Nobody stepped up to take this one off my hands this week, so here I am again. I was excited to take over this feature a month ago! I was also excited about college football then.
Did you ever back up when you were first learning to drive and forget which pedal your foot was on? Did you then hit the gas thinking it was the brake? Did you then step on it a little harder as you felt the car accelerate because you still thought it was the brake for a half second?
I did. Messed up the bumper of the old Suburban on a concrete post.
I saw a few things this weekend that reminded me of that.
USC’s Contents May Have Shifted During The Flight
USC has had an adventurous week after firing Clay Helton and losing their starting quarterback. So naturally, their plane decided to have some fun with them.
USC just arrived in Pullman WA for their game with Wazzu. Here’s their plane… Half the team was still on it too no explanation yet… pic.twitter.com/3lwvChstEA— Dave Stockton Jr (@DSJR1) September 18, 2021
Don’t put the linemen in the back. Also, anyone who watched that Big Ten Tournament from like 2017 remembers how Michigan’s basketball team responded to a plane mishap. USC would respond similarly, blowing out noted gigantic baby Nick Rolovich.
Ron Zook Is Clearly In The House
Ron Zook’s return to Memorial Stadium was surely going to precipitate some goofy hijinks. Watch this touchdown.
Reggie Love-Casey Washington pic.twitter.com/Wr8TZilbRw— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) September 18, 2021
Casey Washington had 30 yards on 0 attempts and leads all players to ever play football in yards per attempt.
Illinois Tries To Win A Football Game
Look, if I led with it, you probably wouldn’t have read the rest of the article. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that at the end of the year, this is going to be named at least a top 3 Tart of the Year.
After having silly stuff like the above happen in their favor basically all game and an inspired focus from a pass defense that had really struggled the previous two weeks, Illinois had a seven point lead and the ball at home in a Big Ten game with under five minutes to go. This would bring their conference record to 2-0 and keep them tied for first in the Big Ten West standings and probably be the only chance Bret Bielema ever has to get his record at Illinois back to .500 for any length of time.
It’s winning time.
The Illini get six yards on first down from midfield, then get a couple more on second. Third and 2 yields just one yard. Fourth and one at home under the lights with a sold-out student section watching. Bret Bielema, not understanding that he’s not coaching Wisconsin or Iowa but in fact Illinois, tries to draw Maryland offsides with a hard count with Blake Hayes under center. Maryland doesn’t blink and we take the penalty and punt. Naturally, the Terps slash a tired Illini defense like a hot knife through butter and even the score, but now the Illini have the ball back in a tie game with two minutes to go, two timeouts and a sixth-year senior quarterback. Illinois converts third and 2 with under a minute and a half to set up 1st and 10 at their own 36.
On first down Brandon Peters is sacked by a three-man rush for a loss of eleven. Bret Bielema calls a timeout with 1:14 left.
Maryland has three timeouts left at this point, but they haven’t been calling them. Illinois has just used their second.
Peters is sacked again for a loss of 7. As Illini fans realize what’s about to happen, so does Mike Locksley. He calls a timeout. Third and 28 for the Fighting Illini. It was winning time a minute ago.
And then, ladies and gentlemen, a masterpiece.
Who else would do such a thing? This should probably be a stand-alone Tart, but the previous four minutes of escalating panic, incompetence and failure by virtually everyone involved in the whole debacle had led to this.
Not only are we now punting from deep in our own end zone, but the clock stopped and Maryland has two timeouts. They’d only need to use one. Blake Hayes, whose skills are more aligned with sniping punts from his own side of the field to the sideline inside the 10 than booming it from the back of his own end zone, couldn’t come up with a miracle and Maryland got the ball in Illinois territory, setting up a chip shot with ease.
It’s a masterpiece. It’s one of the best meltdowns I’ve ever seen, complete with a would-be game winning drive that moved the chains and then lost 27 yards on the next three plays. Bielema was a coward not to go for it on fourth and short and an idiot to call the timeout when Peters was sacked. The offensive line couldn’t stop a three man rush and Brandon Peters had happy feet, bailing out of the pocket early and playing himself into sacks like he’s done for his whole tenure at Illinois. OC Tony Petersen had clearly never worked on a two minute drill of any kind, let alone one tailored around the strengths and weaknesses of his personnel. The defense reverted to Lovie mode, not just getting beat but totally blowing assignments and leaving guys with nobody within 10 yards. Blake Hayes didn’t kick the best punt in the history of the universe out of his own end zone, although nitpicking Blake Hayes here is like nitpicking Aaron Rodgers when he puts up a 140 passer rating in a 51-45 playoff loss.
