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College Football Recap
Sunday, 2009 September 13 - 11:28 am
Wow. Just, wow.

Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34. Some of the reporters on ESPN remarked that even though they were not Michigan or Notre Dame fans, they were absolutely glued to their televisions watching this game. It was a riveting back-and-forth game featuring 920 combined yards of offense, and the highest point total in the history of the rivalry.

Honestly, Notre Dame probably ought to have won this game. The Notre Dame offense shredded Michigan's defense all day. Michigan's defensive line failed to pressure Jimmy Clausen, and the secondary couldn't keep up with Notre Dame's receivers. Notre Dame's large offensive line gashed Michigan's smaller defensive front for huge chunks of rushing yards.

Still, Michigan made plays on offense and special teams, and found ways to stay in the game. Brandon Minor, who was finally healthy, had a great day rushing; he ran for 106 yards on 16 carries, an average of 6.6 yards per carry. Darryl Stonum returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown (take that, Rocket Ismail).

But it was freshman quarterback Tate Forcier who really made the difference. He ran for a touchdown on a 4th-down conversion, juking a defender so badly that ABC commentator Matt Millen remarked, "If you look very carefully, there's a jock strap somewhere on the field." It was Forcier's individual effort on the last drive to avoid sacks that allowed Michigan to preserve precious seconds on the clock. And it was Forcier's pinpoint, perfectly timed pass to Greg Mathews on the final touchdown that sealed the win for Michigan. Some folks are already starting to rumble about Forcier for the Heisman trophy... his performance was that good.

Offense: A. The offensive line deserves a lot of credit for opening up the rushing game and picking up blitzes. Minor showed strength and quickness. Tight end Kevin Koger seemed to get open all day. And Forcier, of course, was spectacular. I am concerned a little bit about the health of the receiving corps; without Junior Hemingway in the lineup, Michigan seemed to lack deep threats. But overall, it was a great day for Michigan's offense, against a defense that pitched a shutout last week.

Defense: C-. It was a tough assignment to match up with Notre Dame's veteran skill players, but I thought Michigan would do better against Notre Dame's offensive line. Notre Dame exploited Michigan's lack of depth in the secondary by employing four-wide-receiver sets frequently, and kept Michigan's linebackers off-balance using play-action passes and screens. If Cissoko could have locked down his receiver, Michigan could have blitzed more; conversely, if the defensive line had been able to penetrate the offensive line, Michigan could have dropped a safety back to help coverage. Instead, Michigan did neither, and seemed helpless at time as Clausen sat back and picked the defense apart. Donovan Warren and Stevie Brown had a good day; I'm finding it hard to praise anyone else's performance.

N.C. State 65, Murray State 7. 65 points whoa, but it's the I-AA Murray State Cupcakes Racers, so whatever.

Big Ten

(#8) Ohio State 15, (#3) USC 18. This was the other marquee game of the day. It was a game dominated by the two defenses; USC scored its first touchdown by getting the ball at the two yard line after an interception, and only put together a couple of substantial offensive possessions after that. USC was only 6-16 on third-down conversions. I'm puzzled at how Ohio State fails to exploit quarterback Terrelle Pryor's speed and running ability, instead electing to keep him back as a mediocre pocket passer.

This outcome was probably the best of both worlds for a Michigan fan. USC won but not in dominating fashion, which (along with Michigan's win) may help to quiet the critics of the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Ohio State lost yet another big game on a national stage, which will hurt its reputation and its recruiting.

Michigan State 27, Central Michigan 29. In the grand MSU "Find a Way to Lose" tradition, Michigan State failed to recover a well-executed on-side kick late in the game. Central Michigan then missed a potential game-winning field goal from 47 yards away, but Michigan State was offsides and gave CMU a second chance from five yards closer. The ball sneaked through the left upright to give CMU the upset victory.

Top 25

Houston 45, (#5) Oklahoma State 35. Thanks for visiting the Top 10, Oklahoma State... maybe we'll see you again next year.

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