RockyMtnBlue is stepping it up with his commands: this week I “type stuff here and doesn’t at all just mail it in.”
He’s asking me to do this ON NORTHWESTERN’S BYE WEEK.
I got home from work yesterday about 6:05 and, as I pulled in, looked at my phone to see that my wife and kid “had a surprise waiting for me.”
Turned out the little shit learned how to walk.
So I’ve got the precious “first steps” video uploaded to the cloud, now, alongside “first bath” and “first tooth” and all sorts of other firsts that someday I’ll probably forget happened. But that weird feeling of pride at a little ball of snot and shit and attitude learning how to walk...that was pretty damn cool.
If she can do that, I guess I can tell you: if you watch the Broncos-Chefs snoozer, when are you going to learn?
This ending between WVU and Houston was WILD— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 13, 2023
22 seconds left: WVU scores 50-yard TD to take the lead
3 seconds left: Houston scores 49-yard TD to win it pic.twitter.com/IbioClegRi
Now, I don’t tell you to don’t watch this, watch that each week just to be a sanctimonious asshole. (I can do that just fine on my own, thank you.)
I do it because there are legitimately fun, stupid games that you’re going to miss if you don’t tune in to something other than the blaring, scrolling noise of “HEY IT’S MICHIGAN! IT’S OHIO STATE!” that is pumped straight to you from sun-up to sun-down. Those same fun games are what make college football the amazing atmosphere that it is—whether Deion wants the Buffs to get all the headlines without having to play any of the weird times or not.
Oh, and last night during the SMU-ECU game, the two teams combined for 20 punts—and man, did the Big Ten West start catching strays. After the 20th or so, the announcers shifted to “You’d think a Big Ten game had broken out!” and “Is one of these teams Iowa?”
I’m going to miss this beautiful, dumb division that’s synonymous with mediocrity.
About Last Week
- Thumpasaurus tied for the lead this week in both ATS and straight up, going 4-1 and 6-0, respectively (there was no line in the Northwestern/Howard game until too late).
- RUready4Brazil continues to lead the season standings at .648
- Of the fifteen writers who’ve picked enough to qualify, eleven of them are over .500 ATS. This is the kind of insight and expertise you all pay for here at OTE.
Points and Laughs:
- MNWildcat was alone in last this week at 1-4.
- There are only four writers who fail to be above .500 on the season. The authors of this article are two of them.
MNW: I would like to point out, here, that I am only 2 games back of Thump for the overall straight-up picks lead. Just don’t take me to Vegas (unless you work for UNLV and have a way of making that offer a tenure line).
Saturday, October 14
11:00am | FOX | Michigan -34 | O/U 47.5
Straight-Up: Michigan 14-0
Against the Spread: Michigan 12-2
BoilerUp89: I don’t believe Indiana is significantly better than Minnesota or Nebraska. Michigan covers.
misdreavus79: It appears Michigan is done fucking around. Michigan 48, Indiana 3
larry31: So, Michigan is favored by 34, yet the O/U is 47.5. Vegas is telling us the score will be 42-7? Or something close to that. That feels about right. That Indiana offense is broken. Michigan wins and covers.
Buffkomodo: Guys, Indiana can pull this off. All it takes is some magic, some lucky, and perhaps a few flat tires on the Michigan bus between the hotel and the stadium. Oh, we’re doing this as a competition? I pick Michigan to win and cover. I want to win more than I want to schill.
AlmaOtter: I so desperately want Michigan to at least have to sweat out one of these games. They still might at some point this season. But Indiana isn’t going to be the team to do it.
Kind of...: Michigan is 0-3 ATS with Harbz under suspension; 2-0-1 with him on the sideline. I’m riding my “Harbz is an egomaniac” theory until it lets me down.
RockyMtnBlue: New offense for Indiana. They’ve had two weeks to practice it and Michigan has no film. Don’t get me wrong. Michigan is going to win this game. But five touchdowns is a bit much. Michigan 34-10
RUReady4Brazil: Crud, I picked Indiana to cover before remembering their new “offense.”
