It’s late October and I’m still not sure what normal feels like. The Big Ten is back — as is the Mountain West — and college football feels more … complete. That’s true. It feels like the season is more of a reality. But there’s another reality, too. The reason the Big Ten started this late is because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all signs points to our country heading in the wrong direction and straight into yet another wave of the virus. That backdrop combined with the Big Ten’s return has created a complex juxtaposition and it’s hard to have enough bandwidth for all of it.
But college football’s more fulfilling schedule is still a good thing. The return of the Big Ten was eventful and being able to dive into all of it is what makes this so fun. While there were more games on Saturday than there have been at any other point in 2020, the Big Ten took front and center for this week’s overreactions. So let’s get to them.
The Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields race is on
Indeed, college football’s season feels more complete with the Big Ten making its debut this weekend. But, really, the drama is in the much-anticipated Heisman race between Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. In a 52-17 throttling of Nebraska, Fields was nearly perfect: 20-of-21 passing for 271 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 54 yards and a score. Despite the blowout, Nebraska’s defense didn’t play terribly; Ohio State is just that gifted. Fields delivered on his much-anticipated first game back and it’s now officially time to add him to the Heisman fold with Lawrence and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. Fields and Lawrence are going to jockey for which one should be the top pick in next spring’s draft, too. Game on.
Forty-nine points is not the most No. 18 Michigan has scored under coach Jim Harbaugh, but it almost feels like it. Saturday’s 49-24 win over No. 21 Minnesota was the most fun watching a Wolverines offense in a good, long while. A lot of that has to do with quarterback Joe Milton. The Michigan coaching staff raved about Milton in the offseason and the initial returns look the big, athletic, strong-armed quarterback has the steak, not just sizzle. Milton was an efficient 15-of-22 passing for 225 yards and a touchdown while connecting with nine different pass-catchers. He also added 52 yards rushing and another score. There was nothing too flashy; offensive coordinator Josh Gattis did a nice job of keeping everything within reach for Milton. There were plenty of moving pockets and opportunities for Milton to show off his athleticism. There were also moments of clear brilliance. Milton would make a “wow” throw or show off deceptive speed for a player his size. He’s a weapon, even if Michigan didn’t completely unleash him. There’s a missing piece component to his game that could take Michigan to another level — which is important given