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College Football Recap
Monday, 2006 October 16 - 8:18 am
Michigan 17, Penn State 10. N.C. State 23, Wake Forest 25.

Michigan 17, Penn State 10. This was Michigan's toughest test of the season: a young but athletic Penn State team, playing on the road in Happy Valley. Penn State had revenge on its mind after last year's last-second Michigan victory (which was replayed endlessly during this year's game).

The defenses dominated this game. Michigan's defense knocked two Penn State quarterbacks out of the game (on clean hits), and rolled up seven sacks during the game. Penn State held Michigan's running game down to 116 yards, well below their season average. But Michigan was able to make enough big plays to win it, using Adrian Arrington as the go-to receiver with Mario Manningham out of the game. And despite Penn State's tough running defense, Mike Hart was still able to rush for over a hundred yards, and run effectively enough to put Michigan in manageable down-and-distance situations.

Michigan's defensive front seven was clearly the highlight of this game. Including the sacks, Penn State's total rushing yardage was negative 14 yards. Michigan won the time-of-possession battle by seven minutes.

Michigan was up 17-3 late in the game before Penn State finally scored a touchdown to make it close. But they elected not to on-side kick, and Michigan ran out the clock.

Two negatives on Michigan's part: first, they again showed vulnerability to the interior screen pass. Our linebackers have to get better at reading the offensive linemen releasing their blocks. Second, Steve Breaston is still dropping passes, something that he simply can't do, especially with Manningham out of the game.

But those are relatively minor corrections. Overall Michigan played a very solid game, particularly on defense.

Grades: Offense B+, Defense A.

N.C. State 23, Wake Forest 25. Wake Forest came into this game 5-1, with only a close loss to 12th-ranked Clemson. N.C. State came into this game 3-2, as the surprise leader of the ACC Atlantic Division. So this was a key game.

N.C. State played fairly well. On most days, it would have been good enough to win. Daniel Evans was 21-38 for 196 yards. State averaged 4.8 yards per carry on the ground. But Wake Forest had a big touchdown play just before the half, and Wake Forest kicker had three field goals of 50-plus yards. And, N.C. State did make some key errors, including a fumble that led to a safety, and Evans' sole interception of the game as State was driving towards a potential game-winning field goal with a minute to play.

It was an unfortunate loss for State, who could have really capitalized on their momentum of the past few weeks. Now, N.C. State fans are wondering if their team will even make it to a bowl game, with a tough slate of games ahead (two away games, followed by home games against #13 Georgia Tech and #12 Clemson).

Grades: Offense B, Defense B-.

Other News

Previously-second-ranked Florida lost a key SEC game, and a game with national championship implications, to Auburn, 27-17. Michigan is now ranked second in the AP poll and third in the USA Today poll.

USC won another squeaker over Arizona State, 28-21.

Undefeated Louisville won a close one against Cincinnati, 23-17.

Indiana stunned 15th-ranked Iowa 31-28. (Next up for Indiana: Ohio State. Next up for Iowa: Michigan.)

Georgia, once ranked 9th in the country, lost at home to lowly Vanderbilt, 24-22.

Boston College defeated Virginia Tech on Thursday night, 22-3. I have to say that I'm glad Virginia Tech can no longer cruise through cupcake schedules and then moan about being left out of BCS bowl games.

Wisconsin walloped Minnesota 48-12. I dare say that Wisconsin (6-1, with their sole loss coming against Michigan) is much better than their #22 ranking would suggest. Naturally, Wisconsin does not play Ohio State this year.
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