Big Ten not so big after first weekend of college football


Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/TNS Ohio State defensive back Rodjay Burns (29) dances around Bowling Green Falcons defensive back Romeo Masuku (12) and into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Ohio State won, 77-10.

Matt Poe

College football officially kicked off this weekend and if you’re like most fans, the anticipation building throughout months of recruitment, speculation and giddiness culminate for many that first weekend when their favorite teams take the field.

If you’re like me, that first weekend tends to be a dud. It primarily features many rag-tag smaller schools (here’s looking at you, Kent State) taking on the Goliaths of college football (hi, Ohio State) for a tune-up game or as I like to explain it, a paycheck for the visiting school and an easy victory for the home team.

The first week of college football, for me, doesn’t start until that fourth week when conference play arrives and the parity between teams levels out.

But I’ll be damned, this opening weekend was somewhat different.

The season’s start was nothing short of glorious, tantalizing and utterly awesome due to the fact that many of the top dog universities decided to play someone of equal talent.

Texas and Notre Dame went at it in a double-overtime nail-biter. Alabama spanked USC in Dallas and sent the Trojans back to Pasadena with their tails between their legs. Florida State stunned Ole Miss in a thrilling comeback.

We usually don’t get these matchups until later in the season, and they tend to be in-conference matchups, so I applaud the athletic departments for refusing to play some cakewalk of a game. Oh, and a fat paycheck. Funny how that works. That is, except for our beloved Big Ten conference.

Rutgers got stomped by a respectable Washington program. Ohio State waxed Bowling Green 77 to 10 in a game that I witnessed in-person at Ohio Stadium.

For Bowling Green, it was like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan or a heavyweight fight that the referee should have called off after the first round.

Yet, all week on Twitter I’ve seen nothing but Big Ten fans commenting about how the conference had the best opening weekend record at 12-2 of any major conference. I saw that same graphic about 10 times during ESPN’s broadcast of the Ole Miss-Florida State game.

I understand the business side of getting these small schools to go get beaten senselessly by the big boys. Kent State did it two seasons ago in 66-0 trouncing by Ohio State. Why? Because the university collected a hefty lump sum of $865,000 to play that game.

Money talks, I get it. It’s useless to criticize the players and coaches in this situation because they can only play who their schedule dictates.

I know Buckeye fans in particular were excited about the big victory on Saturday, but was anyone truly impressed with that game? I sure as hell wasn’t. Any sensible fan of a respected program like Ohio State shouldn’t be either.

For years, Big Ten fans have cried out that their programs do not garner the same respect and recognition that the SEC does.

It takes a lot for me to defend the SEC and I’ll probably need a shower after writing this, but they usually come out with strong opening games. All I’m asking is that everyone in Big Ten country pump the brakes a little on the high-and-mighty talk after this first weekend. I know myself and most of Big Ten fans have grown deaf to SEC teams talk about their superiority complex for the last decade or so.

Don’t be like them; there is a lot of football to be played.

Anyway, this column sounds too bitter. After all, the fact of the matter is college football is back. Saturdays are for the boys, and that’s good enough for me.

Matt Poe is a columnist for The Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected].