Wrapping up the weekend that was in the Land of 10, Week 3 …
The Point After
Too many game balls, too little space:
- In a Saturday that was expected to push the league out of the College Football Playoff picture, the Big Ten instead came out of Week 3 looking as if it might place not just one, but two, teams in the bracket. If the end to every argument in the selection committee really is “Who did you play and who did you beat,” Ohio State beating up on Oklahoma in Norman and Michigan State beating up on Notre Dame in South Bend leaves all the right marks in all the right places. Throw in Wisconsin beating LSU at a neutral site, and the league is wrapping up its non-conference menu with more answers — definitive answers — than questions.
- On the other hand, Iowa. Oy vey.
- If you’re curious, the SEC has six wins against the Sagarin top 30 under its collective belts after three weeks, and five of those victories reside in the SEC West. The Big Ten and ACC have three wins each (although one is Louisville atomizing intraleague favorite Florida State); the Pac-12, two (both by Stanford); the Big 12, nada.
- So either the Big Ten West race is shaping up to be completely bonkers, or the Hawkeyes — 23-21 losers at home to FCS national champion North Dakota State — and Badgers — who had to strain to push past winless Georgia State at Camp Randall — were playing some crazy kind of possum. Or maybe the road to Indy really does go through Lincoln first.
- Commissioner Jim Delany’s mandate on eliminating FCS teams from Big Ten schedules is theoretically sound; Delany has built his legacy on the theoretically sound. But just as not all FBS dance partners are created equal, not all FCS dates are guaranteed strength-of-schedule killers. Plus, shutting the door has only served to make ’em mad as hell, and no one would’ve been shocked if Illinois State and North Dakota State had given Northwestern and Iowa a middle finger right after they pointed to the scoreboard and kissed their big fat checks.
Things that impressed the CFP committee
- With the exception of Iowa, everybody that was supposed to take care of business did — and in the case of Ohio State (3-0), did so emphatically. And Notre Dame had to find hats to try to pull rabbits out of after Michigan State (2-0) stormed to a 36-7 third-quarter lead in South Bend.
- Nebraska (3-0) can thank Oregon coach Mark Helfrich for seeing Mike Riley on the other sideline and thinking he could try Pac-12 math again — the Ducks were 1-for-5 on two-point conversions, points that proved costly in a 35-32 Huskers victory. It was the Big Red’s first win over a ranked nonconference foe since topping Notre Dame in 2001 and the kind of September momentum-builder that can get a retooling program, and suffering faithful, back on their feet again.
- Michigan (3-0) huffed and puffed at home against Colorado (2-1), but had the stones to rally from a 21-7 first-quarter deficit, then do it again after the Buffs took a 28-24 lead early in the third quarter. If this was a September sleepwalk, then it’s forgivable.
And the thing that didn’t
- The “top” of the Big Ten West. Wisconsin (3-0) handed Georgia State (0-3) some cash but forgot about the “play” part of the equation, with 10 fourth-quarter points at Camp Randall saving the bacon of a 23-16 scare. But at least the defense was able to cowboy up late before more damage could be done, something that couldn’t be said in Iowa City. The Badgers still have the division’s most-impressive nonconference victory, although the gauntlet of league tests coming in a row — beginning with a trek to Spartan Stadium on Saturday — could void that trump card. And few are going to forget what happened to the Hawkeyes (2-1) against the FCS’ biggest giant-killer, especially if Iowa circles the wagons and somehow wins the West again.
One man’s rolling Heisman Ballot (Big Ten edition)
- J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State: Three games in, and 10 touchdown passes, three runs for scores. And Tulsa gave him a harder time than the Sooners.
- Jabril Peppers, OLB/S/PR, Michigan: On the day: 204 all-purpose yards, 3.5 tackles for loss, 54 yards in punt returns. All-purpose. All-business.
- Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State: Four touchdown catches Saturday in Norman, five on the season. Oh, yeah, and …
Why learning to slow dance will pay off one day, we swear
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 18, 2016
Thanks for coming, hope we didn’t hurt your boys too bad
Ohio State 45, Oklahoma 24
Funny enough, it was the Sooners’ third home loss by 17 points or more since 2012. And the second such loss to a Top 5 team — No. 5 Notre Dame took Boomer Schooner out behind the woodshed 30-13 four years earlier.