But at least it was a hell of a catch and run by fill-in center Blake Jeresaty.
I’d say he should switch to TE, but we’d just ignore him for large chunks of the game, then spam the same play at him three times in a row with 1st and 5 from the 7.
I’m kind of rehashing the article I fell asleep halfway through writing on Saturday night after drinking several Bourbon County Stouts at the Goose Island taphouse and then just scrapped. Anyway, this was an absolute team effort, and the result is a legendary tart that’s likely to have elite staying power.
Kirk Ferentz Riffs On Bielema’s Fake Fake Punt
I’m told Kirk Ferentz did the same thing against Kent State that Bret Bielema did on 4th and 1 against Maryland, but then he actually ran the fake punt after taking the delay of game penalty. Ed Podolak couldn’t find an explanation. He didn’t consider that Ferentz wouldn’t be content with just one chance to mock Bret Bielema.
Rules Are Very Important (Sometimes)
Memphis hosted a Mississippi SEC team, which has generally been an unfavorable proposition for the visitors. Mississippi State apparently has a very low standard for how much they think you have to touch the ball to down it on a punt.
Heads up play by Memphis but what an enormous brainfart by Clanga. This was also made possible due to good but not great officiating, because Memphis had two players wearing the same number on this one and got away with it.
Penn State Punts On Third Down
In the second quarter of a one score game between two ranked teams, Penn State threw a long incompletion on first down that was called for intentional grounding. On second and 15, the down markers on the sideline displayed 3rd down, and after the second down play it changed to fourth. An unsuccessful appeal by James Franklin left him no choice but to punt on what was actually third down, but was being scored by the officials on the sideline as fourth.
You may recall something similar happening against Illinois playing Nebraska about five or six years ago. In that case the Illini were playing hurry-up offense while there was confusion on the sideline over what down it was and where the sticks were. On fourth down, the officials decided that on Illinois’ last first down, which by this point was three plays ago, they had been short of the line to gain and therefore first down had actually been second, second had been third and third had been fourth. Nebraska got a turnover on downs.
Fortunately, it didn’t affect the score in either case, but WOW.
U Not Trying
North Texas got spanked by UAB to the tune of 40-6, and didn’t even manage to escape with their dignity intact.
You can tell the guy knows he’s done a terrible job selling the fake injury and is thinking about bailing out of it.
Indiana Fans Begin To Lash Out At Reality
Indiana started the season ranked for the first time in generations and then got totally erased by Iowa. Nevertheless, they sold out Memorial Stadium for a game in which they were an underdog against an AAC team, albeit #8 Cincinnati.
The game started to slip away and the students did this:
Amateurs. Illinois gets good out of nowhere and immediately resumes sucking all the time. Well, we used to anyway. Now it’s just the resume sucking. But still. Point is, we didn’t take it out on our particular Memorial Stadium.
Targeting Computer Damaged
This looks like a video game glitch. I haven’t seen a guy miss the tackle to absorb the lead block like this since AJ Hawk retired from the pros.
The worst play by a safety in football history. I couldn’t believe it when it happened and still can’t. Take that number back. pic.twitter.com/wEu3bos6DT— Ray Haines (@rhaines725) September 18, 2021
Hey, remember a couple years ago when Manny Diaz and Brian Blades were having a laugh over stealing their own player back from Illinois?
BONUS: NFL Officiating Denies Greatest Ending Ever
Russell Wilson was under pressure in sudden-death overtime:
This is clearly a safety because he’s either stopped behind his goal line or intentionally grounds the ball from behind his goal line. There’s literally no other way to call this play unless you really really don’t want it to end on a walk-off safety.
Why would anyone have this priority?
Simple. No Fun League.
The Titans would walk it off on a field goal anyway, but I wanted to see a walk-off safety. I DID see a walk-off safety. The officials simply denied reality for reasons unknown.
That’s all for this week!
What’s the best Tart of Week 3?
This poll is closed
USC and the Tippy Plane
30 yards on zero carries
Illinois Tries To Win A Football Game
Kirk Ferentz Does A Silly Thing
Free touchdown for Memphis
Third Down Punt Debacle
Nobody’s buying it man
I’ll Take The Guy Without The Ball