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College Football Recap: Week 5
Sunday, 2010 October 3 - 2:36 pm
Michigan wins a shootout; N.C. State collapses in the second half.

Michigan 42, Indiana 35. Denard Robinson has another ridiculously impressive day, putting up 277 yards passing along with 217 yards rushing. It's a good thing, too, because Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell also had a video-game-like performance, completing 45 of 64 attempts for 480 yards. Indiana gave up big play after big play to Michigan, but when they had the ball they were able to keep grinding out touchdown drives. This was thanks largely to Michigan's inability to defend receiver Tandon Doss, who had 221 yards receiving. Michigan was able to put together a game-winning drive with 1:15 to play, scoring the winning touchdowns with just 17 seconds left.

One formation that gave Michigan fits was this one, where IU comes out with a bunch formation on one side, and a lone receiver on the other:

Indiana pass scheme 1

This is a zone-beater scheme. The bunched receivers to the right will flood the hook area, and make it difficult for the defensive backs on that side to find their assignments. The one-on-one receiver on the left will simply try to beat his man coverage. Michigan's middle linebacker, Mouton, will be in a bind: he can try to provide help for the crossing receiver coming out of the bunch, he can try to pick up the slant receiver coming from the other side, or he can stay with what I assume is his primary responsibility: to spy and cover the running back coming out of the backfield.

What happens is that no one defends the play very well, and three receivers end up wide open.

Indiana pass scheme 2

Someone makes a big mistake on the pick route: either Mouton is supposed to get over the top of the cornerback, Talbott, and stay with the running back coming out of the backfield, or Talbott is supposed to switch and stay to the outside once he sees the running back's route. Instead, they run into each other, and in my head, I'm hearing Benny Hill music. The last line of defense, safety Jordan Kovacs, whiffs on the tackle and Darius Willis walks in for a touchdown.

Michigan simply can't continue to sit in a three-deep shell defense against this kind of attack. Cover-two or cover-one would be better, but then again, that leaves our inexperienced cornerbacks and safeties vulnerable to post patterns deep, and Michigan's strategy seems to be "don't give up deep passes, no matter what the cost." So yeah... Michigan's pass defense is as bad as we feared. The good news is that as the players gain more experience, it might allow Greg Robinson to use more aggressive schemes. But right now, watching the defense is nerve-wracking.

Michigan gets unbeaten Michigan State next week, in a huge showdown and rivalry game.

Grades: Offense B+, Defense C-. The offense was spectacular for much of the game, but started to stall in the second half and failed to put the game away. Denard Robinson put up gaudy numbers, but badly overthrew a few downfield passes. That was his weakness last season; let's hope that this was an aberration. Defensively, it looked really bad, but IU has a pretty potent offense, and the defense did start to make stops late in the game.

N.C. State 30, Virginia Tech 41. This was a big disappointment. N.C. State had a dominating first half, springing up to a 17-0 lead. But after an interception, a big run by VT star quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and a kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half, suddenly it was 17-13. State's offense would settle for field goals while VT's offense started to click and put up touchdowns. State had a chance to win late in the game, getting the ball back down by four with 1:27 left. But Russell Wilson threw his third interception of the game to seal with win for VT.

N.C. State definitely had enough talent to win the game. But mistakes at crucial points in the game (three turnovers, nine penalties for 61 yards) can make all the difference. VT seems to have put their loss to 1-AA James Madison behind them.

State should have an easier time with Boston College next week.

Notable Games

#1 Alabama demolished #7 Florida 31-6. Florida had no business being ranked 7th; though they were unbeaten, they've looked shaky throughout the season, and this week all their weaknesses were exposed.

#2 Ohio State squeaked by Illinois 24-13. Ohio State should also be concerned; the game was much closer than the score, and this isn't a great Illinois team.

#4 Oregon pounded #9 Stanford 52-31. Oregon is looking really good right now; perhaps they should be ranked #2.

#8 Oklahoma beat #21 Texas 28-20 in a sloppy, mistake-filled game. Texas has now lost two in a row and will probably drop out of the top 25 for the first time in forever.

#9 Wisconsin lost to #24 Michigan State 34-24. This was an impressive win for MSU, and next week's game against Michigan is huge. MSU doesn't play Ohio State this year, and may contend for the conference title regardless of next week's outcome.

#12 LSU lucked by Tennessee 16-14. It appeared that Tennessee had won the game with a goal-line stand as time expired, but they were penalized for having too many men on the field. LSU scored a touchdown on the next play. LSU is another team that probably is ranked too high. They play Florida next week in a battle of SEC pretenders.

#17 Iowa demolished #22 Penn State 24-3. Seriously, when are people going to wake up to the fact that Penn State just isn't that good this year? Their three wins have come against Youngstown State, Kent State, and Temple. Both Alabama and Iowa have beaten them 24-3. Penn State's offense is woeful right now, and I wouldn't be shocked to see them lose to Illinois next week too.

Washington beat #18 USC 32-31 with a last-second field goal. Some headlines called this a "shocker", but I don't agree. Though Washington has looked bad at times, they have a talented quarterback in Jake Locker. Meanwhile, USC hasn't looked very impressive against mediocre opposition. Look for USC to get hammered by Stanford next week.

#25 Nevada beat UNLV, continuing their impressive unbeaten run. With a weak slate of opponents before facing #4 Boise State on November 26th, it's possible that that game will feature two top-ten, unbeaten teams. Nevada fans should be thinking BCS bowl at this point, though it's unlikely they'll reach the title game even if they go unbeaten.

Northwestern managed to stay undefeated, beating Minnesota 29-28. They're 5-0, but against cupcake opponents. I'm not a believer in that team yet.

Notre Dame gets a much-needed win against Boston College 31-13.

UConn beat Vanderbilt 40-21. Any UConn win boosts Michigan's strength-of-schedule numbers, so consider me a UConn fan for the rest of this year. (Same goes for UMass, who beat Towson 27-14, and Bowling Green, who lost to Buffalo 28-26.)

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