Not even a pro like Dave Revsine can spin this bad boy
Western Michigan 34, Illinois 10
Hey, the honeymoon for Lovie Smith was never going to last forever. But we figured it might last longer than two-and-a-half weeks. Saturday was a flaming dumpster of bad for the Illini: three rushing yards on your ledger as opposed to 287 rushing yards allowed; getting your lunch handed to you by a Mid-American Conference squad (albeit a pretty good one); drops, misreads, and Wes Lunt folding like a giant accordion. More problematic for Lovie — and especially for hotshot young athletic director Josh Whitman — is the “same old Illinois” vibe the last two weekends have left on a hungry, weary fan base. Memorial Stadium started to empty out at the start of the fourth quarter as the Broncos ran away with the contest, and unless something changes, and changes drastically, a good chunk of those folks aren’t coming back.
Jim Harbaugh, translated to Russian, then translated by Google back to English again
On Tom Brady:
“It was right up there with my dad, played ball with my father. His pregame talk was outstanding. It was very good, very heart. We went through each position. He told them that they had to play as. The guys who were playing and this position before at the highest level. That was great. And Tom got a big hand on the way. He can break it. He can throw it well. I wish I would not have given him the wind. The big thrill.”
Under-the-radar unit of the week
A Terp of the cap — sorry, sorry, sorry — to Maryland’s defense, which forced four turnovers in a 30-24 overtime win at UCF, including three fumbles recovered. The Terrapins (3-0) head into league play with a home date against Purdue on Oct. 1 ranked fourth in the Big Ten in turnover margin per game (plus-1.67). Bonus: Team Durkin has yet to give away the rock in victories over Howard, Florida International and the Knights.
On-the-radar unit of the week
Ohio State’s “basic” defense. Seriously, Austin Kendall. Dude, do NOT poke that sleeping bear.
Jim Harbaugh, translated to Shona, then translated by Google back to English again
On Colorado’s “gag” depth chart early last week
“I saw the depth chart. I tried to imagine how many people sit around and how many hours they worked that day. We saw only one available, I mean, when it comes to the depth chart, the latter seems like the depth chart dated outside work almost 20 years. We saw the film study is to report the last week is the most accurate way of determining a team’s depth chart. Instead of writing a lot about the team online. For those who can or watch the games — they’re all on television now as well — we just felt that the latter was the most accurate way to determine that is to sue the depth chart to look past week the film. And not rely on a PR Director to fully understand what the depth chart.”
Welcome to the Hot Seat, pal
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
North Dakota State opponent rushing totals in 2016, by week:
Charleston Southern —169 yards
Eastern Washington — 106 yards
Iowa — 34 yards
We’d say they’re passing the hat again around Kinnick Stadium again, but you wonder why folks would even bother. Lifetime contract, right? This is your marriage, Hawkeye fans; you’re going to have to figure out a way to make it work. Either that or wait until someone other than Gary Barta becomes athletic director.
Also, never mind the Bison. Don’t ever, ever, EVER schedule Charleston Southern.
Fake Bo Pelini tweet of the week (Monty Python edition)
— Guy K Lyman (@SableFlame) September 17, 2016
so this is a big joke to you huh https://t.co/kNiuzVQ0Og
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) September 17, 2016
— Big Papa Brunch (@SA_Wes) September 17, 2016
the unladen swallow https://t.co/7KboiS0ovX
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) September 17, 2016
Alumni note of the week
Dewey Cox’s mom went to Michigan! Venerated character actress Margo Martindale — whose body of work ranges from the docu-comedy film “Walk Hard” to the drama “Million Dollar Baby” and the TV show “Justified” — nabbed her third Emmy award this past week. It’s the second Emmy accorded to Martindale — Wolverines Class of ’73 — for her role as Claudia on the spy series “The Americans.”
Jim Harbaugh, translated to Korean, then translated by Google back to English again
On his team’s mental fortitude
“And the team front runner player, who is the only time they can play well — when they have out front, it’s clean, it is easy else football getting way down from that kind of mud there as a form of fighting games, and they kind of test, you can enjoy enjoy that kind of competition.”
3 games coming up we’d seriously pay to watch
- Wisconsin at Michigan State (noon ET, BTN). Smash-mouth meets smash-mouth. Bucky’s dropped four in a row at East Lansing dating back to 2002.
- Penn State at Michigan (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). The Lions are 2-8 in their last 10 league road tilts. If they want to be a genuine player in the East picture, it’s gotta start here.
- Nebraska at Northwestern (7:30 ET, BTN). Since 2011, every meeting in this series but one — 2014 — has been decided by three points or less.
Fake Bo Pelini tweet of the week (political edition)
@realDonaldTrump HUSKERS BY 3 DONALD 55 SECONDS LEFT
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) September 17, 2016
The takeaway number
If Brown had the catch of the season, then this has to be the stat of the moment:
#OhioState is 19-0 on the road under Urban Meyer. Only coach to start with more consecutive road wins was Walter Camp in the 1880’s.
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) September 18, 2016
The Buckeyes aren’t just traveling well, kids. They’re traveling in style.