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Mailbag: Pumpkin Spice, Everything Nice, and Things That Gopher Shame are Made Of

We answer your fall and football questions.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 23 Minnesota at Northwestern Photo by Ben Hsu/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Witticisms and whatnot...

“My wife’s friends keep scheduling activities on Saturdays in fall. I’ve spoken to my wife but she keeps agreeing for us to attend, sometimes even confirming with childcare, before letting me know she’s added it to the calendar. I’m not thrilled about this.

What B1G team (current or 2024) should I latch onto as my third team (behind Indinia and Michigan) to help me feel better about missing seeing games live?”


BoilerUp89: Having two teams is bad enough. You want three? Iowa probably has the most entertainment value and you won’t miss too much scoring by not not watching their games.

BRT: I think you need to pick OSU or something. Very little excitement or drama in most games, regardless of what nuances of underperformance their fans imagine on a weekly basis. Mostly, you’ll miss comfortable wins you can easily catch up on later. Do NOT pick a West team - you’ll be tempted to go this route, because they’re bad teams, and you’ll think you won’t care. They are bad teams, but they’re also batshit crazy, and the endless chaos kind of sucks you in.

MNW: Northwestern. Because you’ll know you didn’t miss anything.

Kind of...: Look at the boss just whistling past a 21-point fourth quarter comeback! The answer is clearly Sparty. At some point they’re going to write Mel Tucker a check that, while not the full value of his deal, will probably be more than he should get. That will be a good time to sigh “at least I didn’t invest too much time watching them live.”

RU in VA: Gonna take a left turn here since you SPECIFICALLY mentioned 2024. Washington is the pick here. They have the ability to play a really competitive schedule, are located in one of the best fall destinations in the US, and - get this - are three hours behind EST!

“Aww shucks, we have something scheduled from 1-4 PM. TOO BAD WASHINGTON PLAYS USC AT 10:30 PM!!!”

Buffkomodo: I mean…you should probably feel pretty good about missing Indiana games, unless you’re a masochist that is. If that’s the case, go ahead and latch onto Purdue and don’t let go, especially in March.

RUReady4Brazil: Oregon. At least they might have some interesting uniforms that you can avoid being blinded by if you had to see. And now you diversify your color choices so anything you are wearing would support on of the teams.

RockyMtnBlue: You need think outside the box. You don’t need another team. You need a divorce.

HWAHSQB: I’m with RMB here. My divorce was the best 12 a million dollars I ever spent. Nobody should root for more than two B1G teams and one should be your team and other should be the team that is playing iowa.

WSR: Have you considered a bonus relationship with someone who has a fandom outside of the B1G?

“Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers have crossover records of 9-14, 8-16, and 4-21 respectively. Even sweeping their crossovers, none of these teams will end the East/West division era with a winning record against the West. Once they will no longer have the East Division to blame, what will the fans of these teams be using as their excuse for their teams poor performance?”


Larry31: Really BoilerBot Behind Enemy lines? You’re resorting to “whataboutism?” My team sucks and so does yours? Is that what you’re implying? You know what Maryland’s collective record against Michigan, Penn St, and OSU is since joining the Big Ten? 3-21. Two wins against Penn State. And one win against Michigan during the beloved Brady Hoke years. That’s it. 8-16 is a helluva lot better than 3-21. We Maryland fans never claimed we’d win the West. Just that it sucks getting mollywhopped three times a year. Hustle off. Wallow in your mediocrity and just be glad you don’t have to face Michigan, Ohio St, and Penn State.

BoilerUp89: Letting USC, UCLA, UW, and Oregon in this conference.

BRT: Dog ate their game plans. :(

MNW: Respectively: almost basketball season, calendar changed to October, overslept their alarm.

Kind of...: Indiana will obviously just blame the B1G offices. There’s no point in wearing a B1G patch if you can’t tear it off and flounce about. Maryland...I dunno. Something, something flag? Claim they were mislead into believing that Howard was part of the B1G? Rutgers won’t have to use any excuses, though, as I’m reliably informed that once they get their full share they’ll start dominating.

