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All About Big Ten Football’s Early Action: The Week 1 Mailbag is Here!

Our very learned and profesh answers to your burning questions.

Ohio State v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Goodness gracious, you all are football-starved! Our mailbag was CHOCK FULL this week of questions about teams that can pretty much all be described as underwhelming to bad. You’re a bunch of sickos - but fortunately, so are we, because we answered them.

To the mailbag!

Nebraska is Cursed Double Feature:

“Dumber (but wholly expected) season opener? Nebarka or Purdue? And which of the two fanbases are the most Ingmar Bergman?”– glassjawed

“What’s the over/under on number of 1 score games Nebraska loses this year? This is getting freakishly weird.”–ProveIt

Buffkomodo: I don’t know who Ingmar Bergman is. But I think Purdue’s season opener is dumber because they actually scheduled Fresno State. I have a whole rant prepared about scheduling for some of our more middling programs if you’d like it.

As for O/U, I think you’ll win your first one score game at the end of the year, leaving you with hope for the future only to have it ripped away in game one of next season when you play at Oregon to start conference place.

WSR: Having spent Thursday night around a few over-served and under-educated Nebraska fans, I’m going to avoid the potshots and agree that Purdue scheduling Fresno is just stupid. Trust me, I know how stupid. Y’all didn’t have Antoine Winfield Jr. there to bail you out, and look what happens.

As for one-score Nebraska losses, I think that number goes down with the season-ending injury to Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda. He and Tyler Nubin were Jeff Sims’s favorite targets, and he won’t have either to hit going forward. I think opposing defenses will have guys to step up and make catches, but the Huskers may not.

RockyMtnBlue: Both were pretty much just living up to their identity, right? That’s not always good, but I’m not sure we can call it dumb. We can call it fun (as long as we’re not fans of those teams). For the O/U give me 4. We already had one, and I think we’ll get another in a few weeks when Michigan rolls into town, which will have a very Big10 result of both fanbases unhappy and the other 12 pointing and laughing.

MNW: I don’t know what Matt Rhule has to do to get this shit out of Nebraska’s system, but MAN could you just see that shit coming a mile away.

Side note: I’m really fucking tired of Minnesota getting away with that shit, particularly in the early season/non-conference. South Dakota State, Fresno State x2, Georgia Southern, Miami Hydroxide…only Bowling Green has made them pay. This is as inexplicable for PJ Fleck (he’s not Jesus, no matter what Gopher bobos want to claim) as Nebraska’s record is for Frost and Rhule.

RU in VA: Loaded question. I really LIKE Jeff Sims. He seems like one of those guys that can just murder the right system.

Unfortunately he’s on a team that’s coached by Matt Rhule. Matt Rhule has this reputation as a “program builder” - but that trait as a coach isn’t relevant anymore. It’s win now or bust - same as the NFL (which Rhule was punted from after not… building the program). And the O/U of 4 sounds just about right. Take the over.

Kind of…: Purdue fans won the division last year and tend to be grateful for good things, even knowing they must end, so they’re channeling Bergman in one way:

Nebraska fans are nearing paranoia with the number of one-score losses, so they are Bergmanning as such:

misdreavus79: Has to be Purdue, because Ryan Walters is a defensive-minded coach getting into a shootout and being unable to stop their opponent. Nebraska fans are used to the one-score losses after fourth quarter leads. This was just more of the same for them.

BRT: I’m a Nebraska fan and know who Ingmar Bergman is, thankyouverymuch. I think Nebraska’s loss is dumber, but that’s mostly because I hate the scheduling of a meaningful (and I’d argue theoretically winnable) division conference game in Week 1. I also had a great deal of fun watching Purdue’s game, and pretty much no fun watching Nebraska’s, so, that’s also going to factor into this decision.

I’ll set my over/under at 5. I think we could win a few games of no account, and also Northwestern, and we’ll have a few in there that will just be big losses. Five seems reasonable.

