I Write One Paragraph about your Big 10 Team and you’re so Desperate for Football you’re going to Click on Some Random Dude’s Blog.

Capitalizing in your title is hard. Is there like a list of words we don’t capitalize or does it just go by how it feels? If I know anything about English is that you can’t go by feel. There is an arbitrary rule out there with at least three exceptions I am certainly not following.

You get to go first for obvious reasons… (you’re in my head, rent-free). Ohio State has been characterized by dominant offense and electrifying QBs for the last two decades (except that one year we don’t talk about). It seems every year, there was solid information about next year’s QB and how dominant they were going to be. Highlighted most by Justin Field’s arrival, whom the whole nation was ready to declare Heisman faster than you can say “transfer portal”. But for the first time, there is an air of uncertainty heading into 2021. Not like, the uncertainty the rest of the college football world has to deal with. No-no-no-no-no, O$U has like 4 different 5 stars competing for the job. It’s not so much uncertain if they will dominate, its just a matter of which dudes name I will have to curse under my breath for the next 4 months. Like my personal favorite over the years, “Get bent JT Barrett”. So personally I am rooting for CJ Shroud as I feel his name slides in very nicely into an already established curse. (Had to Google JT to make sure I spelled Barrett correctly only to learn that he is as equally unemployed as Cardale Jones and that made my day a little bit better.)

I hate that I like Mel Tucker, it makes this whole dynamic a lot harder. It was easier when it was just Michigan was better than Michigan State and there was just no emotion there. Those days are long gone, and for a second I thought they were coming back. But then there was trouble with the snap. And then I thought they were coming back and then… Mel Tucker and last season happened. I’m going to stop looking in the rear view mirror for Sparty and instead look forward to the “fun” sibling rivalry for the rest of my life. Side note, Michigan State should call Michigan “big sister” instead. You know the classic complex, “your older than me now but eventually I will surpass you”. Much like how I’ve surpassed my sister in all relevant categories: I’m taller, a better driver, a more accomplished blogger, and most importantly I’m right handed.

Mike Locksley is very interesting from an outsider perspective. As a Michigan fan who has Gattis, watching Locksley’s offense at times makes me feel incredibly jealous and simultaneously completely put-off. I love watching Maryland move the ball, that amount of pre-snap movement with these speedy wideouts can be incredibly entertaining. I find myself thinking “why don’t we do that!?” And then Maryland goes 3-and-out on three consecutive “cute” plays and suddenly I realize why we don’t. Harbaugh can only take so many bubble screens and reverses before he hands it to a fullback.

Every year Northwestern’s coach Pat Fitzgerald comes up in a weird coaching “search” and every year we come back to this. Northwestern is going to be painfully mediocre, Fitz is still going to be the coach of Northwestern, and he is still going to be annoying the ever living crap out of you with his sideline antics. I am CONVINCED a PR team is planting these Fitzgerald stories. All that being said, look for the November 20th game vs Purdue (@Wrigley! So cool!) to determine which teams gets called a “surprise” from the Big 10 West.

Okay this is the part that annoys me about the Big 10 West! These teams aren’t actually good they just don’t have to play anyone so 7-0 looks real good! Is anyone even convinced that the second best team in the big 10 West is better than the… 4th best team in the East? Am I riding my biases too hard here? So far Purdue looked kinda spicy and then suddenly we realized it was same ol’ Purdue + Rondale Moore for a year. I wish I could talk more about Rondale Moore. He falls into the category of Wide Receivers you just fall in love with for life. Antwaan Randle El, Stefon Diggs, Juice Williams, Michael Crabtree, and now Rondale Moore. I have a type, and that type is amazing receivers on bad teams (even if they have to play QB). Isn’t it kind of crazy Purdue had Moore and Carson Edwards on campus at the same time? I’ve been to that campus that is really more amazing than you realize.

As long as you aren’t concentrating too hard on the Coach, Indiana is really fun to root for. Penix comes dangerously close to hitting the fast mobile QB on horrible team category. And transfer Carr from USC should provide a dangerous one-two punch for Indiana. “Is Indiana actually good?” is a question you will have to legitimately ponder this year. And while ultimately, you will land on “not really”, it’s kind of cool we even had to think about it! Remember when Northwestern, Minnesota, and Nebraska had a great year in the Big 10 and everyone was expecting them to take a bigger jump the year following. And then… they didn’t? I’m not even referencing a specific year this happens like every 5 years. Indiana will be solid this year but their ceiling is still third in the Big Ten East. Let’s send them to the West this year that would be fun.

