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On College Football 2021: Week 10 Recap and Week 11 P...
Ken said:
Yeah, sorry one of our teams had to lose. I've come to appreciate Penn State as a classy and sympath...
On College Football 2021: Week 10 Recap and Week 11 P...
Dan* said:
Hey Ken, congratulations on the win yesterday! Some really odd choices by our coaching staff in that...
On College Football 2021: Week 4 Recap and Week 5 Pre...
Dan* said:
Hey Ken, thanks for the write-ups. I'm enjoying them as usual.

I'm not sure what to make of PSU y...
On Big Ten Football 2020: Week 4 Recap and Week 5 Pre...
Dan* said:
Ooof. What a horrible season for both of us so far.

At this point, I've mostly lost interest in thi...
On Big Ten Football 2020: Week 1 Recap
Ken said:
I stand corrected. I looked at the ESPN play-by-play to count IU's timeouts and they must have not i...

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College Football 2021: Week 12 Recap and Week 13 Preview
Wednesday, 2021 November 24 - 6:31 pm
Michigan stomps Maryland, Penn State shuts out Rutgers, and N.C. State whoops Syracuse. Next: it's Game Week.

Michigan 59, Maryland 18
If there was ever such a thing as a sleepy 41-point win, it was this one. Michigan racked up 59 points, including 28 in the third quarter, but it still felt like a plodding game, punctuated by moments of brilliance here and there. Yes, there was an exciting kickoff return for a touchdown, some big pass plays, a pick six... but mostly it was a comical exercise of Maryland incompetence. There aren't a lot of takeaways here, but it was interesting to watch Michigan playing mostly pass defense to take away big play threats, allowing Maryland a better-than-expected run performance. This might be a sign of things to come next week.

With Blake Corum out, Donovan Edwards came in and had a huge day as a pass receiver. Hassan Haskins had a bit of an off day, but I don't think that's cause for concern. Cade McNamara had one of his best days at quarterback; he continues to look sharp in his decision-making, and his receiving corps is looking better and better every day. Yes, this was against Maryland; but the passing game has looked sharp for several games in a row now, and against some quality defenses. I don't think it's a fluke.

#5 Michigan vs. #2 Ohio State, Saturday 12:00 PM Fox
So now, it's The Game. Before the season, we all expected Ohio State to come in to this game as a juggernaut; but I don't think anyone expected Michigan to come in ranked 5th, sitting on 10 wins, and having chance to win the Big Ten East. And while I doubt many people will predict Michigan to win this game... there's hope? I know, I've said that before. And before that. Michigan has often come into The Game with a good record and high hopes; in the past couple of years, though, the outcome hasn't been close.

People will fault Harbaugh for this, but honestly, how many other teams have had success against Ohio State in the CFP era? The Buckeyes have an unfair advantage in recruiting, partly because the state of Ohio is the regional high school football hotbed, and partly because recruits just want to play for CFP teams. Success breeds success.

So... is this the year? Signs point to... no. Ohio State's offense is simply ridiculous, especially with a corps of receivers that routinely leave befuddled defenders in the dust. Michigan has had success against teams with one superstar receiver; Ohio State arguably has four. And woe be the teams that focus squarely on the pass game, because OSU is also rushing for 197 yards a game. But I think Michigan has no choice here; the game will run away quickly if Michigan gambles too much and lets the like of Chris Olave run loose in the secondary. We'll see a lot of two-deep coverage with zone underneath, with a few sprinkles of zone blitz (along with a very deep safety) to try to get OSU behind the chains.

Meanwhile the Ohio State defense has improved. They looked bad early in the season, especially in their loss to Oregon, but they've bounced back. Still, if there's an opportunity to be found, we need to look at Purdue's 31-point performance (390 passing yards) and Penn State's 24-point performance (361 passing yards). This team is gettable through the air, mostly if teams can exploit the linebackers who sometimes get lost in their coverage assignments. Michigan can't ignore the running game that's their bread and butter, and because they need to run the clock to keep the OSU offense off the field. But a complementary passing game will be how they win, if they win.

The key matchup is the one everyone will be talking about: Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo against the behemoth OSU tackles, including 360-pound Dawand Jones and the extremely talented Nicholas Petit-Frere. The ends will need to be able to generate some pass rush, because the Michigan DTs probably won't. Then, if Michigan can slow the game down and keep it close, and if they can get a few bounces, and if, and if, and if...

It probably still won't be enough.

Prediction: Michigan 27, Ohio State 52.

Penn State 28, Rutgers 0
Sean Clifford left early in the game with an illness, and Penn State turned to Christian Veilleux over Ta'Quan Roberson at quarterback. This proved to be a smart move, as Veilleux guided the Lions to 235 passing and three touchdowns. His style as a passer better matches the playbook under Clifford; it's good to see that James Franklin has learned something from the Iowa game.

Meanwhile the defense was ferocious, holding Rutgers to just 160 yards on the day. Rutgers went 3-and-out six times and only had two drives over 30 yards. It's only Rutgers, but this was a confidence-boosting game that Penn State desperately needed after losing four of the last five games.

Penn State at #12 Michigan State, Saturday 3:30 PM ABC
So get this: unranked Penn State, playing on the road against the #12 team in the country, is a one-point favorite. Why? Well, MSU is coming off a 56-7 shellacking against Ohio State, and the shine has come off them. I think everyone can see that MSU lucked their way into a lot of wins this year. While Penn State is not Ohio State, they have the same kind of weapons that MSU is vulnerable against: namely, big-play passing threats and a stiff run defense.

