Two weeks with gnomes? I wasn’t lying to you when I said the gnomes were back y’all.
NORTHWESTERN NOTE: Are you really only here to see the gnomes mock Northwestern? Just scroll on down to the big picture of the gnomes laughing at Northwestern.
Here’s how the gnomes opened last week:
LOVIE SMITH IS TOTALLY GOING TO MAKE ILLINOIS A WINNER!
How’s that going?
Important thing: the author has bourbon in his moniker. I hope that’s his real name but even if it isn’t you can trust what he’s saying. Because bourbon.
OK, so the Illini might not be headed back to immediate greatness. The Champaign Room deals with the let-down:
This was a frustrating game. While the final score indicates a game that many outsiders would expect — North Carolina asserts its dominance over an overmatched Illinois squad — and I’m still not sure whether that was the case or not. Illinois jumped out to an early lead putting the sellout crowd into a frenzy, but a mountain of errors allowed the Tar Heels to slowly take control of the game. So while many Illinois fans were talking themselves into an upset victory Saturday night, it wasn’t to be as North Carolina leaves Champaign with a 48-23 victory.
Here are three things we learned from Saturday’s loss.
Passing the ball is going to be a struggle
Next up? Western Michigan claims another Big Ten victim.
It was not to be Ball State. Indiana caught the gnomes attention for about 5 minutes on Saturday before the gnomes remembered they don’t care about Indiana football. No one else does either (including a lot of Indiana fans) which is sad for them because the gnomes think they are probably going to make back to back bowl games (box score commentating is a thing, deal). Crimson Quarry is trying to figure it all out:
Should you be excited about this particular Indiana football yet?
Hell, I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. There's evidence here to make your case that Indiana Is Good Now if you'd like. Tom Allen's brand new 4-2-5 defense has surrendered all of 26 points in two weeks. Devine Redding's leading the Big Ten in rushing yards. Richard Lagow hasn't thrown a pick in either of his first two collegiate starts. Indiana's fourth in the nation in turnover margin. These are good things, and things to be excited about. Ben's already talked about that.
Of course, those two wins have also come over FIU and Ball State -- two programs not expected to provide a ton in the way of offense in 2016. Other blogs and fans will selectively look at the box score interpretation that most supports the argument that Their Team Is Better Than Indiana. They trailed FIU in the fourth quarter, look what Maryland did! They only beat Ball State by ten! Playing the margin-of-victory game over inferior early-season opponents is often a horrible predictor of future success, but, sure, die on this hill if you wish.
The reality? Just wait three more dang weeks before we start espousing opinions. Wake Forest and Michigan State are hardly offensive juggernauts themselves -- neither Kendall Hinton nor Tyler O'Connor will be taking the top off the Indiana defense when each team comes to Bloomington on September 24 and October 1. But those are winnable tests for this Indiana football team -- yes, Michigan State, too. If they're able to get past both of those, you can feel safer hitting the hype button before heading to The Shoe on October 8.
Next up? BYE WEEK
Iowa is looking far too competent for the gnomes’ liking. So they’re going to just point that this guy in the news again.
Oh, and BHGP had this to say:
Much has been said about the changes of Kirk Ferentz over the last season + 2 games, but nothing has shown me more than a series early in the 4th quarter Saturday. Up 42-3 on the Cyclones, Kirk allowed GD Greg Davis to call 3 straight passes without firing him immediately after the game. Old Kirk’s head would’ve exploded at the thought of not milking the clock for the entirety of the 4th quarter with that sort of lead. I’d love to say Kirk encouraged the aggresivity (and hell, maybe he did), but the fact that Iowa didn’t totally shut down the playbook late in the bloodbath tells me perhaps New Kirk has a little Hayden DNA flowing through the veins. I could get used to scores like that every year.
Next up? Big Ten Powerhouse North Dakota State.
The gnomes STILL. DON’T. CARE. ABOUT. MARYLAND.
But that said, Maryland is 2-0 and has people saying nice things about them. Let’s turn it over to Testudo Times:
Maryland is looking good - better than most of us probably expected -- so far this season. A blowout win against Howard was almost a given, but dominating FIU was not. The Terps came in only 11.5-point favorites, but outplayed FIU from the start. This is a stark departure from where the program was after Week 2 last season, when the Terps were coming off an embarrassing home loss to Bowling Green. Bowling Green ended up being a really good team last year — finishing 19th in S&P+ — but this was a loss that helped plant the seeds for Randy Edsall’s firing. DJ Durkin’s team hasn’t been tested yet, but it hasn’t done much wrong.
More important is this news about the other team the gnomes don’t care about and Maryland:
The Maryland football and wrestling teams will both travel to New York to face Rutgers in 2017, the schools announced Tuesday morning. The football game had previously been reported by a few outlets back in May, but the wrestling portion had not.
