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Ooof. What a horrible season for both of us so far.

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College Football 2019: Week 10 Preview
Thursday, 2019 October 31 - 2:03 pm
Michigan blasts Notre Dame; Penn State overpowers MSU. Michigan takes on a struggling Maryland team next, while Penn State is on a bye. NCSU comes off a bye and will face Wake Forest.

Michigan 45, Notre Dame 14
Well, I kinda saw this coming, but not really. We got an inkling that the offense would wake up, and that the defense was pretty good, in the couple of weeks leading up to this. But I don't think anyone expected domination of this magnitude. This was a ham-blasting; Michigan dominated every aspect of the game. It's weird being on this side of a game like this, having experienced the other side so often.

To be sure, the fact that the game was being played in a downpour had something to do with it. Brian Kelly's offense is pass-centric, so the rain magnified the fact that the Notre Dame rushing attack isn't that great. And on defense, Notre Dame relies more on speed than size, and rain negates that too.

But. Still. Ham. Blasting.

I credit a lot of this to the fact that Michigan seems to have brought back a lot of the Jim Harbaugh running attack from last season, with perhaps just a few Josh Gattis wrinkles. Michigan ran almost every variety of blocking I could imagine, to the point where Notre Dame defenders seemed absolutely lost in trying to figure out where the ball was going. Down G? Split Zone? Arc? Trap? Power? It was all there. I'm now a bit unsure if Gattis really still holds all the keys to the offense, as he was promised; but in any case, it's working.

Meanwhile, we should also credit Don Brown for his adaptations. He's going with a lot of zone coverage now, throwing off opposing offenses with a blizzard of different blitz looks. Notre Dame seemed to be expecting Michigan to run the same defense that got shredded by Ohio State last season. Brown is smarter than that. It's a bit of a realization, I think, that Michigan doesn't quite have the dominant athletes at cornerback that he used to have, especially a couple of years ago. So schemes and trickery are making up for the lack of speed that Michigan has, and that's okay.

The big stats: Michigan ran for 303 yards. Notre Dame had 180 yards total. Michigan recovered two Notre Dame fumbles, and should have had an interception on top of that, if not for yet another incomprehensible pass interference call.

Now, the most glorious thing about this is that Notre Dame decided to call off this series until 2023. So we have 14 yards to savor this result. Ahhh.

Next week: #14 Michigan at Maryland, 12:00 PM ABC.
Maryland is not good. We thought they might be good early this season, when they beat Syracuse 63-20. But since then, we've discovered that Syracuse is pretty lousy too, and then Maryland lost starter Josh Jackson to an injury, and now backup Tyler Pigrome is out but Jackson might be back, but otherwise they're starting third-string freshman Tyler DeSue, who has six pass completions in his career. It's a mess over there.

And oh yeah, Maryland just gave up 321 yards rushing to Minnesota, and they give up an average of 274 yards a game passing.

The Maryland offense might be able of sustaining a few drives. But it's hard to see how they keep up with Michigan.

Prediction: Michigan 52, Maryland 10.

Penn State 28, Michigan State 7
It didn't rain quite as hard in the afternoon, down the road in East Lansing, as it did at night in Ann Arbor, but it was still a wet day. That might have put a damper on the K.J. Hamler show, though he still had five receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile Pat Freiermuth had 60 yards receiving and caught three touchdowns.

Meanwhile MSU managed just 83 yards rushing on 31 attempts. That was slightly worse than the passing attack, which gained 182 yards, but all in all, it was what we expected: a dominant defensive performance by PSU against a mostly-inept MSU offense. MSU's only touchdown came after a 49-yard pass play; if not for that one play, we would probably have been looking at a shutout.

Next week: Bye.
Penn State gets an extra week to prepare for a dangerous undefeated Minnesota team, coached by P.J. "Row the Boat" Fleck.

N.C. State: Bye
Well, they didn't lose, thanks to the State Fair occupying the area around Carter Finley Stadium this week.

Next week: N.C. State at #25 Wake Forest, 12:00 PM ESPN
Wake Forest is a surprising 6-1, thanks to a dynamic offense that's scoring 37 points and racking up 524 yards per game. Three of the wins were over cupcakes, but they've also beaten UNC, Boston College, and Florida State, and only lost to Louisville by 3 points in a 62-59 shootout. This is a dangerous team.

The defense isn't anything to write home about; just refer to the aforementioned 62-59 game for evidence of that. But I don't know if I can trust N.C. State's rickety quarterback situation to keep them ahead in a shootout. State is planning to start freshman Devin Leary this week. He's a promising player with a good arm, and maybe Wake Forest's mediocre defense will offer him a good chance to get his feet wet. Will it be enough? Probably not.

Prediction: N.C. State 29, Wake Forest 45.

Last Week's Big Surprises
There were a pile of them, starting with the Michigan-Notre Dame margin. Almost as surprising was the Ohio State-Wisconsin margin; Wisky stayed close for about two and a half quarters, but then OSU ran away with it and won 38-7. Can anyone beat OSU this year? A defense that can hold Jonathan Taylor to 52 yards is pretty dang scary.

TCU upset #15 Texas, 37-27, and I hope this means we can stop talking about Texas. Miserable UCLA upset Arizona State 42-32, in the topsy-turvy Pac-12. And... what? Tennessee beat South Carolina 41-21? I guess Tennessee still has a chance of redeeming their season, with four winnable games remaining.

But the shocker of the day, clearly, was Oklahoma going down to unranked Kansas State 48-41. Living up to the "no-defense Big 12" reputation, this game was a classic shootout. KSU isn't a bad team, but this is one Oklahoma needed to win. It'll be hard to remain a playoff contender with a loss to an unranked team, particularly since it's likely that there'll be a pile of one-loss teams with better resumes. I'll starting ranking my own top 10 in a couple of weeks, but I can say right now that Oklahoma will struggle to stay in it.

Games to Watch on TV
Alabama, Ohio State, and Penn State are all on bye this week, limiting the number of playoff-affecting games we'll be able to see.

Michigan-Maryland and NCSU-Wake Forest are both at noon, on ABC and ESPN respectively. At 2:30 PM, you can peek in to see if Notre Dame has recovered from their hangover; they play Virginia Tech on NBC.

At 3:30 PM, we have your Game of the Week as #8 Georgia and #6 Florida face off in a huge SEC East battle on CBS. Army plays Air Force on CBSSN, if you're into that kind of thing. Absolutely do not watch Rutgers vs. Illinois on BTN, which will just be an embarrassment to everyone involved. Also do not watch #4 Clemson play Wofford at 4:00. Can we say something about the fact that Clemson scheduled a I-AA team in November? Ridiculous. A better game to peek in on: #9 Utah plays Washington on Fox.

At 7:30 PM, #15 SMU plays #24 Memphis on ABC in the "I can't believe both these teams are ranked" matchup of the week. Virginia plays UNC on the ACC network. At 8:00, #7 Oregon plays USC on Fox.
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