RU in VA: This is a weak attempted comparison. Because in making this comparison, you’re ALSO saying that the B1G East is on par with the West - since you know, the turds in the East treat their all time win/loss as the same now.

But hey, whatever keeps B1G West fans interested as they’re holding onto 2012 Wisconsin for dear life.

Buffkomodo: You attempt to mock Indiana here, but the fact remains that since the inception of the divisions as in any form, Indiana is 0-13 vs Ohio State, 2-12 vs Penn State, and 1-9 vs Michigan. That’s a whole shade worse than 9-14. So piss on your question sir.

RUReady4Brazil: Ditto for Rutgers who is 1-27 against the Big Three. 2-35 against the Big Four if you add Michigan State who used to be quite good.

RockyMtnBlue: Are we the “1” in RUReady’s 1-27? Why yes we are. Fuck you forever Brady Hoke.

HWAHSQB: I don’t think the question was implying that the B1G west was on par with the top of the east at all. I think it was saying that your teams would be garbage no matter who they played and I agree with that.

WSR: I’m going to presume that look into the mirror and blame Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers for being Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers.

“Where does Minnesota’s collapse in Evanston rank against some of these other infamous performances:

- 2014: Maryland blowing a 35-10 lead against Rutgers and losing 41-38?
- 2006: Minnesota blowing a 38-7 lead against Texas Tech and losing 44-41?
- 2006: Northwestern blowing a 38-3 lead against Michigan State and losing 41-38?
- 1989: Minnesota blowing a 31-0 lead against Ohio State and losing 41-37?”

BoilerUp89: I remember none of these. You can’t pay me enough to watch Maryland v. Rutgers and 2006 is two years before I started attending Purdue and following the B1G.

BRT: Look, I enjoyed this implosion as much as the next person, but until they do this 25 times in a row or whatever the hell Nebraska is up to now, I really think the Huskers retain the collapsible crown. That said, I don’t remember the 2014 Maryland-Rutgers game, but that sounds amazing. What a debut in the conference.

MNW: Northwestern 2006 remains the gold standard, but I remember that 2006 Insight Bowl, too, Grinnin’ Glen. What a collapse.

Kind of...: All of the above games (and last Saturday) involved, at best, decent teams. It’s college football. Shootouts happen. If there are going to be 12 TDs, sometimes the teams trade TDs, sometimes each goes on a run of 3 or 4 in a row. Put ‘em in a bag and draw one out (though @mnw is right that ‘06 NW/MSU gets pride of place).

None of them is on the same level as “one of your best teams in the last 50 years blowing a 28-7 lead while surrendering 31 (!!!) fourth-quarter points against the team that would go on to win the B1G; and the game is on a Friday night because you share a shit stadium with a baseball team.(which was all for naught, as they were out of the playoffs a few days before kickoff and are 1-18 in playoff games since)”

It’s hard to run for over 400 yards (at an 8 ypc clip), only be -1 on turnovers, and lose.

Goodness, that was 20 years ago this year. Can we do an oral history, or will @WSR murder me for asking?

RU in VA: 2006 MSU. The Spartans had 11 NFL players on that team.

But 2006 MSU was a real roller coaster. Coming back against NW, then losing to Indiana, THEN the next week ushering in Michigan State’s 2nd (or 3rd at this point?) worst athletic department hire - Mark Dantonio.

RUReady4Brazil: In order of most forgivable.

