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MAILBAG: Who ends the season with the College Football Title Belt?

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Should you talk to your kids about Iowa yet? Can Purdue still make a bowl? Plus, why ANF is a total fraud.

Penn State v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Welcome to your Week 3 Mailbag! We’ve got Rutgers-Kansas chatter, tracking the College Football Championship Belt, and discussing how Michigan State gets revenge on ASU for a 7:45pm start in the desert.

rutger is an underdog. To Kansas. I don’t have a question; I just wanted to point that out. - 87 Rides A Surfboard

Dead Read: I want Rutgers to win, almost desperately. The gif implications are staggering.

LPW: Yeah, Rutgers is due for a quality win. It’ll be great when we can put up the “You just got beat by Buttgers” image of a bemused Kyle Flood and laugh at someone outside of our conference.

MNW: The last Rutgers-Kansas in Lawrence gave us that wonderful image of the Rutgers player lined up like, a yard offsides. That’s well and good, but it’s not enough. We need a reason to tune in to this shitshow. The last edition was a slow mercy-killing by Rutgers, which just derped less and found itself standing at the finish line, like the one of your friends who’s not high winning on Rainbow Road when you’re just stuck at the starting line and licking the TV.

No, this year the Rutgers-Kansas we need something absurd. I want R00K at halftime (it’s appropriate because both teams will spend the whole first half just moving sideways), followed by a 42-41 finish in which [insert team here] wins the game when [insert other team here] scores the potentially game-tying touchdown on a 10-lateral score in which the Kansas basketball team has made their way onto the field to celebrate, for some reason, and a Rutgers player spears Bill Self trying to make a tackle, then the kicker slips on a banana peel and misses the extra point. Give me THAT kind of a shitshow that I can watch on Fox Sports North and you can’t because you are a pathetic coastal-dweller.

Also, is calling this a “trap game” for Rutgers, which is such an incredible and sad lack of self-awareness that I want to applaud them.

Beez: At least it’s a game between to actual P5 teams, rather than some garbage involving playing an FCS team “because we have to!”

Nate: Didn’t realize basketball started in September this year.

Zuzu: Yeah…

BRT: I think this is a game that sounds like it would be interesting to watch for how very bad it is likely to be, but then five minutes in you’d realize you made a huge mistake and would actually prefer to stab your eyeballs with forks than watch any more of it.

WSR: I mean, it is a football game. Right? Weird things always happen in football games. For example, this one will be played and someone will win! I’m actually really excited to see the highlights of this one and how the BTN on-air “talent” will try to sell what happened. Godspeed, Buttgers.

Now that Penn State holds the College Football Championship Belt, which team holds it at the end of the regular season? - Stormy Dragon

MNW: This is great because it works in potential shenanigans for a Pitt-like 2018 claim, in which Penn State or one of its Big Ten heavyweight opponents loses to someone stupid and random that doesn’t make a bowl game.

Let’s see...I should show my work here. Penn State takes a loss at home to Ohio State, which is understandable in and of itself, and the Buckeyes proceed to march through most of Big Ten play. While the temptation is to take a Harboring on 10/20, Purdue commits 15 personal fouls and blows a 35-17 fourth quarter lead. The Buckeyes roll with the belt until...11/10, when Sparty springs a home upset on a brisk, clear November day in East Lansing. (I know, I don’t get it either.) Just when you think Sparty is cakewalking to a Big Ten title game appearance, belt-around-waist, ZOINKS! Rutgers yanks it off when on a rainy Thanksgiving Saturday when the Spartans inconceivably abandon the run, Brian Lewerke throws 5 INTs, and the Scarlet Knights cap a 3-9 (1-8) season with a 13-12 win and the Belt.

Beez: Alabama. It goes: Penn State → Michigan → Ohio State → Wisconsin → Georgia → Bama

WSR: Penn State > Ohio State > Alabama > Clemson

Has AIRBHG moved to Minnesota? And why? - bewilder2

Beez: Because PJ Fleck is such a karmic douche that he needed to insert a reference to his own personal brand in what was supposed to be a “this sucks but I hope he’s back soon!” statement.

Now that Mark Dantonio is a goner, after another embarrassing non-CFP level season Who should Michigan State hire? And why should it be Jim Tressel? - Badgers & Bruins

MNW: I think this guy’s had enough to drink.

Beez: Mark D’Antoni, obviously.

BRT: How about a Harbaugh?

Creighton: Sparky -- I see your Herm Edwards, and raise you MIKE DITKA.

WSR: NFL castoff? Brad Childress. There’s even pictures of him wearing green from his time getting Andy Reid’s coffee in Philly, and he looked OK in it. Do it, Sparty.

