Probably my favorite part of the year is the Bye week for Nebraska. Sure, maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if my team was rolling through the conference season, but I have not experienced that in a while, and I definitely enjoyed a calm, almost normal weekend. I had some brunch - chicken fried steak on a biscuit, smothered in gravy, and a poached egg because Texas - and I barely paid attention to football outside of what my conference mates were doing.
The problem of being under-invested in terrible football is that when you are also a parent, you start to make quick ROI calculations when faced with two terrible options. “Dada, ‘doo doo doo doo’”
...[internally weighs options]
Okay, fine. I switched off Iowa-Northwestern because I figured I wasn’t actually missing anything, and we turned on Baby Shark. Have you all seen this video? Prepare yourself.
Now imagine watching this for fifteen minutes straight on repeat because you are either (a) a loving father, or (b) absolutely insane. We eventually broke up the madness with a trip outside because if there is one thing that my daughter loves more than awful children’s songs, it’s riding her bike, but after the awful that was this weekend of Big Ten West football, you all deserve this week’s game rankings.
The “Wheels on the Bus (Indeterminate Time Version)” Tier
7. Nebraska Cornhuskers at Purdue Boilermakers
This video is 54 minutes and includes verses like, “The engine on the bus goes vroom vroom vroom”. It’s pretty amazing. Plus, you also get to watch B-I-N-G-O and don’t have to sit through 60 minutes of “are you surprised Purdue is a 6.5 point favorite today?”
I actually expect this game to be entertaining in that both teams don’t employ great defenses and could just light each other up offensively. This is not a good game, though, and I only recommend watching it if you’re bored or if you need to laugh at Nebraska’s expense
6. Wisconsin Badgers at Illinois Fighting Illini
The Illinois Fighting Illini have the worst offense in the conference, employ a sketchy defense that ranks in the bottom quarter, and are playing a pretty good Wisconsin team that likes to throttle the hell out of teams like Illinois. Watch. The. Bus. Video.
5. Indiana Hoosiers at Maryland Terrapins
Know why this game gets stuck in this tier? Because this game is basically Nebraska-Purdue, only the outcome has such wild variances in what could happen. Maryland by 24? Sure! Indiana shuts out the Terps? Why not! Both teams give up because of how hard they are to watch? Okay!
Look, I’m not saying that Wheels on the Bus + other annoying songs for 54 minutes is a better way to spend your day, but it’s at least in play.
The “Five Little Pumpkins” Tier
4. Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Michigan Wolverines
Things to keep in mind. (1) Purdue more or less outplayed Rutgers so congrats on the win, but generally allowing 2:1 offensive yards isn’t a good plan. (2) Averaging 3.5 yards per rush against Purdue is probably not a sign of future success. (2) Michigan is better than Purdue.
So look, I’m not telling you that Michigan is great, but as the 5 little pumpkins say, there are a lot of potential emotions a person can have, and WHY IS THIS GAME FOURTH ON THIS LIST I’VE MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE.
The “The Ants Go Marching” Tier
3. Michigan State Spartans at Northwestern Wildcats
This song is annoying when I didn’t know the words. It’s much more so now that I do know the words.
That is an apt description of the way I feel about this game. After some strong defensive play, the Spartans look like a legitimately good team. They are even ranked! RANKED! Northwestern is similarly looking like a legitimate team. Not good, but at least they’re competitive and they might be the second best team in the West which is basically saying bottom half of the Big Ten. Anyhow, now that we know more about both, I am more indifferent than before. This game is probably not close, but you never know. We’re just plodding through these, aren’t we...
2. Minnesota Golden Gophers at Iowa Hawkeyes
Yeah, that’s right. We’re keeping this game in this tier. I don’t think either of these teams are good, but they’re going to beat the hell out of each other in a punt-filled festival of terribleness. I’m seriously concerned that we have the worst division in football and nobody wants to admit it because LOL BUT WISCONSIN COULD BEAT GEORGIA (no they can’t).
But back to Minny-Iowa. There’s a pig on the line, a lot of potential animosity, and won’t it be great when literally either team loses? Okay, okay. I’m a biased hater who doesn’t see the beauty of the impending 11-6 ‘night’ game on Saturday, but if given the choice to watch all of these videos and see Brian Ferentz run an outside zone on 3rd and 9, I’m at least thinking about it.
The “Baby Shark” Tier
1. Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes
This is the best game in the conference, and probably country, this weekend. There’s really not a lot more to say about that. Also... Give me Baby Shark.