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Yeah, we've both had our share of hope and disappointment in this game. Let's just hope for a good b...
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College Football 2022: Week 12 Recap and Week 13 Preview
Wednesday, 2022 November 23 - 5:40 pm
It's showdown week, as #3 Michigan takes on #2 Ohio State after an escape against Illinois. Penn State whooped Rutgers and will take on reeling MSU. NC State lost in ugly fashion to Louisville and will look to salvage their season against UNC.

Michigan 19, Illinois 17
It all looked good early, as Blake Corum ripped off a big run on the first play of the game, and Michigan scored a touchdown on its opening possession. Illinois went three-and-out on its first two possessions. But Michigan's offense bogged down a bit against an aggressive Illinois defense. JJ McCarthy had a mediocre day; he was occasionally off-target and missed several reads, and wasn't helped by his receivers dropping multiple catchable balls. Michigan looked to be on its way to another touchdown before halftime, but in a critical sequence, Corum was hit on the leg, injuring his knee and causing him to fumble. Corum would return briefly in the second half, but then was held out for the remainder of the game.

With Corum out, Michigan was down its top two running backs, its top two tight ends, two starting offensive linemen, and its top pass rusher in Mike Morris. Illinois started to put some offense together in the third quarter, and suddenly Michigan was down 17-10 with its offense in tatters.

The savior for Michigan: special teams. A long Ronnie Bell punt return led to a Michigan field goal. When the next drive stalled, Michigan elected to kick another field goal to narrow the lead to 17-16 with 3:14 remaining. The defense held Illinois to a three-and-out on the next possession, and Michigan moved the ball down the field thanks partially to a pass interference penalty on Devon Witherspoon, who was grabby all day and should have been flagged sooner. Jake Moody calmly nailed a 35-yard game-winning to effectively end the game.

It's a win. On a cold, blustery day against a good opponent with a large number of starters injured, I don't think we should be terribly critical of Michigan's performance. JJ McCarthy's regression of late is concerning, to be sure, but we know he's capable of making good plays and I don't think his recent struggles are indicative of any systemic issues.

Michigan at Ohio State, 12:00 PM Fox
Well, here we are again. Michigan and Ohio State are both 11-0 and this will be a clash for the ages. I think Ohio State's offense has taken a step back from last year, partly from injuries, and partly from losing a lot of talent to the NFL. But the defense is certainly better under DC Jim Knowles. There are still holes: Maryland last week put up 30 points and 402 yards on them, mostly through the air. Penn State had 482 yards against them, again largely through the air. It suggests to me that Michigan need to be able to throw the ball, so we'll see if McCarthy and the Michigan receivers can improve on what we've seen the last few weeks. Undoubtedly, Michigan hasn't tried to unleash its full passing attack on what they've seen to be inferior opponents. We'll see what they've got in their back pocket for OSU.

Michigan's defense will face a stiff test against OSU's prolific passing attack. Most teams that have had success against OSU have sat back in zone defense to avoid giving up big plays, and I think that's the formula for Michigan too. The best way for Michigan to stay in touch will be to force OSU to go on long drives, then possess the ball on offense. If Michigan can hold OSU to under 30 points (something only Notre Dame and Northwestern have done all year, with the latter case being mostly thanks to stormy weather), I think they'll have a shot. But that'll go out the window if the OSU receivers are able to bust big plays against Michigan's defensive backs. We've seen Michigan have some trouble with one-on-one coverage against big wide receivers, so getting safety help will be important.

There are injury concerns on both teams, as we still don't know the status of Corum, Donovan Edwards, Luke Schoonmaker, and Mike Morris for Michigan. On Ohio State's side, we don't know if running backs Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson will play, and top receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba might still be out too.

I dunno man. It always feels dangerous to predict a Michigan win here. I think last year's Michigan team turned out to be definitively better than Ohio State, but I didn't see it until they actually played. It might be the case this year too, but it's really hard to tell. Michigan has done slightly better against common opponents Maryland and Penn State, but Ohio State did much better than Michigan against Iowa. Weather is unlikely to be much of a factor; there's a small possibility of some rain, but nothing like the storm OSU faced against Northwestern. I just don't see Michigan getting many breaks here, particularly on the road. There's always hope, of course, but I have to go with my gut here.

