It’s still fall until Sunday, so let’s do one last autumn edition of Fall’s Tarts!
We’re counting down the top 20 silliest moments of the Big Ten football season, as voted by the writing staff. Well, a few of them, anyway!
Also Receiving Votes: Michigan State has too much man (26 points) Nebraska gives up a 96 yard flea-flicker to keep Colorado in the game (14 points); Tyler Biadasz drops the ball (5 points); Pat Fitzgerald executes a Hazell Maneuver to no avail (4 points); Matt Millen Sings Happy Birthday To Tyron Tracy (2 points)
T19: Iowa Grabs Reverse Gear (31 pts)
The Michigan Wolverines faced off against the Iowa Hawkeyes in what would prove to be about as Big Ten a game as you’ll ever see. A struggle that would have made Bo Schembechler proud saw the Hawkeyes trailing 10-3 with just seven minutes left to play. Working as deliberately as possible, Nate Stanley drove the Hawks forward, using as much time as possible for some reason. Tyler Goodson took a Stanley pass 31 yards, across midfield to the Michigan 25. 5:24 to go. Here’s the chance you’ve been waiting for. Time to be clutch. Hit the clutch pedal.
...You grabbed reverse gear, didn’t you?
Yep, with a 1st and 10 from the Michigan 25, Iowa ended up with fourth and 36 from their own 49. They did not go on to win the game.
T19: Pat Fitzgerald goes for two, sparks investigation
Former Badgers coach Bret Bielema famously “consulted the chart” that told him to go for two with a huge lead against Indiana. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has no need for such highfalutin’ nonsense. He knows in his heart what needs to happen. Playing a seemingly unstoppable Wisconsin team, his Wildcats began a typical late Northwestern rally, in which the opponent completely forgets how to play football, but waits until it’s 24-3 Wisconsin. At this point, the equation for a tie or for victory is as follows:
3 points + 1 TD (6+1) + 1 stop/turnover + 1TD (6+1) + 1 stop/turnover + 1 TD (6+1) = Overtime
3 points + 1 TD (6+1) + 1 stop/turnover + 1TD (6+1) + 1 stop/turnover + 1 TD (6+2) = Victory!!!
The first touchdown comes. Fitzgerald immediately chooses the victory path by going for two, and the play doesn’t get particularly close. As he would later explain, he knew that to win the game in regulation, he’d need a two-pointer. However, as a result of failing, the equations have now become:
9 points + 1 stop/turnover + 1TD (6+1) + 1 stop/turnover + 1 TD (6+2) = Overtime
9 points + 1 stop/turnover + 1TD (6+2) + 1 stop/turnover + 1 TD (6+2) = Victory!!!
Each goal is now more difficult to acheive, but the weird rally continues and the Wildcats recover an onside kick. They score again, and there’s still some time left. Here’s where things stand now.
15 points + 1 XP + 1 stop/turnover + 1 TD (6+2) = Overtime
15 points + 2pt + 1 stop/turnover + 1 TD (6+2) = Victory!!!
15 points + 0pt (failed 2) + 1 stop/turnover + 1 TD (6+1) + 1 stop/turnover + 1 FG = Victory!!!
Pat sends his offense out, and they fail again. Bewildered, the TV crew sends a sideline reporter to check whether or not kicker Charlie Kuhbander is gravely injured, and the report is that he’s perfectly healthy and has just been on the sideline with his helmet on.
Northwestern wouldn’t end up getting another shot, but the fact that Fitzgerald would do it again gets this one into our top 20.
T19: Harbaugh curses himself
One of my personal favorite types of tarts is when video or audio captures something obscene on the sideline. Feast your eyes on a very confused Jim Harbaugh cursing himself as his Wolverines are pummeled by Wisconsin:
“Fuck me.”-Jim Harbaugh is every Michigan fan right now pic.twitter.com/uQPrzfz1ae— Mark Graham (@unclegrambo) September 21, 2019
18: Lovie Smith reluctantly calls timeout (31 points)
I’ve already explained how important the Eastern Michigan game was for Illinois, in particular Lovie Smith in his desperate bid for a bowl game. This tart occurred late in the second quarter of the #3 Dicktrip of the Year and was emblematic of why the coaches deserved 100% of that loss.
Trailing 23-17, Illinois had the ball, 1:06 left to play and three timeouts. Brandon Peters came out throwing, as the Illini clearly intended to try to score. He hit Daniel Barker for a first down, then scrambled on the next play, but a Kendrick Green holding penalty brought it back with 51 seconds left.
Remember, three timeouts.
The clock ticks. And ticks. And ticks. And finally, 21 seconds later, the ball is snapped and a pass is complete to Ricky Smalling. This is enough to finally use the first timeout with just 21 seconds remaining. Illinois is at their own 34. A quick-hitter to Smalling gains 3, but the clock is still running. And it’s still running. And it’s still running. Finally, Lovie decides that 6 seconds to go is a good time to use his second timeout. Well, now it’s 3rd and 4 at the 37, but instead of a Hail Mary, the call is a handoff to Reggie Corbin against prevent defense.
Illinois failed to score with 1:06 and three timeouts, not because they couldn’t make plays but because Lovie Smith kept forgetting what was going on.
Here’s a bonus tart from after the game! It’s me on reddit!
lol they went 4-5 in conference play
17: Keith Duncan leaves room for the Holy Spirit
There has never been an offense designed to run through the kicker quite like the 2019 Iowa offense. This is why Keith Duncan went 29 for 34 on field goals. After scoring his third of the day against Purdue, he was feeling so special that he decided to bring some Big Catholic School Dance Energy to celebrate.
Duncan left room for Thicc Jesus in this embrace.