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Overreaction Monday: Finding Normalcy in College Football’s Abnormal

Welcome to our old abnormal

NCAA Football: Florida at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

I know we just wrapped up what was technically week four of the 2020 college football season, but this past weekend was the one that finally flicked the switch to the assembly line on which the sport lives.

In its first game of the year, the reigning national champion lost to an eccentric new coach in Mississippi. Another eccentric new coach in Mississippi did... something. Oklahoma lost to Kansas State (again). Florida State got shitstomped by another team in Florida, and Pittsburgh is somehow 3-0.

These things typically wouldn’t warrant a second look even in the most normal of circumstances. It’s college football, after all.

Though Iowa—nor any other Big Ten team—suited up for the weekend, there were more than enough storylines an arm’s length from Iowa fandom. Week four featured alone:

  • A Bo Pelini defense giving up 44 points to Mike Leach in Leach’s first game at Mississippi State. (Bulldog QB KJ Costello broke an SEC record with 600 passing yards in the game).
  • A Chris Ash defense giving up 56 points to Texas friggin’ Tech.
  • Brock Purdy doing this:

And the abnormality of Iowa State’s eventual win over TCU (it was State’s first conference-opening win since 2015, and just the second time its won a Big 12 opener since 2002, but who’s counting) only added to the authenticity of what felt like an honest-to-God college football weekend.

Amidst a world that’s wholly unfamiliar to us right now, we got 10ish hours of a recognizable, yet wholly absurd, bloodsport played by teens. It was glorious.

And I don’t know how to feel about it.

While Lee Corso was stumbling over his esses Saturday morning, Gameday cut to a Wright Thompson monologue. In it he waxed on the typical pageantry of college football he so often does, in his trademark baritone timbre.

If his words weren’t paired with b-roll of him drinking beer alone on his couch, you’d hardly even know tailgating is more or less banned around the country.

His sermon is powerful because it trades in hard truths. It is fall. There is college football on. We miss the people we typically watch college football with. Wright is ordering chicken wings, drinking beer, and smoking pork. These are the facts.

And it hits home at the end: through a belly full of beer and BBQ, one can find joy in These Uncertain Times.® The takeaway is about controlling what you can control, and trying not to worry about what you can’t, even if its just for a few hours on one day of seven.

For many of us, this Ludovico treatment involves shoving brews and dead animals down our maws to the point of sickness. To others, like myself, it’s suffering through a Georgia game where Feleipe Franks (yes, that Feleipe Franks) had the Dawgs on the ropes for the first half. For all, it’s enduring the troll job of Leach after what will likely be hailed as one of the biggest wins in Mississippi State history, asterisks be damned.

These unique college football moments are all gulps of fresh air. Long drinks from the draft line of our favorite elixir. It’s supremely important to allow yourself a respite from reality from time to time.

And it’s just as important to ask yourself why some teams are playing this month and others aren’t. It’s important to ask why Lincoln Riley can’t beat Kansas State. To ask how many more games will be postponed this season. To ask if Stetson Bennett III is the most Georgia quarterback name of all time. To ask if the guy in charge of the College Football Playoff can be trusted if he can’t even take care of his own front lawn.

These are all questions worth asking. And none of them (well some of them) have a simple answer. So if you want to use this as a greenlight to get drunk off ham on Saturday afternoon’s this fall and forget about the shitstorm outside, go ahead.

Just don’t get mad when you run out of pig.