It is time to rate things on the internet.
A look at the box score can tell you how a stock price is dancing around its moving average, but the aim here is to evaluate recent performance to estimate future return. I am trying to tell you what the future will hold, and which team is the best bet for your fandom investment. The musings below are how I, the autocrat of this feature, view each team’s performance and potential.
I am an investment committee of one (though I may deign to consider the opinions of others). Whether or not I am being unreasonable is something only I can decide.
Nomenclature Alert: The Mollywhoppin’.
There are three elements to a Mollywhoppin’: Shutout an opponent; Outscore opponent by 20; Score 50 on an opponent.
There are Three Degrees of Mollywhoppin’: Third-Degree - one of the elements above is present; Second-Degree - two of the elements above are present; First-Degree - all three elements are present (the score was 50-0, or worse).
The beauty of the Mollywhoppin’ is that one can be declared just by looking at the scores - one need not watch the games. As a “writer,” this aligns with my interests.
Get used to this system, because I am going to use it. A lot. Read the origin story here.
There were 14 non-conference games on the slate this weekend, with the B1G going 12-2. Both losses were close and on the road. The conference meted out a lot of punishment. Maryland got what it paid for against Howard. Penn State would have gotten more competition out of its scout team. Michigan State put on a defensive show, while Illinois and Rutgers were surprisingly potent on offense. But the more interesting story lines were about the Mollywhoppin’s that weren’t. Nebraska was surprisingly anemic on offense, and Minnesota barely survived the boys from Brookings. Through all of the excitement and uncertainty of a new season, one thing is constant: Purdue keeps finding ways to break fans’ hearts.
This is going to be a fun year.
Wisconsin Badgers - (Defeated South Florida, 49-0) I found it difficult to predict how this game would play out. Would wiscy have difficulty in a road opener? Would Coan make a lot of early season mistakes? Nope and nope. The badgers dominated every aspect of this game. Jonathan Taylor did Jonathan Taylor things. They are the team to beat in the West. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Central Michigan.
Maryland Terrapins - (Defeated Howard, 79-0) This was an almost criminal mismatch - Maryland had 628 total yards, Howard had 68. To my knowledge there were no serious injuries, Howard got a big check, and lots of Maryland players saw the field. Terps get a “Buy” rating on the utter totality of this throttling. (Textbook First-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Syracuse.
Illinois Fighting Illini - (Defeated Akron, 42-3) The Illini put together over 400 yards of total offense, committed no turnovers, and held the Zips to fewer than 200 yards. Thump doesn’t know what to do with himself. Good news keeps on coming for Lovie - the UConn Huskies barely escaped FCS Wagner this last weekend. (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: @UConn.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - (Defeated UMass, 48-21) Rutgers was involved in a Mollywhoppin’, but this time on the administering end. The first quarter looked like the Rutgers we are all familiar with, then something strange happened - they started looking like a Power Five team. Rutgers righted the ship and disposed of the Minutemen most capably. (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: @Iowa.
Michigan State Spartans - (Defeated Tulsa, 28-7) Tulsa -73 rushing yards. No, Tulsa did not have 73 rushing yards, they had NEGATIVE 73 rushing yards, The MSU defense was dominant, while the offense...was not. Playing defense this well can win a lot of games, though. As it stands, I would buy the Spartan defense and sell the offense. (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Western Michigan.
Penn State Nittany Lions - (Defeated Idaho, 79-7) I had no intention of watching any of this game, and it looks like I made the right call. Penn State did what it was supposed to do against FCS Idaho - win soundly. Why is PSU a “Hold” when Maryland is a “Buy” with a nearly identical score line? The reason is simple - I expect this from Penn State. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Buffalo.
Ohio State Buckeyes - (Defeated Florida Atlantic, 45-21 ) Ohio State ran out to a 28-0 halftime lead and then held off the Owls in the second half. Justin Fields performed well. Lane Kiffin was beaten soundly on national television. Thanks, Buckeyes. (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Cincinnati.
Michigan Wolverines - (Defeated Middle Tennessee, 40-21) The Fightin’ Harbaughs got out to a 27-14 halftime lead and eventually disposed of the Blue Raiders. It was an uninspired performance, but it was more than they needed. Cut blocks and load options are in their immediate future. Next up: Army.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - (Defeated South Alabama, 35-21) Nebraska’s offense was outscored by the other two phases - defense and special teams. Not many people in Lincoln expected to see that, including me. Perhaps this will bring new perspective to the Husker faithful....of course not. This was almost a “Sell,” but this is the type of game Big Red would have lost (and did lose) last year. The trip to Boulder will be strange, but I cannot put my finger on what type of strange it will be. Traveling Husker faithful can expect a few slashed tires and piss balloons, in any event. Next up: @Colorado.
Indiana Hoosiers - (Defeated Ball State, 34-24) Indiana beat an FBS team by double digits on a neutral field. I am thinking they will take it. Next up: Eastern Illinois.
Iowa Hawkeyes - (Defeated Miami Hydroxide, 38-14) Iowa defeated a MAC team fairly comfortably. Can they slow the Scarlet Knight juggernaut? (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Rutgers.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - (Defeated South Dakota State, 28-21)
Minnesota got all that it could handle from the Jackrabbits, and they were fortunate to win. The Peejer has some work to do before a late night clash out west. Weird things can happen on CBSSN after dark. Next up: @Fresno State.
Northwestern Wildcats - (Lost to Stanford, 17-7) I thought it would be interesting to watch two esteemed academic institutions face off on the gridiron. I was wrong. This game set offensive football back a decade. Coach Pat Fitzgerald will have to dig into his wizard hat to find a way to score points. Next up: Idle (UNLV, 9/14) .
Purdue Boilermakers - (Lost to Nevada, 34-31) This was a scheduling mistake. Opening up on the road...with a young team...at altitude...was a recipe for disaster. The Boilers had a 14 point cushion entering the fourth quarter. It looked like a difficult game to lose. Purdue found a way. Brohm’s crew allowed 17 consecutive points - including a game-winning 56 yard field goal as time expired. Welp. Next up: Vanderbilt.
Feel free to laud my grace, charm, and judgment in the comments.