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College Football 2018 Week 3 Recap
Tuesday, 2018 September 18 - 5:33 pm
Michigan wins but doesn't look very pretty; Penn State rolls.

Michigan 45, SMU 20
This win looks better on paper than it did in real life. Though Michigan won by a comfortable margin and the stat lines look OK (434 total yards vs. SMU's 319), the reality was that the game was very uncomfortable until a pick-six to end the second half staked Michigan to a 21-7 lead.

There were coverage busts as SMU's James Proche ran wild through an uncharacteristically soft Michigan secondary. (Proche ended the day with 166 of the team's 209 receiving yards.) Michigan's offense again failed to run the ball for a good portion of the day as SMU stacked the line against the run; it was only a handful of chunk plays later in the game that made the rushing stat line respectable.

Most egregious were the 13 Michigan penalties for 137 yards. Some were legit, and frequently let SMU off the hook when their drives would otherwise have stalled. Michigan has a lot to clean up here. Others were questionable, though: there was a phantom pass interference call, a terrible targeting call, and a questionable late hit call.

Let's talk about targeting for a second... if a ballcarrier is diving for yards with his head down and the defender who is trying to go low hits him in the helmet, it should not be called targeting. There's no way the defender can anticipate a ballcarrier ducking his head down at the last second. This rule has both hurt and helped Michigan over the years, but it seems like the rule needs to be changed.

And while we're at it, let's talk about late hit. I'd like to see a change where there's a yard-wide yellow stripe on the sidelines. The yellow stripe would be considered out of bounds, but players should be told to defend themselves until they are beyond the yellow area (into the white part of the sideline), and late hits should not be called for players in the yellow. I'm getting tired of runners (especially quarterbacks) who dance along the sidelines with the ball, and then go out of bounds at the last second, almost inevitably drawing a penalty from a charging defender who can't pull up in time.


The offensive line was... serviceable? The playcalling seemed to be designed to make life easier for them, and it helped, especially once Michigan figured out that downfield passes were almost always open and they stopped running into stacked fronts. Slants still seemed to give the line some trouble, though.

The best news is that Shea Patterson looks like he could be a really good quarterback, and the chemistry that he's developing with Donovan Peoples-Jones and Zach Gentry looks really good. Michigan finally has a downfield passing attack threat that we haven't seen since I can't remember when.

Next week, Michigan opens up Big Ten play against Nebraska, who suffered an embarrassing loss this week.

NCSU vs West Virginia, Cancelled
Cancelled, as I noted in the preview. Next up is an away game at Marshall, which, LOL.

Penn State 63, Kent State 10
This game was close for... 10 minutes? Kent State had absolutely no answer for Penn State's offense, which racked up 643 yards on the day. This level of competition probably doesn't reveal much about Penn State, except that they can execute well against bad competition. But maybe the doubts that lingered after the close App State game can be put to rest.

Next week is a conference game against Illinois, who looks terrible.

Notable Games
It was a rough day for upsets in the Big Ten, as #6 Wisconsin lost to unranked BYU, Maryland lost to Temple, Nebraska lost to Troy, and Northwestern lost to Akron. (On top of that, Purdue lost to Missouri, Illinois lost to South Florida, and Rutgers lost to Kansas.) Granted, Michigan hasn't looked great either, but hopefully they're better than bleeping Troy.

#8 Notre Dame beat Vanderbilt 22-17, and that's embarrassingly a closer margin than their win over Michigan.

#12 LSU beat #7 Auburn 22-21, so the SEC west race is gonna be something this year.

#4 Ohio State put away #15 TCU late, 40-28.

Texas stomped #22 USC, 37-14. This is the same Texas who lost to Maryland, the same Maryland that just lost to Temple. Hmm.

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