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Sunday Morning Coming Back // Week “1”

The Prodigal Fun Returns

NCAA Football: Penn State at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Ten B1G Things

  1. I hope these Ten B1G Things find you well in these unprecedented and trying times
  2. Has Lovie Smith been furloughed yet?
  3. Graham Mertz was very kind to warm the spotlight up for Justin Fields
  4. With players from six other B1G programs, Rutgers is giving a master class how to cook a delicious meal with leftovers
  5. The secret ingredient is turnovers, with a dash hamfisted bungling
  6. I’d like to take this moment to wish our Sparty fans a fond farewell as they depart the site for the remainder of the season
  7. Get you someone who loves you as much as Scott Frost loves pulling his mask down and screaming
  8. “Play like a Ndamukong Suh today.” -Huskers exit tunnel sign, apparently
  9. Get you someone who loves you the way James Franklin loves mismanaging late game situations
  10. Iowa outgained Purdue by 20% in a loss, and is now 0-1 for the first time since 2013.
  11. Remember 2013? Sick year, bro. Literally thousands of times better than this year. That just bears mentioning
  12. It’s hard to row a boat with a skeleton crew
  13. Michigan is back, blah blah blah
  14. So, even years are offense years for Northwestern

The Rundown

Illinois at Wisconsin | One for the record books, 45-7

Have you heard of Graham Mertz? Have you? He’s the next Aaron Rodgers. Or the next Patrick Mahomes. Or the next [future NFL star from unheralded background]. Personally I’d give it more than a week to be sure, but Wisky fans are very positive people. Mertz went 17/17 enroute to a 20/21 5-TD performance that tied him for the all-time Wisconsin completion streak record with Tanner McEvoy (now an NFL star I believe).

Thump: Holy shit I can’t believe the incredible chasm between Illinois and the rest of the Big Ten West. Not a single thing worked on offense, we never got inside the 30. Brandon Peters looked terrified and was visibly second guessing himself in the pocket. It seemed like he couldn’t bring himself to try anyone but Imatorbhebhe. Like Ford was invisible. Isaiah Williams proved that he has nowhere near the arm needed to save us, and even if he did, the shine is all the way off Rod Smith now. The offense was so atrocious the defense might not even merit mentioning, but even though we got a great performance out of the interior, particularly Roderick Perry and Tarique Barnes, it was still 2018 levels of brutal. How zone defense continues to escape this team in year 5 is just beyond my comprehension. It’s gonna be wild when we have to cover receivers instead of just tight ends and fullbacks. We got killed by the same passing plays (15+ yards down the middle) that Cal beat us up with in the bowl game! Delano Ware might have had the worst single defensive game I’ve ever seen, but he shouldn’t feel alone. With the exception of one single fluke play for a touchdown, everything we did was stunningly bad.Shit, we went in to this game wearing Black Lives Matter and “EQUALITY” on the helmets, and it didn’t merit a single mention on the broadcast because we played so poorly that social justice was set back by at least 5 years.This is just Illinois though. We got, like, just under half a season of weird fun magic last year, so we’re not due for 4-6 more years.

Beezer: Wisconsin won but I didn’t get to watch. Mertz 4 Heisman or Heismertz, whichever you prefer.

Rutgers at Michigan State | Rutgers (yes, that Rutgers) wins 38-27

Alexa, show me the ““baby what is you doing?” GIF but make it 60 minutes long. The Spartans continue to prove that there isn’t a single school called MSU that can sustain long term football success. Michigan State put the ball up for grabs 7 times, losing 5 of them. Rutgers didn’t outplay MSU in any one phase of the game (save for rushing) but they happily made hay with Sparty’s hamfisted bungling.

Aghast Kollectively: Told y’all this was a distinct possibility.

I get that Mel Tucker was behind the eight ball from the beginning. Hired late, no real input on the recruiting class, and then the offseason program splintered to pieces by COVID pauses and postponements and whatever.

Problem is, Greg Schiano had most of those limitations, too, except the late start. Problem is, despite his desperate transfusion of transfers, Schiano still has a substantially less talented team, or so my fellow Spartans tried to tell me today. Problem is, the margin here was between a team that managed to only commit 3 turnovers, and a team that handed over SEVEN.

That’s a lack of preparedness from the players, and for that, equal portions of blame can be heaped on them and the coaches. It’s one thing to lose to a team that’s just better than you (which, btw, will be the near-certain outcome the next 3 weeks at least). But to lose decisively to an inferior opponent because they’re better coached and better prepared? Brother, that is a short, straight path to the door, even if this year “can’t be held against anyone.”

