Last season was disappointing in a number of respects. A 5-7 regular season wasn’t what anyone associate with the Gophers was looking forward to, no one foresaw or wanted to see Kill retire, and Minnesota is still without the Axe. But on a personal level, my biggest disappointment with the 2015 season had to be the notable absence of the Gopher Gnomes when they took a leave of absence to pursue a passion project.
Well have no fear friendly readers, 2016 isn’t just a new season under a new coaching staff. It’s also the return of the Gnomes. They’ve given up their dreams of become famous comedians (gnock gnock jokes aren’t as popular as you might think) and are ready to mock the rest of the B1G once again.
Let’s get to it.
LOVIE SMITH IS TOTALLY GOING TO MAKE ILLINOIS A WINNER!
Chicago has a new Big Ten team.
What did Illinois do to merit this positive press? Destroyed a FCS team that went 3-8 in 2015. I mean, big time blowouts are good and all but perhaps we should wait for a team with a pulse to show up before the words “turn over a new leaf” get used on the front page of the Sports section. The Champaign Room had this to say:
The first game of the Lovie Smith era is in the books, and it's a 52-3 rout of the Murray State Racers. The Fighting Illini defense held tough and Wes Lunt was efficient in limited action as the biggest crowd for a home opener in Champaign left quite satisfied today.
Admittedly, this FCS Murray State team, coming off a 3-8 campaign, is probably the worst team to visit Memorial Stadium since Charleston Southern in 2012, but there's little to criticize about a 52-3 win.
Seems reasonab...wait, I’m receiving word that TCR released a Power Poll where Northwestern was still ranked above Minnesota.
The gnomes hope North Carolina blows you out by 56.
Next week? North Carolina heads up to Champbana.
Indiana went on the road to open their season against Florida............International. That’s a thing you can do I guess. After 3 quarters Indiana was losing to FIU, but then the offense woke up and the Hoosiers pulled away. Crimson Quarry:
In Richard Lagow's first real collegiate start, Indiana only managed 3 offensive points in the first three quarters of play to start the season opener at Florida International on the verge of the Everglades, but a big final quarter pulled the Hoosiers well away from Ron Turner's Panthers in front of a, uh, sparse crowd in Miami.
It's still too hard to tell if Indiana's defense is truly improved -- and we might not find that out for weeks. Ball State is, well, Ball State -- and will feature a decent MAC offense. Wake Forest scored 7 points tonight on Tulane. No one expects Michigan State's offense to be world-beating in 2016 -- and Ohio State's could do that to anyone and everyone. But the early sample size of only allowing 13 points to FIU? That's a helluva a start -- and a point total that anyone would've been happy with in any game last fall.
Next week: Ball State heads to Bloomington.
Iowa beat Miami (OH) 45-21 and looked pretty good doing it. BHGP:
Leshun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley had themselves a day Saturday. Like a really good day. Daniels finished with 83 yards on 10 carries with a pair of touchdowns. Wadley ended with 121 yards on 12 carries with a pair of touchdowns as well. 9.3 yards per carry, is that good? A touchdown every 6 carries, what does that mean? Iowa is going to have themselves some success running the football this year, that’s what it means. I, for one, am excited to watch these guys work. It’s going to be fun.
Remember when AIRBHG was a thing? Those were the days.
Winning wasn’t the big news though. This was the big news:
Per a release sent out by Iowa this morning, Gary Barta has elected to give Kirk Ferentz a contract extension, upping his expiration date at Iowa from 2020 to 2026. Ferentz will turn 70 during the 2025 season.
The new deal will pay the man $4.5 million annually, up from the $4 million he’s been making since his last extension in 2010. Nothing has been released yet about a BUYOUT, but that’s probably just moot at this point.
Instant gnome reaction?
Look, Kirk is probably going to retire the next time Iowa goes into a downswing. But that probably won’t stop an Iowa fan overreaction to the buyout first, which given reporting like this...
Iowa AD Gary Barta said buyout language in Kirk Ferentz's new deal is similar to previous contract.— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) September 6, 2016
...well, it’s going to happen and it will be glorious.
Next up: Iowa State heads to Iowa City with hopes of making Northern Iowa the best football team in the state via the transitive property.
The gnomes STILL. DON’T. CARE. ABOUT. MARYLAND.
