The Hybrid: Losing Is The Hardest Part

By Bobby Loesch on November 5, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Angry, Tan
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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The Hybrid is a weekly Big Ten football preview, plus relevant or whimsy games from the national slate

Told myself I wasn't going to start the column this week until the election was decided. Clearly, that was a great choice.

So Michigan's season is dead, Iowa's too. There really is not much to look forward to. I root for a few pro and college teams and play in a few fantasy football leagues, and I've definitely had a some oh-fer weekends over the years, but this was the first one that also included sports gambling. Between college (0-2), the NFL (0-2), fantasy football (0-3), and my bets (0-4), it was a big fucking dud. You almost have to laugh through the pain and brokenness.

Even when you try to forget about your own team and give this sport a national focus, it's still just the same shit. Peep the CFP appearances below:

Alabama (5), Clemson (4), Oklahoma (3), Ohio State (2), and then Notre Dame/Michigan State/Georgia/Oregon/Florida State/Washington all with one. We didn't get combinations -- we got a hegemony. And sure, there are streaks and dynasties, but this feels so goddamn permanent. Alabama has literally made it every year. Clemson has basically done the same. So you get the two borderline NFL teams, probably Ohio State (/vomit) or Oklahoma, and then one novelty blue blood who usually still ends up being a sacrificial lamb.

Feeling hopeless? Welcome to politics.

That's what makes college football truly the worst. You can lose, win in a way that makes you feel completely shitty, or -- the most rare -- win in a way that makes you feel good... before for sure losing the next week.

<3 <3 <3

The Hybrid

"America is mostly people who’ve never left their state saying we have the best country in the world."

Wednesday

Toledo 38, Bowling Green 3: 

...then something like this happens, and I'm pulled right back in.

"We want to stay!"

Also, I made a comment in Week 1 about the MAC being cancelled in 2020, and no one corrected me. For shame, my fellow Midwesterners.

Thursday

N/A

Friday Night Lights

BYU (9) at Boise State (21): Don't look now, but BYU is undefeated with only three games left (unless they're rescheduling the Army game, which wasn't played). With some luck, maybe they could make the Playo--hahaha, no, never, this sport is hopeless.

Cancelled

Purdue at Wisconsin (10): Big shout out to Rondale Moore for finding even more ways to not play for my college fantasy football team for the second straight year.

And get well, Sconnie.

Saturday

Air Force at Army: It wouldn't be a Hybrid season without me pushing a Neuqua Valley High School (Naperville, IL -- my alma mater) football product. May I introduce you to Army LB Jon Rhattigan? He's the youngest of three brothers (the oldest played at Penn State, middle played at Princeton). Here is him housing a pick in Week 1:

Here's another fun one a few weeks later.

He's a senior, and to my knowledge, didn't start until this year. All of this was fun enough until I saw this:

Pro potential?! You tell me.

Michigan (23) at Indiana (13): Indiana, you are my lawyer-doctor child, and I would like you to leave the house for this one.

/waits for door to close

/waits for engine to start

/waits for car to be completely out of earshot

/turns to look at Michigan

You. You blew it as a three touchdown favorite. After looking like gods the previous week. At home. To a rival. Who just lost to Rutgers. And, to top it all off, your clock management woes surfaced again. I don't know how else to say this: fire Jim Harbaugh. He is not good enough, and, unlike most of the M fanbase, I would rather welcome risk and variance into the fold than this bullshit 8-4 bullshit where you generally beat bad-to-OK teams (but not always!) before wilting against anyone good, getting outcoached 1-2 times a year, and generally losing your bowl game.

Pete Thamel gave me the best moment of a shitty weekend.

They are begging for him to stay in Columbus. They are pleading for him to stick around in State College. They are worried in East Lansing about a contract that’s set to expire in 14 months. Heck, even Indiana is planning on upsizing at their expense.

Haha.

Michigan has failed its brand and history so resplendently that opposing fan bases are openly rooting for Harbaugh to get a lifetime contract. Don’t laugh, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said just last year he wants Harbaugh to “retire here.” Hail to the Underachievers, this is one topic the Big Ten can finally all agree on. Even Nebraska.  

Yayyy.

