The best Christmas gift for every Big Ten team
Whether you’re on the naughty list (Michigan) or the nice list (Indiana), everyone deserves a Christmas gift. So here’s one for every B1G team:
Illinois — Lotus flower
This symbolizes new beginnings. And as the only B1G school with a new head coach, Illinois needs some good vibes heading into the Bret Bielema era. Illinois hasn’t finished above .500 since 2011.
Indiana — Ring video doorbell
Security is a must in Bloomington right now. There are intruders lurking, trying rob the Hoosiers of their terrific head coach, Tom Allen. That’s why no unidentified person can enter the premises. Auburn turned out to be a false alarm, but better safe than sorry if you’re Indiana. Just keep reminding everyone how fat that Allen buyout is.
Iowa — Doc’s DeLorean from Back to the Future
What if Iowa could go back in time and redo the first 2 games of the season (a 4-point loss to Purdue and a 1-point loss to Northwestern)? Especially the Northwestern game, because that was the game that ultimately decided the B1G West. If only the Hawkeyes could change their play-calling from those 2 games, when they for some reason allowed Spencer Petras to throw 39 and 50 passes. During the current 6-game winning streak, Petras hasn’t attempted more than 30 passes.
Maryland — Walking cane
Maryland has a ton of potential, but it is just so young, with 9 of its 13 blue-chip recruits either freshmen or sophomores (and with the B1G’s No. 4 class in 2021, more talented youngsters are on the way). That’s why Maryland needs to grow up quickly. How’s a walking cane for feeling old?
Michigan — Advance copy of Phil Steele’s preview magazine
Jim Harbaugh needs to find Don Brown’s replacement as defensive coordinator, so he’ll have all the 2020 statistics he needs. If you’re not familiar, Harbaugh picked Brown without knowing him at all, because Brown led Boston College to the No. 1-ranked defense in 2015. I guess I could just give Harbaugh the phone number of Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard to save him some time, since the Badgers have the No. 1 defense. But it’ll be good for Harbaugh to have the magazine, because if Leonhard says no, he can just go down the line. Army’s Nate Woody would be next up.
Michigan State — Remote
Michigan State had some great moments during Mel Tucker’s first season (beating Michigan and undefeated Northwestern), but boy, did the Spartans have some clunkers with 3 losses of 24 or more points (and the worst point differential in the Big Ten). There were some days when the Spartans just didn’t have it, so a remote would allow Michigan State to fast forward through a painful afternoon. And since I do believe Tucker has this program heading in the right direction, maybe Michigan State can just fast forward a few years to when the program is rolling again like in Mark Dantonio’s heyday.
Minnesota — Chef’s hat
The “Let Russ Cook” mantra for Russell Wilson got a little obnoxious, for sure, but I think it’s time to let Tanner Morgan cook (thus the chef’s hat). He has never finished better than 10th in the B1G in passing attempts per game in any of his 3 seasons, yet he has finished no worse than third in yards per attempt. He is a good QB, and it’s time for Minnesota to give him more opportunities.
Nebraska — Chicken Soup for the Soul
Morale is low in Lincoln. Nebraska, which is just 12-20 under Scott Frost, hasn’t been to a bowl game in 4 years. That’s why Huskers fans need a little pick-me-up in the form of the popular book series that details inspirational stories of real people. Maybe it’ll help Frost quit with the excuses and just get the job done.
Northwestern — Noise-canceling headphones
There’s no doubt that Northwestern thrives as an underdog, and I don’t think it was a coincidence that the one week everyone was talking them up, they lost to Michigan State. It was funny how they leaned into the “Fighting Reece Davises” thing, but then they came out and laid an egg against the Spartans before the hype could build any further. They need to ignore all the nice things people say and just play ball.
Ohio State — Crown
It’s clear the Buckeyes are the king of the Big Ten, so why not make it official? The B1G reversed its decision to postpone the season in order to give them a shot at a national title, it changed its minimum games rule to allow them to play in the Big Ten Championship Game and it recently just changed its COVID protocols to allow more of their players to be eligible for the College Football Playoff. Ohio State is B1G royalty.
Penn State — Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
The Nittany Lions allowed 28 sacks in 9 games, easily the most in the Big Ten. That’s why they need a nifty kitchen appliance that will better acquaint them with pressure — because that’s a big area they need to improve upon in bouncing back from a disappointing 4-5 season.
Purdue — Amazon Prime membership
The Boilermakers have had the weakest rushing attack in the Big Ten in back-to-back seasons, which is why they would benefit from the most efficient ground game out there.
Rutgers — Magic set
I just thought head coach Greg Schiano and offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson would enjoy this, since no team in the Big Ten (or in all of FBS) was as good at pulling off trick plays as Rutgers this season.
Wisconsin — Mulligan
You know how you can buy mulligans at golf outings? Someone needs to buy the Badgers a mulligan so they can do this season over. At full strength, the Badgers looked darn near unstoppable and a legit challenger to Ohio State. But after a COVID outbreak and injuries to key players on offense, the Badgers have wasted the No. 1 defense in the country in going just 3-3. If they simulated this season 100 times, this may be the worst possible outcome.