Is there any mouth guard design more obnoxious than a curlicue mustache? —Historicat

Dead Read: Here ya go.

LPW: Absolutely gross, you monster! Is there anything our friends in Maryland won’t put their colorful flag on?

Creighton: Give it a year and one of the minor Bosa brothers will be wearing one of those giant Steven Seagal/Seb Gorka goatees on their mouthguard.

Encapsulate the spirit of melancholy. - BigRedTwice


Sad tarp.
Boom! Sad player.
Boom! Sad coach.

Sorry for stepping on you, Big Ten West.



WSR: Rutgers vs. Kansas (-3)

With the resounding success that Arizona State is having after hiring Herm Edwards which B1G team will figure out that YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME next season by hiring an NFL retread and which one will they choose? - Jon Berg

Creighton: Besides my earlier claim of Ditka to East Lansing, you 100% know that rutger is going to hire some Andy Reid disciple in a year or two, don’t you?

WSR: In addition to Sparty hiring Brad Childress, I think that Illinois should try something outside of the box and hire a mediocre former NFL coach with ties to the area. “Fighting Illini Head Coach John Fox” has a wonderful ring to it.

OPOY: Taylor or Haskins? - badgersrox

Dead Read: Mary Ann. Now and forever.

MNW: Interesting, because my first two thoughts were “Elizabeth” and “Clem.” I don’t really know what that says about me as a person, but I’m not sure it’s good.

Beez: Haskins. Always easier for the good QB on a good team to win an award.

WSR: Thanks to BRT’s interference, the answer is now Haskins. Love you, Coach.

When do the good games start? - AlltheIowannamesaretaken

LPW: October

MNW: I’m trying to avoid doing actual work, so sure, I’ll play this game, team-by-team, the first “good” game they play(ed) [note that “good” does not retroactively apply to teams’ performance in the game]:

Illinois: South Florida (9/15)
Indiana: Michigan State (9/22)
Iowa: fuck you it’s El Assico (9/8)
Maryland: Texas, who was notably back (9/1)
Michigan: Notre Dame (9/1)
Michigan State: Arizona State (9/8)
Minnesota: Iowa (10/6)
Nebraska: Colorado (9/8)
Northwestern: Purdue (8/30)
Ohio State: TCU (9/15)
Penn State: Pitt (9/8), and you will sit there are like it, Penn State
Purdue: Northwestern (8/31)
Rutgers: Ohio State (9/8)
wisconsin: Iowa (9/22)

A couple findings emerge from this list:
(1) Your team already played its first “good” game. Do not sit here and bitch to us when it is the University of Iowa’s fault they do not go and schedule even a passable second FBS game that helps their resume. No, you are not hamstrung by the State of Iowa or whatever other bullshit. It is Gary Barta’s fault, and you will sit there and mug for the Delta Dental Smile Cam and pump the Panchero’s Burrito and slather yourself on the Maid-Rite Slop Cam and whatever other corporate partnerships Iowa has embraced. Go claim “America Needs Farmers” and keep on shilling for the Iowa Farm Bureau’s “free market” approach to agriculture. Your branded corporate credo is the brainchild of the IBF grabbing the one life raft it had when its “solutions” to the Farm Crisis problems of agriculture were exposed as complete fucking frauds, and the U of Iowa suckled right up to that IFB teat. Fuck right off, ANF.
(2) Anyways, the other factor was that only three teams’ first “good” games will not have happened by the end of this weekend. So you’re enjoying good football right now, you’re just not satisfied with the results or beauty of it. September football!
(3) That’s the biggest bummer, for me, of early September (or late August! Fuck you, Delany) Big Ten games! You dive right into Big Ten football [yes, Northwestern-Purdue qualifies], then here’s Duke at 11am and Akron at 6:30, for some fucking reason.

Beez: If you’re Ohio State, the good games don’t really ever start, according to our resident shit poster. For Wisconsin fans? I think like 2020 has games against App State and Notre Dame so we’ll say 2020.

Nate: October 6th.

Creighton: If you’re an Iowa fan, it’s once Gary Barta leaves.

WSR: August 30th.

What is the really trivial/silly thing the media does with your school that irks you? - MNWildcat

Nate: Doesn’t ignore fuck-ups in the athletic department until after players have their court dates set. Doesn’t ignore our coaches if/when their large adult son microwaves his roomate’s parrot and said coach pulls strings with the local PD so said large adult son can go to the #RoseBowl before spending one night in jail for microwaving his roomate’s parrot. Wouldn’t ignore coaches and athletic directors sharing a mistress.Doesn’t ignore that it may be problematic that the athletic department’s suspension policies haven’t been updated since before social media/smartphones.

