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Don’t Watch This; Watch That, Week 2: Smallpox and Influenza and Nebraska Leaving Its Conference

In which we say bad things about football “returning” and nice things about the University of Michigan. We’re concerned for us, too.

Iowa v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

“SPORTS ARE BACK!” shouted every meathead on the local sports talk station today.

Fuck you. The NFL is back. At least be honest about your sad, myopic view of what constitutes an athletic competition.

And if you find yourself for one second lauding Roger Goodell for “bringing it back safely,” I should hope that (1) you remember his shiny, sweaty forehead in his overly-manicured basement, and (2) a multi-billion dollar organization of professionals could put on a safe season with six months’ notice and the examples of literally every other sports league on the planet going before it.

This is a fraternity with every test cribbed in its “study room” filing cabinet congratulating Chet McHabsburglip on graduating with a 2.1 GPA after Daddy plunked down another $15 million for the new liberal arts center just kidding it’s a business building.

That said, go Vikings.

“No Gain on the Epidemic,” read the Kansas City Star on October 21, 1918.

Citing an increase in deaths from influenza—and “twenty from pneumonia believed to have been brought on by influenza,” so twenty deaths NOT ATTRIBUTABLE TO FLU, from what I gather—the front page of the Star warned that “the epidemic has not been checked,” noted a “desperate need of nurses,” and implored that “all persons ‘serving the public’ wear gauze masks,” from waiters to barbers and elevator operators to shop workers.

Thank God we’ve learned.

There’s very little I can tell you here that you don’t already know—wear a mask, socially-distance, listen to experts, and so on. Stop the spread of coronavirus. But we’re at a point in the world where Facebook memes telling you viruses cause autism qualify as “free thinking,” medical experts’ opinions matter the same as or less than cable talking heads with a 30-minute med degree, and the NFL—according to those same meatheads who we still let drive our sports “talkers”—will help us forget whether we’re Republican or Democrat.

You know all that.

Instead, I’ll provide you a fun pair of windows into the past—and it requires me to say something nice about Michigan.

First, though, if you’d like to see what a historical epidemic looks like as it rips across the United States, I’d recommend you check out the Pox Americana map from Elizabeth Fenn’s book of the same title. Tracing the smallpox epidemic of 1775-1782 across the North American continent, it shows the devastation wreaked by the disease among Native communities from Spanish New Mexico and Michilimackinac... garrisons of troops and surrounding communities, including children.

Thank goodness we’ve learned from that. Click here to explore the Pox Americana map.

If that’s not your bag, though, I’d encourage you to check out the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

It’s a digital repository of fifty U.S. cities and their reactions to the flu epidemic of 1918-19, including B1G towns like Chicago, Columbus, Des Moines, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Omaha, and more. Each city’s section includes an essay explaining the trajectory and human impact of the flu in their communities.

Or, if you think reading is for NERDS, within any of those towns, click “Browse Archive”. There, you can look for yourself through the various newspaper clippings, photographs, and other historical documents tracing, just over 100 years ago, Americans also decided they knew better.

Amusingly, in 1918, the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ football conference—the Missouri Valley Conference, home of Iowa State’s only championship—ALSO did not play football because of a pandemic. The next year, Nebraska was an independent (and still lost to Iowa).


Seriously, there’s amazing stuff in the Influenza Encyclopedia archive, and historians, teachers, and the public all owe the University of Michigan a debt of gratitude for a very searchable, usable, teachable site.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go shower now.

Thursday Evening

Don’t Watch This

{NBA} Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets [6pm, TNT]
{WNBA} New York Liberty vs. Indiana Fever [6pm, CBSSN]
{MLB} Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees [6:05pm, ESPN+]
{NHL} Las Vegas Golden Knights at Dallas Stars [7pm, NBCSN]
{WNBA} Las Vegas Aces vs. Minnesota Lynx [7pm, ESPN2]
{NFL} Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9, O/U 54.5) [7:20pm, NBC]
{WNBA} Washington Mystics vs. Los Angeles Sparks [9pm, CBSSN]

Watch That

UAB Blazers at Miami-Florida Hurricanes

7pm | ACCN | M-FL -14.5 | O/U 54.5

{MLS} Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes

9pm | ESPN+

College football is on; watch college football. I hope that’s not controversial on this, a Big Ten football blog.

That, and UAB is HOT! HOT! HOT! (Not quite Appalachian State levels, but bear with me.)

The Blazers welcomed in the Central Arkansas Bears last weekend, and despite those dastardly ursine intruders putting up a fight—NO BEAR IS PURPLE, ARKANSAS! GO BACK TO SCHOOL!—UAB had this one salted away by the fourth quarter, with Tyler Johnston III tossing a couple scores on an efficient, if contained, passing night.

