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 11 non-conference games this week, with the conference going 10-1. Two well-coached G5 schools made things interesting, with Army pushing Michigan to the bitter end, and Buffalo giving a strong showing against Penn State. Nebraska was of two minds in the second half against Colorado - should they flounder or should they wallow? Nebby did both. Purdue went pass happy and prevailed over Vandy. Michigan State’s offense displayed amazing recuperative powers in a thumping of Directional Michigan. Everyone else took care of business out of conference. League play kicked off with a Mollywhoppin’ in Iowa City - evidently last week was a false spring on the banks of the Old Raritan. Sunrise, sunset.
Wisconsin Badgers - (Defeated Central Michigan, 61-0) Wisconsin has yet to surrender a point while averaging 55 points over the first two games. They further cement their standing as the team to beat in the West. All eyes will be on Madison in two weeks for this year’s edition of Weasels on Parade. (Textbook First-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Idle (Michigan, 9/21).
Ohio State Buckeyes - (Defeated Cincinnati, 42-0) It appears I picked Ohio State to lose a non-conference game, and when it was pointed out to me I decided to let it ride. The Cincinnati game would determine whether I was a visionary or an idiot. I am not a visionary. Justin Fields seems to have that offense humming. This team is the class of the East until further notice. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: @Indiana.
Maryland Terrapins - (Defeated Syracuse, 63-20) Maryland effectively dismantled a ranked ‘Cuse squad. The Terps outgained the Orange by 250 yards. That is two Mollywhoppin’s in a row to start the campaign. I am loathe to suggest this, but it may be time to start fearing the turtle...just a little bit. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: @Temple.
Michigan State Spartans - (Defeated Western Michigan, 51-17) It looks like Coach Dantonio coached up the offense this week, and my neck hurts just thinking of the practices he must have put them through. However they got there, results were much better on the field. CHIP ALERT This weekend is an opportunity to avenge last year’s road loss to the Sun Devils. Advantage: Sparty. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Arizona State.
Iowa Hawkeyes - (Defeated Rutgers, 30-0) A couple of quick stats from the box score: Iowa led in first downs 23-8; won the turnover battle 3-0; out-gained Rutgers 244-41 through the air; and also had a 37:38-22:22 time of possession advantage. This game was not as close as the score. The Hawks will be upgraded to “Buy” with a win over the Cyclones. Iowa will be the center of the college football universe when Game Day goes to Ames this weekend. America, 2019. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: @Iowa State.
Indiana Hoosiers - (Defeated Eastern Illinois, 52-0) Indiana played a complete game and put up more points than most predicted. If history is any guide, Indiana is primed for another home contest against the Buckeyes - which will be tantalizingly close and competitive, culminating in heart wrenching defeat. A solid performance, win or lose, could lead to an upgrade. (First-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Ohio State.
Penn State Nittany Lions - (Defeated Buffalo, 45-13) This game was pretty competitive throughout, and the Bulls made a good account of themselves. The Nittany Lions have superior athletes, and responded to the challenge in the second half. All of us at OTE wish Buffalo punter Evan Finegan - who suffered a severe leg injury on an attempted punt block - a timely and complete recovery. This game can be cruel. Stay strong, young man. (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Pittsburgh.
Illinois Fighting Illini - (Defeated UConn, 31-23) Judging by Thump’s input on Slack, this game did not exactly go to plan for the Illini. Nevertheless, Lovie is 2-0 going into a matchup with Directional Michigan. Illinois could be halfway to bowl eligibility by this time next week. Next up: Eastern Michigan.
Purdue Boilermakers - (Defeated Vanderbilt, 42-24) Purdue eschewed the pretense of running the ball against Vandy. The Boilers ran 70 plays, and they passed on 52 of them - for 509 yards. Hey, it worked, and Purdue has some weapons on the outside. We will have a better idea of the caliber of this team after they take on the Horned Frogs. Next up: TCU.
Northwestern Wildcats - (Idle) Good news for the Wildcats: UNLV got drilled by Arkansas State at home, 43-17. Your offense has a chance to gain confidence in a hurry. Next up: UNLV.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - (Defeated Fresno State, 38-35 2OT) After the first two weeks, the Gophers are teetering on the edge of “Hold” and “Sell.” Antoine Winfield Jr. made another all-world play to save Minny’s bacon against Fresno last night. I know it is early, but Minnesota needs to put some things together before they think about making a run at the West title. The offense seems disjointed and turnovers are an issue. Peejer’ll coach ‘em up. Next up: Georgia Southern.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - (Lost to Iowa, 30-0) This looked more like the Rutgers we have come to know. Iowa is very good, and certainly has one of the top defenses in the conference, but come on. You really are in trouble if you cannot score...at all. (Mollywhopped in the Second-Degree) Next up: Idle (Boston College, 9/21) .
Michigan Wolverines - (Defeated Army, 24-21 2OT) They are not firing on all cylinders offensively, but the Michigan Men still managed to fight off an inspired effort from the Black Knights of the Hudson. Barely. They will have to step up their game considerably when they face the Popcorn Skunks on the twenty-first. Next up: Idle (@Wisconsin, 9/21) .
Nebraska Cornhuskers - (Lost to Colorado, 34-31 OT) This is another year when Nebraska could lose to any team on the schedule. Despite having the stadium half filled with “Red Hordes,” Nebby went into a second half offensive shell...which led to defensive exhaustion...which led to a collapse. It was a chain reaction of derpitude. Seeing is believing: It turns out to be fairly easy to surrender a 17 point second half lead at altitude. Nebraska has lost five consecutive OT games, having scored a grand total of zero points in those extra periods. Ouch. Next up: Northern Illinois (Lest we forget, Northern Illinois beat the Huskers two years ago).
Feel free to laud my grace, charm, and judgment in the comments.