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|College Football 2019: Week 7 Preview||Thursday, 2019 October 10 - 1:37 pm|
|Michigan grunts by Iowa, and faces Illinois next. N.C. State plays Syracuse tonight following a byte. Penn State demolished Maryland and will play Iowa.|
Michigan 10, Iowa 3
What's the opposite of a shootout? A grind? A slugfest? Even that doesn't seem right, because there wasn't a lot of slugging. Maybe a "mud walk" best describes what we saw here.
Michigan scored an early touchdown after a big pass play to Nico Collins, then never threw bombs again. Michigan had some early success running the ball, but then resorted to trick plays and frippery which got them behind the chains. Look, I'm not saying Michigan should go back to dinosaur-ball where they run on every first down, but it doesn't seem like there's much else in the playbook that reliably gains yards.
But the defense. Wow. Don Brown went back to the drawing board and cooked up a doozy of a gameplan. The general theme seemed to be a zone blitz package, where blitzers would overload one side of the line, while linebackers or defensive ends would drop back into short zones to cut off crossing routes. The blitzers were varied, so Iowa never knew who was coming. The result was eight sacks and three interceptions, something that hasn't happened to Iowa all season. Don Brown is adjusting to what Big Ten offenses have been doing to him, and we finally saw a payoff. There's hope for this defense.
Next week: #16 Michigan at Illinois, noon on ABC.
This is the ABC game? Michigan is favored by 22, and that might not be enough. Illinois was having a modicum of success with former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters, but Peters was knocked out of the game with an injury last week and is very doubtful to return. The Illini defense is riddled with injuries. It might not be pretty.
Michigan will need to bottle up speedy tailback Reggie Corbin; we can expect to see a lot of run-heavy alignments on the Michigan defense even if Illinois spreads the field with four receivers. Backup Illinois quarterback Matt Robinson is capable enough, but at 6'1", he's had some trouble seeing the field over his linemen, and that's gotten him into trouble. Couple that with some iffy line play and a rejuvenated Michigan pass rush, and we can expect to see Robinson running for his life.
Meanwhile, the Illinois defense is giving up 28 points a game, and that's including the game where they gave up 3 points to winless Akron. Take that out, and the average is 37 points a game. The secondary was decimated by pre-season injuries. Michigan should be able to run it up here... or perhaps spend the time to work on some fundamentals, the way they did against Rutgers.
Prediction: Michigan 48, Illinois 10.
N.C. State vs Syracuse, Thursday 8:00 PM on ESPN
State has had a week to figure out its quarterback situation, and... who knows. We'll probably see Bailey Hockman start the game, and he could do well against a somewhat porous Syracuse defense. But mostly State will probably rely on running the ball, and that's something they've done reasonably well this year.
Syracuse is having a year similar to N.C. State, with wins over cupcakes and ugly losses to Power 5 teams. Syracuse lost to Maryland 63-20, the same Maryland that lost to Penn State 59-0. There's no evidence that Syracuse can hold up against good teams, and trend probably continues, particular with N.C. State playing at home.
Prediction: N.C. State 38, Syracuse 17.
Penn State 35, Purdue 7
This wasn't even as close as the score indicated. Penn State scored on its first four possessions and went on cruise control in the second half. Purdue only managed 104 total yards of offense behind second string quarterback Jack "Not Jake the Snake" Plummer; that's in large part due to the ten sacks that Penn State rang up.
There's not a lot to take away here, except that Penn State's defense playing as well as anyone in the country right now. The offense seems fine. It's going to be a brutal second half of the season in the Big Ten East as PSU, OSU, MSU, and UM collide.
Next week: #10 Penn State at #17 Iowa, 7:30 PM ABC
The road gets a lot tougher next week, as Penn State has to visit Iowa. We just saw what the Iowa defense can do, and Penn State has only faced a real defense once this year... where they scored 17 points against Pitt.
But there's no reason to expect that Iowa will be able to move the ball against the PSU defense, either. Iowa's offensive line has pass protection issues, and that will be deadly against the PSU front four. Iowa is most likely spending the week emphasizing pass blocking, but I'd still put the over-under on sacks at 6.
Prediction: Penn State 13, Iowa 0.
Last Week's Big Surprises
Ohio State ran up 34 points against MSU's defense; is Ohio State that good or is maybe MSU not as good as we thought?
A struggling Stanford team beat #15 Washington, so yeah, it's gonna be crazy in the Pac-12 again this year.
Tulane beat Army 42-33, and that makes me worried that Michigan is not as good as Tulane.
Games to Watch on TV
N.C. State plays the Thursday night game on ESPN against Syracuse at 8:00 PM.
There's a pretty good Friday night game as #20 Virginia plays Miami on 8:00 PM, again on ESPN.
On Saturday, Michigan is on against Illinois on ABC at noon. Meanwhile we've got #6 Oklahoma vs #11 Texas on Fox as well, which will be huge.
At 3:30 PM, #1 Alabama plays #24 Texas A&M, which might be competitive for a half or so. Michigan State plays #8 Wisconsin on BTN, which should be a good strength-against-strength matchup. Florida State plays #2 Clemson, which might be closer than the 27-point spread suggests. Washington State plays #18 Arizona State on the Pac12 Network.
There's a good slate of quality night games too. At 7:30 PM, USC plays #9 Notre Dame on NBC. The Penn State-Iowa game is on ABC. At 8:00 PM, #7 Florida plays #5 LSU.
Posted by Ken in: sports
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