The Hybrid is a weekly Big Ten football preview, plus relevant or whimsy games from the national slate
I want to go to Indy.
Not like I wanted and want to go to Pullman. Shit, I've been to Indy at least 20 times. But I want to go for the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil. Again.
Ten years ago, when our lame conference started doing a title game, I remember thinking "Rooting for Michigan and Iowa, there's a pretty good chance I'll get down there somewhat regularly." I thought every other year was a little ambitious, but every three years or so seemed fair. Every five would be my final concession.
Michigan and Iowa going a combined 1 for 20 in making the damn thing one full decade later was not something that seemed as realistic. You have to remember, this was 2011. LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" topped the charts, Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries married for 72 days... Michigan even beat Ohio State. These things don't really, uh, happen anymore.
But then came 2015.
Iowa football went 12-0. We beat Nebraska. I popped perfection champagne. We went to fuckin' Indy.
And it was great. And then it was less great.
There is no way to say it without being honest: the game was wrenching. When you are a not-Ohio State Big Ten fan, you absolutely know how fleeting the good moments are and how rare the special years can be. This conference has 14 teams, but only seven of them have ever even made the game.
We lost 16-13 to Michigan State. It was maybe the only ever 16-13 loss that was still objectively good. The momentum swings were like prizefight haymakers. Every point felt precious. The stadium sound waved in and out like gladiatorial combat.
But then Dantonio got to be happy, and we didn't. We spilled out into the streets after it ended. Ubers to get from there to anywhere cost one million dollars. If we won, we could've stayed and waited it out. But we didn't. We just wanted to go. So we paid, and we went. It was a quiet car; impossible not to think about how different the night would have and could have and maybe should have looked, if only the scoreboard looked a little different at the end. It's a scary feeling, realizing 12-0 could still feel like shit. When you get elbowed in the side of your head, it usually does.
There certainly was a "Why do we do this to ourselves?" moment. It would have been very easy to say "Crossed this off the list, there is no reason to go back again to risk that hurt once again".
But that's what I want. I want to get back. I want hope. I won't say "I don't care if we win," because that's a lie, but there's still a part of me that wants to say it.
I want the Midwest pilgrimage. I want to see my brother-in-law and his family, who live in Carmel. I want to walk around in gear in our Iowa cliques and high five -- ehhh, fist bump -- strangers from other Iowa cliques.
Time heals. Hope respawns. Michigan and Iowa are a combined 6-0. Iowa has one Big Ten victory, and Michigan hasn't even played a damn conference game yet... but I'm still staring daggers at that early-December calendar.
"Man, it would be so sick to live in precedented times."
Naperville Central at Neuqua Valley: Battle of two perpetually-conference-winning powerhouses -- and it's actually on TV.
What's that? You wanted college games worth watching? Nah, none of those.
Georgia (2) at Vanderbilt: Hmm, no.
Villanova at Penn State (6): Aright, Penn State -- officially impressed. I'm sure Auburn isn't going to sniff a conference title, but beating an (usually) upper tier SEC team was definitely never a given in the past.
Notre Dame (12) vs. Wisconsin (18): In my fair city, no less. My buddy Z.W. Martin (Notre Dame fan) asked me about going, and I very much considered it based on distance alone, as the West Loop is only a handful of miles from Soldier Field.
...it was then I remembered getting there would surround me entirely with ND Nation and Sconnie fans. Who do you even run to as the constant variable?! If you're grumbling "Wisconsin/Big Ten loyalty", you may not know what Badger fans are like. I've been to every Big Ten stadium except tOSU, and in no city did I fear for my life more than Madison. One love to Madison, of course, but they drink and they curse and they fight and... yeah, hmm, maybe they would be cooler to hang out with than hedge fund managers who only hire their own.
LSU at Mississippi State: /ponder emoji
Bowling Green at Minnesota: ...
They actually put a dudein full uniformin a boat and told him to row. pic.twitter.com/XreF8E7fmY— Paul Winchester (@winchesterhawk) September 17, 2021
(via reader Pat)
Ohio at Northwestern: Was talking to a dude in his 70s at work this week who revealed he used to tour with Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. He flat out asked if I knew who the band was. I threw out "Ohio", and that seemed to buy me some cred.
Was very relieved he did not ask me to name a second song.
UMass at Coastal Carolina (17): Noastal.
