It all went downhill in a matter of minutes. I was enjoying myself, watching the Chicago Cubs hold the Washington Nationals to zero runs for the better part of game two in the National League Division Series, and had just taken a quick look at the beautiful new Nebraska alternates. Things were on the up and up, and while the next four hours would prove to be catastrophically annoying, there was at least a glimmer of hope as I surveyed the madness of the Iowa State Cyclones beating the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman.
Before I knew it, Tanner Lee had thrown his 20th (approximate) pick-6 and Bryce Harper was doing Bryce Harper things. But hey, I’m used to this. It’s okay. Everything is okay. Do you know why? Well, because this happened and this is magic.
"That might be the greatest extra point I've ever seen"#Utah #Pac12AfterDark pic.twitter.com/GPe1YPTa7g— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) October 8, 2017
For those of you not aware, this PAT is the best thing ever. Stanford-Utah provided us with the most Pac 12 moment of the year. There are so many things to take in here. The snap, the rush, the stutter step, the should-be block, the actual kick, the fact that it’s good, and obviously the slip. So, in honor of what was the happiest sports moment of the weekend for me, I present you with a quick rundown of the Week 7 Big Ten Games.
The “Botched Snap of the Weekend” Tier
6. Ohio State Buckeyes at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Probably the actual worst part of this play was the high snap. It put the entire play in peril from the beginning, and while you understand that it’s one of those things that should be fine - that is, a snap that happens hundreds of times a year - enough is there to realize that everything is about to go haywire. In that vein, I present to you Ohio State and Nebraska.
Sooner or later, people are just going to think I am down on my team too much. That may be true, but what is also true is that Nebraska’s defense got beaten up because Nebraska’s offense couldn’t stay on the field against Wisconsin. Earlier that day, Ohio State’s offense couldn’t stay on the field long before scoring and its defense kept stopping the Terrapins and well, what I’m trying to say is that this game could be ugly. Ohio State will score lots of points. Nebraska will not. The end.
The “That probably should have been blocked” Tier
5. Northwestern Wildcats at Maryland Terrapins
I realize that this is probably picking nits, but once the snap is botched and once Utah commits to kick the PAT, Stanford should have blocked the kick. The defender is right in the kicker’s face, and probably the thing that could have ended this is just... you know, blocking the ball. Which seems like a good analogy for Northwestern-Maryland. You should block this game out, but you’re not going to.
Look, I don’t think that either of these teams are as awful as they have intermittently looked as of late, but they are not so good either. Northwestern played Wisconsin tough and Maryland beat Minnesota - and Texas - but like, do you trust either to beat any given team on any given week? I see this as a potentially ugly matchup that fans get frustrated by. Bonus points for it being an even pairing, but I don’t think anyone wants to watch this one.
The “Holder hesitates, thus blowing up this play more” Tier
4. Michigan State Spartans at Minnesota Golden Gophers
There’s this moment where the holder has to make a decision, but that extra split second of doing nothing absolutely messes with the kicker who is just trying to figure out what’s happening in front of him. Which, sure, I get that it’s not totally the holder’s fault either, but making mistakes makes this less than a great situation.
The holder in this analogy is Minnesota who decided to look terrible against Purdue. What could have been a pretty intriguing matchup between rising cross-division rivals is now a “Let’s talk about how great MSU is” matchup. That being said, this is watchable. That’s a nice change for the 4th ranked game of the week.
The “Place Kicker goes for the run-up and stops” Tier
3. Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Illinois Fighting Illini
So many things are happening at this point. The kicker is in his normal routine, but has to come to a screeching halt because nothing is right about the situation. The holder is hesitating. The team pretty much expects catastrophe. Stanford is trying to block the kick. It’s pandemonium.
That’s this game. I don’t think this is the third best game by talent, beauty, or any of the normal things we measure fun football by. Also, I’ll be watching this catastrophe because it’s going to be wonderful. I’m not sure what the worst unit will be, but it will be most likely opposed by an equally mediocre to bad unit, and I - for one - enjoy terrible football when it’s even terrible football.
The “F*** it, I’m kicking it anyways” Tier
2. Michigan Wolverines at Indiana Hoosiers
This point in the play is great because the kicker has decided to kick the ball anyways. It’s not a great decision because the odds of it going in vs. the odds of it getting block are not great. But, you know what? He is determined.
Michigan’s offense is beatable, and while Indiana has been up and down, I think the Hoosiers have a chance. Or, they’re going to get destroyed by an angry bunch of Wolverines. I don’t know what the outcome is, but this could be really fun just from a, ‘who knows?’ type of thing.
The “Kick is good!” Tier
1. Purdue Boilermakers at Wisconsin Badgers
The ball sneaks over the goalpost and this entire play is entered into the “college football is the best, here’s why” pantheon. Know who else took care of business somehow? The Purdue Boilermakers.
The little engine that could has nothing on the Boilers and while there are so many flaws on this team still, who would’ve thought that this game would have potential ramifications for the Big Ten West title in the first place? I think Wisconsin probably runs the ball down the Boilers throats and gives up only a couple of touchdowns en route to an easy enough win. Still, the potential for a Purdue win makes this my favorite game in Week 7.