I’m not going to tell you Miami is ripe for an upset here—Houston transfer QB D’Eriq King should light it up for the Canes—but I’m all for seeing if it takes Da U a moment to shake off the rust.


Thursday night viewing?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    There’s a chance Miami Fluoride loses to UAB? COUNT ME IN.
    (26 votes)
  • 20%
    NHL looks interesting
    (20 votes)
  • 22%
    (22 votes)
  • 4%
    whom amongst us can pass up lakers-rockets
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    [insert local baseball team]
    (5 votes)
  • 20%
    (20 votes)
97 votes total Vote Now

Friday Evening

Don’t Watch This

{MLB} Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals [5:05pm, FS1]
{NBA} Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers [5:30pm, TNT]
{MLB} San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres [8:10pm, ESPN+]

Watch That

{NHL} Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders

7pm | USA | Game 3

{NBA} Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors

8pm, TNT

{USL} Phoenix Rising vs. Las Vegas Lights

9:30pm | ESPN+

{AFL} North Melbourne Kangaroos vs. Fremantle Dockers

10:30pm | FS2

{AFL} Port Adelaide Power vs. Essendon Bombers

1:30am | FS1

I’m sure the last quarter of Celtics-Raptors will be quite riveting. Time out whenever that’s supposed to start and tune in then.

We also should’ve had SMU-TCU—the Battle for the Iron Skillet!—tonight, but that’s been taken away from us. Time to fire up Facebook and make a meme about how Greg Abbott won’t let Gary Patterson play.

Saturday Early

Don’t Watch This

Syracuse Orange at #18 North Carolina Tar Heels (-22.5, O/U 65) [11am, ACCN]
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns at #23 Iowa St. Cyclones (-11.5, O/U 56.5) [11am, ESPN]
Eastern Kentucky Colonels at West Virginia Mountaineers [11am, FS1]
Arkansas State Red Wolves at Kansas State Wildcats (-10.5, O/U 54.5) [11am, FOX]
{EPL} West Ham vs. Newcastle [9am, NBCSN]

Watch That

Charlotte 49ers at Appalachian St. Mountaineers

11am | ESPN2 | App -17 | O/U 59.5

{EPL} Liverpool vs. Leeds

11:30am | NBC

Speaking of HOT! HOT! HOT!

In the soccer world, I’m just ready for West Ham to let me down again. And I’ll get to watch Liverpool-Leeds with a Leeds fan, which should be fun.


Good morning! "SPORTS ARE BACK!" you get up and HORP into your pillow, despite really meaning "My personal favorite sport is back and I have willfully ignored all the other sports happening over the last six months":

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    (8 votes)
  • 25%
    Uh...Louisiana-Iowa State, because as a Hawkeyes I need to laugh at the Cyclones! That’s what it is—laugh! Not obsess; no sir, how DARE you?
    (19 votes)
  • 25%
    Syracuse-North Carolina is technically P5 football...
    (19 votes)
  • 13%
    Honestly surprised MNW didn’t put Arkansas State-Kansas State on the "Watch This" list; seems right up his alley.
    (10 votes)
  • 26%
    Liverpool-Leeds should have some goals.
    (20 votes)
76 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Afternoon

Don’t Watch This

Duke Blue Devils at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-20, O/U 54) [1:30pm, NBC]
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Florida State Seminoles (-12.5, O/U 51.5]
Campbell Fighting Camels at Georgia Southern Eagles [2:30pm, ESPNU]
Austin Peay Governors at Pittsburgh Panthers [3pm, ACCN]

Watch That

ULM Warhawks at Army Black Knights

12:30pm | CBSSN | Army -21 | O/U 54.5

Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at Texas State Bobcats

2:30pm | ESPN2 | TXSt -8 | O/U 58.5

I think I’ve realized that my theory on this season is just “watch G5 games.” So if you don’t like that and really need to see Notre Dame this weekend, you’re SOL here, pal.


If you ever needed proof of what a stupid thing college football conferences are, these two schools briefly overlapped in the dying embers of the WAC, then went their separate ways so Texas State could join the Sun Belt, whilst UTSA headed to the Frankenstein’s monster of geography that is Conference USA.

But never fear! This rivalry—the premier rivalry of Central Texas!—will be played at least through 2031.

UTSA holds a commanding 3-0 lead in the series, but I’m optimistic for this one to be a slapper for a pair of reasons. First, it’s in San Marcos. And, as we saw by SMU heading down I-35 last weekend and nearly completely losing its shit despite having Shane Buechele and a bevy of talented playmakers, San Marcos does weird things to a man. Trust me on this.