Testudo Times gets you up to speed if you were wondering what happened to the Terps:
The Maryland football team opened up its 2016 campaign with an absolute thrashing of Howard, beating the Bison 52-13 Saturday at Maryland Stadium. The Terps had no trouble in any aspect of the game, outgaining their FCS opponent by more than 250 total yards.
This marks DJ Durkin’s first win as Maryland’s head coach. To be sure, Maryland was absolutely supposed to cream Howard. The Terps paid the Bison $325,000 for this privilege to come into the game and help Maryland tune up for the season.
Like you, the gnomes were unaware that Howard was the Bison.
Next up: at FIU. WHY IS FIU HOSTING 2 B1G TEAMS BACK TO BACK? CRAZY TIMES WE’RE LIVING IN.
Hawaii was sacrificed to satiate Harbaugh and keep the beast contained.
Maize n’ Brew breaks it down:
Michigan football notched its first victory of the season on Saturday afternoon against Hawaii by a score of 63-3. They came into the game as a heavy favorite and played like one throughout.
The Wolverines came in as a huge favorite today and played like one, crushing Hawaii by 60 points. It can sometimes be difficult for a team to take an inferior opponent seriously, but the Wolverines outperformed them in every phase of the game and did what a team in their position should have.
It is still possible to be impressive while doing what is expected, and Michigan did just that. They had 512 yards of total offense and smothered Hawaii offensively.
Next up: UCF comes to Ann Arbor.
Michigan State played a really close game against a powerful foe.
Oh wait, the gnomes were thinking about unranked Wisconsin, not #12 Michigan State. MSU let mighty Furman be within one score until late in the 4th quarter.
Bad MSU. Bad.
The Only Colors shares some thoughts:
The visitors from South Carolina definitely hung around longer than Michigan State fans would like, and at one point in the third quarter had run 19 plays to the home team’s one.
Spartans fans didn’t get to exhale until O’Connor added a third passing touchdown, this time to Jamal Lyles, for a 12-yard strike that put his team up 28-13 in the process.
O’Connor finished a strong 13 of 18 passing for 190 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. On the ground, LJ Scott inched over the 100 yard mark with 105 yards and one score.
Ugly as it was, MSU never really looked in danger of losing and slowly put away its FCS foe as the night wore on.
In response to this, the Coaches poll moved the Spartans up to #8. Coaches poll voters watch less football than OTE writers.
Next up: BYE
Absolutely zero Husker snark because they did this on Saturday:
We had to take a delay of game, weren't able to get all 11 guys out to punt in time.— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) September 4, 2016
Missing one of them. pic.twitter.com/o3mzXQZqlO
Nebraska took a delay of game on their first punt by sending out 10 guys (no punter). Fresno State kept it classy and declined the penalty to boot. Hats off all around.
Here’s a quick summary of the game via Corn Nation:
It was a emotional start, a odd first half, and a dominating second half. And Mike Riley earned career victory 100 with a slow start but promising finish.
Although that slow start hampered them, the Nebraska Cornhuskers ran for almost 300 yards, pitched a second half shutout, and defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs 43-10 in front of 90k+ plus fans on a raucous night at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
Next up: Wyoming heads to Lincoln.
Northwestern lost to Western Michigan. There is only one song that fits this occasion:
After a 10-3 season, Northwestern football came into 2016 with a lot of optimism. A season-opening loss to Western Michigan doesn’t help.
In a back-and-forth second half, the Broncos came out on top. Northwestern’s defense gave up a late touchdown, and a questionable call on a wild goal-line fumble with just under three minutes left gave Western Michigan possession and eventually, the win. In spite of the craziness of that play, Northwestern simply got outplayed throughout.
An essential part of last year’s 10-win run was the opening upset win against Stanford. But 2016 is a new year, and it starts off on the opposite foot. Simply put, Northwestern got beat in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats’ play today simply won’t be enough—they absolutely cannot beat Ohio State or Michigan State if they play the same way. This team has potential, but today’s game showed some pretty gaping holes—the defense being one of them. They’ll have to execute better in essentially all facets if Northwestern wants a repeat of 2015.
Next up: Illinois State in Evanston.
Ohio State killed a guy.
The gnomes are ok with not playing Ohio State in the regular season, how about you all? Thoughts from LGHL:
Ohio State did not open the season as projected. Most of the advanced metrics saw a three-score win for Ohio State. Even the Vegas line was at 28 points in favor of the Buckeyes. Instead, J.T. Barrett and a host of new weapons set the school record for total offense and scored 77 points.
