College football began in earnest over the weekend and a lot of what happened was cause for chagrin here at Mr. Dilettante. While my beloved Badgers took care of business against a respectable opponent, Washington State, the rest of the day was pretty grim. Three scores indicate why:
Macalester 34, Beloit 21. I am a proud alumnus of Beloit College, a lovely liberal arts college with a dubious football tradition. My Bucs came north to St. Paul on Saturday to take on the Macalester Scots, historically the worst college football school in Minnesota. Back in the 1970s, Mac lost 50 games in a row and over the years the Scots have usually been on the receiving end of 79-0 scores, especially when the Johnnies came to town. Because Beloit has not been strong itself, scheduling Mac has usually been the football equivalent of a bowl of chicken soup – warm, tasty, good for what ails you and ultimately rewarding. Beloit has played Mac on a fairly regular basis over the last decade and had won every time, generally by comfortable margins. But not on Saturday. We went to the game and things started out as we’d come to expect, as our beloved Bucs jumped out to a 14-0 lead. But then it changed. Mac ran a kickoff back for a touchdown and suddenly turned into an offensive juggernaut, scoring five unanswered touchdowns. The Bucs had no answer and lost meekly.
Okay, it’s possible that the Scots are finally turning it around under their new coach and that Beloit may have been the victim of a budding football renaissance along Snelling Avenue. But it doesn’t seem likely. Even at the lowly D-III level, you cannot lose to Macalester. Unless you are playing the University of Tennessee, you should never lose to a team wearing orange pants. My kids were calling Mac “Mac & Cheese” because of the resemblance of Mac’s uniforms to Kraft products. I suspect that Beloit may be headed for an 0-9 season. Still it could have been worse. You could be a Gopher.
Bowling Green 32, Minnesota 31. We’ve got trouble in River City. The Music Man-style hype that has been emanating from the Bierman Building has been impossible to avoid ever since new coach Tim Brewster came to town. We’ve learned that there is a Gopher Nation that is headed for Pasadena. Historically, membership in Gopher Nation has been secured with an AARP card, but with the Vikings generally moribund there’s a yearning for some better football entertainment round these parts and at least a few people really wanted to believe that Coach Brewster was the real deal. Guess not. There’s no way the Gophers should ever lose to Bowling Green. One game is not enough time to pass definitive judgment, but the first results weren’t good. Bowling Green is slated to be a mid-level MAC team at best and a better MAC team, Miami of Ohio, is coming to town this week. Coach Brew better have more than hype or he’ll be headed out of town faster than you can say Smokey Joe Salem. Ash-canned Gopher coach Glen Mason may be smiling, but we wouldn’t know since he’s working for the Big 10 Network. His next appearance may be on a milk carton. Still, it could be worse. You could be a Wolverine.
Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32. After I came home from Macalester, I turned on the television and the first thing I saw was this score. I blinked and it was still there. Appalachian State is a powerhouse in what used to be called Division I-AA, what the NCAA now refers to as FUBAR, or something like that. They are a quality opponent and a team that will likely win many games this season. The thing is, they usually play teams like Lenoir-Rhyne, Furman and make occasional road trips to places like North Dakota State when they need to get out of lovely Boone, North Carolina. Somehow these fellows ended up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They were in the Big House, one of the most intimidating places in sports, with 106,000 Go Bluers waiting to watch the slaughter. But the Wolverines gagged. The Mountaineers came in and beat the pride of the Big Ten straight up in the Big House. Michigan has had a penchant for stubbing its toe in recent years, but usually the loss has come against an opponent with a little higher pedigree, like Notre Dame. It’s possible that the Wolverines will still come back and win the Big Ten, but I hope they don’t; it’s hard to argue the quality of the Big Ten when its top team cannot beat Appalachian State.