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Fall’s Tarts, Week Four: Blue Teams are Blue

And Captain Kirk Takes Pettiness Where No Man Has Gone Before

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Penn State
Wrong game, right picture.
Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY Sports

Hi everyone! Covid is blowing up right now, and I sure hope you’re making plans to celebrate Thanksgiving sensibly, by which I mean with folks in your immediate household.

Alright, now that I’ve got that out of the way, Matt in Bertrand can email me again and tell me how annoying my “virtue signalling” is and that I should just be a good grandkid and go grocery shopping for my grandma if I’m so worried about it, because he isn’t going to live in fear!

Let’s get to the Tarts, shall we? This is a good time to remind everyone that the conceit behind this series is to look at the silly, the stupid, and the nonsensical of college football. So let’s just have a good time and not come yell at me in the comments about how “wHaT kIrK dId WaS hIlaRiOuS nOt A tArT!” mmmmkay, Hawkeyes? Because yes it was, and Tarts celebrates hilarity.

In Which James Franklin Tweets a Prophecy

Coming into Saturday’s game at Nebraska, James Franklin found himself in the unusual and unenviable position of being 0-3. Most coaches would look with eagerness upon their 0-2 opponent in this situation, sharing their fanbase’s excitement at the likely prospect of becoming 1-3. But James Franklin is not most coaches. Like something out of a Second Great Awakening fever dream, he was visited with a vision for his future, and it went something like this:

Unfortunately for the boys in blue and white, this particular prophecy had the unique distinction of coming true, as Nebraska hung on for a 30-23 win in Lincoln.

In Which Minnesota Plumbs the Depths of Offensive Futility

I don’t know what’s going on with Minnesota, but it ain’t ppppppppppppp]pretty. Kicking woes have beset the Gophers this year, but luckily on Saturday...

Haha, jk. It was on Friday.

Oh, you thought I was going to say they successfully kicked the ball? They didn’t.

In Which Kirk Ferentz Flexes a Level of Midwestern Petty Not Seen Since the Johansen Family Christmas Double Waldorf Salad Debacle of 1994 Left Aunt Lisa Crying in the Powder Room Until 1995

This game did not go well for Minnesota, as you may have already gathered. But adding to PJ Fleck’s no good, very bad time was Kirk Ferentz who absolutely reveled in shoving the Good Ship Peej very far up a creek without a paddle.

First, there was the moment in the fourth quarter where Kirk, apparently using Bret Bielema’s infamous chart (its most famous use was against Indiana, but he also used it against Minnesota), decided to go for two although he was up 26-0 with under ten minutes left in the game. Iowa got it, because Minnesota appears to have opted out of playing defense this year. Which is fine, we’re all coping with 2020 in our own way. I’m not here to shame you, Gophers.

But Kirk was.

Down 35-0, Minnesota’s starters waged a slow slog down the field against Iowa’s backup defense. With 19 seconds left, and desperate to avoid the shutout, PJ called a timeout. Personally, I don’t really blame him for this—I think many coaches would have done something similar. But Kirk was not having it. When Minnesota returned to the field, Iowa called a timeout.

And another.

And another.

Just because he could.

To me, the real petty brilliance of this was that Kirk explained the decision with, I believe, a straight face: “They called a timeout, I guess to look at what we’re doing and reconsider. So we just kind of wanted to make sure we got a good look at what they were doing. Figured we’d take Floyd with us and leave the timeouts here.”

The Boomers are salty in 2020, everyone. Look out.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Minnesota
The Grant Wood of passive-aggressiveness.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Also OMG those windpants and hat and white sneakers. The Full Peepaw look on top of all of this... it was a good night to be Kirk. I bet he and Mary did a brisk lap around the Coralville Mall on Sunday before treating themselves to a 2-for-1 at Applebee’s to celebrate.

In Which Rutgers Makes Appropriate Branding Choices

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Greg Schiano’s headset says “” It doesn’t.

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Rutgers had turned a corner this season. It didn’t.

(Ok yes, calm down Jerseyans, I know they are better, but the joke doesn’t work if I admit that. Are you happy now?)

In Which Blue Teams Blow

I’ll be honest, I was on the fence about including this. There were no nominees for specific moments from the Wolverine’s woe with Wisconsin, and Penn State didn’t look wholly pathetic against Nebraska (at least in the second half), but it does seem noteworthy that two of the Big Ten’s marquee names are both having such a rotten year.

Michigan, of course, is not 0-fer, which is probably a cold comfort to Wolverine fans given how bad Minnesota has turned out to be this season. But that one win seems a long time ago, as Michigan has somehow looked worse each week. Losing to MSU might have been the low point, but Rutgers is up this weekend, so there is still room to disgrace themselves further. The Wolverines put up little fight against Wisconsin, a team that hadn’t played for two weeks, and worse for their fans, Jim Harbaugh doesn’t seem to have a lot of answers for what’s happening to his team.

Penn State has, incredibly, claimed the mantle of the last Big Ten team to be winless this season after Nebraska narrowly evaded claiming that “honor” for themselves. In a conference with Maryland, Illinois, Rutgers, and Nebraska, all of these teams have more victories under their belt than Penn State does. Penn State faces Iowa next, and while Iowa hasn’t looked unbeatable, they have looked generally competent, which may prove a steep hurdle for this PSU team.

Stay tuned in two weeks, when the sequel to Illinutgers is played between PSU and Michigan and we finally learn the answer to which blue blueblood is baddest.

In Which Illinutgers Lives Down to Expectations

As we all hoped it would be, Illinois-Rutgers was a battle defined by ineptitude and under-performance. In spite of Thumpppppppppppp]pp’s prognostications of doom, Illinois did manage to win on a field goal kicked with seven seconds left in the game, meaning they’ve gone another season with a Big Ten win. This means that they are not quite the new Rutgers and that Rutgers, is, for now, still the Rutgers of the place. Make sense?

Also not making sense is this “pass rush” by the Illini:

This is a smorgasbord of ineptitude. It’s like watching a team of exceptionally large fourth-graders. There’s one guy who is even within like five yards of the Rutgers QB. There are multiple slap fights. There’s a guy just... standing there.

It’s magnificent. Thanks for being you, Illinois.

In Which an Oregon Coach Demonstrates Proper Mask Wearing While Having Some Fun With It

Pandemics suck. Wearing masks sucks. No one is disputing these basic facts or saying that given the choice, we’d be living our lives masked while in a global pandemic. However, for those of us who aren’t emotionally three years old and who understand that our choices affect others, sometimes the best thing we can do is at least pick a fun mask in our quest to make a sucky situation a tiny bit less sucky.

Oregon strength coach Aaron Feld chose to emblazon his mask with his trademark mustache:


Maybe if someone makes Scott Frost one with a frowny face he’ll finally wear the damn thing for more than 30 seconds at a time?


Who is the King of Tarts this week?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    (46 votes)
  • 5%
    Offensive ineptitude as a way of life
    (15 votes)
  • 37%
    Kirk makes salty old people everywhere proud
    (113 votes)
  • 4%
    Rutgers is shi
    (14 votes)
  • 23%
    Illinois’ "pass rush"
    (71 votes)
  • 1%
    The mustachioed mask
    (4 votes)
  • 12%
    Blue teams singing the blues
    (37 votes)
300 votes total Vote Now