“Please list the B1G west’s top five players in the running for the West Division September Heisman. You must show your work for including any player from Northwestern or Nebraska.”

– Middlewest Average

Buffkomodo: I can’t name 5 players from the West.

WSR: Daniel Jackson, Athan Kaliakmanis, Tyler Nubin, Dragan Kesich, and Mark Crawford.

RockyMtnBlue: If I didn’t have WSR’s list above, I also wouldn’t be able to list 5 players from the west. Kaliakmanis won a game with zero run support, and Nubin might be the best single defensive player in the Big10. So we’ll go with those and the waterboys from Nebraska, Purdue, and Northwestern.

RU in VA: Whoever the receiver was that bailed out Kaliakaerakimantis in the Nebraska game.

Kind of…: Luke Altmyer, Braelon Allen, Athan Kaliakmanis, Chez Mellusi, and the favorite, Tory Taylor

MNW: Good God.

Kaliakmanis is average, Jackson and Kesich did one nice thing each, Allen isn’t even the best wisconsin back right now, I don’t know what a Luke Altmyer is and won’t respond to the question, and I’m sure Purdue has a nice player, too.

For me? Tory Taylor, Brian Buschini, Mark Crawford, Huge Robertson, Jack Ansell. In that order.

HWAHSQB: Huge Robertson? I like it. Deion Burks, Luke Altmyer, Tory Taylor, and Johnny Newton

misdreavus79: Cade McNamara, Braelon Allen, Luke Altmyer, Hudson Card, [iowa defensive player]

“Who will be the later-day Denny Green; taking over as Northwestern’s head coach and earning 2025 B1G Coach of the Year by leading the Wildcats to a 3-9 record?”

– ziowa9

WSR: Brad Childress

MNW: Holy shit WSR fuck you

RockyMtnBlue: Brady Hoke. Obvi.

RU in VA: In a serious answer. Jonathan Gannon. That dude is about to get launched into the sun in Arizona. And I’m pretty sure he’s the Zodiac guy.

In a more serious answer, it’s going to be Mike Kafka after the G-men get another trophy this year.

Kind of…: Kafka makes sense. I’d say Craig Bohl except Braun already has NDSU connections. Probably worth giving Paul Chryst a call.

MNW: Chris Creighton. Manifesting it.

Misdreavus79: Whoever is the hot commodity in the G5 and believes they can turn Northwestern around.

HWAHSQB: I don’t know, but I hope it is Ron Zook because the B1G is more fun with him around.

“When (if?) college sports-ball players are designated as employees, will schools start putting non-compete clauses in their employment contracts, effectively rendering the transfer portal moo(t)?”

– hoegher


Buffkomodo: I’m not a lawyer, but I wouldn’t think schools have that kind of power AND would be dumb enough to do that. It’d be a publicity hit of epic proportions. So I’m going with no.

Larry31: I would think the schools would want max flexibility and it goes the other way with the employees having trade clauses, just like pro athletes. At the moment, every single athlete is effectively a 1-year rental.

WSR: Most non-compete clauses aren’t legal in Minnesota anymore. Thanks to our Governor’s fucking amazing spring session, we’re far and away the best state in the conference to live in. Come on up, stay a while, and leave if you feel the need because we won’t stop you.

MNW: Counterpoint to WSR—maybe don’t come visit just yet. Book it for a couple years out from now. Give it time. It’s pretty busy here. It gets cold soon. Just put that visit off.

HWAHSQB: I moved from iowa to Minnesota last year and I definitely traded up.

RockyMtnBlue: I think Buffkomodo has it right. They’ll really want to do it, but won’t want the publicity hit. It would be interesting if they put in very specific clauses about going to rivals. I think the more interesting thing we could see is back-loaded multi-year contracts as a means of trying to keep them from entering the portal.

RU in VA: Having worked for a few different tech firms that love to throw the 18 month non-compete in there, it’s irrelevant anymore legally.