MNW: There’s no way “five touchdowns is a bit much”. Even if—and I love that I heard this—folks like the voice of the Gophers were trying to massage this by noting that Minnesota really only lost by four scores, since the Wolverines got two pick-sixes, I still think Minnesota’s a touchdown better than Indiana and thus, by extension, the Wolverines can cover it. Michigan, 42-3.
New and Improved Hoosiers visit the Big House
This poll is closed
Harbaugh’s a jerk. Michigan by 5+ touchdowns
No quit in the Hoosiers. They make it a game. (ish)
11:00am | Peacock | Ohio State -19.5 | O/U 50
Straight-Up: Ohio State 14-0
Against the Spread: Ohio State 12-2
BoilerUp89: Purdue has Ohio State right where they want them. Undefeated and ranked in the top 5. Sure Hudson Card played through injury against Iowa and key contributors Marcus Mbow, Marquis Wilson, and Max Klare are out for the season due to injury. But it’s Ohio State in Ross-Ade. Throw the records out the window. Look to the heavenly bodies for guidance when it comes to predicting the future. There is a partial solar eclipse that will be visible from West Lafayette during the game on Saturday. A Spoilermaker watch has been issued for Tippecanoe County between 12:00-4:00 pm on October 14, 2023.
misdreavus79: The worst thing that could happen to Penn State is Ohio State losing to Purdue, so of course it’s what’s going to happen. I’m not going to pick it though. Ohio State 39, Purdue 20
larry31: Was Maryland the perfect tonic to get OSU to focus on lesser opponents, or are they looking ahead to Penn State? I’m going with OSU to win and cover, but Pudue making this a one possession game would not surprise me.
Buffkomodo: ...like....this Ohio State team has not looked great....but neither has Purdue, and I defy you to tell me otherwise. Ohio State wins and covers, but I will be rooting for the Spoilermakers and hoping the Death Star falls.
AlmaOtter: I think Maryland is a much better team than Purdue and the Buckeyes still covered the -19.5 last week. I don’t see the Boilermakers keeping it closer than that, even account for the Harbor history.
Kind of...: Agree with the conventional wisdom. Ohio State activated “dominance mode” last week and will want to roll into the second half of the schedule having announced themselves. No Harbor this year.
RockyMtnBlue: I’m too lazy to research this, but it seems like if Purdue doesn’t harbor OSU, Purdue gets stepped on by OSU. I don’t see a Harbor here. Ohio State 38-10
RUReady4Brazil: Immediately regretting this decision all of a sudden.
MNW: No real insight, just the Buckeyes putting their foot on the gas with a defense that’s improving. Ohio State, 45-20.
This poll is closed
Death Star does Death Star things
Purdue makes it a game. No one is more surprised than Purdue.
Purdue Harbor mocks our doubts!
11:00am | BTN | Rutgers -5.5 | O/U 40.5
Straight-Up: Rutgers 10-4
Against the Spread: Rutgers 8-6
BoilerUp89: I don’t feel good about this pick, but I’m taking Rutgers to win and cover.
misdreavus79: One of these teams has at least shown signs of life. I guess, technically, Michigan State showed signs of life against Iowa, but who hasn’t shown signs of life against that offense? Rutgers 27, Michigan State 20
larry31: Sparty is actually a fairly tough opponent, but they are prone to multiple costly mistakes from the QB [it doesn’t matter which one]. This game will be very even in terms of time of possession and total offensive production from each team, but it is the mistakes from the Sparty QB that will allow Rutgers to win and cover. But, don’t be shocked by a Sparty lead in the 3rd quarter.
Buffkomodo: Oh my wonderful counterparts. We are living in the era of the Rutgers. The fightin’ ‘Gers shall be victorious and shall fight for bowl eligibility next week against a hapless Hoosier squad. What’s scarier than our current world situation? A bowl eligible Rutgers by Halloween.
