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College Football Recap
Sunday, 2009 September 27 - 12:39 pm
Michigan and N.C. State win thrillers; four top-ten teams lose.

Michigan 36, Indiana 33. Honestly, this is a game Michigan should probably have lost. Indiana outplayed Michigan for much of the game; Michigan's defense again suffered from poor tackling and missed gap assignments. The patched-up offensive line (playing without center David Molk, out four to six weeks with a broken foot) did okay with run-blocking, but pass protection continued to be a problem. It took another miraculous performance from Tate Forcier, and a fortunate but probably incorrect call from the referees, to seal the win for Michigan.

Michigan clearly missed David Molk at center. David Moosman made three bad shotgun snaps, two of them attempts to catch Indiana offsides (and only one of those two successful). Two resulted in drive-crushing twenty-yard losses.

Forcier did make a horrifically ill-advised pass attempt directly into the arms of a defender in the second quarter, leading to an Indiana field goal. But Forcier scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one rushing and one passing, and also rushed for a two-point conversion. The game-winning touchdown was a perfectly thrown 26-yard post pattern on 3rd and 6, in the face of a blitz. That's one time Michigan did manage to provide Forcier with some decent pass protection.

Indiana had a chance to come back after that, but Donovan Warren came up with an interception that looked an awful lot like simultaneous possession, which should have given the ball to Indiana's offense. But it was ruled on the field as an interception, and video evidence wasn't enough to overturn it. The clip of a furious Bill Lynch (Indiana's head coach) hurling his chewing gum away after the call made all the highlight reels.

Offense: C+. Miscues and poor offensive line play almost gave the game away. We were lucky to win with such poor execution.

Defense: C. The front seven got gashed repeatedly, again, and the secondary gave up a lot of underneath passes. Indiana racked up 197 yards rushing and 270 yards passing.

N.C. State 38, Pittsburgh 31. Russell Wilson carried N.C. State to a thrilling come-from-behind victory, with a surprising offensive explosion against a pretty good Pitt defense. Wilson passed for 322 yards and ran for 91 more. This looked like a completely different team than the one that bogged down against South Carolina; I think those cupcake games gave Wilson some confidence to take the game on his shoulders.

State still needs to work on improving special teams play, and they need to cut down on the silly penalties. But right now, they're starting to look like a dangerous team in the ACC.

Big Ten

(#5) Penn State 10, Iowa 21. Penn State was one of the four top-ten teams to lose Saturday. This was a very close defensive struggle for most of the game. Iowa broke the game open with a blocked punt for a touchdown. Penn State's offense looked dreadful, though; Daryll Clark was only 12 for 32 with three interceptions. So is Iowa that good, or is Penn State that bad? A little of both, I think. Penn State had played mediocre competition to this point, and though Iowa struggled in their opener against Northern Iowa, they beat a good Arizona team and now they've beaten Penn State. Iowa easily belongs in the top 20.

Wisconsin 38, Michigan State 30. Oh, Sparty. Michigan State let Wisconsin jump out to a big early lead, thanks largely to turnovers, and came up short in their comeback attempt. Michigan State isn't looking so good at 1-3, but I'm still greatly worried about Michigan's game against them next week.

Ohio State 31, Illinois 0. Zook = Bad.

Minnesota 35, Northwestern 24. My predictions of Northwestern's resurgence may have been premature.

Notre Dame 24, Purdue 21. I may have seen the most boneheaded coaching call in years in this game. Notre Dame, on Purdue's two yard line, down by four with no timeouts and thirty seconds to play, fails to gain yardage on a rushing play on second down. It seems like they'll have to spike the ball on third down to stop the clock, leaving them one play to win the game. But Purdue, bizarrely and inexplicably, calls timeout. Notre Dame doesn't have to spike the ball and therefore has two tries at the end zone. The first fails, the second succeeds. It's like Purdue was trying to lose this game. It's a ridiculous error by a young coach; he'll spend years remembering this lesson.

Top 25

(#1) Florida 41, Kentucky 7. The only notable thing about this game was that demigod quarterback Tim Tebow went out with a concussion in the third quarter. Florida has a bye next week, so Tebow will have time to recover before facing LSU in two weeks.

(#4) Mississippi 10, South Carolina 16. Ole Miss had to be the most overrated team in the top ten, having ascended to #4 after beating two weak opponents only because teams ahead of them had lost. Reality check: they probably shouldn't even be ranked.

(#6) Cal 3, Oregon 42. Cal was also unmasked yesterday; their early win over Maryland doesn't look so good any more (Maryland lost to Middle Tennessee State a week ago, and is now 1-3) and their win against a mediocre Minnesota team doesn't earn them much. And though it may not be BCS-correct to talk about scoring margin... good teams don't lose by 39 points. Meanwhile, Oregon, who has only lost to undefeated Boise State, suddenly looks like a possible title contender.

(#7) LSU 30, Mississippi State 26. Miss State had four cracks at the end zone from two yards away and failed to score; LSU escapes with a victory. But they don't look like a top ten team right now.

(#9) Miami 7, (#11) Virginia Tech 31. Wow; I had actually started to think Miami was for real, but now I'm starting to believe in VT; their only loss was to #3 Alabama.

(#18) Florida State 7, South Florida 17. South Florida, who came into the game at 3-0 over cupcake opponents, is apparently better than we thought, even playing with a backup quarterback. Or perhaps Florida State isn't all that good. (Odd transitive win relationship: South Florida > Florida State > BYU > Oklahoma. Is South Florida better than Oklahoma?)

(#22) North Carolina 7, Georgia Tech 24. Sorry to spoil your illusory season, Tar Heels.

(#24) Washington 14, Stanford 34. This was the Washington team that beat USC? Huh.

The football rankings are awfully screwy right now... I think preseason expectations are still boosting Oklahoma and USC, while teams like Auburn and Wisconsin are underrated.
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