Welcome back to my newest column “How’s the Baker Feeling?” where I’ll be sharing some thoughts and opinions from the past week of football and prepare for the upcoming week. For Q&A topics, please tweet me your ideas @BarnBurnerBaker.
How’s the Baker Feeling?
If you haven’t seen it yet, Clay Matthews was called for the most egregious “roughing the passer” penalty to date in 2018. He was obviously frustrated and how could he not be? Take a look:
Clay Matthews was NOT happy after taking a late roughing the passer penalty. 😡
Do you agree with him? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/njU2m2sjLh
— theScore (@theScore) September 17, 2018
Seriously, in the National Football League, that play was ruled a 15 yard penalty for being too violent towards the quarterback. It would’ve been a terrible call no matter what situation it came at, but the fact that it was called in the final minute on a play that the Packers ultimately intercepted to put a win on ice is extremely infuriating. Granted, the Packers did still have several chances to put the Vikings away and didn’t.
Once again the NFL has a rules conundrum. Everyone expected it to be the new helmet rule, which hasn’t been utilized much, but instead it is the new emphasis on protecting the quarterback. There have been 21 roughing the passer penalties already this year in the NFL through two weeks. The issue is that no one knows what exactly is a penalty. You can’t slam the quarterback, you can’t lift the quarterback, and now you can’t wrap and tackle the quarterback. Simply, roughing the passer is the new “catch” rule. No one knows what is going on and we are all at the mercy of the officials. The lack of consistency is staggering. See this hit on Tom Brady (which wasn’t flagged) and compare to Matthews’ hit on Kirk Cousins above:
After watching Clay Matthews’ penalty in Green Bay on flight home this a.m., I was struck by similarity to this non-flagged play in Patriots-Jaguars. My preference: No flags on either play (that’s football), but regardless, more consistency something for officials to strive for. pic.twitter.com/CwUZSi7g5j
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 17, 2018
Unlike the NBA, which is quick to announce mistakes by its officials and enact corrective policies, the NFL doubled down and declared that Matthews’ hit would be sent around the league as an example of what not to do. This seems like a terrible precedent to set. I am all for protecting quarterbacks, but the rules need to be reasonable. In a league that already wildly favors offense, fair defensive plays are being outlawed. Let’s hope that enough viewers and commentators will complain and the NFL will slowly back away from these ticky-tack calls. They’re usually slow to adapt, so don’t hold your breath. Until then, the league will continue to look like a farce and outcomes of games will be at the mercy of officials.
It seems rare to come away from an event or game and be completely impressed with all angles, but that’s how I felt on Saturday night leaving AT&T Stadium. I came away impressed with Ohio State & once again think they are one of the most complete teams in the country. They dug themselves into a hole and were able to rally against a TCU team that I was skeptical of previously. Dwayne Haskins played phenomenally finishing 24-38 for 344 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ohio State’s defense scored twice and their offense created big plays throughout the night. TCU looked equally as dangerous for a half, but seemed to run out of gas a bit in the second. Ohio State defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones called TCU the fastest team he’s faced yet in his college career. That’s high praise and the AP poll only dropped them to 17th. The Horned Frogs should remain a threat in the Big 12 and have an opportunity to make a push towards the top ten.
On another note, if you get the chance to go to AT&T Stadium do it. I was amazed. The building is a spectacle and for as much grief as I have given Jerry Jones over the years, I was blown away by the service and friendliness of the staff inside. I’ll continue to root against the Cowboys every week, but I love their stadium.
I’m Feeling Vindicated
Just a few weeks ago I was on Twitter going back and forth with several people about the best conference in college football. I made a statement that the SEC was still the premiere conference in all of football. Some of my followers politely disagreed, saying that the SEC was too top heavy and that top to bottom the Big Ten had surpassed them. I’m feeling confident saying now that the SEC’s demise and B1G’s rise were drastically overstated. The Big Ten did have an 8-1 bowl record last year, but I’m of the opinion that bowl games (outside of a few) don’t mean a whole lot.