AlmaOtter: I realize that these picks have all been chalk, but I don’t see MSU covering here. Rutgers is playing with house money right now and the Spartans just aren’t good.
Kind of...: I’m living in the past, but I’m taking Sparty. Feel like the Rutgers offense if limited enough that MSU will make a couple of plays and pull it out.
RockyMtnBlue: Sparty has had all kinds of problems with turnovers, but I think a bye week was probably good for them. Plus, weirdly (and sadly), their O-Line doesn’t suck this year. Rutgers got an attitude adjustment last week that can’t have been good for their confidence. Michigan State 24-16
RUReady4Brazil: If you care to hear my break down, i joined the Scarlet Faithful per usual. This is a toss up game with two mostly evenly matched teams. Whoever plays and coaches better wins. I just hope it’s my team, even though that will eliminate me from the survivor pool per my emotional hedge.
MNW: Mostly I just refuse to pick Rutgers at this point. It’s a bit that has very little payoff until next May, when two angry Rutgers fans show up in the comments during Rutgers Week to yell “YOU ALWAYS DISRESPECT US!!11!1!” Michigan State, 24-17.
Spartans vs Knights
This poll is closed
Rutgers rights the ship with a cover
Scarlet Knights in a squeaker
2:30pm | BTN | Penn State -43 | O/U 58
Straight-Up: Penn State 14-0
Against the Spread: Penn State 11-3
BoilerUp89: Penn State wins. 43 is a lot to cover, but I think the Nittany Lions have something to prove by being ranked 6th.
misdreavus79: Even with the bad weather prognostications, I don’t see how UMass keeps it within 50. Penn State 66, UMass 10
larry31: PSU wins and covers because is really good and Umass is the complete opposite of really good. Unlike the fake kneel down against Northwestern to win and cover, PSU covers by the end of the 3rd quarter. Seriously. It is a unique situation when a team can win by more than 43 points without running up the score. I think Drew Allar totally obliterates the UMass secondary and will bet pulled before the end of the 3rd quarter.
Buffkomodo: Lotta points, but Umess is bad. Yes, I stole that from the Bottom Ten.
AlmaOtter: There are only three teams with a worse defensive efficiency than UMass. Penn State covers and tries for a first-degree mollywhopping ahead of the Ohio State game.
Kind of...: UMass is awful. PSU doesn’t care.
RockyMtnBlue: Really, Penn State? Scheduling UMass in the middle of the season? How very SEC of you. Penn State 52-7
RUReady4Brazil: Many of my losses against the spread this year have come from late points when teams should just have been running the clock out. Not having to watch Mario Cristobal and the cost of housing are the only reasons we left Miami in January. A much tougher decision than leaving the state of Pennsylvania after college.
MNW: Did you see Penn State fake taking a knee* and throwing a touchdown late against Northwestern to get the cover?
* I know what it was. Spare me your emails.
Nits run it up like Franklin’s got a ticket at the MGM. Penn State, 52-6.
43pt spread, eh?
This poll is closed
Nits cover a huge spread. No one is impressed.
43 is too many. PSU by plenty, but not THAT many.
UMass with an upset for the ages. (seriously, don’t pick this one unless you enjoy the feeling of being badly wrong)
2:30pm | NBC | Maryland -14 | O/U 51
Straight-Up: Maryland 14-0
Against the Spread: Maryland 11-3
BoilerUp89: Maryland returns home after taking a loss to the Buckeyes. They take their frustrations out on the other half of the turtle trophy.
misdreavus79: Since Illinois is freefalling now, the operating assumption is Maryland will go down 14 then dominate? Maryland 41, Illinois 14
larry31: Wrong narrative above by Boilerup and misdreavus. The Terps are still hungover from a deflating loss in which they were super-hyped and actually believed they could win, only to get pummeled in the fourth quarter. Illinois is angry and embarrassed at getting pantsed by lil’ Red. Locks said as much in his weekly presser that the Terps were having a hard time getting back on track. This game should be on full upset alert. Oh, did I mention it’s going to be rainy? So, let’s add a small lifeless crowd to the home team that is already hungover. Take Illinois and the points. I think Maryland barely squeaks by, but an upset would not be surprising.
