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Ken said:
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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CFB 2023: Week 11 Recap and Week 12 Preview
Monday, 2023 November 13 - 2:02 pm
Michigan beats Penn State in a slugfest; N.C. State notches another win.

Michigan 24, Penn State 15
Michigan played this game without head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines, as the Big Ten handed down a three-game suspension for SignGate, and Michigan was not granted a temporary restraining order against the Big Ten in time for the kickoff. OC Sherrone Moore took the reins for this game, but the game plan was pure Harbaugh.

The game was a slog, as the teams showed why they're the two top defenses in the country. Neither quarterback could gain much traction against ferocious pass rushes; in the end, Michigan passed for just 60 yards and Penn State for 74.

The thing that tilted the game for Michigan was that they committed to the running game, sometimes putting in seven offensive linemen (plus two tight ends) to negate the speed of Penn State's DEs and linebackers. Michigan did not complete a pass in the second half; the only pass they even attempted in the second half resulted in an interference penalty. (So on the books, it goes down as zero passes attempted in the half, which is practically unheard of in modern college football.) While Penn State's aggressive defense held up reasonably well against this strategy, Michigan had several explosive runs from Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, as well as timely keeps from J.J. McCarthy.

On Penn State's side, despite averaging 4.7 YPC on the ground, the offense seemed determined to keep trying pass plays, but Drew Allar frequently found himself under pressure and the receivers failed to find separation. Star wideout Keandre Lambert-Smith ended up with just one reception for six yards, and Drew Allar ended the day just 10 for 22. Allar did have some good runs of his own, but crucially, one of them ended in a fumble that changed the trajectory of the game. At that point, Penn State was down just 14-9 and seemed to have a good drive going; after that, Michigan scored a field goal. When Penn State failed to score on its next four possessions (punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs) the game was effectively over.

It seems to be an annual tradition in this game: a few weird coaching decisions really cost the team. There was a failed two-point conversion when the score was 14-9 in the second quarter, a decision to go for it on fourth down from the PSU 30 with 4:21 left on the clock and PSU down by 8, and a couple of trick plays that failed miserably. It's a striking contrast to Michigan's coaching philosophy, which was to grind away and play with belief.

For a Michigan team that had been on fire in the passing game, this was perhaps a statement that they're still committed to running the ball. With 227 yards rushing on the day (its highest output in the last four games) against the country's #1 rushing defense, Michigan has emphatically shown that they are still, indeed, Michigan.

On Penn State's part, the defense certainly has nothing to hang its head about. Questions will abound about the offense, but Drew Allar is young and will improve, and perhaps one of these days Penn State will finally put together a complete offensive recruiting class and have good QB, OL, and WR units all at the same time.

Michigan vs. Maryland, 12:00 PM Fox
It's a pattern we've seen before: Maryland starts the season hot and is a trendy pick to upset the Big Ten East powers, only to crumble in the second half of the season. With losses in four of the last five games, they don't look like much of a threat against Michigan.

Still, Michigan has to watch out; this is a classic trap game after an emotional win but before the looming matchup against Ohio State. Remember that Maryland led OSU 17-10 in the third quarter; the defense isn't terrible and the offense is always capable of making big plays behind QB Taulia Tagoavailoa.

But, this is also the team that had -49 rushing yards against Penn State. The Michigan DL will be looking to feast against this OL, and it's very likely Tagovailoa will be on the run a lot.

Prediction: Michigan 42, Maryland 12.

Penn State vs. Rutgers, 12:00 PM FS1
It might be hard to bounce back from an emotional loss, but fortunately, Penn State probably won't need to do much against Rutgers, who is coming off a 22-0 loss to Iowa. Rutgers only ran for 34 yards in that game, and they're not likely to do better against Penn State. The passing attack isn't very fearsome either. You can probably count on some more trickery and big-play attempts from Rutgers to try to steal some points, but just like with Michigan and Ohio State, Rutgers simply doesn't have the horses to keep their offense running against good defenses.

Meanwhile, even the anemic Iowa offense put up 402 yards on these guys. I'd expect a big day for the Penn State running backs; I'm guessing there will be an emphasis on the running game this week.

Prediction: Penn State 42, Rutgers 3.

