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Fall’s Tarts, Week Six: The Game That No One Would Win

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Also, Mick McCall finds he has only one remaining supporter in the world—lucky for him, it’s his boss.

Northwestern v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Greetings OTE-ers! I was going to write something about how you’re all here for the tarts because pretty much all of our teams sucked last weekend, but that first sentence made me realize we have more pressing matters to discuss: namely, what is our demonym for freqenters of this site? Luckily, the internet exists for times such as this, and it turns out there are a number of websites offering help to aspiring fantasy writers, and presumably less commonly, sports bloggers.

Anyway, the first was pretty straightforward:

Place: Off Tackle Empire

Male Demonym: Off Tackle Empirean

Female Demonym: Off Tackle Empirean

Plural Demonym: Off Tackle Empireans

Adjective: Off Tackle Empirean

Booooooring.

But I think there are some possibilities on this list:

Off Tackleian

Off Tackleite

Off Tackleene

Off Tacklic

Off Tackler

Off Tacki

Off Tackiote

Off Taciot

Off Tacanian

Of these, I like “Off Tacki” because it’s kind of fun to say, or “Off Tackiote” because it has that fun little detail of incorporating the site initials into its ending like a neat little Easter egg. What do you think?

Anyway, I digress. You’re here for bad and weird football. Dig in, Tackiotes.

In Which the Ferentzii Become Artists, After a Fashion

The Iowa Hawkeyes did not have a strong outing on Saturday. Or rather, their offense did not. Losing to Michigan by a score of 10-3 (3!!!), the Hawkeye offense appeared... moribund, to put it mildly. What made it worse for Hawkeye fans was that not only was the offense unable to muster any sort of effective headway, it managed to be dispiritingly effective in making the opposite of headway. Please enjoy the following possession from near the end of the game:

There’s a lot to like here for most people, but the highlight is probably that Iowa was averaging four penalties a GAME before this, and here they’ve gone and pretty much done that in one drive. Another fun stat related to the number four is that the Hawkeye offense also managed to provide Michigan with four turnovers.

This may be taking your preoccupation with Nebraska just a bit too far, you guys. I know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but you may want to rethink this one.

Also neat is that Iowa had only one rushing yard. That’s not related to anything, except that I think it’s neat. :)

In Which Jim Harbaugh Returns to his Native Planet for his Press Conference

While slightly less futile than Iowa’s effort (see above), most Michigan fans did not face the end of the Wolverine’s 10-point scoring bonanza with a great deal of warm fuzzies. But one Michigan Man saw the outing differently. In his post-game presser, Jim Harbaugh expressed not just acceptance of Michigan’s game play, but downright delight in it:

Harbaugh believes Michigan’s offense is trending in the right direction. “I really think we’re hitting our stride, I really do,” Harbaugh said. “The way our offense has been practicing, they way they’ve been preparing. I have great faith that they’re hitting their stride.”

When asked how they’re hitting their stride, Harbaugh said “In every way. In every way.”

It’s a strange statement for a coach whose team went 3/13 on third downs, amassed only 267 yards, and—oh yeah—didn’t score after halfway through the first quarter. But, Jim Harbaugh is a strange man.

In Which Pat Fitzgerald, Coaching Wizard, Executes a Flawless “Hazell Manuever”

In the waning moments of a dumpster fire of a football game, Nebraska, down its starting quarterback and faced with the prospect of relying on a walk-on safety and a kicking game that could only kindly be described as “a shambles” to capture a win neither team seemed to want, couldn’t have been feeling good about its chances. By his own admission, Nebraska’s kicker, Lane McCallum was feeling pretty nervous too.

But then something happened that calmed McCallum down—Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald used all three of his timeouts in an attempt to ice the kicker. It’s a move fans love to hate, and announcers and head coaches mysteriously find brilliant.

In this case, it was not. McCallum snuck a low kick through the uprights, and after the game, gave glory to God and Pat Fitzgerald for the achievement:

“Honestly, I think I got more and more confident as the timeouts kept coming,” he said. “Just regrouping and settling down, letting the heart rate slow down, it helped me.”

Look, there are moments where icing appears to work—a kicker misses a key kick, and coaches feel vindicated. But more often, they don’t work—and when you so flamboyantly spend them fruitlessly, the optics are very bad. Especially, as Northwestern fans have pointed out, when those three timeouts, used differently, might have given the Wildcats one more chance with the ball. Instead, Fitzgerald chose an approach that seemed downright contumelious to his fanbase.