Thumpasaurus: Hey man, I hate for this to sound like a dunk on Larry up there but it sounds like he thinks Illinois is going to be motivated for this game, and my only question is this: if getting totally humiliated by your former DC who’s been talking shit about your coach and your program ever since he left, AND THEN having the greatest living alum of the program pass away...if that doesn’t provide any motivation, why should a trip to College Park after being kept at arm’s length by a Nebraska team determined to keep them in the game?
This football team is broken and needs to just limp to the bye at 2-6 and then try to salvage some of the committed recruits by winning 2 of the last 4. I just don’t know how we make up for the offensive line play. The coaches didn’t sound like they had any answers. They all seem bewildered that this is happening. Playcalling hasn’t adjusted to the reality of our abilities, and the defense is so good that Nebraska took a deep shot from their own 2 in the first half because they respect it so much.
When the Arkansas RazorBerts fell off in 2017, the degree to which they did was shocking. That could be what we’re seeing here, except our AD won’t act as swiftly as did theirs.
Larry31: In true OTE “writer” fashion, I have not watched a single minute of Illinois football this year. So, what the hell do I know? Oh, I got it. Maryland is going to come out lethargic and hungover from the Ohio State game. Sounds like the first half is going to be butt ugly, not just because of the forecasted weather. Maybe this one should be relegated to Peacock.
HWAHSQB: I consider myself something of an expert on shit football teams. This year’s version of shit Illinois football is of the Zookian variety, where the computers and stats say Illinois isn’t shit, but the results are pretty damn shitty. That means there is at least a chance that it can get turned around although it doesn’t have to. I think Scott Frost Nebby teams have proven that good paper teams can be shitty for years at a time. Bert’s teams historically haven’t been stupidly shitty, but this team has consistently not only been shooting themselves in the foot, but they are emptying the whole damn clip. However, one doesn’t root for Illinois for four decades by being smart so I’m going to desperately cling to hope and say Illinois gets out of their own way and at least keeps this one close.
Buffkomodo: If you have money, take Maryland to house Illinois here. Coming off an emotional game, sure it’ll be tied at the half, but Illinois is...well...not good. Maryland is good. Therefore, blowout in the second half.
AlmaOtter: Hey, I’ll be at this game! I’m reusing my logic from last week’s loss: until Illinois shows any sign of life at all, I will continue to assume that they will lose and lose badly. I also don’t think I’ve been at an Illini win, basketball or otherwise, since … the Arizona State game in 2011? I imagine that streak continues as well.
Kind of...: Maryland hung tough last week for a while. While they may be a bit embarrassed about how the second half went, Illinois is just embarrassing. Maryland, at home, by a lot.
RockyMtnBlue: It’s not September, so this might be a fools bet, but I think Maryland will be out to prove they’re not the team that got bitch-slapped in the second half against OSU. Maryland 34-10
RUReady4Brazil: At least I don’t have everyone covering. Illinois was impotent against Nebraska other than some 50/50 balls. Maryland should be motivated.
MNW: Given that I went 1-4 last week ATS, I can only apologize for Illinois to what’s about to happen to them. Give me Maryland, 27-21, and let’s hope my luck changes.
So how "not September anymore" is it?
This poll is closed
Maryland is not afraid of your calendar. Turtles roll.
Terps pulls it out, but it’s inside the spread
Bert mocks the allegedly "powerful East" by upsetting its 4th best team.
3:00pm | FOX | Wisconsin -10 | O/U 36.5
Straight-Up: Wisconsin 10-4
Against the Spread: Iowa 11-3
BoilerUp89: Trash pandas to win and cover.
