No Dead Read this week—he’s day-to-day with an upper body injury. You’re stuck with knockoff Statler and Waldorf.
This feature returns after a sabbatical last year, because of...well, everything.
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 is 50-0, or worse). As far as degree is concerned, do not look at a Mollywhoppin’ like a burn. Think of one as a crime.
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.
This week there are 7 “Sells” and 6 “Holds.” The low number of “Buys” is indicative of a bearish trend on the OTE Index—so named because the Bears lost 38-3, too.
(Defeated Indiana, 54-7) (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’)
Next up: Penn State.
WSR: Yeah, we’re back to a world where it’s Ohio State and then everyone else. Stock prices on this one are just going to keep going up so hopefully you bought earlier.
MNW: Ah, we’re to the point in the season where now Ohio State gets its wins over ranked Big Ten opponents and that stock price approaches the cap. Delightful. Turns out CJ Stroud is good and without a full-strength Sean Clifford, Ohio State could do to Penn State what they did to Indiana.
Buy, though returns will be marginal.
(Defeated Maryland, 34-16)
Next up: @Northwestern.
WSR: This should be a Buy, but I’m trying to hold back what I believe about the B1G West. Minnesota is a loss to PJ Fleck and Bowling Green away from being somewhere ridiculous in the polls.
MNW: “In the polls” is, by definition, “somewhere ridiculous” for Minnesota.
Maryland is bad; this should be a “Hold” and you might be stuck holding your shares of Minnesota until they play a rivalry game.
And then, being that it’s Minnesota, it’s best to sell those shares while they’re still high.
(Defeated Purdue, 30-13)
Next up: Iowa.
WSR: The defense is good, and Graham Mertz showed that he can go a full game without making multiple critical errors. They almost looked like a football team.
MNW: 5/8 passing. The only player with two receptions was the tight end. Iowa-wisconsin will be unwatchable.
I’d like to register, here, that all these years it’s been Northwestern bailing out the rest of the Big Ten West with regards to “stopping wisconsin,” and it’d be nice if someone else finally carried their weight.
Looking at you, Purdue, Nebraska, and Minnesota.
(Defeated Northwestern, 33-7) (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’)
Next up: @Michigan State.
WSR: Good teams cover, even against bad teams like Northwestern. We’re pretty close to finally learning something about them.
MNW: Much more so than against Rutgers, Michigan put their foot on the gas and, especially in the second half, committed to just doing what worked—running the ball straight ahead. This rating would’ve been worse had they continued to play with their food like they did in the first half.
Next up: Michigan.
WSR: I still have no idea what to think of Sparty. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do. We’re pretty close to finally learning something about them. Congratulations on escaping the bye week without a loss to campus police, though.
MNW: I yearn for simpler, past times, when Sparty vs. BYE would yield at least one embarrassing headline.
(Defeated Penn State, 20-18) Illinutgers looms.
Next up: Rutgers.
WSR: I mean, they did win at Penn State in 300 OTs. And they play Rutgers next. But I just can’t do it.
MNW: I’d buy what they did defensively and in regulation. What they did in overtime was a Bertian war crime. Those short distance plays were why no one still ought take a Brandon Peters-quarterbacked team seriously.
Next up: Purdue.
WSR: If you’re feeling brave, you could quickly buy this for one weekend before shorting the rest of the way.
MNW: Given that the Huskers have Purdue next, and it feels like a complete crapshoot that could end 38-35, might as well roll them dice. Buy it if you want or watch onto the Huskers. What could go wrong?
(Lost to Wisconsin, 30-13)
Welcome to Sell territory, Trains.
Next up: @Nebraska.
You’re the same team that barely beat Illinois at home. This says more about Iowa than it does you.
MNW: Last time it was a creditable effort against a Top 5 Ohio State team. This team...it was this. Thanks for playing, Purdue. I’m sorry I believed in you.
Next up: @Wisconsin.
WSR: See Purdue.
MNW: Opening up as a three-point dog to wisconsin suggests the sell on Iowa might not yet be over. Damn shame, that.
(Lost to Illinois, 20-18)
Next up: @Ohio State.
WSR: DANGER! DANGER! We may need to have a conversation about a very overrated Penn State team here shortly following losses to a pair of mediocre teams.
MNW: The Illinois loss, I can forgive. The Iowa loss...
Next up: @Illinois.
WSR: A week without playing didn’t make me forget that they’re 119th in YPP offensively, or that Robb Smith is still their DC.
MNW: A two-week sell feels like adequate punishment for having lost to Northwestern.
(Lost to Ohio State, 54-7) (Mollywhopped in the Second-Degree)
Next up: @Maryland.
WSR: We’re starting to see that teams that were good last year because they didn’t get ravaged by COVID aren’t actually good teams. Oh hey there, Hoosiers. Didn’t see you there.
MNW: In 2013—and make no mistake, this is Indiana’s 2013—Northwestern lost four consecutive games by one score (MN, @IA in OT, @UNL, MI in 3OT) before the wheels came off in a 30-6 home loss to #13 Michigan State.
Maybe you can deny Purdue a bowl game in the Bucket, Hoosiers.
(Lost to Minnesota, 34-16)
Next up: Indiana.
WSR: September Maryland would beat October Maryland as badly as they beat Howard.
MNW: It astounds me that, however many miserable years into the Big Ten, the Terrapins have still not gotten it through their heads that any successful team needs to be based around stopping the run.
(Lost to Michigan, 33-7)
Your 2021 Northwestern Wildcats: Once again, worse than Illinois! (Mollywhopped in the Third-Degree)
Next up: Minnesota.
WSR: We shouldn’t have to watch odd-year Northwestern. Just give them a win over someone from the East and Iowa and a couple non-conference opponents using a copy of NCAA 14 for stats and save everyone the time and energy.
MNW: If you still held Northwestern stock going into the Michigan game, what the fuck were you thinki—
Ahem. I need to call my broker.
Feel free to laud our grace, charm, and judgment in the comments.