It’s been, well, about as good as bowl season as we deserved:
- Multiple bowl games—from the Pinstripe Bowl to the Independence Bowl—canceled
- Army was left out of games entirely (at first; they’re now in the Liberty Bowl) thanks to the SEC force-filling teams like 2-8 South Carolina into the Gasparilla Bowl just to prove a point that they #LetThemPlay
- Just three of the first nine games have been a one-score affair
- Opt-outs even among the good games—thinking here of Jaret Patterson of Buffalo and Brenden Knox of Marshall—have led to lower levels of quality than you’d expect even out of the illustrious Camellia Bowl or LendingTree Bowl
- Liberty won.
And as the Big Ten finally sees its number called in the upcoming midweek games, that record looks no better:
Let’s make no mistake—it is completely asinine that the Tigers allowed their players to travel home for Christmas if they planned on playing this game. (That said, log off Twitter for a couple hours, Iowa fans.) The surge is COVID positives within that program is completely unsurprising, and it’s a slap in the face to Iowa legends like...well...really just Keith Duncan, who now will be denied a final game in Black and Gold:
People don’t understand that we’re used to not seeing our families on holidays. I haven’t been with my family for Christmas in five years. We stayed in town while they went home. If you didn’t want to play in the bowl game you should’ve just said so— Keith Duncan (@keithdunc3) December 27, 2020
We’ll always have Lincoln, Keith.
It sucks to see it go down this way for Iowa—and, casually, a revival of HONEY WAR would be excellent since God knows Braggin’ Rights is lopsided as hell—but it’s just a reminder that even as the Big Ten has been an ethically dubious pile of shit throughout this fall, there are programs and conferences out there handling this even worse.
Speaking of! Kiffykins sure can bluster (h/t 87RAS):
More players might opt out. Injuries aren't healing at warp speed. COVID hasn't gone away.— Nick Suss (@nicksuss) December 28, 2020
Lane Kiffin said #OleMiss is playing the Outback Bowl no matter what. But the numbers don't sound good.
Here, per that article, is where Ole Miss is at:
Kiffin didn’t mention any players or position groups specifically when talking about COVID-19 cases but said the issues are more offensive than they are defense. The same is true of the Rebels’ injury issues. Running back Jerrion Ealy and wide receiver Braylon Sanders both sustained injuries in the regular season finale against LSU and neither appear to be ready to return.
Ealy hasn’t returned to practice since the injury. Kiffin did say he’s hopeful his leading rusher will test the injury in practice leading into the game and might be available in some capacity. But if Ealy can’t go, Ole Miss will turn to freshman Henry Parrish and sophomore Snoop Conner as primary runners...
As for wide receiver, if Sanders can’t go, Ole Miss doesn’t have many options. Leading receiver Elijah Moore opted out before the LSU game. So did tight end Kenny Yeboah. Moore, Sanders and Yeboah accounted for 67% of the Rebels’ receiving yards this season.
Kiffin said Ole Miss may have as few as six scholarship wide receivers available.
SIX WIDE RECEIVERS! IN A TEMPO OFFENSE! But of course, Lane says it’s all fine:
“We’ve not talked about not playing,” Kiffin said. “We just want to be a part of a bowl game after this long of not being in one. We’ve not even discussed that. I don’t even know what our (COVID-19) numbers are because we’re just going.”
“I don’t even know what our COVID numbers are...we’re just going” really sums up America’s entire fucking response to this pandemic.
Anywho, I personally hope the Ole Miss players—never forget the irony of calling a predominantly Black team the Rebels—realize there’s strength in numbers and just hang it up. But as of now, it seems most likely that Indiana will play and Iowa won’t.
So what do we do? Some options:
Option A: Call up UAB for the Music City Bowl
The C-USA champion Blazers—the team that, yes, rose from the ashes just a few years back and burninated their way to a conference title at Marshall—are currently partner-less after the South Carolina Gamecocks backed out of the Gasparilla Bowl despite interim HC and too-aptly-named Mike Bobo assured us they’d play.
They’re not the sexiest of opponents, but they’d be a damn good fill-in for a 5-5 Mizzou team and play enough defense to give Spencer Petras a little pause throwing the ball.
There’s likely little incentive for the Hawks to take on a G5 champion on short notice, but if they do want to play, the Blazers are sitting at home and, hopefully, by the phone.
Option B: If Ole Miss cancels, play the Big Ten 2nd Place Game
We were denied an Iowa-Indiana showdown by the need to create the necessary crossover games for Big Ten Championship Game weekend. But with the Fightin’ Kiffins teetering on the edge of availability, couldn’t we get a second chance?
I am not a Great Bowl Game Mind—the finances, Ol’ Boys Club networks, and the fact that they make any money at all positively bedevils me. But you’ve got two Top-15 teams in the Hawkeyes and Hoosiers, and even if they’re both B1G, they’re ready to play and would put on a decent show for the fans at home.
Let Indiana stay #TeamCoconutShrimp and make Iowa even more hated as #TeamBloominOnion, Outback Bowl. This is your chance. You could be heroes.
Option C: You up, Bizon?
Easily the least likely of the bunch. But I’m speaking it into the world with the hope that Christmas miracles really do come true.
Imagine Bizon Nation descending not upon Frisco—Fargo South to those in the know—but upon Nashville. Outside of Branson, that’s fucking Mecca to those people, and with the chance to stick it to all the libz who think the pandemic isn’t real, a bowl game with “limited” attendance is exactly what NDSU needs.
FIRE UP THE WINNEBAGO AND GET THE GREEN AND GOLD IN A BOWL GAME.
Of course, this is all subject to change by the minute. And there’s sure a lot of irony in how SEC teams—a conference so proud of making sure we played football—are bailing because of the very thing their administrations or fanbases weren’t concerned about.
To be honest, this season can end at any point, and it’s probably OK. It was a bad idea from the get-go.
But if it doesn’t, could we still get Big Ten football? Let us know in the comments.
What should happen for the Big Ten bowl cancellations?
This poll is closed
A: Iowa-UAB In the Music City, Indiana-Ole Miss
B: Iowa-Indiana in the Outback (or Music City, we don’t care)
C: Iowa-NDSU in the Music City, Indiana-UAB or Indiana-Ole Miss in the Outback
D: OTHER! Tell us in the comments.