Isn't it fun being part of a near disaster for our conference? The fellow basement teams with us (Minnesota and Indiana) both lost yesterday in home debuts. Iowa crapped itself at Iowa State. Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio State all had scares.
Maybe it is the fact the sun it out. Maybe my coffee is laced with LSD. Maybe I am just crazy and delusional, but yesterday gave me hope that something can still be salvaged out of this season despite a loss. Sure, it defies logic and all evidence presented so far, but games against Southeast Missouri State, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, and yes, maybe even Penn State and Michigan (offense, first three quarters edition) aren't that difficult to win.
Unfortunately, that is where logic and evidence get in the way. All those teams are beatable with our current roster and talent, but the coaching staff and their appalling lack of ability to change despite overwhelming evidence that change is necessary gets in the way.
With that, let's round up week 2 in the Big Ten and for our non-conference opponents:
Iowa State 44, Iowa 41 3OT
I expect that large quantities of the brownest of brown liquors were consumed in Iowa City last night. The depraved editorial staff of Black Heart Gold Pants likely ventured down to Bret Bielema's sex dungeon, or at the very least laid there and let a prostitute slap them like Don Draper at the beginning of season 4 of Mad Men. Both of those options are better than stomaching a loss to the Cyclones. I would feel bad too if I got beat by a guy named Steele Jantz. That sounds like a bad gay porn name.
Michigan State 44, Florida Atlantic 0
At least someone played a mid-major opponent and delivered a thorough ass-whipping that fans expect. Michigan State, tell me what it is like again please?
Ohio State 27, Toledo 22
You have to love the Rockets, who had the balls to go for the deuce on their first touchdown and play to win. Again, I'd love to know what that is like. The Buckeyes very nearly got a well-deserved comeuppance. The SBNation's Big Ten blogging contingent has an unofficial boycott of Along the Olentangy and their draconian rule against subject lines. If there is one fanbase that is long overdue for an embarrassing loss, it is OSU. I, for one, would have welcomed a Toledo win.
Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 0
Once again, consider me terrified of Wisconsin. If they continue to play as well as they have in the first two weeks they may go 13-0. They are the Big Ten's best chance at getting to the National Title game. For what it's worth, they went 12-1 in my recently completed NCAA '12 season and won the Big Ten. Their one loss: 12-7 to Purdue on a late Boiler touchdown. Of course, I had Purdue finishing 10-3 with losses to Illinois, Michigan, and Mississippi State in the Capitol One Bowl.
Illinois 56, South Dakota State 3
Minnesota fans look at this game and wonder, "How did you do that?" Troy Pollard and Nathan Scheelhaase (who's house? SCHEELHAASE!) ran rampant over the Jackrabbits. It's strange, but Illinois could be the second best team in our division right now. Penn State's offense is anemic. Ohio State was exposed yesterday, and both Purdue and Indiana are awful. That could put the Fighting Illini a win or two away from Indy.
Rice 24, Purdue 22
I have to credit Rice for playing well enough to win, but we really crapped ourselves all day long. Penalties kept scoring drives alive for them. If we simply had bad time management instead of atrocious we likely win. We continue to not play to our strengths or exploit a team's weaknesses. The sad thing is that if things can get fixed we can still win 5 or 6 games. Only Wisconsin looks like a total and absolute mismatch right now. Sadly, I know these things won't change because many of them have been glaring mistakes for multiple seasons. As much as Danny Hope wants to put it on the players it is not their fault, either. At least we have a I-AA game next week. Lose it and we need to clean house in the post-game presser.
There were encouraging signs though. The defense played well int he final 25 minutes. Well enough to win, in fact. Caleb TerBush continues to grow and can be a very good quarterback this season. Ralph Bolden (when given the ball) was a difference on the last drive. We can still salvage this season, but I don't trust the coaching staff to do so.
Northwestern 41, Eastern Illinois 21
The Wildcats gave up a couple of big plays, but still was in firm control throughout. Kain Colter is more than an adequate replacement for Dan Persa so far. They did what Big Ten teams should do against lesser opponents: The ground them into submission with the running game. Can someone please tell this to Danny Hope?
New Mexico State 28, Minnesota 21
Best wishes to the Minnesota faithful and coach Jerry Kill. Obviously the terrifying sight of having your coach collapse and have multiple seizures on the field overshadows anything football-related. Kill is an excellent coach for the Golden Gophers. They may have a rough year this year, but things will turn around.
Alabama 27, Penn State 11
I had high hopes when the Nittany Lions took a 3-0 lead on their first possession, then the Alabama defense got there and slammed the door. There is something to be said for watching excellence in action, and the Crimson Tide is an excellent team. Penn State's continuing quarterback controversy gives me the smallest amount of hope that my trip to Happy Valley will not be in vain. Ah well, at least I'll see a new Big Ten venue.
Virginia 34, Indiana 31
Normally my conscience would be eased by saying, "at least we're not as bad as IU", but they have our Bucket and I am not so sure we can get it back on November 26. By then we'll be trying to ake six timeouts per half and running Michael Rouse out of the wildcat because we "need to prepare a fourth quarterback to play". For the uninitiated, Rouse is a freshman defensive tackle. The Hoosiers didn't show up for three quarters, made a stunning comeback to take an eight point lead, then pissed it away in the last five minutes. Edward Wright-Baker and his gift-wrapped fumble in the final two minutes was an especially cruel way to lose this one. We can scratch IU off the bowl list because there is no way they are winning four Big Ten games.
Nebraska 42, Fresno State 29
The Cornhuskers were pushed hard for three quarters before pulling away with 21 fourth quarter points. That might be what Nebraska needs if they're going to contend in the Big Ten in year one. Honestly, I am still not used to seeing them on Big Ten Network yet. They don't feel like part of the conference since they aren't our schedule.
Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31
God Bless the Michigan Wolverines, as they did the Lord's work yesterday. Denard Robinson even made me like turncoat Roy Roundtree because he ripped out Fighting Irish hearts Kali Ma-style. Notre Dame losing is always great. Having their heart ripped out in the final seconds just as Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit are taking turns on their knees in front of Tommy Rees after his previous drive is even better. Sure, we're likely going to get drubbed in a few weeks, but if we somehow win that game and ND is 0-5 afterward with 2,987 red zone turnovers and 670 yards per game I'll be dancing a jig of joy. I'll gladly trade a loss to Rice if it means we somehow send the Irish to 2-3 or worse.
Southeast Missouri State - BYE WEEK
Georgia Tech 49, Middle Tennessee State 21
The Yellow Jackets went on the road to MTSU and led 42-7 going into the fourth quarter. Get this, THEY RAN THE BALL DOWN THEIR THROATS!!!!!! Tech had 382 yards rushing and 214 yards passing. I think that says all we need to know about us.