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

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College Football 2019: Week 13 Preview
Wednesday, 2019 November 20 - 6:22 pm
Michigan demolished MSU, and has Indiana next. Penn State got by Indiana, and gears up for Ohio State. N.C. State lost to Louisville and faces a must-win game against Georgia Tech.

Michigan 44, Michigan State 10

Well. Well well well. This was just a little bit satisfying. Michigan abandoned the running game right from the start, knowing that MSU would key on it. They messed with MSU's pass coverage keys and threw the ball all over the field, seemingly with impunity. Shea Patterson had a career day, throwing for 384 yards and four touchdowns.

Meanwhile, MSU was largely its usual inept self on offense. That was partly due to Michigan's coverage schemes; Don Brown played a lot of zone again, and disguised his blitzes and coverages, taking away Brian Lewerke's primary reads and disrupting his timing. MSU ended up with just 220 total yards on the day.

Even though MSU scored first, it never really seemed like the game was in doubt. The plays that MSU had success with were mostly due to Michigan mistakes, rather than MSU talent. And when Michigan had a 12-play 98-yard drive to take the lead in the second quarter, the game was effectively over.

This game marks the end of Michigan State's glory run. They had some good years and were expected to contend for a title before the start of this season. Now, they've lost five straight, they will struggle to make a bowl game, and they've lost what amounts to their personal Super Bowl. The future recruiting classes look thin. Dantonio's job might be in jeopardy. RIP, Sparty.

Next week: Michigan at Indiana, 3:30 PM ESPN

Michigan gets a feisty Indiana team that just took Penn State to the wire. This is a bit of a dangerous game; it's an away game that immediately follows an emotional rivalry game, and Michigan might be caught looking ahead to OSU next. But somehow, I'm not too nervous. It's almost as if the losses to Wisconsin and Penn State have grounded this team.

Indiana has a talented and accurate quarterback in Peyton Ramsey, and this game might be the stiffest test for the secondary that Michigan has faced all season. We'll see if the coverage schemes hold up; if Michigan plays zone, then communication will be key to avoiding back-breaking busts that lead to wide-open receivers downfield.

But I'm less concerned about Indiana's defense. This is a team that let the hapless MSU offense score 40 points on them. They also gave up 28 points to Maryland and 31 points to Nebraska. Michigan should be able to move the ball both on the ground and in the air.

Prediction: Michigan 48, Indiana 24.

Penn State 34, Indiana 27

So yeah, let's talk about Indiana some more, I guess. Here's another game in which Penn State was meaningfully outgained by an opponent and still managed to win. Penn State can be thankful for two fumbles and a failed fake punt by Indiana, which led to 14 points for PSU. The PSU defense was a bit of a mess, especially in the secondary, and the offense wasn't spectacular. The loss of KJ Hamler to an injury in the first quarter certainly didn't help. The injury didn't look too serious, though, and hopefully he'll be back for the OSU game.

This game came down to key plays in critical moments, like two fourth down conversions that PSU made, or a key dropped pass by Indiana receiver Donovan Hale in the end zone. This game was not very far from going completely the other way, and that's concerning.

Next week: Penn State at Ohio State, 12:00 PM Fox

What do you get if you have Indiana except with twice the talent on both sides of the ball? Well, unless PSU plays a whole lot better than last Saturday, you'll get a massacre. OSU hasn't come close to being challenged all season. Games of note: a 42-0 win over a now 9-1 Cincinnati team, a 51-10 win over Indiana, and a 38-7 over Wisconsin. They're averaging 51.5 points and 542 yards per game; the defense is allowing 9.8 points and 216 yards per game. Yikes.

There are no significant weaknesses on this team. For PSU to have a chance, they'll have to play flawlessly and catch a few breaks. I'm terrified of having to watch OSU play Michigan in two weeks, and Penn State fans should likewise be worried this week.

Prediction: Penn State 16, Ohio State 42.

N.C. State 20, Louisville 34

Next week: N.C. State at Georgia Tech, 8:00 PM Thursday ESPN

Prediction: N.C. State 23, Georgia Tech 17.

Last Week's Big Surprises

#9 Minnesota going down 23-19 against #20 Iowa was a bit of an upset, though maybe one we could have seen coming. Minnesota wasn't as good as its undefeated record would have suggested, and it might have been just a matter of time before the ball bounced the other way a few times.

The Playoff and Conference Races

BIG TEN: The winner of OSU-PSU this week will all but clinch the East. OSU could also win if PSU loses to Rutgers at the end of the season, but seriously let's not talk nonsense. In the West, it will likely come down to the Wisconsin-Minnesota game at the end of the season, unless something weird happens this week.

ACC: It's obviously Clemson in the Atlantic. In the Coastal, there are three teams with two losses. One of them, Virginia Tech, plays both of the other two over the next two weeks, so there are lots of ways this could go. I think Miami at 4-3 is effectively eliminated, though.

SEC: Georgia has clinched the east; they only have one conference game remaining. LSU would have to lose twice to lose the West; one of those games is against 2-8 Arkansas, so that seems unlikely.

PAC 12: Oregon has clinched the North. Utah leads the South but has a head-to-head loss to second place USC, so USC could still sneak in. But Utah's remaining games are against 4-6 Arizona and 4-6 Colorado, so they should be in good shape. USC, meanwhile, has to play a rivalry game against an improving UCLA team.

BIG 12: Oklahoma and Baylor are in the driver's seat (drivers' seats?) for the top two spots and a trip to the playoffs. If one of them loses twice, though, that lets three 3-loss teams back into the picture, and those three teams have circularly beaten each other, so it would be chaos.

Obviously if the three undefeated teams win out, they're in. But #1 LSU will likely play #4 Georgia; if Georgia wins, then a one-loss LSU team still might make the playoffs. (I frankly don't think they should, on principle, but that's the way the selection process goes.) Similarly, a one-loss Ohio State team could still backdoor into the playoffs, though it seems less likely that we'd see two Big Ten teams in the playoffs than two SEC teams. Clemson would probably be hurt the most by a loss, since they play in the relatively weak ACC.

Meanwhile, there are seven current one-loss teams that are fighting for the last playoff spot. #5 Alabama is almost certainly out of the SEC championship game, and they could get jumped by another team. #6 Oregon and #7 Utah are in equally good positions: the winner of their probable Pac-12 title game seems the most likely to get in, if Georgia loses to LSU.

If Penn State or Minnesota manage to win the Big Ten, they're probably in, though it's not a lock. That scenario might knock the Big Ten out of the CFP altogether, which would be controversial and send people screaming for an eight-team playoff. Here's what could happen: OSU falls to #6 and PSU or Minnesota go up to #5, but are beaten out by LSU, Clemson, Oregon, and Oklahoma; and there's still the matter of 1-loss Alabama up there, as well as maybe a 1-loss Georgia if they beat LSU.

Games to Watch on TV
Your Game of the Week comes early as #8 Penn State plays #2 Ohio State at noon on Fox. Definitely don't watch Michigan State at Rutgers on FS1; that will be a clown show.

At 3:30 PM, #13 Michigan plays at Indiana on ESPN. Texas plays #14 Baylor on FS1, which is potentially of consequence in the Big 12. UCLA plays #23 USC on ABC. Pitt plays Virginia Tech on ESPN2.

The night games are kind of yawners, with no games between ranked teams, no Big Ten games, and very few games of consequence, barring a big upset.
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