B1G Monday morning: If you were Ryan Day, you'd be mad too
Ryan Day’s immediate reaction to Ohio State’s dramatic 17-14 win at Notre Dame was the talk of the college football universe for the rest of Saturday night and pretty much up until the point the NFL recaptured the spotlight on Sunday afternoon.
And why wouldn’t it be?
It’s not every day that we see a coach respond to 1 of the biggest wins of his career by turning around and cutting a pro wrestling promo.
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Ryan Day never doubted his team's toughness. pic.twitter.com/bPfyp1CvqA
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) September 24, 2023
The only thing missing from the scene was the late Mean Gene Okerlund on the mic instead of NBC’s Kathryn Tappen.
For some, Day’s emotional outburst was met with a chuckle. Because let’s be real — there’s something inherently funny about calling out an 86-year-old man, as Day did with former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz.
“I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHERE LOU HOLTZ IS RIGHT NOW!” Day thundered with the tone of a guy ready to head to a Mishawaka nursing home and mess Lou Holtz up.
“IT’S ALWAYS BEEN OHIO AGAINST THE WORLD. IT’LL ALWAYS BE OHIO AGAINST THE WORLD,” was Day’s most dramatic declaration, which also glossed over the fact that Holtz is an Ohio boy himself.
People found this funny, too, perhaps thinking Day was inventing some sort of martyr complex.
Ohio against the world? Seems a bit much.
But in Ohio, it’s a real mindset.
Few places in the Rust Belt got rustier than Ohio’s formerly bustling centers of industry. Of course Ohioans are wary of the outside world. It mined them for parts and left them for dead.
Poke folks in Ohio, and they might snap back. People in Cleveland don’t think it’s very funny when you joke about the Cuyahoga River setting on fire back in the day. They might have half a mind to toss you in it.
So to suggest that a group of Ohioans isn’t inherently tough? That will be taken as a slap in the face every damn time. Even if they are adopted Ohioans, as Day and many of the Buckeyes players are.
But there’s more to this for Day.
A reasonably angry man
Few people have been as objectively good at their job as Ryan Day without garnering universal respect in the process.
We are talking about a coach who has lost 6 games in 4-plus seasons, half of which have been in the College Football Playoff. The only Big Ten team to beat Day is Michigan. The only unranked team to beat him is … no one. Ever.
It hasn’t happened yet. And it’ll be shocking if that changes in 2023.
Yet Day is regarded by many like a modern-day Larry Coker — a caretaker coach who took over a situation impossible to screw up. Eventually, Miami ran out of the generational talent that propped up Coker’s coaching. And many seem to think that’s Day’s inevitable fate.
There is a strange blend of Ohio State fans and Ohio State haters willing to unite for the opportunity to say, “See! I told you so!” whenever Day finally stumbles for good.
People such as Jim Harbaugh, who intoned that Day was born on third base and woke up thinking he hit a triple after beating the Buckeyes for the first time in a decade.
Day’s outburst shows he’s well aware and highly sensitive about a vocal community within college football that doesn’t respect him as a coach.
He’s won 89% of his games. What the heck does a guy have to do to get people to stop talking crap about him?
It’ll probably require heeding the words of a fictional Ohioan: Cleveland Indians catcher Jake Taylor.
Around the B1G horn
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No. 2 Michigan 31, Rutgers 7
Last year, the Wolverines trailed the Scarlet Knights at halftime before closing the game with 38 unanswered points.
This year, the Wolverines trailed the Scarlet Knights 7-0 in the first minute before closing the game with 31 unanswered points.
That gives Michigan a combined 69 unanswered points after falling behind Rutgers the past 2 seasons. Nice work by the Wolverines.
No. 6 Ohio State 17, No. 9 Notre Dame 14
Thanks to the last-second win, Ohio State still hasn’t lost to Notre Dame since the week before Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first re-election. And let’s not forget that he was re-elected thrice.
The Buckeyes also have not lost a road game to a top-10 opponent other than Michigan since losing at No. 2 Penn State in 1999.
No. 7 Penn State 31, Iowa 0
Somewhat surprisingly, this marks Iowa’s first time getting shut out since getting blanked by an identical score at Illinois on Oct. 14, 2000. That bulk of that Fighting Illini team would go on to win the Big Ten the next season.
The Nittany Lions may not have to wait another year before winning the conference. Among other reasons, Penn State is leading the country with a turnover margin of plus-11 — and it’s all through takeaways. Penn State doesn’t have a single turnover.
Iowa managed only 76 total yards, which is the 3rd-fewest allowed by Penn State since 1950. Only Temple (2006) and Marquette (1958) gained fewer yards against the Nittany Lions.
Yeah. That Marquette.
Maryland 31, Michigan State 9
For the first time ever, the Terrapins are 4-0 with all 4 wins coming by double-digits. A game against Indiana next week provides opportunity to make it 5 straight.
The wheels are all the way off for the Spartans following Mel Tucker’s suspension and dismissal. Michigan State committed 5 turnovers that led to 21 Maryland points.
Illinois 23, Florida Atlantic 17
A strangely close outcome for a game in which the Illini outgained the Owls 510 yards to 353. Illinois hurt itself with 2 lost fumbles, and also allowed 4 sacks and 8 TFL.