2018 hasn’t been a great start for the Big Ten, outside of Ohio State (what else is new?). Penn State barely escaped a week one loss to Appalachian State and Michigan was beaten by Notre Dame, who has struggled ever since. The conference followed that up with a Purdue loss to Eastern Michigan and a Northwestern loss to Duke in week two. Things got down right ugly this past weekend. Here were the losses:
- Rutgers lost by 41 to Kansas.
- Northwestern lost Akron.
- Nebraska lost to Troy.
- Maryland lost to Temple.
- Purdue lost to Mizzou.
- Illinois lost to USF.
- And the big one: Playoff hopeful Wisconsin lost to BYU.
Seven nonconference losses against unranked opponents. Obviously a lot of these teams are terrible, but potentially losing Wisconsin from the playoff hunt is a terrible blow. I really thought Rutgers was improving. Getting beat by Kansas is always embarrassing, but getting blown out by 41 is just downright laughable. Also this is the second week in a row that a MAC team has beat a Big Ten school. #FlyingTheFlag at an alarming rate in the Midwest.
On the other side of the coin, you have the SEC who currently have the #1, #2, #6, and #9. Granted Alabama and Georgia have yet to be tested, but LSU is maybe the most exciting team in the country right now (keep reading the column) and Auburn has a quality win against Washington and nearly got away with a win on Saturday. It’s a long season and it’s entirely possible that the SEC ends up with only one or no teams in the playoff. Anything is possible. My argument for the SEC is that in any given season I will take the top four teams of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and LSU and match them up with the top four teams from any other conference. Everybody but Bama is going to have up and down years, but I’ll take the SEC until someone consistently shows that they’re better.
More: PICK-UP LINES, WEEK 2
Team of the Week
Hold that Tigah! LSU won a weird one on Saturday afternoon, beating Auburn 22-21 on a walk-off field goal by Cole Tracy. Add an upset in Jordan-Hare Stadium to LSU’s convincing win against Miami at AT&T Stadium and they’re the early front runners for best resume. LSU is the only team in the nation with multiple top ten wins thus far. The AP poll has taken notice and jumped them up to the sixth spot. At the moment, LSU just might be everyone’s second favorite team. Coach O and his Cajun accent is the most entertaining man in college football and I know that everyone in my neck of the woods is rooting for Joe Burrow to validate just how much damn talent Ohio State had in the quarterback room last year. The schedule will only get tougher for LSU as the season wears on, but I think everyone in the country is hoping to see undefeated Georgia come into Death Valley on 10/13.
Video of the Week
Sticking with the theme with this NSFW clip:
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 16, 2018
Will Josh Gordon contribute for the Patriots? @TheBarnChief
I think Josh Gordon is immensely talented, but I think we need to pump the brakes on the hype-train for a guy that’s played 41 career games and only eleven since 2014. Nobody makes somebody else’s castoffs look better than the Patriots, but I see Josh Gordon being more of a Chad Ochocinco in New England rather than a Randy Moss.
Are the Jaguars now the team to beat in the AFC? @BarnBurnerSlim
As of Sunday, yes. It’s a long season and I’m trying to avoid sounding like a broken record, but right now they are the best team in the AFC. The Chiefs are scoring at will and the Bengals are 2-0 as well. I don’t trust a team coached by Andy Reid and I can’t trust the Bengals as far as I can throw the entire roster, so I’ll take my chances with the team that was a second half collapse away from the Super Bowl.
Are you nervous about Notre Dame? Josh, Columbus, OH
I’m a little nervous. Mostly with the offense. I’ve got complete confidence in the defense, but everyone and their brother has heard the stat about the offense not scoring over 24 points in a game yet. We still aren’t really sure how good Michigan is, but I know that Vanderbilt is better than most think. There’s no excuse for coming out flat against Vandy after putting in a clunker against a terrible Ball State squad. I’m expecting ND to come out guns a blazin’ this week against a decent Wake Forest team. Putting a team away early would feel nice this week.
Will the Browns win a game in September? Chris, Columbus, OH
It’s unbelievable that the Browns easily could be 2-0 if they simply weren’t the Browns. They’re much improved, as most of us expected, but they’re still figuring out how to lose games in the most miserable of fashions. All of that said, yes, give me the Browns to beat the Jets tonight. I can’t believe I just typed that.