N.C. State 26, Wake Forest 6
N.C. State notched a solid win against Wake Forest, racking up 268 yards on the ground versus just 7 for Wake Forest. We can again thank Kevin Concepcion for a large part of that, with a 65 burst on the first offensive play of the game. But the more notable aspect of the game was that Brennan Armstrong returned to the starting position at QB, with M.J. Morris electing to sit out the rest of the season to preserve his redshirt. Lately, State has found something in Armstrong's rushing ability. He was the wildcat QB even when Morris was the starter, and in this game, State used his dual-threat ability to the tune of 96 yards rushing, on top of his 111 yards passing. This might be the recipe for offensive success for the rest of the season.

The defense was, as expected, stout. Wake Forest was just 1 of 12 on third downs and committed two turnovers. The Deacons avoided the shutout with a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, but embarrassingly, threw a "pick-2" interception on the two-point conversion attempt.

N.C. State at Virginia Tech, 3:30 PM ACCN
It's been mostly a down year for VT, with losses to Purdue, Rutgers, and Marshall contributing to a 5-5 record. They have a serviceable QB in Kyron Drones; he's mostly a game manager as a passer, but he's connected on a few big plays and is also a dangerous runner. Tailback Bhayshul Tuten only barely surpasses Drones in carries and yardage. On the whole the offense has looked bad in their losses, but they also racked up 600 yards against Boston College last week. BC's defense is pretty awful, but still.

Defensively, VT is inconsistent. They held Syracuse to 0 yards rushing and Wake Forest to 35, but Louisville lit them up for 231, and Florida State racked up 282. N.C. State falls somewhere in the middle of that group. If State can rush for more than 150 yards, I think the defense can carry the team over the line for the win.

Prediction: N.C. State 28, Virginia Tech 19.

Last Week's Notable Results
  • #2 Georgia 52, #9 Ole Miss 17. Utter domination in this one as Georgia returns to form.
  • #4 Florida State 27, Miami 20. I'm not sure whether to think of this as a good win against a rival or a bad win against a 6-4 team.
  • #5 Washington 35, #18 Utah 28. A good win for UW, but marred by the old embarrassing "drop the ball unnecessarily before reaching the end zone" thing on what should have been a pick-six.
  • #6 Oregon 36, USC 27. Oregon remains in the CFP race, while USC's defense continues to let it down.
  • #11 Louisville 31, Virginia 24. Louisville had been red hot but had to come from behind in the fourth quarter against a 2-8 Virginia; yikes.
  • #7 Texas 29, TCU 26. The game wasn't as close as the scoreboard suggests; TCU scored 20 in the fourth quarter.
  • #8 Alabama 49, Kentucky 21. Alabama has clinched a spot in the SEC title game against Georgia.
  • #14 Missouri 36, #13 Tennessee 7. I had been hoping Tennessee would look strong enough to give Georgia a fight next week, but that's looking less and less likely.
  • UCF 45, #15 Oklahoma State 3. OSU utterly collapses after the big win last week against OU.
  • Texas Tech 16, #16 Kansas 13.
  • #19 LSU 52, Florida 35. LSU looks good but they've already blown their chance for the SEC.
  • #22 Iowa 22, Rutgers 0. This game had one of the lowest points lines in NCAA history and they still hit the under. One of Iowa's touchdowns was on a 9-yard drive after an interception. Miraculously, Iowa has a very good chance of being the Big Ten West winner, despite being something like 110th in the country in offense.
  • #24 UNC 47, Duke 45 (2OT). Duke failed to score the 2-point conversion in the second overtime. UNC's defense is proving to be suspect.
  • Northwestern 24, Wisconsin 10. Northwestern has been playing better since firing their coach, but geez, what a disappointment Wisconsin has been.
Next Week's Big Ten Games
  • #2 Michigan at Maryland, 12:00 PM Fox
  • Rutgers at #12 PSU, 12:00 PM FS1
  • Michigan State at Indiana, 12:00 PM BTN
  • Purdue at Northwestern, 12:00 PM BTN
  • Illinois at #23 Iowa, 3:30 PM FS1
  • Minnesota at #3 Ohio State, 4:00 PM BTN
  • Nebraska at Wisconsin, 7:30 PM
Other Games to Watch
  • #9 Louisville at Miami, 12:00 PM ABC
  • #16 Utah at #19 Arizona, 2:30 PM Pac12
  • #1 Georgia at #21 Tennessee, 3:30 PM CBS
  • #22 UNC at Clemson, 3:30 PM ESPN
  • UCLA at USC, 3:30 PM ABC
  • #5 Washington at #10 Oregon State, 7:30 PM ABC
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Posted by Ken in: sports


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