Washington State at Utah: Things are going good in Pullman.
There’s really only one remedy for this. It’s not going to magically get better. All signs point to WSU entering a death spiral, and when that happens, the only way to pull out is to change coaches as quickly as possible.
Colorado State at Iowa (5): I know we were No. 5 last week, but this time, seeing that five next to our name really hit.
Texas A&M (7) vs. Arkansas (16): Calling this the Game of the Week with a lot of "meh" behind it.
Clemson (9) at NC State:
Britney deleted her Instagram? Sad day— Clemson Tom (@ClemsonTom) September 20, 2021
Iowa State (14) at Baylor: /"why bother?" shrug
Rutgers at Michigan (19): Forgot to preview Michigan last week -- and none of y'all said anything. I'm assuming a "Don't tell Bobby" pact was made in secret. If so, mad respect. Well, let's take a look at what happened over the last two games and--ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh no.
M could win every game 100-0, and I would still predict a 40-point loss to Ohio State.
Louisville at Florida State: Also forgot to discuss the FSU on-field proposal last week. That was one of those stories where I came in after the backlash already hit; was happy to see the young man handle it well.
Illinois at Purdue: Illinois lost again... but Donny made the socials!
Clout over dubs, all day (for, uh, them, at least).
* * *
Rondale Moore is getting his feet under him.. sky-high potential pic.twitter.com/biPiqy5QkP— Dylan Lowe (@DylanLoweNFL) September 19, 2021
I sometimes forget that in the pros you can watch Kyler Murray throw a ball that winds up in the hands of someone equally freaky like Rondale Moore pic.twitter.com/QuVhJH8dGi— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) September 19, 2021
Sometimes, there are players where you think "If someone roots against this guy, we should not be friends." He is on that list.
Kent State at Maryland: Get ranked or leave me alone.
Nebraska at Michigan State (20): Watched a big chunk of last week's MSU game with a Michigan fan who had money on Sparty, and boy, it was surreal to see him so happy at their on field excellence. He claimed it was because he wanted them "to be undefeated when we play," but I knew there was a different green and white on his mind. Related: have I ever mentioned Payton Thorne is from my hometown and played for my high school's rival? The somehow-already-mentioned-in-this-college-football-column Naperville Central. He was dope to watch in high school, like the majority of cats who find success at the next level are.
* * *
This is the Nebraska headline that Ive grown to know and love. pic.twitter.com/2ArlNTc3cf— MichaelDiamondLucas (@Lucasentric) September 19, 2021
Kansas State (25) at Oklahoma State: It's weird when fixtures aren't relevant anymore. Like, I added this game because the Wildcats are undefeated... but what the hell happened to Okie State?! Same thing with Stanford. Stunting on David Shaw used to be 33% of this column.
Southern Miss at Alabama (1): Anyone else subscribing to the "No, for real, Alabama is vulnerable" rhetoric? Not exactly a bold prediction, but I still see them hoisting the trophy. That said, there clearly is a chaos/up-in-the-air element to this season (for the upper middle class/middle class teams, for sure) that really has felt like a breath of fresh air.
West Virginia at Oklahoma (4): Ehh.
Akron at Ohio State (10): No, but, like, kinda.
Indiana at Western Kentucky: Penix, I truly believed.
South Florida at BYU (15): BYU joining the Big 12 is kinda cool, right?
Arizona at Oregon (3):
fyi this is Northern Arizona's mascot, he's available for children's birthdays (because he's their real dad) pic.twitter.com/RJD5mFVI4e— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) September 19, 2021
The Jag Bag
Gonna spare Urban any criticism this week and instead criticize... Urban's abode.
Urban Meyers house is freaking me out, man: https://t.co/f4myogLp9s— Defector (@DefectorMedia) September 17, 2021
The coffee table took years off my life.
putting my coffee cup down and knocking over forty-two pictures like dominoes every morning of my life pic.twitter.com/w38Ept2hUh— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) September 17, 2021
Wrapping It Up...
Ive always thought picture of headstones and graves were a bit odd, but this is too good not to share.— Mel D. (@mleighd86) September 16, 2021
My uncle was everything a farmer should be. His cousins decided plain old grass wasnt quite good enough for John W pic.twitter.com/MH7F2mH4U9
Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor to Go Iowa Awesome. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy or email to bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com.