Good thing he hashtag doesn’t care.

P.J. Fleck also tried this same move at the end of the first half against Illinois, thereby saving Illinois’ kicker from his dreadful first attempt and allowing him to nail his second try. This had few implications however, because Illinois.

In Which a Dumbass Pays for his Choices with PAIN

During the Oregon-Cal game a probably-inebriated game attendee decided he needed a close view of the goings-on at field level, and jogged around the field evading security. Oregon running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio (great name) was over it, and took matters into his own hands (and a considerable amount of strength):

Habibi-Likio wished nothing but the best for the ill-judging delayer of game, noting afterwards that “We were down and he was kind of taking a while—prayers out to him, I hope he’s not hurt. I had no intention of hurting him, we just need to get the game going,” a comment which gives new meaning to the term “hurry up offense.” Prayers were not the extent of Habibi-Likio’s well-wishes though: “If he has Instagram or Twitter, you can follow me and message me and we can go get ice cream,” Habibi-Likio said.

Aw.

In Which Virginia Tech’s Disappointing Season Makes Some Players Sick

Virginia Tech has not been having a very good season, though luckily for them, they’ve had a non-conference schedule softer than Wisconsin’s. Is this the reason for the following event on Saturday?

I think what’s most fascinating to me is the apparent lack of reaction from any of the players around him. That was an impressive spew, and they all just took it in stride.

In Which a Very Large Man Attempts To Run a Long Way

I’m not sure this really counts as a Tart, because it was a pretty good defensive play—he didn’t cough up the recovery, and he made a pretty decent return. But it’s still funny to watch the turf monster upend him, as well as the instant regret which appears to characterize his decision to stand up after the run. He had the blockers, just not the gas, poor fella. This is mostly here though, because we all love Fat Guy TDs, or even Fat Guy Almost TDs.

This game also featured this terrible fake punt, so it really had a bit of everything:

In Which Oklahoma Punts on 4th and Goal

It’s rare to see a punt on 4th and goal. Either a team goes for the touchdown, come hell or high water, or settle for the field goal (or settle for the field goal attempt, if you’re Nebraska). But for Oklahoma, that really wasn’t possible... because their 4th and goal found them at Kansas’ 44-yard line.

In an offensive progression some Hawkeye fans may find familiar, the Sooners found themselves in this odd position thusly:

—A first and goal put them at the 7-yard line. Yay! Looking good!

—A holding penalty backed them up to the 17.

—A sack on the following play put them at the 25. Uh oh.

—A reverse gone horribly awry resulted in the loss of 23 more yards, and brought up 3rd and goal from the 48.

—Valiantly, Oklahoma got 19 yards back on third down... but lost 15 of them on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which brought about the glorious punt.

Ultimately, it worked ok for Oklahoma, because they were playing Kansas. The punt was downed near the 2, KU could do nothing with it, and the ensuing short field on the next possession allowed OU to score. Perhaps it was all part of the plan.

In Which Northwestern and Nebraska “Play” a “Football Game”

This is my official Tart of the Week, and I can’t bear to write too much about it because I watched the whole sordid affair and I’m only a human, you guys. It was a bad game in which both teams lived up to every one of their shortcomings: bad kicking, poor coaching decisions, a 3rd quarter siesta by Nebraska’s offense, and Mick McCall. Everyone who watched it felt like that Virginia Tech bloke up above.

The only bright spot, besides McCallum’s Rudy moment, was that Nebraska had its first-ever Spanish language broadcast of the game, and the guy killed it:

Que bueno!

What do you think? Who had the Tartiest Week?

Poll

Who you got this week?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Iowa’s Dramatic Backward Advance
    (49 votes)
  • 8%
    Jim Harbaugh Phones Home
    (27 votes)
  • 9%
    Fitzy’s Flawless Hazell Manuever
    (31 votes)
  • 6%
    A Fan Pays for Poor Decision-making
    (20 votes)
  • 16%
    SPEWWWWWW
    (53 votes)
  • 5%
    Fat Guy Almost TD!
    (19 votes)
  • 13%
    4th and Goal from Midfield
    (45 votes)
  • 25%
    Whatever Nebraska and Northwestern Did
    (85 votes)
329 votes total Vote Now