Zuzu: I was saying Rutgers was gonna win all week, but mostly from a place, “what the hell else was I gonna say??” But I did also have real hope. New coach vs. new coach, similar talent. Still to my SURPRISE, while on a date with a Michigan State fan (decked out in MSU gear haaaa) watching the game at a breakfast place in Redondo Beach with a single TV over the bar that was somehow playing this game (we literally never asked to put it on, thanks universe), Rutgers actually scored the first touchdown... then another... and we led the whole game... and we passed, and ran, and were fast and quick and took total advantage of all of MSU’s (admittedly) very sloppy mistakes, and WON. Still even with MSU’s sloppy playing there is no denying that that Rutgers team was a far cry from what we suffered with these past few years.I said my preview piece that this game would set the tone for the season and what a TONE. Also said I was excited for Sean Gleeson and this game really shows what a legit OC he is. I’m pumped. Though, I hope what happened with Schiano and MSU in 2004 doesn’t repeat where he went on to beat MSU in the opener then too and then lost to New Hampshire the next week. However, Indiana is clearly solid. But god I’d love to back to beating IU again.Also this was Schiano’s 69th win as Rutgers’ Head Coach. Nice.

Nebraska at OSU | Nebby asked for this, 52-17

Scott Frost and Ryan Day both whined like children in the off-season about potentially not taking the field this year. At least you can see why Day wanted to play. Fields stole the spotlight with a nearly flawless first half, marred only by a tough drop in the endzone. Nebraska tried to make the most of Luke McCaffrey, but—as Michigan learned—a name only goes so far. Nebby scored 17 in the first half, and then no more.

dead_read: I did not think Nebraska would win this game, and we sure as hell did not. The team did manage to hang with the Buckeyes for a half or so, which was progress. The offense will cause problems for opposing defenses. The defensive unit had a few moments (and even a few sacks). Here’s hoping that this performance is a harbinger of a more successful campaign for Nebraska. Perhaps the team could be competitive for all four quarters next week? I’ll dare to dream.

Jesse Collins: To build off this, if I may, Nebraska football has looked absolutely lost for the better part of, well... forever. While Nebraska was not on a remotely even footing with Ohio State, it was - at least at times - not lost. The offense had rhythm and confidence, the defense stayed in contain, and even when it was getting beat deep by much better athletes at every level, they kept their heads up and played hard. This team looked like they were having fun and playing loose. That’s not something I’ve seen for a while, and I’m hoping we see more of that this year.

BRT: I don’t feel particularly bad about this game (which is not to say I enjoyed yet another ass kicking, because I didn’t.) But for a game that there was no expectation of Nebraska winning, it wasn’t terrible. Yes, that speaks to some low expectations... but look at where this team has been for a few years. Low expectations are warranted. I liked the gumption and the flashes of competence. I did not like the stupid mistakes that still erupted on a few occasions. I hoped in our preview a few weeks ago that Nebraska might feel a bit freed from expectations by virtue of a short season and an absurd schedule that no one could expect much from. There was some evidence of that in their play, and I hope they’re able to keep it up.

Also Scott? Mask goes on your face, bud. Don’t be such a dingus.

Penn State at Indiana | Hoosiers ruin everyone’s strength of schedule, 36-35

James Franklin, clock master, strategic genius, and on-demand fluke conjurer may have just penned his magnum opus. Scoring a needless touchdown to give Indiana the ball back and then losing on a 50/50 call is one we might never see surpassed. Give all the credit to Michael Penix, who put the team on his shoulders in the waning moments despite a stat line few would be impressed with (-18 yards rushing!)

The Righteous Anger of Aaron Yorke: Penix was short. Penix was short. I’ll go to my grave knowing Penix was short. James Franklin was just a raging tire fire in game management, though. First he let Devyn Ford walk into the end zone instead of laying down. Then, he kicked the extra point instead of going for the nine-point lead. He wasted a time out at the end of the ensuing drive, which PSU could have used to set up a closer field goal at the end of regulation. Speaking of that field goal, Franklin opted to kick it with eight seconds left instead of trying for something quick to the sideline to give kicker Jordan Stout a few more yards. Even though Stout missed, his kick still looked better than either of Jake Pinegar’s attempts, so why is Pinegar kicking field goals at all?

As wild as the game ended up being, the biggest shock was Michael Penix Jr. coming alive on that final regulation drive after being shut down by the PSU defense for most of the game. Like Sean Clifford, whose two interceptions helped put the Lions in a hole early on, Penix came up big when it mattered. About an inch short, but still big.

And yeah, congrats to Candystripes and the Hoosier faithful. You’ve been waiting a while for this one. I’m going to go back to staring at the total yards and first downs disparities from this game and wondering if Franklin should ever let Clifford throw the ball in the first half ever again.

The Rapier wit of BRT: Short or not, it’s how you use it that matters.

The Unbridled Joy of Candystripes4Breakfast: There are so many things I want to say, so many emotions I want to express, so many pieces of history made Saturday in Bloomington. And in so many different ways, I wrote this out in my head, before I wrote it out here. And because I’ve had time to think, and reflect, and put this together properly (at 2:24 early Sunday morning), I’m not going to bother with almost any of that. You’ve seen the highlights, the media has done more than I could to express the history of this moment, and so I’m just gonna leave you with the three indelible pieces of this game for me.