MNW: Stop calling them “trash pandas”—trash pandas are cute. These are just dumb popcorn skunks.
I’m genuinely curious to see if the Hawkeyes can get to Tanner Mordecai, because god knows he’s going to throw up some ducks if they do. Can Cooper Dejean return 2-3 interceptions for touchdowns? Iowa’s fate hangs in the balance. badgers, 21-10.
misdreavus79: Am I doing this because I’m willing a favorable “three way tie in the East” outcome? Absolutely. I’m also doing it because a 10-2 or 11-1 Iowa team that can’t score more than 25 points per game is the epitome of hilarity, and the epitome of West. Iowa 19, Wisconsin 9.
larry31: The O/U is laughable and so B1G West. I guess Wiscy wins and covers? More likely chaos ensues. The only thing about this game of which I am certain, is that Prince Brian does not come close to the Ferentz line.
Buffkomodo: This feels like a game where a new coach with a new system actually lays an egg thanks to a good defense. Like, a 14-10 sorta game. I don’t know if Iowa can win because their offense sucks so bad, but Wisconsin has had some rollercoaster days, so I think Iowa definitely covers, and may win
AlmaOtter: I’m hoping for a 6-3 slap fight, if only to maintain the sanctity of the crab bucket that is the last year of the B1G West.
Kind of...: I’ve watched every Wisconsin game, and this spread just seems WAY too high. But then I remembered that I’ve always watched a couple of Iowa games. Iowa’s path to victory is getting an early lead and forcing UW mistakes. Maybe mix in a Cooper DeJean punt return. I think DeJean will pick off Mordecai—almost certainly on an out where Mordecai throws it 45 yards for an 8 yard gain—but I think that will only allow Iowa to cover, not win.
Dead Read: I picked Iowa to win. Why? It isn’t about x’s and o’s. Hell, it isn’t about the Jimmys and the Joes, either. It is about an invisible hand...flipping us all the bird. An Iowa win is what the West deserves. May God have mercy on our souls.
RockyMtnBlue: I really think it would be appropriate for the West to end with Iowa validating their shitty, ugly-ass style with another CCG appearance, but God doesn’t love me so we know Wiscy wins this one. Wisconsin 21-10
RUReady4Brazil: Wisconsin looked a lot more buttoned up after their bye, so Iowa’s only hope is that the Badgers emptied their tank against Rutgers last week.
For the West Division title?
This poll is closed
Wisconsin has two coordinators. Math says that’s better than one coordinator. Wiscy by double digits.
These two teams play a close and singularly stupid game, but Wisconsin comes out on top.
Iowa wins. Oh goody. We all get to watch an extra Iowa game.
Too cowardly to play this week
misdreavus79: Once again, the bye couldn’t come at a better time for these three teams. At least one of them can feel good about how the game before their break went.
larry31: What are the Big Ten suits thinking? The Gophers, Huskers, AND jnorthwestern all have byes!?! That’s like giving byes to Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan all in the same weekend. Or, maybe not.
Buffkomodo: I was given shit from our fearless leader for forgetting Howard was on the football schedule, and that that was a “for sure” win for Northwestern. hahahahahahahahah. Given that result, I’m taking the bye week over Northwestern this week, 3-2.
RockyMtnBlue: Almost half of the fun division is off this week. No wonder these games all look terrible (aside from the West Division Championship Game, of course)
RUReady4Brazil: Almost half the Big Ten West is off this week? That’s what made picking winners less compelling! Rutgers-MSU especially in the rain should fill that void of archaic football quite well.
Who wins the bye week
This poll is closed
Minnesota, because it allows them to recover from the beatdown they got from RMB’s Wolverines last week.
Nebraska, because it allows them to recover from the beatdown they got from RMB’s Wolverines two weeks ago.
Northwestern, because they’re not tormented by the memory of a recent beatdown by RMB’s Wolverines.
Fuck RMB’s Wolverines.
Make your picks in the comments! Thanks as always for reading Off Tackle Empire.