Prediction: Michigan 23, Ohio State 38.

Penn State 55, Rutgers 10
This was a ho-hum mauling of a bad team. Rutgers led briefly in the first quarter but Penn State ran away with it after that. Rutgers only ended up with 167 yards of offense, including just 32 yards on the ground. Three Rutgers turnovers certainly didn't help their cause; two were fumbles returned for a touchdown. Penn State also scored on a 100-yard Nick Singleton kickoff return.

Penn State vs Michigan State, 4:00 PM FS1
Penn State closes out its regular season against MSU, which is technically a "rivalry" game but doesn't really feel like one. MSU somehow beat Illinois this season, but is coming off a narrow win against Rutgers and an overtime loss to lowly Indiana. The offense is mediocre; the defense is terrible. And oh yeah, seven MSU players are suspended and facing criminal charges for assaulting Michigan players in the tunnel after the game four weeks ago. So you know. There's that.

Penn State has been playing some very good football lately, and there's no reason to think this MSU squad will present much of a challenge, particularly with PSU playing at home.

Prediction: Penn State 45, MSU 16.

NC State 10, Louisville 25
Ugh. MJ Morris sat out this game with an injury, so NC State turned to Jack Chambers at QB, but yanked him after he missed 5 of his first 7 passes. They turned to freshman Ben Finley, who was serviceable but not stellar. The real problem was in the rushing attack; State trudged its way to just 77 yards on 31 carries.

NC State at UNC, 3:30 PM Friday ABC
NC State's hopes for a respectable season now rest on the game against their #1 rival, UNC. UNC is 9-2 and was even sniffing at the playoffs before last week's baffling loss to Georgia Tech. QB Drake Maye has been mentioned in Heisman trophy discussions, but that's probably done now too. But still, this is a solid team that. The defense is certainly suspect, but that might not matter much against an NC State offense that's struggling to put even basic plays together.

If MJ Morris can return, State might have some hope. The defense will need to play its best all season to contain the UNC offense. It's possible. But it doesn't seem likely.

Prediction: NC State 15, UNC 31.

Notable Results
It was a day of struggles and near escapes for a number of top teams. In the upset of the day, #5 Tennessee got trounced by unranked South Carolina 63-38, likely ending their playoff hopes.

#1 Georgia slogged their way to a 16-6 win over Kentucky. #3 Ohio State needed a punt block and a late turnover to help escape Maryland 43-30. #4 TCU scored on a last minute field goal to beat Baylor 29-28.

#7 USC beat #16 UCLA in a wild 48-45 game. #12 Oregon beat #10 Utah 20-17. Georgia Tech upset #13 UNC 21-17. Arkansas upset #14 Ole Miss 42-27. Navy shocked #20 UCF 17-14. Oklahoma beat rival #22 Oklahoma State 28-13.

Wisconsin came back in the fourth quarter to beat Nebraska 15-14. Purdue managed to beat Northwestern 17-9, keeping them in the Big Ten West chase. Indiana beat MSU 39-31 in 2OT. Iowa beat Minnesota 13-10; they can clinch the Big Ten West with a win over Nebraska next week.

Games to Watch on TV
On Thursday, if you're not watching NFL games, you can catch Mississippi State vs Ole Miss at 7:00 PM on ESPN.

On Friday, NC State is at #17 UNC at 3:30 PM on ABC. Florida is at #16 Florida State at 7:30 PM on ABC.

On Saturday, your obvious Game of the Week is #3 Michigan at #2 Ohio State at 12:00 PM on Fox. South Carolina is at #8 Clemson on ABC, which is a game to keep an eye on since SC is coming off their big upset of Tennessee, and a Clemson loss will knock them out of playoff consideration.

At 3:30 PM, #9 Oregon is at #21 Oregon State on ABC. Minnesota is at Wisconsin on ESPN. Purdue is at Indiana on BTN. At 4:00 PM, Michigan State is at #11 Penn State on FS1.

At 7:00 PM, #5 LSU is at Texas A&M on ESPN. At 7:30 PM, #15 Notre Dame is at #6 USC on ABC. Michigan's rooting interest will be for Texas A&M and Notre Dame; losses by those teams will help Michigan stay in the playoff picture even with a loss to OSU. Oklahoma plays at Texas Tech on FS1.
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