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CFB 2023: Week 12 Recap and Week 13 Preview
Wednesday, 2023 November 22 - 2:50 pm
Michigan escapes Maryland; Penn State takes care of Rutgers; N.C. State holds off Virginia Tech. Rivalry week is next.

Michigan 31, Maryland 24
This was an uncomfortable game for Michigan fans, as both the offense and defense seemed to struggle a bit. Despite Michigan leading for nearly the entire game, the outcome was certainly in doubt for most of the second half, as Maryland closed the gap to within one score a couple of times.

On a windy day, J.J. McCarthy had problems connecting on passes, and with injuries to the offensive line, pass protection was an issue too. Meanwhile, Taulia Tagovailoa had his usual combination of brilliant plays and back-breaking errors. He was sacked four times, threw two interceptions, and was called for intentional grounding in his own end zone for a safety. It's fair to say at least some of his issues could be blamed on the wind, too.

I don't know if Michigan was just intentionally limiting their playbook to avoid tipping their hand against Ohio State, but man... the ultra-conservative offensive game plan, which seemed brilliant against Penn State, seemed like an unnecessary gamble against Maryland. Maryland's offense is capable of springing big plays and scoring drives at any time, and even a 23-3 lead in the first quarter did not feel safe.

Michigan vs. Ohio State, 12:00 PM Fox
Michigan will be without head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines again, but hopefully, we'll see the return of LT Ladarius Henderson, which should help improve the pass protection. WR Roman Wilson, RT Myles Hinton and ILB Derrick Moore are also probable to return. So thankfully, Michigan will be close to 100%.

This is our concern, dude: Michigan's pass defense has been suspect. The stellar play of the defensive line is covering a lot of issues, but the defensive backs aren't the lockdown coverage guys we need them to be, and the linebackers seem to be having trouble with zone drops. This is something Ohio State will certainly be looking to exploit. The hope is that Michigan can afford to drop their safeties back in coverage and the DL can prevent OSU's running attack from gaining traction. That certainly seems possible, as OSU's offensive line is their weakness.

On offense, I have no doubt Michigan will still look to pound away on the ground. We might see more of those seven-OL sets, though hopefully with some wrinkles. Michigan has seemed averse to play action and screen passes all year; I'm really hoping they've just chosen to keep that hidden from the OSU scouts.

This is the first time Michigan has been favored in The Game in eons, but I'm as nervous as ever. I think Michigan is a better team at most positions, but it only takes a few game-breaking completions to Marvin Harrison Jr. for the game to turn in OSU's favor. But what I look at is that OSU scored just 17 points against Notre Dame and 20 against Penn State. If Michigan can find a way to score 28 points, that might be enough.

Go Blue.

Prediction: Michigan 31, Ohio State 24.

Penn State 27, Rutgers 6
This was a 10-6 game in the third quarter; a sack-fumble on Gavin Wimsatt turned the game, though, and an interception on Rutgers' next drive sealed the outcome. It might be small consolation for Penn State after disappointing losses this season, but the Lions had a big day on the ground, rushing for 6.0 YPC en route to 234 yards total. Drew Allar had a quiet day, throwing for just 79 yards. Perhaps PSU was determined to getting back to basics.

PSU is locked in for third place in the Big Ten East, and will likely be headed for the Fiesta Bowl against a quality opponent like the Pac-12 runner-up. Not a bad season, but everyone is still wondering what will it take for James Franklin will break through against Michigan and Ohio State.

Penn State at Michigan State, Friday 7:30 PM NBC
This is almost a meaningless game. Certainly MSU doesn't have much to play for; they're out of the running for bowl eligibility, and a bunch of players might be headed to the transfer portal with the coaching upheaval. It's unlikely the patchwork MSU offense will be able to do much against the PSU defense; this is a team that scored 0 against Michigan and 3 against OSU. For PSU, it will be a matter of managing the game and slowly throttling MSU, and hopefully getting a chance to rest the starters in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Penn State 31, Michigan State 3.

N.C. State 35, Virginia Tech 28
This wasn't as close as the score indicates. NCSU jumped out to a 35-14 lead in the third quarter and largely turtled after that. Brennan Armstrong had another good day; he again led the team in rushing, while also throwing for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin Concepcion remains the other key weapon on offense; he had 107 all-purpose yards on the day.

Virginia Tech did rack up 349 yards, but a lot of those came in the fourth quarter while NCSU was just trying to salt the game away.

Win or lose next week, NCSU is probably looking at a decent bowl matchup against a Power-5 opponent. It's probably as good an outcome as we could have hoped for this season, considering the inconsistency of the offense early in the year.

N.C. State vs. UNC, 8:00 PM ACCN
If you'd asked me to predict this game back in, say, week 5, I wouldn't have given State much of a chance. The UNC offense looked largely unstoppable, while NCSU's offense looked quite... stoppable. But what we've seen over the course of the year is that UNC's defense is pretty awful, ranking well in the bottom half of the league.

This will be a strength-on-strength, weakness-on-weakness matchup. I think N.C. State has a lot of pride on the line, while UNC is just trying to salvage what's been otherwise a disappointing season. The intangibles favor State; they're a 2.5 point underdog, but I like their chances in what could be a topsy-turvy game.

Prediction: N.C. State 34, UNC 33.

Last Week's Notable Results
  • #1 Georgia 38, #18 Tennessee 10. Georgia cements its case for the #1 ranking.
  • #4 Florida State 58, North Alabama 13. This game is only notable for the fact that star QB Jordan Travis suffered a gruesome season-ending leg injury, which definitely puts their title hopes in question.
  • #5 Washington 22, #11 Oregon State 20. UW keeps its CFP hopes alive with another quality win.
  • #9 Missouri 33, Florida 31. Florida is just 5-6 but they're a dangerous team; they play FSU next.
  • #16 Iowa 15, Illinois 13. Iowa has (shudder) clinched the Big Ten West.
  • #17 Arizona 42, #22 Utah 18. There might not be a hotter team that Arizona right now. They're coached by former UM assistant Jedd Fisch, who might be building a resume for one of the big coaching openings in the offseason.
  • Clemson 31, #20 UNC 20. UNC continues to struggle, while Clemson is finding a little redemption late in the year.
  • Northwestern 23, Purdue 15. Northwestern is shockingly bowl-eligible after looking positively dreadful to start the year.
Next Week's Big Ten Games
  • #17 Iowa at Nebraska, Friday 12:00 PM CBS
  • #11 Penn State at Michigan State, Friday 7:30 PM NBC
  • #2 Ohio State at #3 Michigan, 12:00 PM Fox
  • Indiana at Purdue, 12:00 PM BTN
  • Northwestern at Illinois, 3:30 PM BTN
  • Wisconsin at Minnesota, 3:30 PM FS1
  • Maryland at Rutgers, 3:30 PM BTN
Other Games to Watch
  • #16 Oregon State at #6 Oregon, Friday 8:30 PM Fox
  • #5 Florida State at Florida, 7:00 PM ESPN
  • #1 Georgia at Georgia Tech, 7:30 PM ABC
  • UNC at #22 NC State, 8:00 PM ACCN
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