Folks, I am back, I am married, and I am still recovering from a honeymoon that lasted five days longer than it was supposed to because flights kept getting canceled. It was as fun as it sounds for the first two days and then not nearly so much fun the last three. “Oh we gotta get ready to go! Oh no our flight’s canceled, guess we’ll go back to the hotel” is not an endlessly fun time. I have not watched Wisconsin football play since they lost to Michigan, unless you count watching the ESPN.com Gamecast and following along with tweets about the Iowa game “watching.” Which you shouldn’t because it suuuuuuucked. I did get to see good chunks of the Michigans game and the P/OSU game though, so it’s likely lots of this week’s selections will come from those two games, plus the Iowa-Wisconsin box score. Stay tuned!
Before we get there, I’d planned to do a quick rundown of my picks for the past three weeks but that seemed extremely lame and time consuming. Plus I remembered I’d already written a decent amount of the POTW for whichever week had OSU-Maryland and Wisconsin-Michigan. Since I spent the time outlining it, you get the “peek behind the curtain” of what could have been. (I didn’t get very far)
Ladies and Gentlemen, my Wedding Week has arrived. I’m getting married this Saturday* and going on a honeymoon with a HUMAN who LIKES ME. As a result, there will be no Beez POTW the next two Tuesdays. Or Wednesdays. Or whenever I manage to get this piece published. Well, now that I think about it, maybe I’ll do a belated POTW a day or two after I get back...hmm. We’ll see.
Anyway, be happy for me, celebrate in my honor, and please lovingly accept an abridged version of POTW. I’m very, very busy, but I couldn’t possibly leave my fan and my many, many neutral observers hanging, but I also just don’t have time to be funny or interesting this** week. See y’all in a couple weeks!
*Yes, it’s a Fall Football Saturday wedding. I’m missing....a bad Wisconsin team play a lesser-than-usual Army team. Oh no!
**I know exactly the joke you’re thinking of/going to make and shut up I hate you.
OTE’s Player of the Week: Week 6
Jalen “Speedy” Nailor - Wide Receiver - Michigan State Spartans
5 receptions, 221 yards, 3 touchdowns
CJ Stroud - Quarterback - Ohio State Buckeyes
24/33 passing, 406 yards, 5 TDs
Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV had himself a GAME this past weekend. Was it, objectively, better than Nailor’s game? Depends who you ask, but I’m nothing if not focused on correcting past injustices, and quarterbacks have long been overrepresented in football-related awards. Still, though, dang. Maryland, is there any QB you can’t make look spectacular?
Kenneth Walker III - Running back - Michigan State Spartans
29 carries, 234 yards, 1 TD
We effing get it, you’re good! No need to show off, man.
IOWA D PHOTO
The Player For Iowa Who Injured Sean Clifford - Iowa Hawkeyes
Injured Penn State’s quarterback, ensuring Iowa could win the game
Yes, I’m trolling. Your team is worse than Northwestern has EVER been on offense, but your team is also still undefeated. Get over it and/or enjoy the ride.
Tory Taylor - Punter - Iowa Hawkeyes
9 punts, 42.1 avg, X long, 6 punts inside 20 (and 3 inside 5)
OTE Writer Atinat has written an entire piece that lauds Taylor to the appropriate levels. Go read that! I don’t like to cut into his punter/kicker beat, but Taylor was so unbelievably good and valuable that he warrants mentioning here. But no further! (Go read Atinat’s article).
Beez’z thing he liked seeing this week
Graham Mertz does not seem to be a good QB. This is compounded by the fact that his offensive line gives him no protection or time to throw. Nonetheless, on a really, really awful day for Mertz and Wisconsin football, he did manage to somehow put together three very excellent passes. Here they are:
Touch/timing/placement was very much on. Even with guys in his face & putting him on his back all day pic.twitter.com/OG02p51hiz— Ben Kenney (@benzkenney) October 3, 2021
Then there’s this dime.— Ben Kenney (@benzkenney) October 3, 2021
When Mertz was upright today, he was on the mark. Might honestly be the best he’s looked since Illinois last season.
Hopefully UW can keep him upright, give him a chance to build upon this vs. Illinois next week pic.twitter.com/NjMouLp7g7
So, in order, watch video two then video three then video one or four. I’m bad at Twitter.
