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 seven “Sells,” and three “Holds.” The low number of “Buys” is indicative of a bearish trend on the OTE Index.
By this point, the conference is stratified into three tiers, more or less: The layer that is good and should generally win — Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State; The layer that has potential, but that could shoot itself in the foot at any time — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Maryland, Indiana, Purdue, and Rutgers; And the layer that should be expected to lose from here on out — Illinois and Northwestern.
The coming week offers some interesting matchups — with Iowa hosting Penn State, Nebraska welcoming Michigan, and Sparty traveling to the Garden State.
Iowa Hawkeyes - (Defeated Maryland, 51-14) The Hawkeyes are definitely Midwesterners — recognizing that refusing gifts is rude. Iowa took advantage of seven (!) Terp turnovers to turn this one into a laugher. Abject idiots who thought Maryland would offer a stiff challenge - like me, for instance - were completely mistaken. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Penn State.
Penn State Nittany Lions - (Defeated Indiana, 24-0) The Nits stepped up their run game this week - netting 209 yards against the Hoosiers. This is progress. Penn State controlled the ball and played solid defense — shutting out Indinia. Moved to “Buy,” in anticipation of a good showing in Iowa City. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: @Iowa.
Ohio State Buckeyes - (Defeated Rutgers, 52-13) Rutgers pulled out the stops, and it backfired on them — the Buckeyes know how to bully a parvenu. Ohio State has the deepest well of talent in the league, and are moved up to “Buy.” (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Maryland.
Michigan Wolverines - (Defeated Wisconsin, 38-17) Weasels on Parade was distinctly musky this year - the two teams combined for only 155 rushing yards. The Wolverines came out on top with an excellent defensive effort, while minimizing turnovers — complementary football, as Harbaugh would say. It will be interesting to see what happens when they see a more diverse offensive attack this week. Moved up to “Buy.” (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: @Nebraska.
Michigan State Spartans - (Defeated Western Kentucky, 48-31) The Spartans are undefeated and beat a decent offensive football team by three scores. I would like to have seen MSU hold WKU under four touchdowns, though, and they may have difficulty in the Swamps of Jersey. Next up: @Rutgers.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - (Defeated Northwestern, 56-7) It was an eerie Saturday in Lincoln — the Nebraska of my youth encountered the Northwestern of my youth. It was a much-needed confidence builder for the Huskers, and it comes just in time for a home clash against a seemingly beatable Michigan squad. Moved up to “Hold.” (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Michigan.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - (Lost to Ohio State, 52-13) Rutgers came out aggressively, going for it on fourth down several times, trying to win — and they could not. The Scarlet Knights turned it over on downs three times. Rutgers is a low “Hold” after this whuppin’, and they have a chance to redeem themselves at home this week. (Mollywhopped in the Second-Degree) Next up: Michigan State.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - (Defeated Purdue, 20-13) The Gophers entered the game 0-17 when trailing at the half under PJ Fleck. Now they are 1-17. Purdue led in time of possession, rushing yards, and passing yards. The Boilers also led in turnovers (2-0), and a late interception sealed the deal for the boat rowers. Still a “Sell,” but a win over Nebby in a few weeks could change that. Next up: Idle (Nebraska, 10/16).
Wisconsin Badgers - (Lost to Michigan, 38-17) The Badgers rushed 32 times for a total of 43 yards. How about total offense? They generated all of 210 yards. Michigan’s defense is excellent, but that is embarrassing for a proud program. (Mollywhopped in the Third-Degree) Next up: @Illinois.
Purdue Boilermakers - (Lost to Minnesota, 20-13) What is it about West Lafayette that breeds rain, gray afternoons, and mediocre football? The Boilers managed to have the game’s leading passer, leading rusher, and leading receiver — yet still managed to lose by a touchdown at home. That takes commitment. Next up: Idle (@Iowa, 10/16).
Indiana Hoosiers - (Lost to Penn State, 24-0) Holding Penn State to 24 points in Happy Valley is pretty good, while getting shut out is not. Last year was an aberration in myriad ways, and Indiana being good at football was one of them. (Mollywhopped in the Second-Degree) Next up: Idle (Michigan State, 10/16).
Maryland Terrapins - (Lost to Iowa, 51-14) Holy cow, that was bad, turtles. Seven turnovers, ten penalties, and 274 total yards is a recipe for failure. You go from “Buy” last week to “Sell.” The shells will come in handy this week — you face the Buckeyes. (Mollywhopped in the Second-Degree) Next up: @Ohio State.
Illinois Fighting Illini - (Defeated Charlotte, 24-14) The Illini will not move up for beating a C-USA team by ten points at home. The MANBALL approach did reap some rewards, as Chase Brown ran for 257 yards and two touchdowns. The Illini remain bad, and additional wins will be hard to come by. Next up: Wisconsin.
Northwestern Wildcats - (Lost to Nebraska, 56-7) Northwestern is not a good football team. (Mollywhopped in the Second-Degree) Next up: Idle (Rutgers, 10/16).
Feel free to laud my grace, charm, and judgment in the comments.