This is worse than Harbaugh’s 2-12 record against top-10 teams, 0-5 record against Ohio State and his four consecutive bowl losses. This is about getting beat by a decisively inferior roster, as Michigan State’s roster features a group brought in during the sputtering twilight of Mark Dantanio’s tenure.

I am naming my next band Sputtering Twilight.

This is Harbaugh’s third home loss to Michigan State, a statistic out of the Hoke/Rodriguez horror files.

/smiling through it

Michigan has slipped to the definition of unfounded arrogance — the Wolverines are the bluster without the results, the brand with the wrong ambassador and the familiar logo that’s making you forget why you recognized it in the first place. They are old money hanging around the country club because they always have, but as the years go on everyone else forgets why.

I think this is making me stronger.

The issue here is that Harbaugh has failed the program with his inability to modernize it. He’s hired staff haphazardly. His recruiting department is devoid of strategy and the other Power Five recruiting departments are praying they don’t change. Forget beating Ohio State, they aren’t even competing with them for recruits.

OK, back to weaker.

It’s a disjointed offense, a defense that heads into the fetal position at key moments and, most clearly, the worst big-game coach in the sport. Annually and consistently, no one lets you down when the stakes are high more reliably than Harbaugh. But the problem that Saturday’s flop brings up is the issue of Michigan failing against a pedestrian opponent.

/one thousand hammers simultaneously smack into one thousand nails

If Michigan State freshman Ricky White can catch eight balls for 196 yards, how many will Ohio State stars Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson grab? There’s nothing more certain than Brown’s aggressive man coverage getting torched each fall by high-end talent. Brown would be America’s worst chiropractor, as he’s either is incapable of adjustments or flatly refuses to execute them.

OK, gonna call that one a failed heat check. But you get the idea. Bad.

Yet, I'm going to end this with optimism: if Michigan wins, the season is arguably back on track*. If not, more momentum for our adopted team, Indiana. Done and done.

(* - back on track = show just enough life to be furiously flogged by tOSU)

SMU (18) at Temple: Can't get up for this/have no energy left.

Arizona State at USC (20): 'eyyyyy, Pac-12 back. Welcome, friends.

What, uh, does this look like to you?

Liberty (25) at Virginia Tech: Liberty is 6-0. This interests me.

Nebraska at Northwestern: Very pleased to see one of these teams coming out with another L.

Michigan State at Iowa:

This game excites me way more than it should. You probably know the story by now: 0-2 Iowa is a touchdown favorite against a Sparty team that looked downright spirited last week. I know y'all are feeling pessimistic right now, and I'm not saying Iowa covers, but I think we win outright. It's that good thing that can still somehow piss us off even more.

Also, this was sad and adorable.

UMass at Marshall (16): Peh.

Florida (8) vs. Georgia (5): This will not even sniff Game of the Week, because fuck the SEC. Plus Florida, as a state, for not being deserving of any national attention. Multiplied by Dan Mullen.

I didn't even see the brawl; how bad was it?

Read the room, man.

Maybe he's on an actual ventilator? Regardless, he is leaning way the fuck in.

Houston at Cincinnati (6): Holy shit, they're up to No. 6. I know I promised research on this team if they won last week, but I was also promised election results, so until we have that decided, I will continue to opt out of this Bearcat homework assignment.

Maryland at Penn State: Taulia Tagovailoa... maybe good? Oh, it would be such a better conference if he was good. Very cool to see him and Tua get their first college and NFL wins on the same weekend.

Minnesota at Illinois: /lights long fuse of dynamite

/looks at watch

/casually walks out of the building

/remembers not to feel bad with the fire raging in the background

Pittsburgh at Florida State: Hoopin'.

Also, this didn't move me like it should've.

Louisiana Tech at North Texas: Iowa fans, at the start and end of every college football Saturday.

Clemson (1) at Notre Dame (4): Game of the Week. And I've got this thing completely outsourced. We'll start with ol' reliable, Clemson Tom.

I know some of you were probably excited watching my Tigers only play one half of football. I know some of you haters were probably hoping they would lose to Boston College. What you fail to understand is, we only played two quarters... but we still won the game. We are the best team in college football, and the rest of you are just peons.

