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College Football 2022: Week 7 Recap and Week 8 Preview
Monday, 2022 October 17 - 5:34 pm
Michigan paves Penn State; NC State loses to Syracuse and will be without Devin Leary for the rest of the season.

Michigan 41, Penn State 17
Well. That was something. Penn State's vaunted run defense failed to stop Michigan's attack, despite the fact that the defense sometimes seemed to know exactly what Michigan was planning to do. Michigan racked up 418 yards rushing at 7.6 YPC, and even if you discard a 67-yard play by Donovan Edwards and a 61-yard play by Blake Corum, you still get 53 rushes for 290 yards, good for nearly 5.5 YPC. No previous Penn State opponent had managed more than 3.8 YPC.

Perhaps an even bigger story was the Michigan defense, which held the PSU offense to 112 yards rushing... and 62 of those yards came on one Sean Clifford run. Minus that, you're looking at 20 carries for 50 yards. Yikes. The offensive line simply could not open holes and get Nick Singleton past the line of scrimmage with any kind of consistency. Part of the problem, of course, was execution by the offensive line, who had to go without starting left guard Landon Tengwall. But I think Penn State's playbook also lacks sophistication in the run game. Penn State tried to adjust for their inability to run by throwing a bunch of screen passes, but these were largely telegraphed, and Michigan seemed to have applied some lessons it learned against Indiana in defending those screens.

Really, the score doesn't even reflect how uneven the game was. Penn State's three scores came as a result of:
  • a 62 yard scamper by Sean Clifford on 3rd-and-1 to the Michigan 4, eventually followed by a 4th-and-goal conversion to score a touchdown;
  • a tipped pass from JJ McCarthy that resulted in a pick-six touchdown; and
  • a 48-yard bomb from Clifford to Harrison Wallace which would eventually result in a field goal.
In other words, Penn State only managed a few big plays, but couldn't sustain drives otherwise. They had only one first down when they got to 14 points. They were only 4 of 12 on third down conversions. They managed 268 yards, but if you take out the two big plays and a meaningless fourth-quarter 42-yard drive, the total is just 116 yards on 42 plays. Meanwhile Michigan... never punted. The PSU defense was clearly worn down by the end of the game. Who knew that time of possession would actually turn out to be a meaningful statistic?

I dunno man. It's probably fair to say that Penn State isn't as good as we thought, and perhaps Michigan is better than expected. It's hard to see either team beating Ohio State at this point, but 10-2 is still a reachable goal for the Penn State. Michigan gets a bye now; they'll get to heal and enjoy their victory before facing Michigan State in two weeks.

Penn State vs Minnesota, 7:30 PM ABC
This is a bit of a dangerous game coming for Penn State, as Minnesota features an experienced quarterback in Tanner Morgan and an outstanding running back in Mohamed Ibrahim. (Morgan was knocked out of the game against Illinois with an undisclosed "upper body injury", but may be on track to return by Saturday. Clifford's status for Saturday remains in doubt also.)

But Minnesota has really just one win on the season that's close to meaningful, a 34-7 pounding of a not-very-good Michigan State team. Their other wins are against 2-5 New Mexico State, 0-6 Western Illinois, and 1-5 Colorado. Meanwhile they've lost their last two games, against Purdue and Illinois.

I very much doubt that the Minnesota offense can do a lot of damage against the Penn State defense. The Purdue result is telling: Minnesota only managed 47 yards rushing in that game. With Clifford ailing, it wouldn't surprise me to see Drew Allar get extended time at QB for Penn State; that might provide a spark for the offense.

Prediction: Penn State 31, Minnesota 16.

NC State 9, Syracuse 24
It's official: Devin Leary is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Along with that goes most of NC State's hopes for the season, as Leary was pretty much the entire offense until now. To his credit, Jack Chambers did an okay job managing the offense, going 18 for 30 and 160 yards. But without Leary, State has neither the big play potential nor the down-to-down consistency needed to keep drives moving and score points. It's gonna be a long rest of the season, I think.

NC State gets a bye week before facing a not-very-good Virginia Tech team in two weeks.

Notable Results
Ding dong, #1 Alabama lost to #6 Tennessee in a 52-49 barnburner, with Tennessee blowing an 18-point first half lead, but making two passes for 45 yards and kicking the winning field goal in the last 15 seconds of the game (after Alabama had missed a go-ahead field goal with 15 seconds left). Wow. Annoyingly, this probably still doesn't knock Alabama out of playoff contention.

#4 Clemson got by Florida State 34-28, which is closer than expected; FSU outgained Clemson and might have come away with the win if not for a critical fumble in the second quarter.

#20 Utah beat #7 USC 43-42, which will hopefully shut down the USC hype that I thought was largely undeserved. And speaking of undeserved hype, Stanford beat Notre Dame 16-14. You know, maybe that OSU win against Notre Dame wasn't really all that.

#13 TCU beat #8 Oklahoma State 43-40 in 2OT. #22 Kentucky beat #16 Mississippi State 27-17. Oklahoma may be righting the ship after a rocky start to the season; the beat #19 Kansas 52-42. #24 Illinois beat Minnesota 26-14; Illinois might be legit. Michigan State rallied to beat Wisconsin 34-28 (but MSU still only rushed for 99 yards, oof). Purdue got by Nebraska 43-37. Maryland beat Indiana 38-33. UNC beat Duke 38-35, which was enough to vault 6-1 UNC into the polls.

Games to Watch on TV
At noon, Iowa is at #2 Ohio State on Fox. Iowa is of course a heavy underdog (+29) but it'll be interesting to see if they can slow down the Ohio State offense at all. #14 Syracuse is at #5 Clemson on ABC. Let's call that the Game of the Week.

At 3:30 PM, #7 Ole Miss is at LSU on CBS. #9 UCLA is at #10 Oregon on Fox; it's a good matchup but it's kinda hard to care about the Pac-12 right now. #20 Texas is at #11 Oklahoma State on ABC. Purdue is at Wisconsin on ESPN.

At 7:00 PM, #24 Mississippi State is at #6 Alabama on ESPN. At 7:30 PM, we get Minnesota at #16 Penn State on ABC. At 8:00, #17 Kansas State is at #8 TCU on Fox.
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