BRT: I am happy that Scott Frost is coaching here, but the premature deification process has been… tiresome, to put it mildly.

WSR: Does the media even know that we’re here unless they’re trying for a Pulitzer or attempting to fluff the Vikings by taking lazy potshots?

So...MSU plays ASU next year on 14 September 2019 in East Lansing How do they repay them for a 100 degree heat, 7:45 PM stupid pacific time kickoff/10:45 pm civilized time kickoff? - KetteringLex

Dead Read: I’ll make the easy play. They are visiting East Lansing, and that is more than ample retribution.

LPW: Invite them to East Lansing in November. Late November.

Beez: Well the time zone change will either have an enormous impact or no impact, so the repayment may happen automatically or not automatically. I dunno...make them have the game officiated by B1G basketball refs?

BRT: Shove a sno-cone down their pants when they tackle them. It’s a fun, sassy twist on the ol’ Thugtans MO.

Creighton: Well since the visitors will all be Arizona State students, the easiest thing to do is bait the locker room with a keg. Statistically speaking at least 3 starters will miss the game due to keg stand related injuries.

Why are there so many dummy-heads defending the worst rule in college football? And if I start a petition to have all of their teams lose games on account of said worst rule in college football, will you sign it? - Vaudvillain

(NOTE: This is in regards to the offense fumbling out of the endzone being a touchback for the defense.)

Dead Read: I think the rule has a certain logic and is fine as it is. I was actually stunned that so many people take issue with it. Same planet, different worlds. There was a long discussion in our late game thread, and I was convinced I was being trolled. How could someone I respect be so obviously wrong? A person who disagreed with me thought I was trolling him. If some of you want to storm the Bastille over this issue, then I say have at it. Break out the torches and pitchforks (and petitions, apparently).

Beez: I spent a lot of time this weekend do the lawyer thing with respect to this rule; namely, what bad behavior or unfair outcome is this trying to prevent? I couldn’t come remotely close to any reason. But then I remembered that we determine yardage and the outcome of plays by f’ing eyeballing and guessing at where the ball may have been when a runner’s knee maybe was down but hey we’re not all that sure AND THEN WE DEMAND LASER PRECISION WHEN MEASURING TO SEE IF THIS ARBITRARY BALL PLACEMENT WAS ARBITRARILY PLACED FAR ENOUGH FORWARD TO BE A FIRST DOWN. In other words, maybe the dummy-heads don’t think it’s worth spending energy on one turd in a pile of turds.

If purdue starts 0-3 can they still go bowling? - Marshalman35

Dead Read: They could go bowling after an 0-3 start, but they probably would not. A loss this week would very likely lead to an 0-5 start. Negative outcomes snowball, particularly with young teams. It is very difficult to instill a winning culture, and there is not a reservoir of recent success to draw on. Brohm will get them back, I think, but it will not be quick or easy.

MNW: Purdue’s already dropped a toss-up game (NU) and a certainty game (EMU). That’s two of the 6 that I have a feeling factored into most Purdue fans’ Path to Bowl Eligibility. So what’s left, if you lose to Mizzou, who’s not turning in a 35-3 performance again? You sure could beat a Boston College assemblage of dudes that is going to put 8 on the line and eat your lunch and steal one in Lincoln before hitting the free space that is Illinois...but after those 3 hypothetical wins, you’ll have to find two more among OSU, @MSU, Iowa, @MN, wisc, and @IU. I’ll give you maybe three there if I’ve had some absinthe. So unless Purdue sweeps the rest of its non-conference, kiss it goodbye.

Beez: Of course they can but of course they won’t. My prediction of Purdue as 2nd in the West looking real dumb about now.

BRT: Has any team made us more quickly shift our expectations than Purdue? (MSU during their 3-9 year, I guess). As my colleagues have said, they certainly can, but it is definitely an uphill battle now.

WSR: 0-3 isn’t the end of the world, but 0-4 is. I guessed that they’d win 6 games this fall, and they already dropped one of them (and another is a Harboring, which...come on.) and BC has been looking pretty frisky against some admittedly weak opponents. This game against Mizzou isn’t easy, and then a trip to Lincoln could be quite telling. That schedule is ugly and they haven’t taken advantage of the opportunities they had to make some early progress. If they don’t get that one, I’m not sure where I see a 2nd win after the Illinois except maybe Indiana.

Iowa is currently unbeaten at 2-0. At what point in the season would continued unbeaten-ness by Iowa require you to have a talk with your children? - Hollywood Hawk Hogan

Dead Read: It is never too early to warn Nebraska’s youth about the perils of Iowa, within both life and football contexts. Council Bluffs is our most proximate menace in everyday life. As far as football is concerned...Angerer Dangerer! Watching Hawkeye football can be hazardous to eye health. Beware all bumblebee puntspunk.