I do see them working NIL deals more as contracts rather than flat fee + incentive. Base pay, incentive pay, 4 year term options (like RSUs, essentially) that vest over years with the team.

misdreavus79: Coaches won’t be as careful with cutting players as they are now (and by careful I mean from a PR perspective, since Deion showed how little happens when you tell a whole roster to pound sand already), but to go as far as to try non-competes, which not even the NFL does, would be too far a reach for them.

Ferentz Line Double Feature

“Utah St allowed 31.2 ppg last season, but still kept Iowa under the Ferentz line. What are the odds that Brian averages 25 ppg and keeps his job? Show your math.” – IUinVA

“The B1G was 7-7 against the Ferentz line in week one. How do we do in week two?” – Vaud

WSR: Northwestern, I’m begging you. Do what is right for all of us and get Cumberland’d.

RockyMtnBlue: Well, a lot of the Big10 played non-con cupcakes last week, so that should have helped. One team that didn’t, the team that’s expected to score ALL the points, failed to hit this line against Indinia, so that should have helped. Michigan did help (one of the ones who made it), but scored less than the spread in that game. All in all 7-7 indicates maybe that line is harder to hit than people think.

MNW: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, Nebarkas, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland. However many that is.

Since I now have the freedom to flourish in Iowa, I’m under no obligation to do any math or show my work. Just give me my goddamn $8,000 in taxpayer money to go to school whenever I chose, and when I go to Mickey’s Haus of Iowans Who Reed Good, fuck you.

misdreavus79: There are several FCS teams on the schedule, so that should help get over the hump. As Brian averaging 25 points per game, I’m not sure. Better question is, will it matter if Iowa finds itself at, say, 10-2, and with the West division in hand?

BRT: I mean, I think unless Iowa goes 4-8 (and maybe not even then), Brian is definitely keeping his job, Ferentz Line be damned. We know this. However, I’m hoping for a significant shortfall from the 25 points, because I’m interested in seeing if the moving goalposts are ever explicitly addressed, or if they just renew him with no comment, because who is stopping them? Accountability is for the little people.

“Did anyone have a positive comment, anywhere in college football, on the new “don’t stop the clock on a first down except in the final 2 minutes” rule???”

– Wacker Era Survivor

Buffkomodo: Granted it was a part of the game plan, but it was mentioned during the Indiana game with some glow.

WSR: I’m positive I’m already really sick of all the commercials.

Kind of…: I’m actually a fan. With all the temp offenses, there are plenty of plays occurring anyway, and it adds a game management tool. All for Army or Navy one day having a single drive take an entire quarter, and this might get them over the top.

MNW: It made me agree with Chip Kelly. And I hate them for that.

misdreavus79: No

HWAHSQB: Yes. It allowed to spend less time not watching the games.

“Does Indinia have a legitimate defense, or is OSU just mediocre on O?” – greenie71

Buffkomodo: Ah. Finally. Someone is asking the right question. The answer really is that the Hoosier defense is at least respectable. I had a lot of thoughts on the Ohio State offense, and I actually think the Buckeyes might stink offensively this year, but there’s no denying that Indiana kept the wideouts in check. That’s something special. It’s going to be a couple weeks until we see if the defense is legit good, but they’re on the right path. So to answer the question, it might.

WSR: It takes some time for a new OL to get their shit together, but Indiana did their job quite well and made the Buckeyes work to get anything going. Being an optimist, I’ll give the Hoosiers credit for some solid work on defense that helps all of us ignore whatever that was that they’re claiming is an “offense.”

RockyMtnBlue: In true “writer” fashion, I didn’t watch the game. Let’s go with “Nah” so I can say “You suck, OSU offense!”. Don’t @ me. We never get to say that.

RU in VA: As always, if you’re looking for skill gaps, just wait until that OSU/Rutgers tune up game. If OSU wins by 60 or more, they’re for real again. Anything less - there’s big trouble in little China.

MNW: No.

misdreavus79: Why not both dot jpeg.