5. The 2006 MSU, I agree with RU in VA since Michigan State was talented.
4. Bowl games are weird but at least that means your team was competent enough to get there with Texas Tech, Northwestern 2023 probably won’t be.
3. The 1989 Minnesota is particularly brutal because it was Ohio State and you won’t get many chances to beat them, even then when they were facing a downturn in the late 1980s. And you were up by 31! It was the record for biggest FBS comeback ever, but just a game of two halves.
2. The 2014 Maryland debacle was two evenly matched teams and then reversed the following year when they came back from a 21 point deficit under an interim coach on the road without being able to throw at all. Instead I’ll put the 2015 Indiana blowing a 52-27 lead in less than one quarter when Rutgers’s best receiver Leonte Carroo was injured once the game was 52-33. If Nate Sudfeld simply didn’t get his energy taken by the Monstars or a punt snap wasn’t worse than the “trouble with the snap” game, that’s an easy win. Indiana was a bowl team playing at home against a team (winless in the Big Ten other than this game) that was without their best player and down by 25 late in the 3rd quarter. As much as I appreciated that as a Rutgers fan, but seriously.
1. Which means yes, I put this Minnesota embarrassment in the top spot. Minnesota is a perennial bowl team with supposedly an “elite” defense, whereas Northwestern was destroyed by fellow perenial doormat Rutgers to open the season. if Northwestern gets to 6-6 then fine, this can drop to #2, but in the moment, this feels like #1.

Larry31: Totally different experiences. Watching Randy Edsall’s incompetence lead to a Rutgers come-from-behind win was a gut-punch. Watching the intellectually-superior Peej coach so gutlessly as Northwestern improbably overcame a 31-10 deficit late in the 3rd quarter was awe-inspiring. From my totally selfcentered and self-absorbed perspective, how are these two things even related? Except maybe to highlighted the ying and yang of emotions being a college sports fan.

Buffkomodo: Indiana blowing it against Rutgers in I think 2015 was pretty rough. Also blew one against Minnesota. The point is, I know none of these pains because simply being a Hoosier fan is pain enough.

RockyMtnBlue: I read the question and said “Hey, you’re missing an important one!” And there’s Kind Of..., stepping up to correct a great wrong. Minnesota was ranked 17th when they blew that lead. AND it was the 100th anniversary of the greatest trophy in college football. AND it was against hated Michigan. AND part of that comeback was a throwback pass to John Navarre for a long touchdown. John Navarre made Tom Brady look like Michael Vick. I’m pretty sure I’m faster today than John Navarre was then, and I’m a fat, fifty-something computer nerd.

WSR: Yeah, the worst is still what a Michigan friend of mine refers to as the “Water Buffalo Game.” This one will be right up there because a) EVERYONE IN THE WEST IS FUCKING AWFUL and b) IT’S JUSTNORTHWESTERN!

“John Navarre pass complete to Chris Perry for a 10 yard gain. Michigan first down.” will haunt my dreams forever.

“We have four new schools joining the existing fourteen to get us up to an 18-team conference named by SEC math majors. What Internet-created trophy should be devised for each of the four with an existing conference member?

I mean, aside from the obvious Under Armour/Nike Changing LED Colors Trophy, presented by Reebok, played for by Maryland & Oregon.”


BoilerUp89: USC gets something Troy v. Sparta themed with Michigan State. UCLA and Purdue can play for a framed picture of John Wooden. Oregon and Maryland can play for a slip and slide. Washington and wisconsin play for nothing. If we gave them a trophy the Badgers would just hide it.

BRT: The Troy vs. Sparta one has to happen, so I won’t add any others for USC. But in addition, I like:

— Washington and Rutgers can play for the “Five Hours Nonstop Trophy,” in recognition of the carbon footprint that these brilliant new conference lineups will leave. The trophy is a bundle of plastic straws in a plastic American airlines drink cup, melted onto a globe.

— UCLA and Nebraska can play for the “Kenough Trophy,” in recognition of the wildly different models of masculinity celebrated by their respective fanbases. The trophy will be a Ken doll, of course. When UCLA wins, Ken shall be clad in his traditional “Beach” (not Lifeguard, common misconception) look. When If Nebraska wins, the Ken trophy gets a tiny fat suit, a heavy dose of camouflage clothing, a seed corn cap, and his very own fish accessory that he is excited to show you.

— Oregon and Minnesota can play for the “A-Fair to Remember Trophy.” Minnesota has arguably the best state fair in the country, and corn dogs were invented in Oregon. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Oregon also had the world’s first mechanical riding corn dog, which is really something to hang your hat on, I guess. Anyway, it’s hard to imagine a state fair without corn dogs, so this trophy salutes both states’ contributions to fair culture.

