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[contemplating a torso covered in cryptic tattoos, Brutus the Buckeye stands in front of the mirror in a hotel room]

BRUTUS: I’m trying to find the man who killed my wife.

BRUTUS’S COMPANION, BILL: Dude, we keep talking about this. Your wife left you after you invested all your savings in something called “Tapout: The Restaurant”.

BRUTUS: She’s not dead?

BILL: Not in the least. She moved to Florida. Lives with a guy named Dale now. Here, look at this Instagram. They’re both pretending to take a bite from the same big donut.

BRUTUS: Aw, they seem happy. Now, who’s she?

BILL: Man, this is gonna get really annoying. Anyways, let’s focus.

BRUTUS: Got it.

BILL: Good.

BRUTUS: On what?

BILL: You’re trying to find the man who ruined your playoff dreams.

BRUTUS: Ah, right. [looks at tattoo on bicep] “D.S. ruined your playoff dreams.” Hey, is that D.S. over there? [points to the lifeless bodies of the entire Michigan State football team, which have been stacked in a corner of the hotel room.

BILL: Yep, that’s probably them. Dantonio’s Spartans. Ruined your playoff hopes in 2015. It was the weirdest thing, you had one of the top running backs in the country, and you didn’t run the ball that game.

BRUTUS: I don’t remember that.

BILL: That would explain what happened against Iowa last week.

BRUTUS: What happened against Iowa last week?

BILL: No one really knows.

BRUTUS: Wait, there’s another tattoo here.

BILL: The Celtic cross? I know, I thought that was strange too, since you’re not Irish.

BRUTUS: My grandmother was half-Irish. That’s why I get so drunk on St. Patrick’s Day.

BILL: Huh, I would’ve just thought it was because of Ohio State basketball.

BRUTUS: But no, this one right here, next to the barbed wire: it says “It definitely wasn’t Michigan State, that’s not what D.S. stands for, that was only a red herring.”

BILL: Ah, well.

BRUTUS: Seems like if I was going to have that long a clue tattooed on me, I could’ve just given myself the answer. Seems awfully circuitous.

BILL: Oh, so the 2014 season was fine with you, but now this is circuitous. Got it. That’s consistent.

BRUTUS: [rifling through Polaroids] wait, here, look at this! It looks like I’m getting absolutely destroyed by Oklahoma in these. That’s got to be it. This Baker Mayfield kid threw all over us then. And look at this YouTube clip! He’s got some moves. That must’ve been it, it was the Dancing Sooner.

BILL: That makes perfect sense.

BRUTUS: Does it?

BILL: Does what?

BRUTUS: ... I’ve already forgotten.

BILL: Well, that’s the great thing about getting shitcanned in Week 2, the Committee’s forgotten too. So I wouldn’t really worry about that one.

BRUTUS: Wait, you’d said something about Iowa, right? [rifles through newspapers] Yeah, yeah, look at this... it says I gave up 55 points to Iowa, is that right?

BILL: Nothing about that was right. Including the fact that you somehow found print newspapers in 2017. But, yeah, technically you did lose by 31 to Iowa. That happened.

BRUTUS: And that’s what ruined my playoff hopes, right?

BILL: Miraculously, no, you’re definitely still in playoff contention. You’re a two-loss team that gave up 55 points to Iowa, and you’ve got almost a clear path to being in the playoff. It’s harder to follow than the actual plot of Memento, and that was hard to follow.

BRUTUS: No, that can’t be true. I’ve got to be out of playoff contention, and that was what did it. But what does D.S. stand for, then?

BILL: Dumb shit? Happens in Iowa City at least once a year.

BRUTUS: Deceptively stable? You think Kirk Ferentz is just out there grinding out 8-5 seasons, and then you realize he’s doing it in the weirdest possible way.

BILL: I really don’t think Iowa’s the problem here.

BRUTUS: No, I’m pretty sure I need to hunt down Kirk Ferentz.

KIRK FERENTZ: [stirs atop the pile of bodies, where he’s been comfortably lounging the whole time, props self on one elbow] Ain’t got the stones to try it again, son.

BILL: Wait, wait, I’ve got it. Here’s the culprit. [smacks newspaper, points to rankings] Dairy Staters.


BILL: Wisconsin! They’re the ones you need to get vengeance on. And hey, if you beat Illinois and Michigan, you’ll face them in the Big Ten Championship game with a chance to ruin their undefeated season. That’ll show ‘em! Knock ‘em right out of the playoff. Paving the way for any number of other one-loss teams, hypothetically.

BRUTUS: Well... okay, that does sound like something I’m probably going to do, but... why? I thought I was hunting the man who ruined my playoff hopes. The last time I faced them with a playoff spot truly on the line, I beat them 59-0.

BILL: Exactly! Exactly. You used up all your postseason points too soon. Everyone gets a certain amount, and you ran up the score too much in that game. Didn’t affect you in 2014, but the next time you made the playoff, you were fresh out of points to use! Wisconsin ruined your playoff hopes.

BRUTUS: [thinks hard about it] I guess you’re right. Who’d I lose to then?

BILL: That’s not important, we’ve figured it all out. You’re going to knock Wisconsin out of the playoff, just like you did Michigan State. Write that on your arm or something. Don’t forget. Hey, listen, I gotta run. I’m late for dinner, and unlike you, my wife never forgets! [elbows Brutus playfully] Huh? Huh? Amiright? Ahhh, you’re alright, you megacephalic murderous nut.

[Bill departs]

BRUTUS, alone with his murderous thoughts: Dairy Staters. Dairy Staters. [thumbs through Wikipedia a little more] Huh.

BRUTUS: [tattooing chest with pen] “Dorky Slackswearer”. Surely I’ll remember who this is. That can’t be confused for anyone else I’m likely to run into soon.

FERENTZ: [on phone, still lounging on pile of bodies] Hey, what’s the line on the Ohio State-Michigan game?