Still, Luke Altmyer looked the best he has all season, completing 69% of his throws for 303 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
If Illinois can clean up the mistakes it makes every game, it can challenge Wisconsin for the West title.
Nebraska 28, Louisiana Tech 14
A pretty good display of Nebraska football as Nebraska fans like to see it. The Huskers finished with 312 rushing yards — 157 of which came from quarterback Heinrich Haarberg, a Nebraska native — and never turned the ball over.
This team will be toast if it ever falls behind by a couple scores, but there’s a path to a bowl game if the Huskers can grind games out and avoid mistakes.
Northwestern 37, Minnesota 34 (OT)
Minnesota, a team with a reputation for maintaining possession for upwards of 40 minutes when things are going well, blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead to a Northwestern offense that had scored 13 points or fewer in 6 straight games against Big Ten opponents.
That makes this a significantly worse choke job than whizzing away a 31-point lead to Texas Tech in the 2006 Insight Bowl. And that gag cost Glen Mason his job after 10 years at the helm.
Still, one doesn’t always take what is given to them. And for that, well-traveled Wildcats quarterback Ben Bryant deserves a heap of praise. Bryant looked like a vintage Northwestern passer, completing 33 of 49 attempts for 396 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Crazy as it sounds, the Cats could become a factor in an extremely sorry Big Ten West.
Indiana 29, Akron 27 (4OT)
Indiana did not deserve to win this game after being outgained by nearly 200 yards. In fact, few stats this season will be weirder than Akron finishing with more yards against the Hoosiers (474) than Ohio State produced against IU (380).
But given the number of times Indiana has lost games over the years that it deserved to win, the Hoosiers had 1 coming in the other direction at some point. With probably a few dozen to go.
Wisconsin 38, Purdue 17
The Badgers beat the Boilermakers for the 17th consecutive time but paid a terrible price in the process as running back Chez Mellusi was lost for the season with a broken leg. Losing Mellusi is a big blow for a team that otherwise appears to be the runaway favorite to win the West.
Ryan Walters has been outcoached in 3 of his first 4 games. And there’s no telling whether he outcoached Virginia Tech’s Brent Pry, because the Hokies are perhaps the worst team in the Power 5 this year other than Stanford.
Purdue has ceded 200 combined penalty yards and 7 turnovers in its past 2 games. Sloppy, undisciplined football. That’s coaching.
Or in this case, lack thereof.
Week 4 MVPs
1. CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan
With Rutgers threatening to make things interesting at the Big House, the former wide receiver turned cornerback put an end to things with a ridiculous pick-6 on a fourth-down screen pass.
Sainristil also finished with 2 tackles and 2 quarterback hurries.
— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) September 23, 2023
2. QB Ben Bryant, Northwestern
It’s reasonable to think Bryant was a bad start away from being pushed by Brendan Sullivan for Northwestern’s starting job. He had 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in his first 3 games as a Wildcat, and the offense looked as listless as it did a year ago.
In what could have been his final 15 minutes as a starter, Bryant instead worked magic. Bryant passed for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime, keying a rally from a 31-10 deficit.
𝘾𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙘 '𝘾𝙖𝙩𝙨 😈@NUFBFamily trailed 21-0 late in the 2H, but rallied to win an OT thriller.
Here's how they did it. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/RIzRUidmPL
— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) September 24, 2023
3. WR Bryce Kirtz, Northwestern
The Colonel stepped up in a big way to make the comeback possible. Though he wasn’t the walk-off hero, Kirtz did seemingly everything else for the Cats. He had 10 catches for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 99 of the yards coming after the catch.
Bryce Kirtz was a problem Saturday night.
The WR exploded for 10 rec., 215 yds & 2 TDs, shattering every previous career-high. 💥
— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) September 25, 2023
4. LB Curtis Jacobs, Penn State
It’s difficult to pick a top defensive player from Penn State’s blanking of Iowa. Every Nittany Lion chipped in, and the Hawkeyes ran only 33 plays, making it impossible for any Penn State defender to rack up gaudy individual stats.
Nonetheless, Jacobs was still Curtis-on-the-spot in recovering 2 Iowa fumbles. No Nittany Lion has done that in a game since 1991.
First @PennStateFball player with two fumble recoveries in a game since 1991 🦁
— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) September 24, 2023
5. QB Kyle McCord, Ohio State
This might be the first time an Ohio State quarterback has earned player of the week honors without throwing a touchdown pass since the days of Craig Krenzel. But after a challenging game, one cannot ignore the job McCord did moving the Buckeyes 65 yards in the final 1:25 in the biggest game of the college football season.
McCord completed 2 third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion on the drive. That’s showing up at winning time.
Built for this ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/Luvv2H4Gxg
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) September 24, 2023
Play of the week
Has to be Chip Trayanum’s 1-yard touchdown with 1 second left to beat Notre Dame, right?
Sorry. Says here in the Play of the Week rulebook that the opposing defense needs to put 11 guys on the field for it to qualify.
It’s the Sainristil pick-6.
Simply breaking up a screen pass the moment the ball reached the receiver is impressive as it is. Grabbing the deflection and then taking it all the way back for a 71-yard touchdown? Among the most impossible plays you’ll ever see.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 24, 2023