Kind of...:

@BoilerUp89 only thinks UW hides trophies because he wouldn’t know what the Purdue/UW trophy looks like if there was one. Last time Purdue beat the Badgers was the same year Minnesota/Michigan game I noted above. Anyway:

-Washington and Wisconsin play for the “true UW” trophy, but you all call it the “ewwww” trophy and it gets satirized almost to “pew pew lazers” level of disregard (so obviously this has to happen)

-Mike Locksley is force-fed Skittles until he vomits. A photo is taken. This will be the Oregon/Maryland “19 year-olds like our uniforms” trophy.

-Washington and Northwestern play a neutral site game in the Twin Cities for a Prince-themed trophy that is none more purple.

-UCLA is required to wear baby blue jerseys for all road games against any team that wears red. Not a trophy. Just good sense.

-USC and Michigan play for a “we’d rather be playing Notre Dame” trophy that I’m too lazy to design further.

RU in VA: I’m going to try and come up with real ones, since I can’t erase the Locksley barfing skittles out of my brain.

Some sort of “coastal trophy” should be pretty easy to think up about USC and Rutgers.

Washington and Wisconsin have to have something... are there Fox Cities or some sort of joint apple program in Washington to glom onto?

Michigan and UCLA play the blueberry cup. Both teams with their blues on.

OR - the “I’d much rather play this football game at the Breslin Center Cup”. MSU and UCLA.

Buffkomodo: Indiana and UCLA playing for a rusty basketball trophy would be ideal.

RUReady4Brazil: The 1976 Final Four redux with Michigan, UCLA, Indiana, and Rutgers would be a start. Oregon and either Nebraska or Iowa could play for the Ugly Duckling trophy. Washington and Maryland probably deserve some sort of Liberal Coastal Elite recognition, maybe an original share of Silicon Valley Bank. ... So that leaves USC. I am ok with them and Michigan State doing something Greek themed/Trojan War, but ONLY if Michigan State dons actual red uniforms or at least cloaks prior to the game to show they do have some knowledge of history. And the trophy will rightfully be called Helen after my grandmother or Diane Kruger’s character or something.

What will probably happen? I do expect the Trojan War and aforementioned Under Armour-Nike classic to be a thing right away and then set off a chain of events. Rutgers will try to claim NYC recognition for some NY-LA, Broadway-Hollywood with the higher bidder of USC or UCLA (probably UCLA because USC is so busy in the Trojan War). If that goes well publicly (despite the likely bloodbath on the field), the lower bidder will then try something similar with the higher bidder of Northwestern and Illinois for LA-Chicago, which was never a thing other than the 1991 NBA Finals. With only the Huskies left, Maryland will also stake their claim to Washington, DC, so they will have some stupid George Washington’s horse trophy or something. Don’t get me wrong, I have all the respect in the world for George Washington but have little confidence he will be honored properly.

“In the Indinia game, one of the Akron players had a fucking tire around his neck after scoring a TD (turnover tire, touchdown tire, whatever). Two parter:

* Is this now to the point of ridiculousness that every thing has to have be recognized like a turnover chain, etc. Is a tire a step too far?

* What would be your team’s totem for a big play?”


BoilerUp89: Akron is still the Rubber capital of the world (and home of the minor league baseball team the RubberDucks) so a tire is fine for them. A rubber duck hat would have been better though. Purdue players should get to sound the Boilermaker Special train horn after a big play.

BRT: I get the tire, but in general, yes, the gimmicks have gotten a bit silly. Then again, I teach college-aged men, and I won’t even begin to pretend that I understand the mindset of that particular demographic, so perhaps these things really are motivating for them.

Our team’s totem should be the head of the New Herbie on a stick, because that thing is a f*cking abomination.

Kind of...: I mean, it’s clearly beyond ridiculousness at this point, but have your fun. I have no clue what UW’s totem could be. Cheese/sausage jokes are too easy. Maybe try to flip the theme. Have a briefcase, and after a turnover, just give the player a briefcase, he walks to the bench and sits down with no further celebration. Just doin’ your job, you know?

