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|College Football 2019: Final||Friday, 2019 December 6 - 1:32 pm|
|Michigan falls to OSU, again. Penn State rests its starters and still beats Rutgers. N.C. State loses to UNC.|
Michigan 27, Ohio State 56
Well, that was disappointing but not entirely unexpected. Michigan came out hot on offense and jumped to a 6-0 lead (a touchdown with a missed extra point, which may have been an omen of things to come). But untimely fumbles and dropped passes unraveled a Michigan team that needed to be perfect against what may be the best Ohio State team assembled in decades.
Michigan's biggest problem is that they had no answer for the OSU rushing attack, headed by J.K. Dobbins. While Dobbins is a talented back, the issue was the gaping holes along the line. Michigan has had a deficiency on the line with no true run-stopping defensive tackles; they've masked the issue with slants and blitzes, but when faced with a powerhouse and discipline rushing offense, there's really not much that Michigan could do. We saw that against Wisconsin; really, despite Michigan's improved play over the last half of the season, I'm pretty sure they'd still lose to Wisconsin in a rematch.
This loss has brought out the usual screaming and moaning from Michigan fans, calling for the firing of Jim Harbaugh and/or Don Brown. But let's have some perspective, okay?
Michigan's offense looked nearly unstoppable at the beginning of the game. Michigan scored more points and gained more yards than any OSU opponent all year. The things that Josh Gattis is doing are working. The thing that killed the offense in the second half were fumbles and drops, and play calling that was forced to become one-dimensional after Michigan fell behind.
You could blame the defense for letting Michigan get behind so much, but that's not entirely on Brown. OSU has the most offensive talent of any team in the country. Don Brown has no defensive tackles to work with. The talent discrepancy is enormous. "Oh, that's a problem with the coaches' recruiting ability!" the complainers will scream. But recruiting is a chicken-and-egg thing: you can't get five-star recruits without winning championships, but you can't win championships without five-star recruits.
And so it is across college football; schools like Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State will out-recruit everyone else as long as they keep winning, and that makes them very hard to knock off. But it can happen. Alabama had beaten LSU for eight years straight, including a 29-0 pasting of a then-#3 LSU team in 2018. But LSU won this year. Impatient Michigan fans feel like Michigan will lose this series forever, but that is simply ridiculous. A win will come eventually. Firing Harbaugh will push that event out further into the future.
Michigan is probably looking at a Holiday Bowl matchup against a Pac-12 school. A game against USC would be a fun matchup of traditional Rose Bowl opponents.
Penn State 27, Rutgers 6
To call the Penn State offense "sluggish" in this game would be an understatement. With Will Levis starting at quarterback (with a limited playbook, apparently) in place of the injured Sean Clifford, Penn State limped to a 7-6 halftime lead. But ultimately tailback Journey Brown carried the team to victory, rushing for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
It didn't look great, but it's a bit meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Yeah, the defense had trouble stopping Rutgers' running game, and Penn State was again outgunned by an opponent that they beat, but no one will remember this game a few weeks from now. Penn State should be looking at a top-tier bowl, perhaps even the Rose Bowl against Oregon.
N.C. State 10, UNC 41
A dismal end to a dismal season. N.C. State sacked defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable after this final debacle, and rightfully so. Co-DC Tony Gibson, who you might remember from his days at Michigan under Rich Rodriguez, will take over at DC and probably run a West Virginia-style 3-3-5 stack defense. That didn't go so well for Michigan, but it might work better in the ACC.
Some speculated that head coach Dave Doeren might be given the boot too, but he's got some leeway thanks to the nine-win seasons he had in 2017 and 2018. And expectations were not terribly high for this year to begin with. But NCSU needs to be careful: a mediocre season can beget mediocre recruiting, and unless they turn it around quickly, the words "death spiral" may come to be frequently associated with the program.
Last Week's Big Surprises
There's no bigger news that #15 Auburn knocking off #5 Alabama 48-45. There wasn't a lot of defense in this game. The fun part was the ending: on fourth down, with Alabama expecting to get the ball back for a final game-winning possession, Auburn put the punt team on the field, but lined up in a regular offensive formation. Confused, Alabama put in their regular defense, but left the punt returner in as well... resulting in a 12-men-on-the-field penalty and a first down for Auburn. Game over. No one outside of Alabama was sad about that.
One can only hope that this leads to a bit more parity in the SEC and the end of Alabama's decades-long dominance.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Wisconsin's 38-17 pasting of Minnesota. Wisconsin is a very good team. But like Michigan, being good doesn't mean you can beat Ohio State. The rematch game in the Big Ten championship will probably go about the same way that their first matchup did.
The Playoff and Conference Races
The conference championship games are set:
Big Ten: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
ACC: Virginia vs. Clemson
SEC: Georgia vs. LSU
Pac-12: Oregon vs. Utah
Big-12: Oklahoma vs. Baylor
A loss by OSU or LSU might still see them get into the playoffs, but there'll be controversy. Two-loss Oregon won't get it, but Utah still has a chance. The Oklahoma-Baylor winner will have a case for getting in. I think it'll be a mess.
Most likely result: OSU, LSU, Clemson, Utah.
This will be my last post for the year. Blogging will go back to being sporadic posts about politics and technology, until next fall comes around, when I'll be extremely busy splitting my attention between football and the election.
|Permalink 2 Comment
Posted by Ken in: sports
|Comment #1 from Dan (Guest)|
2019 Dec 9 - 10:34 pm : #
|Thanks for the great articles this year Ken! I hope the Big 19 kicks ass in the bowl games. See you next year!!|
|Comment #2 from Ken (realkato)|
2019 Dec 10 - 5:26 pm : #
|Hey Dan, thanks for being my only subscriber! Yeah I'll be rooting for Penn State (Memphis is a weird matchup). But not for OSU, lol. And I'll be closely watching to see who replaces Ricky Rahne at OC.|