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College Football 2018 Week 4 Recap
Friday, 2018 September 28 - 12:22 pm
Michigan, NCSU, and Penn State all rack up solid wins.

Michigan 56, Nebraska 10
I've spent most of the week thinking up farm-related synonyms for "ass-kicking", including "ham-blasting", "corn-shucking", and "mule-plowing". There's no two ways about this game: Michigan dominated every phase of this game and it was fun to watch if you're a Michigan fan. Sorry Nebraska fans, but Scott Frost or no, you've got some work to do.

I annoyed my friends who were watching the game with me by frequently pointing out a bread-and-butter running play that Michigan seems to have landed on. It's called "G-out" or "Down-G" and it involves pulling the nearside offensive guard for a kickout block (as opposed to the more traditional "Power" which uses the backside guard as a puller). MGoBlog has a really good writeup on what Michigan was doing, but for me the takeaway is that this scheme does two good things: it disguises your weakness at the tackle position by getting the tight end to help downblock or chip the defensive end, and the short pull by the nearside guard happens too quickly for the backside inside linebacker to react to the play. It works especially well against a 3-4 front; it will be less effective against a four-man front (since there'll be a defensive tackle plowing through the hole vacated by the pulling guard, unless the center can execute a really good reach block). But all the same, it's an immense relief to find a running play that Michigan can execute consistently, and this will open up a wide range of counters should opposing defenses gear up to stop it.

Meanwhile, the poor Nebraska offense was simply overmatched by the Michigan front most of the day. Maybe the day would have gone slightly differently if Michigan hadn't intercepted a tipped pass (that might otherwise have gone for a touchdown). If early momentum had swung towards Nebraska, then maybe...

Naah. Michigan was simply better, period. Grudgingly, optimism for the remainder of the season is returning to my soul.

N.C. State 37, Marshall 20
I admit I watched none of this game, so I don't have much in the way of useful commentary. The rushing game still seems to be a weakness, judging from the stats. It certainly helps to have Ryan Finley throw for 377 yards. I need this guy on my fantasy team.

Still, it's a solid road win and a potential confidence booster for the Pack, and you can't argue with 3-0 going into the conference part of the schedule.

Penn State 63, Illinois 10
You can't make much of this game because Illinois is arguably worse than App State. In Illinois' opener against Kent State, they only won by 7. They'll be lucky to win another game all season. So, this was not much more than a glorified scrimmage for the Lions, a nice easy tuneup for their monster game against Ohio State in week 5.

Notable Games
Plenty of upsets this week, though #5 Oklahoma wasn't among them; they barely beat Army 28-21. #7 Stanford keeps rolling; they beat #20 Oregon 38-31 in OT after a stunning comeback. #13 Virginia Tech lost to previously-winless Old Dominion, 49-35. Kentucky continues to impress; they beat #14 Mississippi State 28-7. Texas Tech crushed #15 Oklahoma State, 41-17. Schizophrenic Texas beat #17 TCU 31-16. #18 Wisconsin hung on against Iowa 28-17. #24 Michigan State beat a pretty good Indiana team, 35-21.

Oddly Undefeated Teams
Kentucky and Duke are 4-0. I think they must have recruited their basketball teams to play football. Cal is 3-0. Colorado is 3-0. Syracuse is 4-0.

Oddly Winless Teams
Nebraska is 0-3. UCLA is 0-3.

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