Sep 17, 2021

Can the Buckeyes be dethroned?

Can the Buckeyes be dethroned?
(USA Today Sports)

Good morning, frents!

Justin Fields got five snaps in last week's opener. If you had to set the over/under for this Sunday, where would it be?

Last weekend was a good one for reveling in the misfortunes of my least favorite football teams. Ohio State was stunned at home by Oregon on Saturday while the Packers didn't even show up  against the Saints in Week 1.

I know some of you might say my schadenfreude is coming too early, but I've watched them long enough to know to get my shots in and check for a wallet while they're down. Bitter, party of one? Guilty as charged.

But I'm far from alone. Ohio State's loss perked up the ears of other Big Ten alums that have long suffered under its monolithic rule. The Buckeyes have won four straight conference titles and were a near-unanimous pick to win a fifth back at the Big Ten media days last month.

But with Justin Fields now here in Chicago to save the Bears, might the Buckeyes be vulnerable in 2021?

As is the case with everything in college football, it's going to be a long road to find out — and then another two commercial breaks and a 30-minute halftime after that. Ohio State gets Tulsa and Akron at home the next two weeks, then the Big Ten's version of Glass Joe and Von Kaiser — Rutgers and Maryland — immediately after.

Could Ohio State trip up in one of those games or in an Oct. 23 trip to Bloomington against an Indiana team it barely beat in 2020? It's possible, but far from likely.

Ohio State's next biggest true test doesn't come until October 30 against Penn State in Columbus. Then it's Nebraska in Lincoln (somehow now an automatic W) and Purdue at home before a two-week run against the Michigan schools.

At some point you have to figure that Ohio State will either watch freshman QB CJ Stroud figure out his issues or find out that its fifth-string transfer quarterback is a star whenever they get around to looking at him. (Meanwhile, there's a solid chance the third-stringer leaves and turns into Joe Burrow).

The defense has given up an average of 33 points over its first two games and that's bound to change against inferior competition.

Still, it's nice to see some signs of weakness coming out of Columbus. Watching the bully take his licks never gets old, which is why watching Michigan most of the last 15 years has been so enjoyable.

This weekend's games

Maryland (-7.5) at Illinois (8 tonight, BTN) The 1-2 Illini meet the 2-0 Terrapins in a Friday Night Lights game everyone wishes was on the basketball court instead.

Northern Illinois (+27) at #25 Michigan (11 am, BTN) Can the Huskies pull off another big road upset? The odds are against them. The Wolverines are 34-1 all-time against MAC teams with the lone loss coming against Toledo in 2008. Sorry NIU, but Rich Rodriguez is not walking through that door.

Purdue (+7.5) at #12 Notre Dame (1:30 pm, NBC): First meeting since 2014 and the Boilermakers are mad because the Irish won't let them bring the "World's Largest Drum" into the stadium. Not quite sure if being motivated by a giant bass drum is factored into the line or not, but bet accordingly.

Northwestern (-2.5) at Duke (3 pm, ACC Network): Both teams are 1-1 after opening-week losses. Loser claims Chris Collins.

News and results

Sox hit road after dropping series to Angels

An 11-game swing through Texas, Detroit and Cleveland starts today and one wonders how the Sox will keep their focus. Thursday's 9-3 loss was marked by Reynaldo Lopez giving up seven runs, the defense committing three errors and the lineup making Alex Cobb glad he picked the right day to come off the IL. The Sox have dropped five of eight.

  • The game ended with Jose Abreu at third base after Mike Wright and Tony La Russa were ejected after Shohei Ohtani was hit by a pitch in the ninth.
  • Cleveland was inactive, so the magic number stays at seven. The Indians have three games against the Yankees in the Bronx this weekend.
  • Tony LaRussa announced Carlos Rodon will return for a start during the Detroit series early next week and make one additional appearance before the postseason.
    Next: Dylan Cease (11-7, 4.22) vs. Taylor Hearn (6-4, 3.99)

Cubs blow big early lead to get blown out

Remember that time the Cubs blew a 7-0 lead in Milwaukee at the start of this months-long slump? Or the time they surrendered a 6-0  lead to the Sox? Well, they made it a three-peat with a 17-8 loss in Philadelphia. The Cubs scored seven runs in the third, but Kyle Hendricks gave up seven in the bottom of the fourth to put the Cubs on their way to a nine-run loss.
Next: Zach Davies (6-11, 5.40) vs. Adrian Houser (9-6, 3.25)

Eddie Goldman highlights injury report

Goldman and Larry Borom did not practice on Thursday while both Jason Peters and Robert Quinn were limited.

Hawks to make nine national TV appearances

The NHL has a new TV deal so that's five on TNT (including the Oct. 13 season opener in Colorado) and four on ESPN/ABC. Out-of-town Midway Minute readers will be happy to know an additional four games will be streamed for fans on ESPN+ and Hulu. Here's the full schedule.


“They’re men, not machines, and once in a while you get in a little funk. That’s what momentum’s about. You get in a good thing and it’s a good aura, a good vibe. You get into a funk and stuff gets worse. We were funky.”  — Tony La Russa
  1. Jeff Agrest catches up with Jason Goff as he starts a new Chicago podcast with Bill Simmons and The Ringer. Sun-Times
  2. Jay Cutler says it's "absurd" to blame Chris Conte for the playoff loss to the Packers in 2013. BearsWire
  3. Inside the rapid rise of Brennen Davis, who is 6-for-13 with three homers since being promoted to Triple-A Iowa. Des Moines Register
  4. Four reasons why the Bulls can make noise in the East. CBS Sports
  5. Another version of Central Illinois' horseshoe sandwich is coming to Chicago, thanks to a pair of Honey Butter Fried Chicken alums.  Eater Chicago
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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