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 six “Buys,” and four “Holds.” The lower number of “Sells” is indicative of bullish trend on the OTE Index.
B1G teams went 7-4 out of conference this week, with losses coming to teams from the Big 12, American, ACC, and ACC-adjacent. There were two MACrifices and one victory over a FCS team - Delaware. Buckeye ennui was on display, Illinois found its superpower, and Northwestern found its quarterback - then lost him to injury almost immediately. Penn State, MIchigan State, Maryland, and Rutgers are much improved. Indiana, and Northwestern are not getting desired results. Nebraska’s special teams are farcical. This season has been delightfully strange.
Iowa Hawkeyes - (Defeated Kent State, 30-7) Iowa won again with a solid rushing game, defense and special teams. MACrifice consummated. While this style is brutally effective, it is not always pleasing to the eye. Having listened to a series or two on radio, the product was not greatly improved. Perhaps I should explore braille. (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Colorado State.
Penn State Nittany Lions - (Defeated Auburn, 28-20) The Nits held Auburn to 4.6 yards per rush and 4.7 yards per pass. That is how to win an intersectional matchup. Penn State needs to work on its run game, but this is a solid team and a championship contender. The Tigers came up north, fought hard, but came up short — I suspect statues will be commissioned in their honor. Next up: Villanova.
Michigan Wolverines - (Defeated Northern Illinois, 63-10) This is a game that I did not watch - I still have some self-respect. Michigan did what it was supposed to do, and no obvious red flags came up. MACrifice consummated. Over a hundred Wolverines played. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Rutgers.
Michigan State Spartans - (Defeated Miami Flerovium, 38-17) Playing a September football game in South Florida can feel like playing in Jell-O. That a team from Michigan went down there and defeated a(n erstwhile) ranked team is impressive. The Spartans let them throw the ball around, sure, but dominated the ‘Canes on the ground - offensively and defensively. Historically, MSU has had difficulties with Nebraska, so this week will be interesting. (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Nebraska.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - (Defeated Delaware, 45-13) Rutgers disposed of the Blue Hens. Schiano’s squad now embarks on a brutal three game stretch - @Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State. It is quite likely the Knights will lose all three, but the team should be competitive in one or more, and an upset is not completely out of the question. A goal should be to stay as healthy as possible. Rutgers is still undefeated, still improved, and still a “Buy.” (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: @Michigan.
Maryland Terrapins - (Defeated Illinois, 20-17) This football game was...unique. It looked like how an absinthe hangover must feel - painful, disorienting, bizarre, and more than a wee bit disturbing. Congrats Terps, you got in the gutter with a guttersnipe and came out with a victory on the other side. You have also finally defeated the third weekend of September. Because this team is still undefeated, it is still rated “Buy,” but just barely. Next up: Kent State.
Ohio State Buckeyes - (Defeated Tulsa, 41-20) The Buckeyes have an inspiring level of talent, but that talent is not playing an inspired level of football. OSU ceded 500 yards of offense for the second straight week...this time to Tulsa. The schedule is extremely favorable. On paper, the Nuts will not face a challenge until Penn State in late October. If the team does not find focus, things might get interesting well before then. (Third-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Akron.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - (Defeated Colorado, 30-0) I did not see this game. Apart from the few Gopher fans I know, I do not know of anyone who did. Here are some stats, though: First Downs 22-6; Total Offense 441-63(!); Time of Possession 40:13-19:47. Bill Cody would be proud of numbers like these. How much of this was Minnesota being excellent? How much was Colorado being horrible? In any event, the boat rowers appear to have cleansed their palate of the bitter OSU disappointment, and they are moved to a “Hold,” pending readable data. (Second-Degree Mollywhoppin’) Next up: Bowling Green.
Purdue Boilermakers - (Lost to Notre Dame, 27-13) Purdue had a number of breakdowns in its loss to the Domers - turnovers, giving up big plays, etc. Move on, Boilers. Get your heads screwed on straight for Illinois, because Bert is coming to town - and he is bringing an F-150 full of wrenches to throw into the works. Set your DVRs, dear readers, for what could be an epic display of football sabotage. Purdue has the better team, but that might not matter. Next up: Illinois.
Wisconsin Badgers - (Idle) I hope Wisconsin spends a lot of time and effort working to limit big plays. Because if they can do that, they will win in Chicago this week. Next up: Notre Dame (@Soldier Field).
Indiana Hoosiers - (Lost to Cincinnati, 38-24) Stop me if you have heard this one before: Indiana ran out to an early lead against a ranked opponent, squandered the lead but was still level well into the second half. Then, the offense collapsed and got outscored by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Same as it ever was. Once Indiana beats a team with a pulse, they can move up. Western Kentucky is not one of those teams. Next up: @Western Kentucky.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - (Lost to Oklahoma, 23-16) The Huskers showed some progress on the road at Oklahoma. The defense played well, and Adrian Martinez put in an excellent effort. Nebraska also continued its national special teams slapstick tour - two missed field goals and a blocked PAT returned for two points. The lack of discipline in the offensive line is a persistent concern. If Nebraska can pull it all together and find a way to win in East Lansing, they will move up. Next up: @Michigan State.
Illinois Fighting Illini - (Lost to Maryland, 20-17) The Illini have found their superpower - a preternatural ability to drag conference teams down to their level. It almost paid off for them as they faced a young quarterback in his first (with a crowd, anyway) road test. Close, Bert, but no cigar. Next up: @Purdue.
Northwestern Wildcats - (Lost to Duke, 30-23) Northwestern lost to Duke. Again. The player who led the comeback effort...he got hurt. Next up: Ohio.
Feel free to laud my grace, charm, and judgment in the comments.