The first headline I see when I google Illinois Football:
Genuinely surprised I didn’t come up with a googlewhack there

(Alternative title: Illinois coach Bret Bielema just happy his guys finally got walking figured out.)

How have I landed on a spot where I actually feel bad for Bret frickin’ Bielema. It isn’t going to work at Illinois. We knew it wasn’t going to work at Arkansas either. What are we doing here people?

There are so many teams in the Big 10 how am I ever going to find something interesting to write about Rutgers? Wait…. wait…. I have an angle. Rutgers can be a case study in why conference realignment might not be such a great idea after all. Does the SEC have to do everything better than the Big 10? They get Texas and Oklahoma and we get Buttgers and state-flag-on-every-jersey university? Maybe when stuff starts a-shifting we can find a way to trade Rutgers to the FCS and land North Dakota State instead? I really hate that Michigan has to waste a conference game on them every year. Rutgers existing in the Big 10 is a symptom of college football changing in a lot of ways, for the worse. Somehow “lets make more money” is almost always aligned with, “lets make it worse”. I’m not buying that. Ultimately bad for the game means ultimately less money. That truth should be universal. *Check Call of Duty Sales* …Nevermind.

Props to Penn State for playing Auburn in their out of conference schedule this year. That game is going to be really fun, and while I’ll be rooting for Auburn because I despise James Franklin with every fiber of my being. It would be really cool if Penn State won that matchup too. And while I’m giving props to Penn State let me give them unprops for inevitably scheduling a night game against Michigan towards the end of the year and completely whomping us. I see you Google, I see you Penn State website, with your cheeky “TBD” gametime. Don’t you play coy, we all know when that game is going to be played. And we know it’s going to be whiter than a water polo match. My sincere hope is that Michigan has had enough of a relevant season for that game to just absolutely devastate me when we lose.

Iowa could conceivably win or lose any game on their schedule this year. (Don’t get too excited Nebraska.) I mean look at this! This is incredible! @Northwestern, @Iowa State, Home vs. Wisconsin, @IU TO START THE YEAR? They are going to be giving the “Iowa wave” to anyone who tries to bet on them this year every game. Not that the kids are betting on the game…. I mean they could if they wanted…. I’m gonna end this paragraph now and you and me both are just going to keep moving along.

On the one hand it feels a little cliché to be still making row the boat references but on the other hand it’s Minnesota so I don’t have a lot of content here to work with. I’ve got Minnesota looking just as bad as Illinois or Nebraska and that is not going to be a great look for PJ, as his team should be conceivably hitting their stride now. It’s going to put the situation into a tight spot as PJ was anointed the savior just two short years ago, leaving Minnesota and PJ both stuck on riding this one out and seeing where it goes. Or maybe more eloquently said, PJ is gonna have to go down with the boat. (BOOM!!! AND YOU THOUGHT I WASN’T GONNA MAKE A BOAT REFERENCE HAHAHAH PSYCH!!)

I was raised in a house that taught me if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all:

Wisconsin is going to win the Big 10 West and be really, generally, boring. Just as the sun will rise, this blog will contain numerous grammatical errors, and your grandparents are going to post shockingly incorrect information on Facebook: It is inevitable. I don’t even have a read on how good Wisconsin might be but when I look at the field of other options to pick to upset them I am overwhelmed by my feelings of underwhelmedness. I once went to a college gameday event featuring Wisconsin and someone had a sign that said “Little boys like Nicktoons and Nick Toon (a star receiver for them at the time) likes little boys”. I do not have a follow up for that for that. Just thought you should know. Could you imagine how much more we would hate Wisconsin if Bret freakin Bielema was still there?? You know what, no. No I do not feel bad for him.

As a die hard fan I approach writing this paragraph with a lot of caution. I’ve written about how I hate every other coach in the conference already, taken shots at every program, and yet here I am genuinely afraid to talk about my own team. The last two years featured some of the saddest football I ever witnessed as a Michigan fan. For the first time in many years, college football Saturdays didn’t feel very good. And all I want, all I ask, is that they feel fun again. Sure winning is the most fun, and that probably solves all the problems I am having here. But I think there might be a bit more to it then that. I want to feel energy coming from the program, I want to feel like we’ve got the right guy at the head of the program. I want to see recruiting news and not feel like it won’t make any difference. I want Saturday sweatpants to be a sign of excitement and not a deep dark depression. I just want to care again. And I don’t think with the way things are going, that the feelings are coming back in 2021. My only hope is that with the hype gone, all the staff changes, all we have left is a group of guys and a staff that is going to do it the right way.

Go Cyclon…errr…Go Blue!

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