The Hybrid: Still Learning How To Be

By Bobby Loesch on October 14, 2021 at 12:00 pm
Michigan Sad, Iowa Happy
Michigan Sad, Iowa Happy
36 Comments

The Hybrid is a weekly Big Ten football preview, plus relevant or whimsy games from the national slate

Everyone wants balance.

Or, I do, at least.

You don't want to railroad people, but you don't want to be a pushover. You don't want to talk too much, but you do want to speak up for yourself. You don't want to preach, but you do want to advocate.

The problem with college football is it rarely has balance. Balance is a 1-0 start, looking solid against a tomato can; thinking about how things could be. Balance is not... this:

But what's wrong with rushing the field?! Fuck your dumb balance/let's riot!

No, no, no -- this isn't a "why are we rushing the field" column. I died on that hill back in my college days. Let the happy people be happy. College football can't be balanced *because* of this occasional happiness. And, of course, because of the much more bountiful sadness. Even for the invincible:

This is all a meandering way of saying Iowa is 6-0 and Michigan is 6-0, and I felt like absolute shit after watching their respective games last Saturday.

Iowa began like I expected it to begin:

It... did not end with balance:

Michigan was kind of the opposite. The Wolverines had more control throughout, but it got a lot hairier at the end. Then Hassan Haskins hurdled a guy.

Both games, of course, had excellent moments (see more of Iowa's below in the Purdue section), but this just doesn't feel sustainable:

Kirk Ferentz was more comfortable putting the ball in the hands (er, foot) of Tory Taylor and the Iowa defense, trusting Taylor to pin Penn State deep (he did, to the PSU 8) and the defense to stop them from there (they did, forcing a four-and-out). Iowa's defense and special teams (especially punting) are their strongest units... but that was still a ballsy move. You rarely see teams voluntarily give the ball back to an opponent with just a 3-point lead, but that's effectively what Iowa did here. Of course, there's also some precedent for that with Ferentz and Iowa-Penn State games. In 2004 we had the FU safety game. In 2021, we got the FU QB kneel game. Incredible.

Iowa's wins get less and less impressive as the season continues.

  • No. 17 Indiana? 2-3 (unranked)
  • No. 9 Iowa State? 3-2 (unranked)
  • 4-0 Maryland? The one win that felt as complete as could be? Ohio State beat them by even more.

This feels and probably is nitpicky because everyone just seems so, so happy. And in college football, happy = vulnerable, almost always.

Michigan, conversely, shares the same record -- albeit without a signature Penn State-type of win -- and the fans seem miserable. The losing streak to Ohio State and Jim Harbaugh's existence will do that.

  • QB A: 60% completions, 8.4 average, 5 TDs, 1 INT
  • QB B: 60% completions, 6.8 average, 9 TDs, 2 INTs

A is Michigan QB Cade McNamara. B is, uh:

The point is, with somewhat comparable numbers, Petras is entrenched as the starter, while McNamara probably needs to be looking over his shoulder on a weekly basis.

But this is not an Iowa = too happy, Michigan = realistic column, either. Honestly, right now, I feel like a man without a country. Because from my vantage point, Iowa should've lost to Penn State, and Michigan is about to walk into a buzzsaw in the back half of their 2021 schedule.

Maybe Michigan will get that signature win by the end of the month and be right there with Iowa, but what feels a lot more likely is these two teams are not going to end the year where they are currently ranked, and that is harrowing; what goes up, must come down, etc. etc.

The guys over at The Bucket Problem were discussing how truly small of a sample size college football is. The idea that you can win almost all your games, but we can still potentially not know if you're, ya know, actually good. Shit, the last 12-0 Iowa team ended the season on a two game losing streak and didn't win the conference. But I was the dude back then who said we should be enjoying this more.

The 2021 undefeated start? I'm much more guarded. I like our lead in the standings, I like our schedule. Because of these things, we will be in a position to eventually get what we all want (the god damn CFP). And maybe that's what I should be holding onto at this juncture: not how we look or feel now, but how we could look and feel then.

tldr: I, uh, bought tickets to the Big Ten title game.