Dubbed “The Big Ten Battle in the Bronx” by each school, the football game and wrestling match will both take place on November 4.
Next up? Maryland heads to UCF.
Michigan destroyed a shit UCF team. Yay. Maize n’ Brew?
We haven't learned much else about the team as it relates to this season. And we won't until the schedule gets tougher. It takes a slight step toward the deep end this week, as Michigan is only a 20 point favorite against Colorado, compared to 35+ points the first 2 games. We haven't really seen this team face any sort of adversity, as of yet. Colorado will at least bring a big time offense to town, as they put up 49 in the first half Saturday (albeit against a dreadful Idaho State team). After that, the Big Ten schedule gets rolling, with Penn State and Wisconsin (currently in the Top 10) as the first 2 games. That is when we can start drawing more definitive conclusions about who Michigan is in 2016.
In 1994, No. 7 Colorado defeated No. 4 Michigan on a Hail Mary from Kordell Stewart to Michael Westbrook, 27-26. The Wolverines entered the fourth quarter leading by 12 points, but the Buffaloes scored twice in the last 2:16 of the game to win.
Colorado is probably getting torched, but that’s quality troll work.
Next up? Colorado, duh.
Michigan State (1-0)
Nothing football to mock or talk about from Week 2 means the gnomes highlight a post about the upcoming Notre Dame game. In this case, The Only Colors highlights a rant we should all remember:
This Saturday, Michigan State and Notre Dame will renew a rivalry that dates back to 1897. The series has included the “Game of the Century” and “Little Giants” but no game has given a gift like the one that took place a decade ago.
Of course, I’m referring to the epic rant radio host and MSU Alum Mike Valenti delivered the following Monday morning. Diehard Spartan fans can probably quote the painfully true lines in their sleep, but for those who have not experienced this incredible piece of high art, I ask you to journey back to 2006 as we set the stage for arguably the greatest sports rant ever.
Next up? Domers.
Nebraska beat Wyoming convincingly, though it wasn’t an immediate blowout. Corn Nation had this to say:
Just like last week, the Nebraska Cornhuskers let their opponent hang with them til the fourth quarter. But, just like last week, the Huskers delivered the knockout punch in the final 15 minutes.
Behind a record-setting day by Tommy Armstrong and 4 takeaways by the Blackshirt defense, the Huskers pulled away later in a close game by scoring 28 unanswered points. That, and the efficiency on offense late helped the Huskers defeat the Wyoming Cowboys 52-17 Saturday afternoon in front of just under 90,000 at Memorial Stadium.
The Huskers (2-0) had struggles with running the ball, but used 412 yards of passing to defeat the Cowboys (1-1), who seemed to self-destruct late in the Lincoln sun.
In other news, JET SWEEPS ARE THE DEVIL. Seriously though, read all of this. It’s gold:
Sarah Benson sees them in her syrup and pancakes.
Robert Felker sees them in his cows.
David Rogers sees them in his commute home through North Omaha on 580 in the traffic patterns every single day.
Bert Steinbill swore he saw them in a group of deer he is figuring on hunting this fall. "There was one buck chasing a doe and I swore she came around the left side of that group like she was a lead blocker and he was the ball carrier."
Calls to 911 services are up across the state of Nebraska this week as the Huskers prepare to take on Oregon. Oregon runs a spread offense and even though they don't run jet sweeps any more than anybody else does, Nebraskans are seeing the jet sweeps everywhere.
State psychiatrist Martin Pretzel says that this is a phenomenon that's been happening ever since Nebraska lost the Big Ten championship game to Wisconsin, scoring on endless jet sweeps that are forever preying on the minds of Nebraskans during football seasons since.
Next up? Oregon at Lincoln.
Northwestern (currently batting .000 for their season)
The gnomes are amused Northwestern. After a summer of “10 WIN SEASON” talk and bluster, the Wildcats go out and faceplant against Western Michigan. Ok, that sucks. But you can talk your way around it or out of it or whatever. Western Michigan isn’t 1-AA. But you know who is 1-AA?
Those guys are 1-AA. Unsurprisingly given their history, Inside NU is #notafan of this outcome:
One thing is almost certain: Mick McCall will survive this season. The likelihood of a midseason fire of an offensive coordinator—barring the firing of a head coach—is infinitesimally small, and Pat Fitzgerald is not going anywhere.
But the calls to fire McCall certainly have a base, especially after Northwestern put up a pathetic seven points against Illinois State. Seven. That’s the lowest number from a Power 5 team against an FCS team since Kansas in 2010, when the Jayhawks lost 3-6 to North Dakota State. That’s the same Kansas program that went 0-12 last season and whose fans rushed the field after beating Rhode Island to open this season.
