The Tower of Babel vibe to 2020 in college football has those of us in the land of corn-based diets and appreciation of CBS sitcoms a little uneasy. Every conference operates with its own set of rules and regulations, bylaws and caveats, the sort of fractured compliance that differs from the ACC to the SEC, from the Big Ten to the Big 12. What’s good for Vanderbilt isn’t good for Ohio State. 

All the commissioners operated singularly and nationally disregarded the sport’s best interests. Collectively, they failed to create a uniform policy in a season where the unsteady Yahtzee cup would somehow shake out the four teams most-qualified for the College Football Playoff. The previous sentence is not intended to come off as a surprise, simply a regurgitation of how everyone grabbed their own belongings and peeled out of the garage at the first sign of smoke. Let’s hope it doesn’t doom the Big Ten. 

The conference’s best team, the one with the greatest likelihood to not only make the College Football Playoff but win the whole thing, had its first cancellation of the season. Two more and the Buckeyes are ineligible for the Big Ten Championship. This doesn’t necessarily exclude them from the Playoff, but seeding is critical this year as the No. 1 seed will likely avoid Alabama or Clemson until the national title game. 

One more cancellation between today and Ohio State’s game with Michigan at the end of the year and expect Jim Harbaugh to promote team-building activities that require position mates to leave no room for the Holy Spirit.  Then again, that sort of proximity is a rarity this season. 

Through the conference’s manual-steering start, the margin of victory is a healthy 17.36 points. Things aren’t close, things are weird.  Try to find the innate beauty especially as we look toward Week 5. Except for Penn State fans. Look away. There’s nothing artistic about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. 

Illinois 1-7

The Illini played the Lovie Smith Greatest Hits on Saturday, though without the live version of “You Should See My Beard’s Buyout.” “We Get Off The Plane Running The Ball” and “Turnover-Based Defense” played on repeat, an indication of unbelievable rushing numbers from the quarterback position and an edge in the turnover battle. 

Indiana 6-2

The look ahead died a swift and immediate death on Saturday. Survived by one fumble recovered, three interceptions, and over 38 minutes time of possession, the look ahead will be remembered for its empty threats and little more. In lieu of donations please buy an Indiana t-shirt from Homefield Apparel.  

Iowa 5-3

Friday night’s win against Minnesota highlighted the sort of big-play ability needed from running back Tyler Goodson, who had a long run of 45 yards and 142 overall. The Hawkeyes spend the next few weeks mixing it up in the muck against Penn State, Nebraska and Illinois before the last game of the regular season against Wisconsin. Quite the vacation at the conference’s sewage plant. 

Maryland 4-3

I missed Maryland. Holy hell, does “November 2020 me” need to have “August 2020 me” sit down on a plush seat with a stiff drink to explain how we got here. 

Michigan 3-5

Use future games to see what Jordan brand gear you want for Christmas. 

Michigan State 2-6

When redshirt freshman quarterback Payton Thorne entered the game for Rocky Lombardi in the first half of the Spartans’ loss to Indiana, we entered the hopeless stage of the season for the Spartans. Lifeless is the next stage, which undoubtedly means several players requesting to transfer. 

Minnesota 2-6

How else do you cap a 17-play, 74-yard drive that started at your own 11 when trailing 14-0 well into the gut of the third quarter? You have a field goal blocked and set in motion a series of actions that leads to a Kirk Ferentz quote that would make Steve Spurrier say, “Well, tell you what, he got some good needling in there.” 

Nebraska 3-4

All that sort of perverse interest in playing football finally paid off, as did the move to get redshirt freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey good playing time last week against Northwestern. The stats from Saturday’s win don’t look favorably on the Huskers, but the team knew how to get its kick in against a team in the middle of a free fall. 

Northwestern 7-1

The Wildcats surrendered 10 points in the second half, now outscoring opponents 44-10 in the second half of games, or by a Buckhusker, in the parlance of Big Ten fans, which refers to the average point differential in games between Ohio State and Nebraska. Author’s note: Author is uncertain of the average point differential, but he enjoys the name and will not let creativity ride side-car to actual statistics. It also sounds better than Buckverine. 

Ohio State: 7-0

Don’t hold your breath until the next Justin Fields incompletion. 

Penn State 2-6

Remember when other programs tried, all done under the veil of compassion, to poach players from Penn State? You don’t have to worry about that with this roster. 

Purdue 3-4

While the Boilermakers wait for the return of Rondale Moore, the legend of Zander Horvath grew to Alstott-ian proportions. The “running back” in a fullback’s body created quite the picture of downhill grace with 100 receiving yards on 9 receptions. 

Rutgers 1-7

David Chase made dream sequences a large part of “The Sopranos,” so maybe it’s a Jersey thing that the tipped passes from Rutgers wide receivers that Illinois intercepted cycle through my dreams, alternating with Little Stevie Van Zandt impersonating notable people from Russian history. 

Wisconsin 5-1

Saturday was more about Michigan’s fall from grace than Wisconsin’s return to football. Let’s just take it a week at a time when it comes to the Badgers. No, really. I feel the voodoo doll cinched in my hand if I try to make grander statements about the team beyond interpreting them on a game-to-game approach.