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On College Football 2022: Week 6 Recap and Week 7 Pre...
Ken said:
Yeah, we've both had our share of hope and disappointment in this game. Let's just hope for a good b...
On College Football 2022: Week 6 Recap and Week 7 Pre...
Dan* said:
I'm not sure how I feel about this game. On one hand, I feel pretty optimistic that we have the tale...
On College Football 2022: Week 1 Preview
Dan* said:
Glad to see you'll be back writing football again, Ken! Congrats on the easy win today. You didn't ...
On College Football 2021: Week 10 Recap and Week 11 P...
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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...
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Hey Ken, congratulations on the win yesterday! Some really odd choices by our coaching staff in that...


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College Football 2022: Week 1 Preview
Thursday, 2022 September 1 - 6:33 pm
As usual, "week 1" isn't the actual first week of football, as we had a number of games last week. (Nebraska blew a lead to lose to Northwestern. The Scott Frost curse continues.) But in our shared delusion, we all still call this coming weekend "Week 1". Michigan plays Colorado State on Saturday; Penn State plays at Purdue tonight (!), and N.C. State is at East Carolina on Saturday.

Michigan vs. Colorado State, 12:00 PM Saturday ABC
Michigan is the incumbent Big Ten Champion, and man, it's been a long time since I've uttered those words. A lot of pieces return, particularly on offense, and hopes are high for another strong season.

The quarterback position is unsettled, though perhaps this is the rare case that that's a good thing. Last year's starter Cade McNamara returns, and ordinarily he'd be a lock to continue leading the team, but J. J. McCarthy's athleticism keeps that from being a done deal. I think either quarterback will be successful, but I lean towards McNamara's experience and steadiness in the short term. Harbaugh himself isn't sure: McNamara will start week 1 and McCarthy will start week 2, and he'll make another decision then.

The rest of the offense is similarly loaded. Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards might be the best backfield tandem in the conference. The offensive line might be the best in the conference, particularly with transfer center Olu Oluwatimi. The wide receiver corps runs ten deep and the only trouble will be feeding them with enough targets. Tight end Erick All could be an All-American. If there's any weakness, it's perhaps that Michigan doesn't have a mooseback, a heavy-hitting running back for short-yardage situations like Hassan Haskins. Expect Michigan to trot out a series of converted tight ends and linebackers in those cases.

Defensively, of course Michigan has to deal with the departures of Aidan Hutchison and David Ojabo to the NFL. And yes, defensive end (or "rush end" or "edge" or whatever nomenclature we're using nowadays) could be a trouble spot this year. But reportedly, Mazi Smith and Kris Jenkins are due for a breakout year on the interior line. If they can generate some pressure from the inside, that may cover up some deficiencies elsewhere.

The rest of the defense will be... fine? Cornerback looks to be set with returning starter DJ Turner and star recruit Will Johnson (though we'll see Gemon Green start in the early games). Elsewhere, there's experience and athleticism, but I can't point to any NFL-worthy stars yet.

Finally, Michigan returns placekicker Jake Moody and punter Brad Robbins, who are among the best in the country. So no worries there.

Given the experience and the talent, I think a 10-win season is a reasonable expectation, with 12-0 not entirely out of the picture. Injuries on defense could spell trouble, but a weak non-conference slate means the worst case is probably 7-5.

First up is Colorado State, a team that went 3-9 last year and is breaking in a new coach (Jay Norvell, from Nevada, who brings a lot of Nevada transfers with him). I don't expect Michigan to have much trouble.

Prediction: Michigan 52, Colorado State 10.

Penn State at Purdue, 8:00 PM Thursday FOX
It seems like Penn State has the same potential and the same problems every year. A talented quarterback who suffers because his offensive line can't keep him upright. Speedy running backs who also suffer because the offensive line can't open holes. A stiff defense that gets put into trouble by questionable coaching decisions.