I think if Penn State sells out against the run and takes Kenneth Walker out of the game, that'll make the difference. MSU QB Payton Thorne can make some plays, but I don't think he can carry the offense consistently enough keep drives going. Despite the disappointing season for Penn State, there's a big bowl payoff and a lot of pride on the line on this game. And you can bet that every Michigan fan will be rooting hard for PSU too, since a MSU loss just about guarantees a Rose Bowl appearance for Michigan.

Prediction: Penn State 31, Michigan State 16

N.C. State 41, Syracuse 17
This was a yawner. N.C. State quickly went up 14-0, led 28-7 at the half, and was never threatened in the game. Syracuse only managed 66 yards passing, while Devin Leary threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns for State. Syracuse had 170 yards rushing, but 103 of those came on two plays. Aside from that, it was 67 yards on 31 rushes. Yikes.

So yes, it was a good defensive performance by State, but against a dismal Syracuse offense, I don't think we can learn too much from this.

#20 N.C. State vs UNC, Friday 7:00 PM ESPN
This could still be a consequential game for State: if Wake Forest happens to lose to Boston College, unlikely as that is, State could find itself in a three-way tie for first in the Atlantic. But in any case, I think there's no shortage of motivation for the Wolfpack: it'll be a big night game against a rival, with probably a major bowl game on the line.

UNC finds itself with a dismal 6-5 record after starting the year with a #10 ranking and lofty expectations. They haven't played badly: they were competitive against Notre Dame, they beat Wake Forest, and they have a 2700-yard passer in Sam Howell and a 1000-yard rusher in Ty Chandler. The offense can play. It's the defense that's usually the issue, with linebackers that get lost in coverage or play poor run fits. The underneath passing game is likely to be open for Devin Leary, and if the safeties come down to stop it, you can expect State to come back with a big play over the top.

It'll likely be a shootout, again. But the intangibles favor State in this game.

Prediction: N.C. State 52, UNC 42.

Notable Results
The big news was #4 Ohio State laying waste to #7 Michigan State 56-7. I think Ryan Day took the news of Mel Tucker's record-breaking contract personally. #3 Oregon was crushed by #23 Utah 38-7; whoa. #2 Alabama fended off #21 Arkansas 42-35. #10 Wake Forest was upset by Clemson 48-27; Clemson is a much improved lately and is a dangerous opponent right now. #15 Wisconsin beat Nebraska 35-28, marking yet another one-score loss for Nebraska. #17 Iowa got by Illinois 33-23.

Power 5 Conference Championship Picture
In the Big Ten, Michigan and Ohio State are playing for the East, obviously. It's still complicated in the West; we could still end up with a four-way tie. Wisconsin controls its own destiny. If Wisconsin loses to Minnesota, Iowa can win the west outright by beating Nebraska. If Wisconsin and Iowa both lose, and Purdue beats Indiana, then it's chaos. The head-to-head records of the four teams would be: Wisconsin 2-1, Iowa 1-2, Minnesota 2-1, Purdue 1-2. So I think it then goes to a tiebreaker against Wisconsin and Minnesota, which Minnesota wins. Meanwhile, if Purdue loses, it's Wisconsin 1-1, Iowa 1-1, Minnesota 1-1; so then we go to divisional records, where it's Wisconsin 5-1, Iowa 4-2, Minnesota 4-2, so Wisconsin wins. Whew!

In the ACC, Wake Forest wins if Atlantic if they beat Boston College, but a loss makes it complicated. If NCSU also loses, Clemson wins the division, but if NCSU wins, there's a three-way tie where all the teams are 1-1 against the others. So then we got to division records, where it's still tied with everyone being 5-1. After that we get into esoteric tiebreakers and it's a little much for me to process right now. In the Coastal, it's much simpler as Pitt has clinched the division.

In the Big 12, the winner of the big OU-OSU game will be first. But the loser might end up tied with Baylor, so Baylor will be rooting for OU to lose, as they hold the tiebreaking win over them.

In the Pac 12, Oregon is now in danger of losing the North after their loss to Utah. They still clinch with a win over Oregon State, but a loss sends them to 6-3 and in a potential three-way tie with OSU and Washington State. Again, they'd all be sitting at 1-1, so in the division, Oregon would be 3-2, Washington State would be 4-1, and Oregon State would be 3-2, so WSU could steal the division with a 7-5 overall record! In the South, it's easy; Utah has clinched.

Finally, in the SEC, Georgia has of course clinched the East. Alabama could fall to a 6-2 tie with Ole Miss if they lose to Auburn, but Alabama beat Ole Miss head to head so they'd still win.

Games to Watch on TV
On Friday afternoon, #16 Iowa is at Nebraska at 1:30 PM on BTN. At night, the #20 NCSU vs UNC game is on 7:00 PM on ESPN (but I'll be watching in person!)

On Saturday, The Game with #2 OSU at #5 Michigan is at noon on Fox. At 3:30, Penn State at #12 Michigan State is on ABC, while Oregon State is at #11 Oregon on ESPN. #14 Wisconsin at Minnesota is on Fox at 4:00 PM.

At 7:30 PM, #10 Oklahoma at #7 Oklahoma State is at 7:30 PM. #6 Notre Dame at Stanford is at 8:00 PM on Fox.

I don't know if I'll have a post next week. It might depend on how I feel after the Michigan game. It's been an entertaining season, at any rate. Go Blue!
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