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Beyond the Fort: An up and down weekend for the start of Big Ten play

Penn State and Indiana had a wild finish, while Wisconsin deals with a virus outbreak that has shut down their facilities.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten returned over the weekend, and quickly reminded us how little we missed them. A crazy finish in Indiana highlighted a weekend full of upsets, as there were surprising scores all around. Michigan State fell to Rutgers — RUTGERS — spoiling Mel Tucker’s debut and taking the shine out of this weekend’s battle for Land O’ Lakes supremacy. Penn State did this:

allowing Indiana’s Michael Penix to do this:

and this two point conversion stretch was upheld on replay:

Despite the result, College Game Day went ahead and decided to go to Happy Valley anyway for a game against Ohio State that feels a lot less fun now.

In other bad Big Ten news, we have the biggest COVID-relate issue with a single player, as Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz is entering the 21-day COVID protocol after testing positive twice for the disease. This is a huge blow to Wisconsin — who crushed Illinois over the weekend — and college football, who sees the biggest name player take a seat this season. Mertz was outstanding in his debut, throwing for 248 yards with five touchdowns and just one incompletion in the win. Wednesday morning, Badger head coach Paul Chryst announced that he, too, had tested positive, and Wiscy would be shutting down football activities and full on cancelling their scheduled game against Nebraska that was supposed to be played this weekend.

One more Big Ten note; a fan who made death threats against Ohio State over Facebook during the Buckeyes game against the University of Michigan was sentenced to one year in prison for issuing threats to shoot at the school and players. It was apparently not the first time he had done such things:

Rippy threatened a shooting at the school, saying in a Facebook message to the university, “I’m seriously going to hurt the students and all of the players from the football team,” according to a statement of facts filed with Rippy’s July plea agreement.

In separate messages, Rippy also threatened “to injure or kill specific players, their family members and the head coach,” the document said.

Rippy made similar threats against Gonzaga University on its Facebook page three days before the football game, after the Gonzaga men’s basketball team defeated Duke University on Nov. 21, 2018, the government revealed for the first time in an Oct. 7 court filing. Rippy is a Duke fan, the government said.

“Yeah and when I get my hands on the players from the basketball team there going to die one by one,” that posting said, according to federal prosecutors. Rippy later apologized to the school.

Frankly I am glad to see action being taken when it comes to online threats; people hide behind anonymous accounts and say terrible things with no recourse, and it needs to be dealt with.

Back in the Big 12, we learned something that we already know: Texas does a great job recruiting, and a terrible one developing. Just look at what ESPN had to say:

There were four major indicators that ESPN took into consideration. The number of players selected in the NFL Draft, first-team all-conference selections, consensus All-American selections and the number of recruits who transferred or left the program.

The Longhorns were one of the few schools that stood out with low grades. Texas was in the bottom five of each category except one.

“Texas was fifth worst for drafted players (six), fifth worst for first-team all-conference players (three) and third worst for number of players to transfer or leave the program (16). Of those 16 players, nine came from the 2016 class, five of which were defensive recruits.”

Seems bad.