Saturday Tea Vol. 1: Highlights from college football

Ethan Lee

Welcome to Saturday Tea, where each week we will take a look at the surprising, disappointing and downright hilarious happenings of the college football world.

Sure, interconference snore fest has been playing out in the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, and Big 12 Conference, but last week marked the start of the Big 10 and Mountain West Conference seasons with the Pac 12 Conference kickoff following close behind. This means that we are just getting started with the games that will shape the playoff and bowl season. Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at what went on last Saturday, Oct. 24.

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Sad Times in Happy Valley: The most notable result of this Saturday’s slate of games was undoubtedly the unranked Indiana’s upset of 8th ranked Penn State. It was a back-and-forth game for the most part, and with 1:42 left in the game, the Nittany Lions scored to make it 28-20. 

This play brought about the first point of contention. “Why did he score!?” questioned virtually every college football pundit on air later that night. They were, of course, referring to the alternative option of falling before crossing the goal line to ensure victory by running the clock out.

While that is a fair question to ask, the burden of the blame in my opinion should be placed on the defense that let unranked Indiana drive the length of the field and punch in the two-point conversion in less than 90 seconds. Why are we blaming a running back for doing his job by scoring the ball and putting his team up eight? After that score, ESPN gave the Nittany Lions a 97.9% of winning the game after going up to eight, so it’s safe to say the offense did not give this one away. 

After a disastrous attempt at a squib kick, setting up a potentially game-winning field goal attempt that missed, the game headed into overtime. In overtime, the Nittany Lions scored first, putting all the pressure on the Hoosiers. 

Not surprisingly, the steel curtain that is the Penn State defense gave up a touchdown after a handful of plays. Then, Indiana coach Tom Allen kept his offense out on the field to go for a win. 

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. scrambled left and looked to run in the two-point conversion just as he had at the end of regulation. Leaving his feet and stretching his arm as far as he could, Penix Jr. managed to knock the pylon over and win the game. 

Many fans (myself included) watching the game agreed with the outraged Nittany Lions in their claim that Penix Jr. had fallen just short of reaching the goal line. However, the officials ruled that there was not enough evidence to overturn the call of a successful conversion, and Penn State’s season opener ended in agony.

Did the running back make the wrong call by scoring late? Did the referees make the wrong call, awarding the Hoosiers the game in OT? Or was this the result that we all should’ve expected from a Penn State team that has made an annual habit of losing games they are supposed to win as a member of the top ten?

One clear thing is that upsets make college football fun.

Is it too late to say sorry?: Big 10 powerhouse Ohio State made its 2020-2021 season debut Oct. 24 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. To the surprise of no one, Justin Fields and the Buckeyes beat the doors off of Scott Frost’s Nebraska side, which is still searching for an identity.

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However, the expected blowout still stole some of the week 8 headlines for some hilarious reasons. With 18 seconds left in the game, the Ohio State backup unit ran in a two-yard touchdown to extend the score to 52-17. This rubbed media members and Nebraska fans the wrong way. 

After the game, Ohio State coach Ryan Day apologized to Frost and the Cornhuskers for scoring with his backups rather than running out the clock. While Day showed class, acknowledging the Buckeyes ill-timed score, it left me wondering why an apology is necessary at all.

Sportsmanship is always an important quality to have, but in what world is a 52-17 loss less embarrassing than 45-17? Moreover, does Day’s acknowledgment of just how badly his team was beating Nebraska not rub more salt in the wound? Not only did the Buckeyes wipe the field with the Cornhuskers, but they also apologized for the extent of the beating like a big brother consoling his sobbing sibling after a driveway basketball game. 

Bad losses happen. There is no need to apologize for beating an inferior team, just like there’s no shame in losing to one of the best teams in the country. That being said, I wonder if the members of the Nebraska secondary have received their handwritten apology notes from Justin Fields for torching them on national TV. I am sure that’ll make the 35-point loss easier to swallow. 

BYU: Like most of you, I have been taking in the past few weeks of college football without the joy of watching our Rams play. This means that, in the meantime, I have to find a temporary replacement for my favorite team. My recommendation for all of you looking to do the same would be the Brigham Young University Cougars.

The Cougars seem poised to take over the role of the nation’s Group of Five darling from University of Central Florida. Currently sitting at 6-0 and ranked 11th nationally, the Cougars’ exciting brand of ball mixed with an easy schedule makes them a sure-fire candidate for a New Year’s Six Bowl and the title of the People’s National Champion. Outside of their week 10 matchup with Boise State (whom BYU beat last season), the Cougars face little to no opposition going forward.

Between their high-flying mascot Cosmo, their Heisman-hopeful quarterback and the classic blue and white uniforms, there is a whole lot to like about the Cougs. So order a cap and shirt and jump on the BYU bandwagon now before you are left behind.

Rams Corner: As most of you know, our beloved Rams week 1 bout versus New Mexico was canceled due to a prevalence of COVID-19 in Bernalillo County, New Mexico.
While it’s hard to get upset about a conference canceling a football game in an effort to keep communities safe, this particular precaution feels just as well thought out as allowing a cross country trip to San Diego after deeming an hour-long bus ride from Boulder an unnecessary risk.
 
A more likely reason for the cancelation is that the 16.5-point underdogs were looking to save themselves from an embarrassing season opener. Governor Michelle Grisham was definitely correct in saying that the Lobos were safer staying at home.
 
I hope you enjoyed the week 8 recap. Stop by next week, when we’ll discuss the Rams’ 30-point win over Fresno State along with Arkansas’s upset of Texas A&M.
 
Ethan Lee can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @EthanLee_99.