BRT: I think it might be both, and I’m not sure that either will materially change the futures for either team. (Though OSU fans will gripe, because they’ll just be in some very good bowl, but not the playoff.)

“Time to overreact to week one. Anything change your mind about who is going to be in the CCG? Any drastic reevaluations of how this season is going to go?”

– LandofBlueSkyGopherWater

Buffkomodo: Ohio State is royally screwed if they can’t get better QB play. I mean, they did okay enough to win 8-9 games, but they’re far short of having a CFP or CCG team at this point. I honestly think they could end up losing to Notre Dame, Penn State, and Michigan this year with the offense we saw Saturday.

Larry31: I have a hard time drawing any solid conclusions from just one week, not just because Maryland played an FCS cupcake. Except, that Northwestern is gonna suck.

WSR: Nope. That played out about as expected.

RockyMtnBlue: Well I saw Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Illinois, and Northwestern play, which all led me to believe Wisconsin or Iowa will go to the CCG. From the east it’s OSU. Ryan Day is 31-2 in conference play. Picking against OSU is silly.

RU in VA: I like this “OSU might have three losses” hopium we’re mainlining this week. Let’s make sure the CCG has incredibly flawed teams that don’t make it into the Playoff - then we can all sit on the couch together.

Kind of…: The West might be worse than I thought. Mordecai had a couple of awful picks and Minnesota Golden Gophers was lucky to win at home. Iowa couldn’t meet the Ferentz line against a defense that sucked last year, and Illinois looks like assembly is still required. Will be a year to test the ability of various coaches to repair the plane while flying it.

MNW: Northwestern. Fuck you. Next question.

misdreavus79: Not really. Sure, it would be nice if Ohio State sucked on offense for once, but I’m not going to bank on it.

BRT: Not really, but I for one am thrilled that the West promises to be so true to itself in its final ride. I unironically love the Big Ten West and its endless idiocy and attendant suspense.

HWAHSQB: Not so much, but I agree with BRT wholeheartedly.

“What was on your high school mixtape/burned CD?”

–MNW, who is done with football and on to more auditory pursuits

Buffkomodo: Riding Solo - Jason Derulo

Larry31: Stray Cats, English Beat, U2 [before they got popular]. And hip-hop was just coming out - White Lines and The Message by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, and none other than LL Cool J before he went Hollywood with I Can’t Live Without My Radio! This was all back before West Coast rap was even a thing. These are all NYC rappers.

WSR: Which one? Are we talking about one from Winter of 1995 when I was a freshman and took over my girlfriend’s car stereo the second I jumped in with a ton of Oasis and Blur and the like? Summer of 1997 when it was mostly a mix of Dave Matthews Band and Husker Du? Spring of 1999 when it was a bunch of that girlfriend’s favorite pop stuff like Sugar Ray?

RockyMtnBlue: High School? Shit. I’m not sure I remember that far back, but I can damned well tell you burned CDs weren’t a thing. It probably had a lot of Elton John, Billy Joel, Steve Miller Band, and Boston on it. Side note: Boston’s first album is still the best rock album ever recorded. This is not debatable by rational humans.

RU in VA: Taking Back Sunday.

Kind of…: 1. I love the boss, but “auditory” is such an ugly word. Can we go with “aural” instead? [MNW note: BRT added “auditory” and I snickered at “aural”]

2. Damn @WSR, a mixtape of Dave Matthews AND Husker Du? That’s pretty, um, not typical. Good on you for not being easy to pigeonhole. I’m working through the options here: She Floated Away/Crash Into Me? Satellite/The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill? Hats off, sir.

3. Mine would basically have heavy on acts from the early days of Lollapalooza, especially Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, and RHCP. Plus Public Enemy. I definitely watched too much 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation in my misspent youth.

misdreavus79: Yeah I can’t remember that far back.

HWAHSQB: Anthrax, Slayer, Flotsam and Jetsom, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Guns and Roses.