Second, UTSA is, yet again, on the rebuild, with Arkansas AHC and RB coach Jeff Traylor meep-meeping his way down I-35 to the Alamodome. He does inherit a talented runner in RB Sincere McCormick, along with New Mexico State transfer QB Josh Adkins to play bombs-away with the ball (rather than oh-god-please-don’t-throw Lowell Narcisse). Is this enough to bolster a defense that is unpredictable but also kind of stout in rare moments? WHO KNOWS! It’s Week 2 college football and you don’t want to watch Notre Dame.

Also, it’s unreal to think that UTSA has only had three coaches in its history, and one of those coaches was—NEVER FORGET—Larry Coker.

So, a word about Louisiana-Monroe. I had this vague idea in my mind that they’d been on the cusp of winning something in the last couple years, only for Bill Connelly to remind me that Matt Viator is 19-29 as head coach and that their S&P+ rating has been, well...

But...could this game be good? When the Connelly preview of the defense starts out “The D could be great as long as no one ever runs the ball,” and Army’s involved, it’s not going to be good. But the Warhawks have been synonymous with fun offense, and RB Josh Johnson and WR Perry Carter Jr. could make this fun...if a new QB emerges.


Saturday afternoon: The dips are ready, it’s a little rainy outside, so we’re turning on...

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    (11 votes)
  • 18%
    (10 votes)
  • 20%
    Duke-Notre Dame
    (11 votes)
  • 18%
    Georgia Tech-Florida State
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    Campbell-Georgia State?
    (1 vote)
  • 20%
    (11 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Evening

Don’t Watch This

The Citadel Bulldogs at South Florida Bulls [6pm, ESPN+]
#1 Clemson Tigers (-33, O/U 60) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons [6:30pm, ABC]
Texas-El Paso Miners at #14 Texas Longhorns (-43, O/U 58) [7pm, LHN]
Houston Baptist Huskies at Texas Tech Red Raiders [7pm, ESPN+]

{MLB} Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox [6:10pm, FS1]
{NHL} Las Vegas vs. Dallas [7pm, NBC]
{MLB} Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers [7:05pm, FOX]
{MLB} Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins [7:07pm, also FOX somehow]
{MLB} Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers [7:07pm, OK so it’s probably FOX by region]
{NBA} Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers [8pm, ESPN]

Watch That

Tulane Green Wave at South Alabama Jaguars

6:30pm | ESPN2 | Tulane -8 | O/U 52.5

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Louisville Cardinals

7pm | ACCN | Lou -11.5 | O/U 57.5

NOW we’re into the good stuff.

Beez might have an article out later (lol who am i kidding) about teams we’re cheering for in COVID times of no Big Ten football. Mine, with a bullet, is Tulane. I’m very here for the Olive and Blue, with Willie Fritz’s weird triple option/spread/RPO offense leading the way. Replacing QB Justin McMillan will be tough for the Wave, but speedster Amare Jones and Oklahoma WR transfer Mykel Jones will provide some pop. Add RB Corey Dauphine to the mix for some backfield speed, and you’ve got a stew.

The hottest team in college football, though? You are correct—it’s the 1-0 South Alabama Jags. USA rolled into Hattiesburg and, in the Battle on the Gulf [patent pending], got a ton of production from QB Desmond Trotter and WRs Jalen Tolbert and Jalen Wayne, with RB Carlos Davis providing just enough on the ground. No one’s crowning the Jags just yet, but a home win over the Wave would see them crack—and maybe top—my Banner Society Neutral Observer Top 25 poll before Week 3.

Western Kentucky-Louisville is the storyline you know you want: G5 team from down the road makes their way up I-65 and beats the flailing ACC power in their own house.

Go ‘Toppers.

Oh man, I could go for a triple order of Topperstix right now...


Saturday evening! As you settle onto your couch and crack a beer, what are you watching?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Tulane-South Alabama
    (8 votes)
  • 16%
    Western Kentucky-Louisville
    (9 votes)
  • 14%
    Clemson-Wake Forest
    (8 votes)
  • 3%
    Checking LHN to see if Texas Back
    (2 votes)
  • 21%
    Baseball, maybe?
    (12 votes)
  • 25%
    (14 votes)
  • 5%
    (3 votes)
56 votes total Vote Now

It’s Late and I’m Drunk...

Don’t Watch This

Watch That

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at Kansas Jayhawks

9pm | FS1 | KU -6.5 | O/U 56

{AFL} Hawthorn Hawks vs. Western Bulldogs

12:30am | ESPN3

Man, didn’t Kansas play someone like this at home last yea—



It’s late! You’re up! You’ve socially distanced from your significant other! What’s on?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    (32 votes)
  • 37%
    lol i passed out hours ago
    (19 votes)
51 votes total Vote Now

Enjoy the games, everyone.