This sounds promising. Tell me more Off Tackle Empire (seriously, click the link and read it all MNWildcat is a fine human being and a great writer of fan pain posts):
FIRE MICK FUCKING MCCALL
SHOOT ADAM CUSHING INTO THE GODDAMN SUN
SOMEONE GIVE PAT FITZGERALD ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY SO HE ADMITS THIS GROUND-AND-POUND OFFENSE IS NOT THE MOTHERFUCKING ANSWER BECAUSE HOLY SHIT HOW MANY MORE SHITBITCHINGASS LIMPDICK PLAYCALLS AND OFFENSIVE POSSESSIONS ARE ENOUGH BEFORE YOU ADMIT IT’S NOT JUST “EXECUTION,” YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A CHUCKLEFUCK OFFENSIVE FUCKING COORDINATOR AND A GODDAMN ANEMIC PASSING ATTACK WHICH, HOLY FUCK, YOU’RE GOING ON ALMOST TWO CONSECUTIVE YEARS OF NOW BECAUSE OF FUCKING COURSE LOSING TO A MOTHERFUCKING D1-AA PROGRAM IS GODDAMN FINE, HAVE YOU SEEN OUR NEW LAKESIDE FACILITIES AND YES THEY’RE GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL BUT FUCK ME IF YOU DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE TO WIN MOTHERFUCKING GAMES OTHERWISE ANY RECRUIT WITH HALF A FUCKDAMN BRAIN WILL LOOK AT THIS HORSESHIT PROGRAM AND LAUGH BECAUSE THEY CAN GO PLAY FOR FUCKNOTREDAME AND ACTUALLY WIN OR illinois AND HEY LOOK IT’S LOVIE SMITH AND ANOTHER FORM OF A LIMPDICK OFFENSE BUT AT LEAST IT’S AN NFL COACH OR SOMETHING. THAT’S THE FUCKING ANSWER, JUST SHOW THEM A BIG FANCY LAKEFRONT FACILITY JUST OH GOD DON’T TAKE THEM TO THE GAME AND WATCH ETHEL AND CLIVE AND WHATEVER OTHER 78 YEAR-OLD ALUMNI DISDAIN ANYONE WITH THE FUCKING AUDACITY TO MAKE NOISE AS YOUR TEAM LOSES TO ANOTHER DIRECTIONAL MICHIGAN OR SOMETHING BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FUCKING BUILD AN OFFENSE TO SAVE YOUR CHUCKLEFUCK LIFE. BUT HEY DID YOU KNOW TREVOR SIEMIAN IS IN THE NFL AND OH MY GOD WE’RE REALLY PROUD OF THAT HE MUST’VE REALLY DEVELOPED AT NORTHW—OH WAIT MICK MCCALL FUCKING WASTED HIM TOO AND HE DIDN’T HAVE A SINGLE FUCKING WIDEOUT WHO COULD CATCH A GODDAMN BALL SO HEY THOSE TWO 5-7 SEASONS LOOK REALLY GREAT RIGHT ABOUT NOW MAYBE WE CAN GET ONE OF THOSE FUCKING EXEMPTIONS FOR GODDAMN PITIFUL PROGRAMS AND GO BEAT AKRON IN THE PIZZA CITY BOWL
Chucklefuck. The gnomes like that one.
Oh and the tweets. The glorious glorious tweets this inspired...
Who's really Chicago's B1G team? I think we know now. pic.twitter.com/g0vRC7iXN4— Ben Dawson (@BenjaminJDawson) September 10, 2016
It's fitting that Chicago's Big Ten team has so many Crying Jordan moments.— MakeIowaAwesomeAgain (@PV_GIA) September 10, 2016
ILLINOIS FOOTBALL TEAMS, RANKED— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) September 10, 2016
2. Illinois State
3. Northern Illinois
Proposed to at and during a Northwestern-Illinois State game. Who says romance is dead? https://t.co/99OiqvPnFN— Luke Zimmermann (@lukezim) September 10, 2016
Next up? Duke, one of the few places as smug as Northwestern.
Ohio State (2-0)
Beat Tulane or Tulsa or Toledo or someone. They won by a lot. The gnomes were dutifully impressed. LGHL?
In a driving rainstorm, the Ohio State offense gave fans flashbacks to last season. They were ultra-conservative, running the read option on seven of their first eight offensive plays to no success. They also did not cash in on good field position early, which could have demoralized Tulsa right away.
You poor, poor Buckeyes you.
Penn State (1-1)
Good thing Penn State didn’t play a rival on Saturday, they’d probably have lost by a lot more.
Black Shoe Diaries, your reaction?
Three Key Takeaways
1) The issues on defense are real - Yes, Pitt’s strength is its offensive line. However, Pitt was able to do whatever they wanted on offense. Jason Cabinda being out doesn’t account for over 300 yards on the ground for Pitt.