I have no delusions that if Mertz had stayed healthy Wisconsin wins that game. I don’t know how he caught so much lightning in so tiny a bottle, but Wisconsin went the length of the field in about 30 seconds right before the half—a thing I’m not sure they’ve ever done. Even if he remains injured, or even if he comes back and remains bad, I’ll always be very glad I saw him throw these three passes.
And on a related note, this is the last POTW this month where I’ll have legitimately watched at least some of the games involving Big Ten players. I’m still planning to publish next Tuesday, but then I’ve got two weeks entirely off after that, and my next three Saturdays are non-negotiably super full. Time will tell if someone will fill in for me, but if someone does, you are NOT allowed to like what he or she writes more than what I write.
BACK TO THIS WEEK’S POTW COLUMN
Let’s get to it
OTE’S PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WEEK...UH, 9?
Kenneth Walker III - Running Back - Michigan State Spartans
23 carries, 197 yds (8.6 avg), 5 Touchdowns
Walker hasn’t fumbled a single time this season. That is both good and I wish my team’s players didn’t fumble. For the season he’s up to 1,194 yards on just 175 carries—good for a 6.8 ypc average—and 14 touchdowns. Despite a less-than-amazing passing attack to take some heat off him, Walker shredded the Michigan Wolverines, accounting for 30 of the 37 points the Spartans scored. I did not see every time he scored, but he seemed to score at the absolute most critical moments. When Michigan State needed whatever is merely a step or two below a miracle to stay in the game, Walker delivered.
I’m not sure what else needs to be said about Walker. I’m not sure I can say much more. I’ve been on the Walker Wagon most of the season, naming him the winner in one of the first couple weeks and, well, just scroll up and read what I wrote about him three-ish weeks ago. Dude’s very, very good and. look forward to him finishing 4th in NYC.
Nick Herbig - Linebacker - Wisconsin Badgers
6 tackles, 2.5 tfls, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Wisconsin seemingly never runs out of very good linebackers, and Herbig is no exception. While much of the focus has rightly been on fellow Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal, Herbig is ready to step up now and carry on that “all our linebackers are good” tradition Wisconsin is putting together. He’s only a sophomore and also he’s from Hawaii!
Jalen Graham - Linebacker - Purdue Boilermakers
6 tackles, 1 pass defended, 2 interceptions, 1 interception-return-for-TD (45 yards)
Wow, Nebraska just finds new and exciting ways to lose close games, don’t they? Props to Graham for accounting for half of Adrian Martinez’z interceptions last Saturday. A couple more games like this for Graham and Purdue will be back to being a “quality loss” for Iowa (and quality win for Wisconsin).
Okay we’ll do one more
Jake Moody - Kicker - Michigan Wolverines
4/4 FGs, long 38, 3/3 XPs
Look, when your coach is a giant coward who loves settling for field goals juuuuust often enough to cost his team a win, you better MAKE YOUR DANG KICKS. Moody did exactly what he was called on last week, he did it often, and he did it perfectly.
Couldn’t find a clip of Moody kicking any field goals this past weekend. Here’s a different clip from the same game. Close enough, right?
Look, there were probably 5-6 other guys who deserve mention this week, but there’s not space for that in a character-limited world. Plus we know that Walker was the winner this week.
Beez’z Thing He Liked Seeing This Week
Other than the tarmac as my flight home FINALLY took off?
Of course it’s this:
I’m torn between being pretty sure that Minnesota is going to win the West and remembering that Minnesota fans, whether Gophers, Twins, Timberwolves, or hockey (RIP Northstars)*, are forever doomed to ALMOST winning. Obviously the funniest outcome would be finishing tied for first (again) with Wisconsin (again) but losing the tiebreaker to Wisconsin (again). Either way, it’ll be pretty fun when #12 Wisconsin and #11 Minnesota play for the right to lose to MSU in Indianapolis.
Craziest B1G-related thing about the current playoff rankings
This poll is closed
Minnesota -> Wisconsin -> Iowa
Minnesota ranked at all
Wisconsin ranked at all
Iowa ranked at all
Top 10 Michigan
Michigan State in the playoff