1. Michael Penix’s dive immediately lands in the pantheon of Greatest IU Athletics Winning Moments Ever. Frame it, paint it as a mural, bronze it and plop it down just outside Memorial Stadium, whatever you want; but do not forget this moment.

2. Tom Allen is now the front-runner for Big Ten Coach of the Year. Give me a damn good reason why someone deserves it more than the Indiana football coach who said “I’m in overtime with the #8 team in the country, and I can kick the extra point to go to 2nd OT? Heck with that, let’s win it right here” AND MADE IT HAPPEN. You can’t.

3. Tonight, I have finally seen Charlie Brown kick the damn football. And this hellscape of a year willing, it won’t be the last time in 2020 that I do.

Iowa at Purdue | Purdue wins a black-hearted, gold-pantsed snoozer 24-20

Incomplete. Incomplete. Incomplete. Punt. Despite missing a coach and Rondale Moore, the Boilermakers get gritty B1G West win.

Stewmonkey13: 3 2nd-half points. Over 100 years in penalties. New QB over throwing everything. 3 turnovers. Botched time management that potentially cost them 4 points at the end of the first half. Seemingly uninterested in covering Purdue’s best offensive player, David Bell. No matter how good Iowa’s offensive personnel is, they will find a way to continue to be shit.

Boilerman31: Uh, given the news that Jeff Brohm was out along with the later in the week news that Rondale Moore and King Doerue were both out as well, I thought for certain Purdue’s chances were slim to none.At one point in time, the ‘writer’ Slack channel was basically myself, Creighton, and Stew yelling back and forth on various plays. This was to be my entry:Iowa: shoots self in footPurdue: Hey, how’s that feel?Iowa: Here, try it. Shoots Purdue in footI guess the Boilers got tired of the pain.Aidan O’Connell was spotty at times and is definitely experiencing some growing pains as some of his decision making was flat out bad but he did the right things at the right time. Zander Horvath is a bad man when he starts running downhill, pounding Iowa’s defense on the deciding drive on his way to 129 on the ground. And what else needs to be said about David Bell? The man just gets open. 13 catches for 121 and 3 TDs? Damn.Brian Brohm deserves to give his big brother plenty of flack in the coming week. He called a very good game plan and got the W.Onto Illinois to get the Cannon back.

Michigan at Minnesota | Wolverines retain unattractive decanter, 49-24

Cue the Joe Milton/Michigan defense hype train. Minnesota, shorthanded, was no match for a largely competent Wolverine squad. Milton went 15/22 for 225 in his debut. Do they give October Heismans?

WSR: Maybe punting really is winning. Michigan earned the win tonight, but Minnesota has to be kicking itself over shooting itself repeatedly in the groin by not having a punter available due to COVID. The inability to punt, followed by repeatedly giving Michigan yards by the yard was just not going to get it done. Don Brown’s pressure caused enough problems for the Gopher offense, which thankfully only sees one team that has that level of skill on defense for the rest of the season before Week 9. All is not well, but it’s not that bad compared to a few other teams in the West this weekend.

Maryland at Northwestern | South Rutgers loses to West Harvard, 43-3

There’s always a Rutgers. At some point this off-season, a finger curled inward on the Monkey’s Paw and the curse of Rutgerdom caught an Amtrak to College Park. To wit, the younger Tagovailoa was more ebb tide than Crimson Tide in his Terrapin debut. Northwestern, on the other hand, appears to have to decided to score points this year using the same cast as last year. Interesting strategy. Let’s see how it works out for them.

MNW: We have a kicker. We have a QB. We have running backs and an offensive line that was competent and a tight end [RIP superbacks, fire Bajakian]. There was one screen pass from Ramsey to Jesse Brown that highlighted, for me, a little of the innovation or creativity we’ll see — a little swing screen (I don’t know the actual term) where the linemen flared right and got out ahead of a pass to Brown. Last year, I couldn’t help but feel, that would’ve been a speed option to the short side of the field. It sure looked like Northwestern is back.But it’s be clear: Maryland is awful. Taulia Tagovailoa might be a lot better than he was tonight, but that painful passing performance had me ready to proclaim him the Billy Beer to his brother’s Camp David Accord. So I’m restraining myself as best I can from making any big(ger) pronouncements about the season than merited. I’d love to see Maryland develop that 400-pound running back, though, along with figuring out a way to get the ball in the hands of its playmakers...but that’s a team that looks like it’s a long way off.On a raw, emotional fan level, though, it’s just nice to see Northwestern get back to some winning ways. Congrats to Fitz on Win #100.

LPW: Northwestern fans are free of the tyranny of stale offensive play calling and, combined with a healthy Isaiah Bowser and grad transfer QB Peyton Ramsey, put on an absolute clinic in demolishing the hapless Maryland Terrapins 43-3. Pat Fitzgerald got his 100th win! Last year was an anomaly. I’m on cloud nine right now. ROLL DAMN ‘CATS

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