The Big Ten had a whole bunch of “meaningful” and “important” games against “good” opponents this past week. That’s good for the fans, good for college football, and (bore) good results for the conference, but it’s kinda bad for OTE’s Player of the Week selection committee. One of the things I try to do is give a bonus for games against good teams and/or important games, while simultaneously applying a logical, algorithmic, and totally not-at-all-random or based-on-my-personal-feelings discount for games against G5, FCS, or Iowa State teams.
(Side note, I’m just done counting stats against FCS opponents entirely. Let this be a sternly worded message to Big Ten Athletic Directors: If you want the glory of OTE’s POTW, stop scheduling the equivalent of NFL preseason games).
The problem with the “bonus against good teams” idea is it’s very hard to accumulate impressive stats against good teams! Take Penn State against Auburn. The Nittany Lions won the game, put up a pretty good number of points, and played good defense against the SEC Tigers. No, not those Tigers, the other ones. The team semi-impressed, and their fans are riding high on the perception—largely based on preseason expectations—that Penn State has now beaten two good-to-very-good teams. Enjoy it! But who from Penn State deserves recognition, based on the box score?
PSU Writer pkloa threw out Jahan Dotson, Penn State Wide Receiver, as a nomination. His stat line? 10 receptions (really good!) for 78 yards (pretty meh on a per reception basis) and one touchdown. “Plus a stupid trick play pass that resulted in a 22 yard reception.” A single touchdown always helps, and ten receptions is on the higher end for what we see out of our run first, second, and third conference, but the yardage just isn’t remotely there. Other PSU Writer 87Townie added Tight End Benton Strange (great name) for his 4 catch/71 yard/1 TD night. Again, important in helping PSU win, but so what? 87Townie also suggested QB Sean Clifford, who went 28/32 and had 2 TDs, but that gets way less impressive when you throw in his interception and his 8.8 yards per attempt. Absolutely killed it on the ball control/game management, but his longest pass was a short middle dump off to a bizarrely uncovered (or wisely schemed, sure) Benton Strange. Clifford was solid, he didn’t really ever hurt the team, but you didn’t really ever expect him to do much. None of that screams POTW to me.
Michigan State played a ranked team, too. Or at least they’ll be widely touted as “ranked at the time, Miami Hurricanes” as the season goes on. Kenneth Walker III racked up 172 yards with a decent YPA, but didn’t record a rushing TD. MSU Writer Green Akers fairly pointed out that he “willed MSU’s offense to life,” so I guess that’s good, but even Leroy Hoard found a way to score rushing touchdowns. I think it’s clear I’m nothing but a KW3 supporter, but even I have to draw an intellectually honest and fair line somewhere.
So you can see my conundrum. The Purdue Boilermakers played the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but no one individually did anything award worthy. Nobody else played an important game or a good team this past week, beyond the three teams already mentioned, but I still haven’t seen any individual player make the case that he deserves OTE-level recognition. I guess it’s time to bust out the Okay It Was A Bad Opponent, But WTF That Stat Line exception.
OTE’s Player of the Week: Week 3
TreVeyon Henderson - Running Back - An Ohio State Buckeyes
24 carries, 277 yards, 3 touchdowns
No, Jonathan Taylor didn’t suit up for Ohio State against Tulsa on Saturday. Melvin Gordon wasn’t there either. Not even JK Dobbins was playing for OSU against the Tulsa...golden somethings? cowboy somethings? No idea. At 11.5 yards per carry,* though, you can all be forgiven for thinking one of those three had come back for a final season.
* I’d previously mentioned that we round up generously here at OTE. That’s not the case for OSU player stats, I guess. Sorry.
Henderson is the reason Ohio State was able to hold off Tulsa, though. At half, Ohio State was doing something historically bad, as shown by some sort of stat that I’m sure every halftime show on the planet—and every post-game show—displayed repeatedly. After the half, though, Henderson realized it might be wise NOT to lose to a Conference USA opponent.
(skip to the 35 second mark for cool runs that are longer than ten yards)
I’m a sucker for running backs who can just tear through a defense over and over and over. It kind of comes with the territory as a Big Ten West fan and a Wisconsin fan, so I’m more than happy to dole out some props and awards and platitudes to even an OSU running back who can just straight dominate. Bonus points to Henderson for doing it in a game where it very much looked like his team was in trouble. I’ll be interested to see, going forward, whether Henderson’s emergence can take some of the pressure off CJ Stroud and his poor luck having merely three potential 1st-round NFL draft quality players at wide receiver. Even if it doesn’t, though, that’s a hell of a play action OSU gets to run this year. Every play could be a deep air handoff to an unstoppable receiver or a regular handoff to an unstoppable TreVeyon Henderson. Yay for the conference
The Entire Defense - All The Positions - Minnesota Golden Gophers
5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, 5 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles (1 recovered)
0 points allowed, 6 first downs allowed, 63 total yards allowed
Goodness gracious, those stats. Minnesota’s defense absolutely shut down what is still, technically, a Power 5 opponent, the Colorado Buffaloes. Look, I have no doubt that we can all agree (a) Minnesota is the worst, (b) They deserve to lose every game, (c) They’re, thankfully, not actually very good, and (d) They’re the worst, but there’s no getting around that level of dominance.
