Ohio State coach Urban Meyer made Sad Pizza famous. In this edition of Livin’ B1G, we’ll check on Meyer and others around the conference likely chowing down after last week’s action.
The photos incited bellowing laughs.
There sat Urban Meyer, winner of his previous 24 games as Ohio State’s head coach, sitting on a motorized cart deep inside Lucas Oil Stadium, scarfing down a Papa John’s pizza, wondering what went wrong.
Michigan State had just snapped the Buckeyes’ winning streak and ended their chances of playing for the national championship, winning the 2013 Big Ten title game, 34-24. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Then I couldn’t stop giggling when I saw Urban and Sad Pizza pondering the defeat all by their lonesome.
The internet in all its glory created some hilarious memes to ensure that Sad Pizza would forever live on. And one has to wonder if Meyer took down another slice after last week’s 24-21 loss at Penn State that dropped Ohio State from No. 2 to No. 6 in the AP Top 25.
But the Buckeyes aren’t the only ones in the Big Ten hoping for better days. Luckily for you, Livin’ B1G has created its own Sad Pizza Rating to see just how rough things are going, with five slices of Sad Pizza being the worst.
Let’s begin with the Buckeyes …
… The loss that inspired Sad Pizza was much tougher to swallow than an October defeat in what was the Buckeyes’ first road loss under Meyer. There’s still plenty of football left to be played, and running the table ultimately still could land them in the College Football Playoff.
That said, the way Penn State knocked Ohio State from the ranks of the unbeaten tips the scales a bit. Losing the lead on a blocked field that gets returned for a touchdown with less than five minutes left stings, no matter if the Buckeyes still have plenty of season remaining to get over it. It also gives Ohio State no margin for error if it hopes to have any shot at winning another national title.
Sad Pizza Rating:
… Michigan State’s victory that caused Meyer to consume empty calories three years ago was validation that coach Mark Dantonio’s plan had worked, and the Spartans were again a force in the Big Ten. They won the Rose Bowl that season and beat Baylor in the Cotton Bowl in 2014 before shocking Ohio State again on their way to a berth in last year’s College Football Playoff.
With that in mind, how has Dantonio, who lost five games combined over the previous three season, let Michigan State slip to a 2-5 record with five consecutive losses and an 0-4 start in conference play? It simply doesn’t make sense.
The Spartans’ last four losses have come against BYU, Indiana, Northwestern and Maryland. Their quarterback situation is a mess, leading to freshman Brian Lewerke starting the last two games over Tyler O’Connor, who was voted a team captain during the preseason – something even Connor Cook couldn’t accomplish. Riley Bullough became a madman against the Terps, and the whole team generally seems disinterested.
Now rival Michigan, certainly looking for some revenge after last year’s heartbreaking loss, heads to East Lansing as a 21.5-point favorite. Ouch.
Sad Pizza Rating:
… Chris Ash and Lovie Smith knew they were undertaking major rebuilding projects when they accepted their first college head coaching jobs. That doesn’t make the losing – more specifically, blowout losses – any easier to handle.
Ash, Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator last year, watched his Rutgers team get outscored 174-14 in its first four Big Ten games before showing signs of life in last week’s 34-32 loss at Minnesota. The Scarlet Knights even had a one-point lead in the final four minutes, at least giving Ash, his staff and his players some hope of progress heading into the bye week.
Smith guided Illinois to its only Big Ten win over Rutgers, 24-7, two weeks ago. But the Fighting Illini fell back to Earth on Saturday, losing 41-8 to Michigan with Jeff George Jr. at quarterback. They managed just 172 total yards and have a long way to go in order to be Big Ten contenders like Smith believes they can be.
Sad Pizza Rating:
… Man, Wisconsin sure could use a break. Not only are the Badgers preparing to face their fifth top-10 team for the first time in school history, they’re going to be without a significant part of their defense when No. 7 Nebraska visits Madison on Saturday night.
Wisconsin announced Monday that inside linebacker Jack Cichy will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered in last week’s 17-9 win at Iowa. He was named the Big Ten defensive player of the week following the Badgers’ loss to Ohio State two weeks ago.
Cichy is Wisconsin’s leader with 60 tackles while also adding seven tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The news came just days after Vince Biegel returned after he missed two games because of foot surgery.
It’s a big blow to the nation’s ninth-ranked defense, but the Badgers have plenty of depth to help make up for the loss.
Sad Pizza Rating:
… In some legitimately sad news, Northwestern senior defensive back Matthew Harris released a statement through the school on Monday announcing his retirement from football. Harris earned All-Big Ten honors last season and was a two-time member of the conference’s All-Academic team.
The decision comes after Harris suffered a concussion in Week 2 against Illinois State, at least his third in his career. He has chosen to focus on his academics rather than risk further injury, and it takes a big man to walk away from a game you love. Livin’ B1G wishes Harris all the best moving forward.
Sad Pizza Rating: The whole pie