Consider me the Big Ten’s Lorax. I speak for the fans with only the most earnest of intentions. 

(Disclaimer: Fans not applicable to the previous statement include anyone who paints their face with the exception of Ax and Smash from Demolition, people with pets named Dabo, and the state of Ohio outside of that sliver of Cleveland where Dr. Huey Lewis detected a heart beat.) 

For the rest of you, I know how you feel. 

Illinois: My foot finds the wettest puddles.

Illinois seems almost there, at least to a level of middle-tier relevancy, only to see spurts of competence squashed by a penalty, turnover, or an underthrow by Brandon Peters. 

Indiana: Arcade games are much more fun when you drop a quarter in the coin slot.

Indiana arrived Saturday, regardless of what Draftkings and the better part of photographic evidence communicate. The win against Penn State signaled a leap for the program.

Iowa: Hold on a minute, the joke about Lincoln and the temple is my schtick.

Iowa seemed like they were out-Hawkeye’d in Saturday’s loss. In each of the last three seasons Iowa was no worse than third in conference in penalties committed. They compiled a doozy of 100 penalty yards Saturday. It’s only one game, but such sloppiness is a glaring sight for a team characterized by discipline and a lack of creativity on offense. 

Maryland: But the DMV, the DMV!

Mike Locksley recruits the area well. 

Michigan: Please no introductions.

The exhausted media narrative pushes out Jim Harbaugh’s abysmal record against highly ranked teams since he took over the Wolverines, followed by gripes about Harbaugh’s salary as if his pay comes out of their Arby’s budget. Let Joe Milton go about his business without the chatter or heightened expectations for at least the next week.

Michigan State: Dim the lights. No, darker.

Keep your eyes on recruiting sites and ignore on-field action. As someone who lived through the 2013 Chicago Cubs to enjoy the 2016 Chicago Cubs, just know contributors on the next relevant Michigan State team have not enrolled in the university yet.  

Minnesota: A man named PJ checked out all the self-help books.

Grab your acronyms and get your catchphrases, time to dog-ear pages about resilience in failure. 

Northwestern: I fly weekly for work, always thought TSA PreCheck was a rip.

Amazing what a slight shake-up can do for enthusiasm and energy that comes from a new offensive coordinator and quarterback. 

Nebraska: The second Steel Reserve really dulls the flesh wound.

Ticklish and giddy with the return of football, Nebraska didn’t notice the sort of swiftness Ohio State used to dismantle them from late in the second quarter through the end of Saturday’s game. 

Ohio State: Next week’s employee evaluation postponed indefinitely.

Ohio State went back to being Ohio State in quick order after Nebraska impersonated its success in the 1990s with some niftiness in the run game for a majority of Saturday’s first half. Penn State’s loss to Indiana settled any sort of anxiousness in the Buckeyes’ road game next week. 

Penn State: Fun is cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Penn State finds itself in the position to throw Ohio State off-course for the fourth time in as many years. Spoiler is a fulfilling role and a victory over the Buckeyes would place the Big Ten’s status in the College Football Playoff in such grave danger that Nebraska would have to embark on a state-wide letter-writing campaign on its behalf. 

Purdue: That dry wedding was a hoot!

Without head coach Jeff Brohm or star wide receiver Rondale Moore, Purdue beat an undisciplined Iowa team. That’s a win by a team known for its creativity on offense without its masterful play-caller and best offensive player. 

Rutgers: My new doctor has a medical degree.

Football, legitimate football, from scheming, to tackling, to catching and throwing, embodied what Rutgers did in Saturday’s win against Michigan State. No longer do the Scarlet Knights limp along with some sort of lifeless enthusiasm that encapsulated every season since Greg Schiano left. Things look legitimate now. Legitimate is an enormous stride.

Wisconsin: This is why we can’t have nice things.

The ghost of Joe Tiller slipped one by the ghost of Bo Schembechler when somehow, someway, a talent like Graham Mertz found himself on the Badgers’ roster. The core of Big Ten stability and normalcy sustained a severe body blow when the redshirt freshman wrestled away a program’s identity through the course of 5 touchdown passes and a passer rating of 273. Ghost Bo would have none of that and lulled Ghost Joe to sleep by his intonations of, “The team, the team, the team,” before the results of the most anxiously-awaited COVI-19 test this side of Tuscaloosa.