I didn’t watch any Big Ten last weekend because my TV won’t play second tier football channels. It's part of the reason why the Longhorn network cannot be found by my cable provider

Now this week, we do have the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Yes, Trevor Lawrence is going to be out because he has COVID. But we do have DJ Ugallie... ugaleee... Ur-A-Not-beating him.

This is gonna be a great game. Can’t even talk trash about how we usually beat ND... like every time. ND is still cashing checks from our great grandparents' success. They're always living off the past.

So this weekend, buckle in, as it appears we have a full slate of great college football games lined up.

Raise hell and tip your waitress at Waffle House.

And, making his return, Notre Dame fan and fellow humiliation bet enthusiast, Z.W. Martin:

Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei is a 6'5'', 250 pound monster with a howitzer for an arm (he's a major pitching prospect, as well), and could be even better than Trevor Lawrence was as a freshman. Uiagalelei threw for 342 yards, two touchdowns, and ran for one in his starting debut. Lawrence never did that. In fact, he only threw for that many yards twice in 2018. Somehow, this Clemson offense may be even more dynamic with Uiagalelei than with Lawrence the year they won a national championship. He is JaMarcus Russell who can run the RPO (and doesn't have a purple drank addiction) [ed- what].

None of this really should surprise us, though. Uiagalelei was the top Pro QB in his class. He is simply just the next Trevor... er, I mean, Deshaun... you get the idea. Clemson will be QB U for the foreseeable future.

But I don't want to talk about their QB, I want to talk about Phil Jurkovec.

Phil Jurkovec : Notre Dame :: Justin Fields : Georgia

As we've seen throughout the modern day college football era, only a few teams can play for a national championship, and the singular distinguisher is the quarterback position. Jurkovec might have been that difference maker for the Irish. But like Georgia and Justin Fields/Jake Fromm, they let him walk, staying loyal to a lower ceiling QB with a great track record, Ian Book. [ed- you love to see it]

The current Boston College standout, and former highest Irish QB recruit since Jimmy Clausen, holds the national lead for team yards percentage by a single player and almost pulled off the miracle upset of Clemson last week. At 6'5'' and with a pristine pedigree coming out of high school, Jurkovec can make throws and see the field in a way that Book simply cannot.

Since 2017, Notre Dame has the fourth highest winning percentage in college football. Higher than Oklahoma, LSU, and Georgia. But winning games isn't winning titles. The Irish haven't had a guy behind center who can get them to another level, and they still don't.

Can the Irish play with Clemson? Sure. They played Clemson to six points with under two minutes remaining in the first half in 2018's Cotton Bowl. The Tigers scored two more touchdowns in that timeframe.

The key to those quick scores? First team All-American corner Julian Love got hurt and the floodgates opened. Everything needs to break right. Notre Dame doesn't have the depth, otherwise. Lawrence being out may be that first break, but with DJ U taking snaps, it really isn't all that big of a break.

We are all Catholic this weekend. [ed- /blasts Alkaline Trio]

He also sent this clip, which is basically me being all eleven Boston College defenders trying to tackle DJ U.

Lastly, because his name hasn't been mentioned once, Travis god damn Etienne.

Rutgers at Ohio State (3): You know, it's almost kind of nice when you don't have to hope at all.

Stanford at Oregon (12): WHAT UP, DUCKS?

Also, just because his name hasn't been mentioned once, David fuckin' Shaw.

Tennessee at Arkansas: /nominating Tennessee native Mookie Betts to play some WR for the Vols

South Alabama at Coastal Carolina (15): Our beach boys with the learner's permit ranking play Liberty the last game of the season. If, you know, we make it that far.

Washington State at Oregon State: Even though my other two teams are deadie dead dead, I'm wouldn't necessarily say I'm excited for the start of Wazzu football in 2020. That said, Leach is gone, so I am somewhat interested in what the team's identity might look like with new coach Nick Rolovich. He had some weird player transfer stuff at the start of his tenure, so it's very possible he's a horrible person. He has a much more acceptable Twitter account than the pirate, though. And he also seems to have an affinity for passing, but not one so strong that it could derail an entire game with its own sense of novelty. We'll see.

Wrapping It Up...

Penix, take us out.

Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor to Go Iowa Awesome. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy or email to bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com.

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