Quarterback Sean Clifford is back for his eighteenth season and he'll provide a steady presence if he can remain healthy. Running backs Keyvone Lee and Devyn Ford are excellent, and incoming freshman Nicholas Singletary looks talented too. At receiver, there's no more Jahan Dotson to lean on, but Parker Washington is a game-breaker. He'll need to remain healthy because WR depth is a bit thin.

Defensively, Penn State is much in the same boat as Michigan, with a couple of potential all-stars in PJ Mustipher and Adisa Isaac but perhaps some questions at the other spots. Linebacker is a bit of an unknown too: Curtis Jacobs returns, but there's inexperience otherwise. The real strength is the defensive backfield, where Joey Porter looks like an NFL first-rounder and experienced returners round out the other spots.

The real issue, of course, remains James Franklin. Baffling clock management? Unwise fake field goal attempts? We're almost sure to see it. Penn State will have good days and bad days. The ceiling is probably 10-2. The opening matchup against Purdue is no gimme, and there's a tough matchup away against Auburn in week 3. Penn State avoids Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska from the West division, though, so as long as Penn State holds serve against weaker opponents, the floor is probably 7-5. I'll say 9-3 is a likely outcome.

Purdue is a dangerous opening foe, particularly in what will be a rocking night-game atmosphere at Ross-Ade Stadium. There might be nail-biting moments, but I think defensive talent for the Lions will prevail in the end.

Prediction: Penn State 27, Purdue 17.

NC State at East Carolina, 12:00 PM Saturday ESPN
"This is the year", say the ever-hopeful Wolfpack fans. (Well, not really. The disgruntled fans I know say "it's never the year.") But all the pieces are definitely there for a big run by NC State. You've got an star quarterback in Devin Leary, with an experienced line in front of him. The running backs are new, but that might be a good thing; and it's likely that State will be a pass-heavy offense anyway. The defense is experienced, fast, and most importantly, finally healthy.

With a fairly weak schedule, there's definitely a chance for State to run the table and go 12-0. They'll have to get by Clemson, but we've seen some weakness in Clemson of late and that's not impossible. I'd set the floor at 7-5, with 10-2 being a high probability.

Now, of course, the way to screw everything up is to lose a game in baffling fashion, and that's most likely to happen when playing an away game against a weaker non-conference opponent, like ECU. ECU will have nothing to lose; for NC State, everything depends on getting this first win. They'll have to avoid playing tight.

Prediction: NC State 41, ECU 16.

Games to Watch on TV

Tonight (Thursday) West Virginia plays #17 Pitt at 7:00 on ESPN. Penn State at Purdue is at 8:00 on Fox.

Friday, Illinois plays Indiana in another early Big Ten matchup. That's at 8:00 on FS1.

Saturday at noon, #8 Michigan plays Colorado State on ABC and #13 NC State plays East Carolina on ESPN. At 3:30 PM, #11 Oregon plays #3 Georgia on ABC in what should be an interesting matchup. #23 Cincinnati plays #19 Arkansas on ESPN.

At 7:00 PM, #7 Utah plays at Florida on ESPN. Your Game of the Week is at 7:30 PM, featuring #5 Notre Dame at #2 Ohio State on ABC. The good news in that game: one of them has to lose.
Permalink  Comment (1)   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: sports

Comments

Comment #1 from Dan (Guest)
2022 Sep 3 - 8:30 pm : #
Glad to see you'll be back writing football again, Ken! Congrats on the easy win today. You didn't have to sweat things out like Ann and I both did in week 1.

I think your preview of PSU is spot on. O-line will be our biggest weakness for about the 10th straight year. The linebacking corps will probably be a weakness as well (it's painful for a Penn Stater to say that). The rest of the position groups should be pretty solid, but if those 2 can't step up, our overall outlook is limited.

Would have been nice to beat Purdue in a less stressful way, but you'll never hear me complain about a road win in the Big 10. You take 'em any way you can get 'em.

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