Barrett set a career high for passing yards with 349 — his first time crossing the 300-yard mark since the Indiana game in 2014. The defense was able to hold last year’s 11th-ranked S&P+ offense to just three points. And maybe most importantly, the backups got a full quarter and a half of work, including backup quarterback Joe Burrow’s first-ever game action.
Next up: Tulsa becomes OSU’s latest murder victim.
A quick PSA from the gnomes for PSU about this continued Paterno love-in crap:
The gnomes were sure Penn State wouldn’t underachieve against another MAC opponent. I mean, RECRUITING and all that. And ultimately they were proven right. After letting Kent State play with them for a half, PSU closed them out 33-13. To the Black Shoe Diaries:
At face value the result of the game yesterday was relatively close to what had been expected. Yet during the game it felt as though Penn State was missing quite a few opportunities. It’s true, the team could have made a half-dozen catches totaling nearly 100 yards. Chris Godwin had a great game but even he could have came up with a couple of 50/50 balls that instead fell to the ground incomplete. McSorely had respectable production in his first start under center, running a new offense, but he could have made better decisions at times. There were points left out there that could have been gained by the Lions.
What we have to remember is that this was the first game of the season against a very respectable defense. Kent State returned almost the entire defensive unit that ranked No. 27 in total yards per game nationally last season. To keep that in perspective, Michigan State ranked just one spot ahead of Kent State last season in total yards per game allowed. Temple ranked No. 20 in total defense last season and this game, from Penn State’s offensive perspective, compares to that game favorably.
OH LOOK TDG ISN’T THE ONLY PLACE THAT RECOGNIZES KENT STATE ISN’T TERRIBLE ON DEFENSE.
Next up: PSU actually plays Pitt. On the road. In real life.
Purdue beat an FCS team! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Purdue played a football game today. We only get 12 of those per year, and 13 if we’re lucky.
Purdue scored more points than the opposition. That is a much more rare event, as it happened for only the 7th time in the last 37 games.
Let’s take away all the negatives from the Hazell era for a moment. Let’s take away the vitriol of Morgan Burke’s legacy in the lowest attendance for a home opener since the Eisenhower administration. The object of the day was to enjoy a perfect late summer afternoon, watch some football, and see a Purdue victory.
Next up: Cincinnati travels to West Lafayette.
OH NO RUTGERS.
Being cranky about not being able to see this game in New Jersey probably wasn’t worth the effort in retrospect:
In a cruel twist of fate, courtesy of the Pac-12 Network, most Rutgers fans cannot watch their Scarlet Knights open the season against Washington in Seattle on Saturday. The game is being aired exclusively on the Pac-12 Network, which is only carried by Comcast and the Dish Network on the east coast. This excludes more than half the state of New Jersey. If your cable provider is not one of these two, I’m sorry to say there is no other way to watch the game at home. We live in America, watching your favorite college football team on Labor weekend should be a right of every citizen. It’s ridiculous.
On The Banks tries to keep perspective:
Without a doubt, Washington’s 48-13 drubbing of Rutgers was an absolute disaster on multiple levels, which Jim Hoffman covered so well here. Every fan has a right to be supremely disappointed by this dreadful season opener, which was the worst start possible for the Ash Era. However, it’s important everyone remain calm and not exaggerate the impact of this loss. It’s a game Rutgers was almost four touchdown underdogs in and they lost by five.
Um, no offense guys but if you were 4 TD underdogs and then you lose by 5 TD’s then I’m not sure how anyone gets to “worst possible start”. It’s pretty much the expected start. I get that it’s a crappy way to kick off a coaching tenure but let’s think this through.
Next up: THE HOWARD BISON ARE BEING DISCUSSED TWICE IN A SINGLE TDG POST GLORIOUS DAYS ARE HERE.
OH LOOK BART STAR’S FAMOUS NON-RELATION WITH THE SAME FIRST NAME WHOSE PARENTS ARE HORRIBLE PACKER FANS WON A GAME WISCONSIN IS TOP 10 FOR SURE.
Also, Wisconsin played better than most expected and LSU looked like hot garbage on offense. Bucky’s 5th Quarter has more analysis if you want it. Oh, and they signed Emperor Delaney’s Sith apprentice to an extension at AD.
Next up: Akron zips into Madison. What? There is a reason the gnomes gave up on comedy.