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

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College Football 2019: Week 14 Preview
Friday, 2019 November 29 - 11:00 pm
Michigan beat Indiana, and preps for The Game next. Penn State fought hard against Ohio State but came up short; they'll finish up the regular season against Rutgers. N.C. State lost to Louisville and will play UNC for a bragging-rights-only game.

Michigan 39, Indiana 14

For the second week in a row, Michigan all but abandoned the running game in favor of a wide-open passing attack. Shea Patterson had another big day, passing for 366 yards and five touchdowns. An injury-hampered Indiana squad just couldn't keep up.

At this point, the rushing attack seems to be a constraint that keeps opposing offenses honest. Everyone knows that Michigan has an arsenal of running plays available, and they have to defend it; but in the last couple of weeks, that's led to some devastatingly wide-open receivers. "#SpeedInSpace" is finally coming to fruition.

The defense presents a similar conundrum for opposing teams. Michigan shows a lot of different looks, and it's kind of a roll of the dice whether any particular play that you've dialed up will work. With a pass rush package of four defensive ends, Michigan can pressure the quarterback without blitzing, allowing them to play zone coverage behind it and take away everyone's favorite mesh routes.

So. There's that. But...

Next week: Michigan vs. "The", 12:00 PM Fox

Yeah. There's the matter of the #1 team in the country coming to town, and as I said in my Penn State preview last week, it's a team without obvious weaknesses. So while Shea Patterson looks great when he has a clean pocket to survey the field, that won't happen against Chase Young and the OSU defense. And this will be the best offense Michigan has faced all year, by a wide margin. Is there hope at all?

If there is, a lot of things will need to go right. Patterson will need to make his reads quickly and correctly, and get the ball to the right guy before the pass rush gets to him. Michigan will need to run the ball more than it has in the past few games, especially with a wet and chilly day likely on tap Saturday. The secondary will need to communicate on defense to make sure receivers are covered correctly. And the defensive line will need to collapse the pocket without letting Justin Fields escape.

Or you know, we could just be +4 in turnovers or something, or a freakish spate of injuries could hit Ohio State. I mean, it's happened to Michigan enough before that it could happen. Not that I want anyone to be hurt, but you know, shouldn't karma count for something?

I almost hate that Michigan has become good enough to give me hope of winning this game. I think I'm not alone among Michigan fans in that respect. On the 50th anniversary of Bo Schembechler's stunning upset over Woody Hayes, there are now too many people talking about a Michigan win as if it could really happen, and I worry that we're jinxing it and setting ourselves up for disappointment.

I mean, there's a chance. Michigan is playing as well as it has in years. But we've been here before, and disappointment after a glimmer of hope is more crushing than just resigning oneself to losing.

Prediction: Ohio State 31, Michigan 23.

Penn State 17, Ohio State 28

Penn State kept this one close, thanks in large part to Ohio State fumbles. Two fumbles on consecutive drives led to two short-field possessions and ten points in the third quarter, and for a few minutes it looked like Penn State might find a way.

But the OSU defense reasserted itself in the fourth quarter, and that was that. Penn State's last four possessions: punt, interception, turnover on downs, turnover on downs; a total of 48 yards on 21 plays. In the end, PSU only managed 217 yards of offense, and gave up 417. The once-fearsome PSU rush defense couldn't contain J.K. Dobbins, who ran for 157 yards.

It's not a terrible result. Not many even expected PSU to keep it this close. But it's still a bit of a disappointment after PSU had once risen to #4 in the polls. PSU might still be looking at a Rose Bowl berth, depending on how things shake out over the next two weeks.

Next week: Penn State vs. Rutgers, 3:30 PM BTN

Do we even need to talk about this game? Rutgers. Is. Really. Bad.

Prediction: Penn State 56, Rutgers 6.

N.C. State 26, Georgia Tech 28

Next week: N.C. State vs. UNC, 7:00 PM ACCNX

For N.C. State, this is basically their bowl game. With no postseason hopes, beating their rival is all they've got left. Everything suggests UNC should win this game, but I'm gonna go ahead and predict the upset here.

Prediction: N.C. State 27, UNC 24

Last Week's Big Surprises

No bigger surprise, I think, than #6 Oregon going down to a 5-5 Arizona State team, 31-28. That dashes Oregonís CFP hopes. #9 Oklahoma avoided a similar major upset.

The Playoff and Conference Races

BIG TEN: Ohio State will meet the winner of Wisconsin-Minnesota, regardless of whether or not Michigan beats them.

ACC: Virginia beat Virginia Tech Friday night, so they'll face Clemson in the championship game.

SEC: Georgia will play LSU regardless of the outcome of this week's games.

PAC-12: Oregon has clinched the North. USC is not completely eliminated; they beat Utah head-to-head, so if Utah falls to Colorado, USC will take the South.

BIG-12: Oklahoma and Baylor have clinched the top two spots, and will have a rematch in the championship game.

CFP: Still lots of chaos that could happen. Oregon's shocking loss has eliminated them from contention. OSU and LSU are highly likely to get in; each might qualify even with a loss. Clemson can't survive a loss but will be heavily favored in the last two weeks. So it's that fourth spot that's still going to be contentious. Alabama is currently #5 and looks to be in good shape, but still could be passed by Utah, Oklahoma, or Baylor; the committee will look favorably on a one-loss conference champion, I think.

Games to Watch on TV

#1 OSU at #13 Michigan at noon on Fox is the Game of the Week, obviously. There are other games, but most are either inconsequential or have multi-touchdown spreads.

At 3:30 PM, there's the play-in for the Big Ten West as #12 Wisconsin plays #8 Minnesota on ABC. There's also #5 Alabama at #15 Auburn on CBS. I suppose you could tune in to Rutgers at Penn State on BTN.

At 7:00 PM, N.C. State vs UNC is on ACCNX. At 8:00 PM, #7 Oklahoma plays #21 Oklahoma State on Fox.
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