Me? Yeah, I’m pretty old. Why do you ask?

RU in VA: The initial turnover Miami chain was fun. Never forget Manny Diaz was behind that thing. Rutgers would for sure go for some family friendly item like a gold encrusted pork roll egg and cheese or something.

Buffkomodo: As a team that actually got in on the good side of this, I think Indiana’s WWE turnover belt is the best. You can research why that’s relevant on your own. Personally, I loved the turnover tire though. Was a nice touch from Akron.

RUReady4Brazil: I think it’s stupid, but I was old school even as a player. Maybe a freshly made, boardwalk funnel cake around the neck in the shape of a Scarlet Knight? Might not be great early in the year, but during the colder months, would be as effective as a scarf. With Schiano though, I’d expect more like a lunch pail around the shoulder to show that getting turnovers is what they consider their normal day job, no matter how ridiculous that is historically speaking. With the tire though, shouldn’t it have been Brake Pads from Callahan Auto?

Larry31: I mean, Akron kind of sucks. Let ‘em have their fun. I don’t want Maryland to do one of these things becasue, at this point, it is unoriginal and played, kind of like being in Joanie Loves Chachi, the 4th spin-off from Happy Days.

WSR: Until we find a way to have a turnover hotdish, the trend hasn’t gone far enough.

“How incredibly hilarious is it on a scale from 9 to 10 that, despite throwing for a whopping 42 yards, Cade McNamara stated after his game that if they had another shot at PSU that he knows they would win?

Is there a more tone deaf statement said by a player or coach in recent years than this?”

BoilerUp89: 9.97

BRT: 10/10. No notes for Cade, except for his play, I guess. As for tone-deaf, I think Scott Frost complaining about his team wearing hoodies during warm-ups in Minnesota while the product on the field was what it was remains pretty exceptional.

Kind of...: I haven’t read all the materials relating to Mel Tucker yet, so I guess I have to say no. I can only assume that McNamara was so traumatized by the domination that he thought he was still with Michigan.

RU in VA: Ifs and buts are candy and nuts.

Buffkomodo: *insert GIFS of Tom Allen celebrating missed field goals to win compilation

RUReady4Brazil: 9. He has to read his teammates in the locker room which is more important this time of year than placating the media, but this is exactly what got Doug Graber fired and replaced by the worst coach in Rutgers history, Terry Shea. Yes, he was worse than Chris Ash somehow. And Chris Ash QBs threw for less than 42 yards quite often.

Larry31: Shouldn’t we be more concerned with Cade McNamara’s life-choices? C’mon, Chalupa Batman! You have to mock a guy when he decided to transfer from Michigan to be a QB for Brian Ferentz? Sympathy and concern should be your emotions, not mockery. Talk about kicking a man while he’s down. You’re a horrible person. Should we mock Drew Allar if he decided to take up finger painting instead of playing QB for Penn State?

RockyMtnBlue: Cade McNamara will always have a place in my heart for his role in turning Michigan around after the spectacularly bad 2020 season. But anyone who’s paid attention to him in the past wasn’t surprised by that comment.

HWAHSQB: Stuff like this makes me really glad that I wasn’t a high-profile athlete in the internet day and age. At 22, I’m pretty sure loads of stupid crap came out of my mouth, but other than the occasional professor, I didn’t have middle-aged dudes chortling about how dumb I was.

WSR: It’s a 10/10, and we should applaud Cade for getting what has to be an absurd amount of money to leave Michigan for Iowa’s offense while also worrying about his sanity. It’s never a bad time to fake a back injury, you know.

“Is a quarter-zip pullover paired with a dress shirt and tie ever a good look on anyone? Is this look particularly bad on a coach with no spine that coaches not to lose?”

Larry31: Great question! Glad you asked!!! Stop it now, Peej. You look like a door-to-door solicitor trying to pimp vinyl siding and new windows. Better yet, you look like a door-to-door salesman with no spine trying to pimp vinyl siding and new windows.