2) Offense needs to clean up the turnovers - Three fumbles in the game gave Pitt a much easier time than they should have. Two of those turnovers turned into points for Pitt, as both of those drives started in Penn State territory.
3) Treat it properly - Hey James From State College, maybe next year, you mind not treating this game like just another game? K thanks.
Next up? Temple. You know, the ones who did this last year.
So things are good yes? Hammer and Rails? Guys? You ok?
Barring a complete and utter miracle of an unexpected turnaround, the Darrell Hazell era in West Lafayette ended today. Yes, it is very likely he will coach the final 10 games of this season. There is even a chance Purdue beats teams like Nevada, Illinois, Penn State, and Northwestern so he hangs around for another year (although that is unlikely). Even then, today proved that Hazell simply cannot lead Purdue to any sort of sustained success on the football field. There can be brief moments of success, such as the Nebraska game and challenging Michigan State, but today was just another example of Hazell’s teams being completely and utterly incapable of sustaining any momentum whatsoever.
Let it be known that Darrel Hazell officially quit on Purdue with roughly 12 minutes left in the third quarter. Purdue trailed 21-7 at home. They had received the opening kickoff and even benefitted from Cincinnati not pushing the issue just before halftime, as mentioned. Purdue drove to the Cincy 36 and had 2nd and 5. It absolutely needed a score to reverse momentum. Purdue threw two incomplete passes, then, facing 4th and 5 down two touchdowns at home and at the opponent’s 36 yard line, Hazell chose to punt. I am aware there is no guarantee that Purdue converts or even scores on the drive, but this was a surrender punt by every definition of the word. It was a callow, cowardly move by a coach that had absolutely nothing to lose by going for it. Instead, he punted. Purdue gained a whopping 26 yards of field position, and Cincy drove for a field goal that pretty much ended the game.
The gnomes don’t think Hammer and Rails is ok.
Next up? I assume they’ll be reading a lot of Edgar Allen Poe and lamenting the unfairness of life. Oh, you meant for the football team. A BYE WEEK that gives fans plenty of time to get their bleach cocktail recipes perfected.
The internet never forgets Rutgers...
I think Rutgers football is just a giant tax write off. https://t.co/59IuKzrPly— CornNation (@CornNation) September 10, 2016
Total yardage: Howard 163, Rutgers 6.— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) September 10, 2016
Sure, New York’s B1G Cable Moneybag went on to win by a bunch. That was a thing that happened. Over to On The Banks:
Slow Starts Will Be The Death Of This Team
Rutgers has developed a terrible trend after just two games and that is performing very slow out of the gate, falling behind big early. After trailing Washington 24-0 after the first quarter of game one, Rutgers fell behind by two touchdowns yesterday. Thanks to Janarion Grant’s 84 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Rutgers scored their first points in the opening frame this season. However, Rutgers has now been outscored 38-7 in first quarter action through two games. Turnovers deep in their own territory are a big part of this problem, but I’ll address Chris Laviano in a minute.
As we saw against Washington, this team cannot afford to fall behind by so much against top teams. As we saw yesterday, the power spread is predicated on the run game and getting into a rhythm by dominating time of possession. Rutgers was able to come back against Howard, but they are easily the weakest opponent the Scarlet Knights play all season. Rutgers cannot continue to fall behind by multiple scores against anyone in the Big Ten, as well New Mexico next week. Despite the Lobos heartbreaking one point loss last night to rival New Mexico State, they have scored an average of 39.5 points in their first two games. Rutgers must start games ready to go or it’s going to be a long season.
Wisconsin won. But this is the big news from the Akron game:
Goldy had an explanation:
Logical, but the the Cap Times of Madison has some information that disagrees:
Senior Associate Athletic Director Justin Doherty said the letters were installed by FieldTurf, the company that made Camp Randall Stadium’s field. It’s not clear how soon the letters will be made right-side-up — Doherty said UW has not yet been able to reach FieldTurf to discuss the letters.
Guess Barry isn’t high on their callback list. The fact that this would happen at Wisconsin shouldn’t surprise you:
Seen on Wisconsin's campus. We didn't come here to play school pic.twitter.com/1idhonEXeo— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) August 26, 2014
Pro-tip Badgers, don’t hire UW grads to project manage expensive turf installations.
On offense, the Badgers showcased their grinding, dominant run game seen in years past and balanced it with a solid effort in the passing game. Wisconsin’s 586 total yards (294 rushing, 292 passing) was the most since it racked up 627 yards against Nebraska on Nov. 15, 2014.
The result? A thoroughly satisfying 54-10 win over Akron.
Next up? Georgia State. It won’t be pretty.