As a fan of a 7-ish year all-defense, meh-to-no-offense team, I really appreciate when a college defense sets up a 60-minute escape room and then melts all the keys down to make sure nobody can get out. OTE Writer WhiteSpeedReceiver first brought the defensive dominance to my attention and noted that it’s Minnesota first shutout since 2006. I can’t decide whether that makes the shutout more impressive or makes Minnesota look more incompetent, but my gut tells me the latter is more insulting to Minnesota and thus must be the takeaway.
Some individual dudes had big days: Thomas Rush, defensive lineman, had two sacks on just three total tackles. Defensive lineman Boye Mate also recorded two sacks, one per tackle he made during the game. Linebacker Carson Wells recored a sack on 100% of his one tackles. Linebacker and future real estate magnate Nate Landman tallied 13 tackles, three for a loss, and forced a fumble. And on. And on. And on.
EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that Nate Landman and Carson Wells don’t play for Minnesota. They had great stat days, nonetheless, and truly the fault lies with the sorting feature on the website I use. Hashtag never admit fault.
Look, when you give up just 63 yards as an entire defense, a lot of guys did a lot of things correctly. Hopefully I’ve highlighted enough of those guys here to convince you that, although I correctly hold Minnesota in zero esteem, I’m a straight shooter with fairness on my mind at all times.
Kenneth Walker, III - Running Back - Michigan State Spartans
27 carries, 172 yard (6.4 ypc); 3 receptions, 17 yards, 1 TD
Walker had a very, very, very good game against a, for now, big-time opponent. Glad to see him bounce back from a lackluster performance the previous game. I know the excuse makers pointed out that the previous game was against a very bad opponent and Walker didn’t need to play much, but no excuses allowed! If you want to finish 3rd-5th in the Heisman voting as a running back, you just HAVE TO go 100% against every opponent no matter how terrible.
Anyway, read above for more on KW3, who I am on the record as liking a lot.
Unrelated to KW3’s stellar rushing success, but here’s a pretty cool supercut of Michigan State players
committing a lot of holding blocking excellently. Enjoy!
Bryce Baringer - Punter - Michigan State Spartans
5 punts, 54.6 avg, long 65, 2 punts inside 20
A punter! Finally! It’s been a long three weeks here at OTE POTW, but the nightmare is finally over. We finally reached a week where a punter
was needed to fill out the awards was worth of celebrating! I didn’t watch the game for all that long, but I’m certain Baringer played a critical roll in keeping Miami far, far away from MSU’s end zone (four of his five punts were inside the 20 or touchbacks).
Plus, if for no other reason, how are you gonna say no to that face. I’d let that guy punt all my balls, change my oil, or star as Dr. Cox on my remake of Scrubs.
Beez’z thing he liked seeing this week
Make this lad a tight end *at once* pic.twitter.com/XHOznWPl80— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) September 18, 2021
I wanted to use the video of that high school team that erased a 20 point deficit in like 90 seconds, but the account that put out the clip protects its tweets I guess? I dunno.
In lieu of that, look at the big man sensible check down completion! If he hadn’t apparently gone down intentionally, it would have take 2-4 more DBs to bring him down. Love it.
There’s this weird thing that happens in college football, where the preseason rankings and projections come out, fans of every team complain about them and how inaccurate they are (unless you’re projected to do well), and they’re largely, rhetorically dismissed out of hand. And then, two or three weeks after the season starts, fans of teams who win against other ranked teams LOVE to talk about how highly ranked their opponents were. At the time. To START the season. You know, those same rankings we all hate prior to Week 1? Yeah, those same rankings are what annoying fans build their annoying arguments on when Weeks 2, 3, and 4 roll around.
It’s been three weeks. For the love of GOD, please shut the eff up about your resume. Iowa fans, nobody on the planet reasonably thinks your team is better than Oklahoma. Is it unfair? Who gives a shit. Is it reasonable for nobody to think Iowa is better than Oklahoma? Yep! If you’d like to know why, look at the entire Kirk Ferentz era and then explain to me why Iowa deserves even the benefit of the doubt.
I mean, JFC y’all. Penn State fans and Michigan State fans both have better resumes than Iowa, yet their notoriously awful, bandwagon-y fans don’t have 1/10th the inferiority complex.
It’s been three weeks. Is Indiana dogshit? Hard to tell, as they’ve had a brutal-seeming schedule so far. Is Michigan State’s win over Miami actually good? Is Penn State’s win over Wisconsin a sign that Penn State is good or Wisconsin is bad? What if we now factor in PSU’s win over Auburn? Is Auburn good, making Wisconsin’s dicktripping gift of a win to Penn State look less bad, or is Auburn really the 6th-ish best SEC team at its peak, and Penn State now has two wins over “ranked at the time” teams who aren’t going to do anything this year?
Enjoy winning, it’s way better than losing! But please, nobody cares about your resume after 3 weeks. Stop.
Which win against a ranked opponent will turn out to be worth a damn
This poll is closed
Iowa over Indiana
Penn State over Wisconsin
Michigan State over Miami
Penn State over Auburn
Exactly none of them. And no, Iowa State doesn’t count. Of course it will end up not being worth a damn.