Kind of...: I come not to bury P.J. Fleck, but to praise him. If Bert tried to pull that look off, the “lives in a van down by the river” jokes would write themselves. Peej wants to look nice, and Woody Hayes and Jim Tressel have already put certain looks off limits.

Plus, given Minnesota’s color scheme, there aren’t many options for how he can dress himself and still look like an adult. The dress shirt and tie is a cry for help and we should all show a little understanding.

MNW: wait are you saying i can’t wear sweater vests when i teach

RU in VA: Quarter zip + jeans + SNKRS drops are the actual tech industry leadership uniform, so he’s just following trends.

But dawg. No one can see that tie. You don’t look more formal. You look like a teacup Yorkie owned by a deranged 82 year old woman who dresses said dog up.

Buffkomodo: A quarter zip needs no fancy under shirt. The zip itself is the feature, so yeah. That’s my thoughts but I also think a golf polo is dressy.

RUReady4Brazil: The outfit is the least of their problems. But to quote the immortal Crash Davis, “Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful.”

RockyMtnBlue: AHEM. That’s “...fungus grow on your shower shoes...” Don’t try to tell me ancient sports movies.

WSR: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that look if you’re in shape(ish). Ties usually go better with a quarter-zip fleece instead of the Nike stuff, but I’m not a B1G coach.

“Alright cowards time to tackle the tough questions here at OTE.

1) Pumpkin spice flavored anything - Yes or No?
2) Why is single malt scotch the best liquor?”

BoilerUp89: No. It isn’t?

BRT: Pumpkin spice is alright—I’m a particular fan of the pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joe’s. But there are far better fall flavors that deserve to have more of the spotlight that pumpkin spice is hogging— salted caramel and maple are both better, IMO, and have a great fall flavor vibe.

It’s not the best to me, though I’ve tried enough good stuff on recent sojourns to the British Isles that I can at least understand the draw. I think it’s the vibe as much as the taste - you just feel sophisticated consuming it.

RU in VA: Starbys has this Pumpkin Foam Latte. It’s worth it for millennials to forgo owning a house and buy a few.

And single malt scotch hot takes belong right next to Tide pod jokes, dead and in the corner. When we all inevitably get older, we realize that Gin is the only answer.

Buffkomodo: Fuck and no.

RUReady4Brazil: The pumpkin anything was a no until I was about 30 and then I can accept it in certain things like donuts and some well done beers, but not Oreos.

If the Scotch was so good, Bobby Boucher wouldn’t have said to hold it. That said I can’t say Scotch is always the best option, but in certain situations it is. (i.e. suited up with your boss who is using a fake name to get into the Duquesne Club on the evening of the day the Big Ten Tournament was cancelled in 2020)

Larry31: I looooove pumpkin spice in pumpkin bread or pumpkin muffins. Otherwise, GTFO with pumpkin spice. Hey, pumpkin spice, stay in your lane, bro’.

In case any of you still had your doubts as to whether I am a man-child, I’d rather have a Coke than a single-malt scotch. I have the palate of a humming bird.

RockyMtnBlue: No and hell no.

MC ClapYoHandz: I had a somewhat interesting revelation with this. Now as we know it’s called pumpkin spice and features nutmeg and cinnamon and all that but nothing even hinting at relation to pumpkin. So, innovators that they are, a local spot here is now making pumpkin spice lattes but with prominent use of real pumpkin in its makeup. Being a terminal pedant about this drink’s nomenclature for some time I was intrigued and gave it a go earlier this month. Turns out...your morning cup o’ joe is not, in fact, in dire need of more gourd. Get the fake Starbucks crap; the real thing is not it.

HWAHSQB: I love pumpkin bars, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin pancakes, but I could be Bert’s stunt double so I’m probably the wrong guy to ask. I find scotch to be an overrated drink favored by pompous A-holes. I’ll take a Grain Belt Nordeast or a gin and tonic, but you are welcome to drink whatever you like.

WSR: Pumpkin spice is perfectly fine, and it’s a decent lead-in to peppermint mocha season. And I’m sure single-malt is fine if you don’t have any Irish whiskey or good beer or bad beer or vodka.


Pumpkin everything?

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