LPW: This sounds like 2015, but prematurely.. Ugh…

MNW: (Yes, that was the joke.)

I’ll only feel any need to talk to my non-existent children about the University of Iowa football team if they go 15-0 and win a national championship, and then the conversation would be “this is what happens when you make a deal with the devil. Now watch the whole state get eaten by locusts as their fans perform a great card stunt to call awareness to how their children are being carried off by locusts.”

Beez: I was actually telling my best friends’ 1.5 year old about Iowa this weekend and getting her thoughts on Iowa’s chances and she took a big (for a toddler!) dump in her diaper and said “Elmo” over and over until I put Sesame Street on my phone so I think she knows what’s up. Point is, even toddlers think Iowa is poop in a diaper.

BRT: I don’t have kids, and it’s conversations like this that make me glad I don’t! Parenting sounds hard enough without having to deal with situations like this that are awkward and unpleasant for everyone. I’d give the sex talk 1,000 times before the Iowa talk, for sure.

Creighton: And just like the sex talk the best course of action is to rip that band aid off as soon as possible, before they get old enough that it feels weird when you don’t make eye contact for the rest of the day.

WSR: I thought about talking to my youngest about Iowa last night at bedtime, but when I mentioned them she just burst out into a chorus of “WHO HATES IOWA?” and it took me another half-hour to calm her down and get her to sleep. I think we can all punt this conversation down the road a while.

How many quarters will Northwestern be shut out this year? O/U at ~30? - GTom

MNW: Two against Akron when they stop trying to score after getting a 24-3 halftime lead (it ends 24-19, Northwestern), three against Michigan (I have no idea if that means they’ll win or not), a couple against Michigan State (ditto--could be a 38-35 shootout with the ‘Cats going scoreless in two quarters, why not?), one against Nebraska (just a consistent 24-21 slopfest), none against Rutgers (fuck, at least give me that one), three against wisconsin (a 24-3 strangling), none against Notre Dame (fuck Notre Dame), two against Iowa (13-10, pick a winner), two against Minnesota (that game will feature 93 rushing attempts and end 17-16 in a Buerhlesque 2:25), none against Illinois (HAT).

So 2+3+2+1+0+3+0+2+2+0 (+5 already) = 20. Under, but pathetically under.

WSR: Under, but really really close. With 40 quarters left and 5 to go, they’d need to score in 16 quarters to avoid that ignominy. Well, we’ve got 8 against Rutgers and Illinois, so we’re halfway there. Um...uh oh. 2-3 against Akron, and then you have to hope that teams the rest of the way have hiccups. I could easily see Northwestern not scoring against Michigan, Notre Dame, wisconsin, and Iowa. So that leaves...5 quarters of scoring against Sparty, Nebraska, and Minnesota? Um. It’s gonna be really close.

What do the computers see in Iowa that the pundits don’t? Computers have the Hawks at 15 while they are in the receiving votes sections of AP and USA Today. I don’t buy Hawks at 15, why do the computers? - thunsicker

Dead Read: You came close to answering your own question. The computers don’t “see” anything, but instead review empirical data. Some voters had to actually watch the Cy-Hawk spectacle. This year’s El Assico set offensive football back three decades. Nothing with a soul wants to vote for that.

MNW: Computers are the presidential primaries of college football rankings. OLD BOWL SYSTEM.

Beez: Computers can’t smell poop in a diaper, while AP and USA Today voters certainly can.

BRT: The I and O look like computer language (101000100101010101) so I think they just like Iowa for that. Ohio State benefits from this as well, but their football team is actually good, so we don’t notice it like we do with Iowa.

Creighton: Didn’t you see? We have a robot punter now! Computers will always vote in solidarity with their robot comrades.

WSR: The advantage that computers have is that they don’t see the offense. My God, that offense. Kirk Ferentz may achieve singularity this year by trying to win a game 0-0.

Which injured player will have the biggest impact on their team’s division this fall? - WSR

MNW: Let’s see. Assuming that “impact on their team’s division” applies to teams who are a threat to finish anywhere near the top, that’ll be...wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State. Do any of those teams have any really threatening injuries yet? None that I’ve been paying attention to. So I don’t understand the question.

BRT: I think he’s angling for a Nebraska or Minnesota answer to this, and I hope the answer is Nebraska because AMart comes back and destroys the west. (It is early days, and I can still dream.)

WSR: I’ll agree with BRT. I thought Minnesota could have played spoiler for somebody out West with aspirations of dethroning bucky with Rodney Smith, but going back and watching Adrian Martinez made me both nervous and happy because if he’s ready to go he will absolutely break somebody’s heart this year.