Last word to MGoBlog:

History has decided that these two teams are going to play each other, and that it's going to be close. Inevitably whatever happens now will go in the collective psychosis of the loser. The winner? Dopamine hit, sure. But if Bill Buckner walked back into Shea and fielded a routine grounder it wouldn't change a whole lot. Damage is quick, recovery is long.

The Hybrid

“To be interesting, you have to be interested.”

Tuesday

N/A

Thursday

N/A

Friday Night Lights

Clemson at Syracuse: Dang, not even ranked.

California at Oregon (9): Ducks kinda lingerin'.

San Diego State (24) at San Jose State: Yeah, SDSU is undefeated.

Saturday

UCF at Cincinnati (3): We want the Bearcats in the CFP, right?

Michigan State (10) at Indiana: Kinda love this game. Been waiting for Indiana to right the ship all year, and it just. keeps. not. happening. Been waiting for Sparty to blow it all year, and not only has that not happened, they've gone from maybe bad to maybe OK to probably OK to pretty good in near perfect increments. They win this, and they'll be undefeated going into the Michigan game on Halloween weekend. Lose? Still funny.

Michigan: Speaking of the Wolverines... they have a bye, but I wanted to dunk on Jim because that should always happen.

That said, I'll always ride for the players. And it's them -- with my broken and wrong brain -- who give me this twisted faith that maybe, just maybe, it could be different this time around.

Really, just more of a compliment to the SEC. All of their big advantages, historically, seem to start with that unit, and the rest of the conferences are perpetually trying to catch up.

Oklahoma State (12) at Texas (25): Okie State still unbeaten, while Texas has to pick up many pieces after that Red River collapse.

Nebraska at Minnesota: 

Brian Cook said it looked more like he was trying to open a thermos, and I'm positive that will stay in my head forever.

Texas A&M (21) at Missouri: A&M, you marvelous wonders.

Also, I'm not sure if Seth Small and I would be BFFs in real life -- married in college!!!1111 -- but he had a beyond-his-years perspective and confidence that made for a fascinating post-game presser (only check this out if you have time; it's five full minutes).

More on my side of the spectrum...

Rutgers at Northwestern: Have nothing to say about this game, so I'm gonna guess the spread.

Rutgers by... 9?

/checks spread

Rutgers by 2!

Officially going to be on this one. The bet: $9, haha.

Kentucky (11) at Georgia (1): Game of the Week. Though, on the subject of spreads, this one is mighty.

Purdue at Iowa (2): It's very stereotypically Hybrid to be like "Whoa, this team is ranked X this week! Kinda wild!"... but: gracious. Knowing we were ranked No. 2 the last few days still didn't prepare me for seeing it on the actual ESPN page, y'all. Something about that makes it the realest.

And I know the intro was a little twisty, but I am more than down to celebrate some of the good times from last week.

/applause emoji to the crowd

Not sure how much of that was Gus alone:

OK, it was more than just Gus:

The fans are and were great, but you still need players to play. And play they did:

And one final word on the Penn State discourse:

/exhales

Actually, this made me laugh:

BYU (19) at Baylor: Notre Dame is on bye, so this story goes here.

Alabama at Mississippi State: Sabes, come for your medicine.

I know, it's not gonna be fun for me either.

(It is.)

I'll cut it off early because they're literally still in the mix already.

TCU at Oklahoma (4): Mentally, I've given the Sooners two losses, but it's perfectly fine to still see them in the mix.

For the time being.

Ole Miss (13) at Tennessee: Thanks to Jay Vegas for this one.

Stanford at Washington State: Mark in your calendars the first and hopefully only time I prefer David Shaw in a coaching matchup.

yay

Army at Wisconsin: Normally, this would make me want to puke, but Wisconsin is much cooler than usual, and they could use another (non-conference) win.

The Jag Bag

Annnd the Jag Bag goes plural.

Urban, your thoughts on this old photo?

Tebow, the last word is yours.

The use of "Miss Shelley"... a little troubling. Will say, 'Bow (inventing 'Bow right now) clearly gives a shit about Meyer, and he is lucky to still have people entrenched in his corner after all of his everything.

Wrapping It Up...

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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