record, which would’ve been quite impressive given the 1-4 start. Instead, another opportunity was pissed away.
To make matters worse, Frost complained about media timeouts just a few weeks after blaming Iowa’s sideline for clapping during the snap count. He talked about how well his team practiced and says it’s just not translating right now.
Frost: "It seemed like we had a media timeout for every drive."
— Sam McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) December 12, 2020
Saturday’s performance puts the pressure on Frost to win in 2021. If not, this program may have to start looking for a replacement.
Knight and day
I’m going to eat some crow. When Greg Schiano was hired to take over at Rutgers for a second time, I didn’t think it was the right move. Typically, the second coming doesn’t end well in college football, and there was no evidence that Schiano could win in a division like the B1G East.
And then Rutgers turns around and wins 3 games in 2020, and lost two more games by one possession. After two years of failing to win a single B1G game, the Scarlet Knights — I’m sorry, Fightin’ Schianos — had a legitimate shot to win 5 games and finish the year on the right side of .500. I know that’s not insanity based on Albert Einstein’s definition, but it fits the description in the Dustin Schutte Dictionary of Football Things.
— Rutgers.Football (@RFootball) December 12, 2020
I know that Tom Allen is going to be named the B1G’s Coach of the Year, and for good reason. But Schiano deserves some serious recognition for completely turning around this Rutgers program. Not only are the Fightin’ Schianos winning games, they’re incredibly fun to watch.
Fitz is already embracing the underdog role
Just minutes after pummeling Illinois to keep the (hideous) Land of Lincoln Trophy, Pat Fitzgerald was already embracing the underdog role against Ohio State in the B1G Championship Game.
“I’m sure we’ll be underdogs by like 70 points,” Fitzgerald said after the game.
You know what that means, don’t you? Northwestern is probably going to play the most incredible football game in the history of the program. Just warning you, Ohio State fans. It’s this kind of stuff that has turned every fanbase in the B1G West against the Wildcats.
Every week, Northwestern has found motivation in a spread, national media comments or jabs from opposing players. It’s going to be interesting to see which entity attempts to discredit the Wildcats’ season this week and how Fitz’s team responds in the biggest game of the year.
Admit it, B1G. Please, make this easier.
You screwed up. The 6-game requirement to play in the B1G Championship Game was a dumb rule in the first place. Changing it because you didn’t get the result that you had hoped was a bad PR move, too. If you had a do-over, you would absolutely have not canceled the season back in August and would have implemented that beautiful 10-game schedule and we could’ve avoided this whole mess.
Now, you should be forced to admit that the only reason you changed the rules for the Buckeyes was for the almighty dollar. Seriously, just come out and say it. We all know it. At least then, we might actually have some respect for actually being transparent.
Shoutouts to Iowa, Minnesota and Penn State
These three programs all deserve some major credit. Instead of packing it in when things got tough, all three continued to fight, though it took some longer to get rolling than others.
Penn State had B1G title aspirations and was thinking about a College Football Playoff berth. Instead, it started the year 0-5. The Nittany Lions could’ve easily finished the year 0-8, but found ways to improve and carry some momentum into the offseason.
Iowa opened with back-to-back losses to Purdue and Northwestern, falling in heartbreaking fashion. Now, after winning six-straight games, the Hawkeyes look like the hottest team in the B1G. They’ve also own all three rivalry trophies, defeating Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin, which is a pretty remarkable accomplishment.
Then there’s Minnesota, who followed up an 11-year season with some poor play to start the year. But even being short-handed for most of the year, the Gophers found a way to get to 3-3 and finish the season, even with serious COVID-19 issues.
All three programs, and all three head coaches, deserve credit for how their teams have finished.