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College Football 2018 Week 5 Recap
Tuesday, 2018 October 2 - 1:24 pm
Michigan and NCSU win; Penn State loses a heartbreaker.

Michigan 20, Northwestern 17
Michigan got off to an ugh-worthy start, falling behind 17-0 before righting the ship in the second half. On defense, the secondary gave up a number of big plays and key penalties. On offense, Michigan had trouble trying to run power against Northwestern's aggressive 4-3 front, and the first three drives went for a grand total of 12 plays at 21 yards.

What finally started to work was when Michigan went back to good old iso blocking instead of trying to pull their guards. Quick-hitting plays up the gut don't seem very sexy to layman observers, but that's exactly what's needed when the defensive linemen are going wide to prevent edge rushes; this leaves the Northwestern middle linebackers vulnerable to lead blocks from the Michigan fullback.

I'm a bit disappointed that Michigan didn't elect to run slants and crosses to the tight ends to keep the linebackers honest, but the issue seemed to be that Michigan faced too many obvious passing situations (second and long, third and long) and this allowed Northwestern to sit back with seven defenders in coverage, while Michigan had to keep backs and tight ends in to pass protect so there were often only three receivers downfield. Most of the time, Shea Patterson simply had nowhere to throw.

Meanwhile, the refereeing... Jesus. There were a large number of pass-interference calls, some of which were legit: Michigan corners were getting beat an uncomfortable number of times, leading them to get a little grabby. But some of them were very questionable. And then there was the worst call of the day, a phantom holding penalty on Karan Higdon on a play where he himself got tackled after a handoff was faked to him.

But thank goodness for Chase Winovich, who had a monster day on defense, and for Patterson, who often kept plays alive with his scrambling ability. It wasn't a pretty win, but it was a win nonetheless, and I think we'll see over time that Northwestern is indeed a better team than their record suggests.

NCSU 35, Virginia 21
It looks like State has finally found its running back, in the name of Ricky Person Jr, a freshman who had a breakout day going for 108 yards. That's 103 yards more than his only other outing in the opening game against James Madison. That, combined with two interceptions thrown by Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins, were enough to make the difference in the game.

Ryan Finley had another crisply efficient game, and it's looking like the Pack is starting to put the pieces together. The secondary is still a bit of a work in progress, but this was a quality win against a pretty good team, and NCSU is quietly 4-0 and in contention for the ACC, especially with what's happened to Clemson... more on that in a bit.

NCSU has broken into the rankings, coming in at #23 this week.

Penn State 26, Ohio State 27
Oh, Penn State. The lesson from the last few years seems to be, don't go up by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, because that's when you lose. Penn State was really dominating this game on both sides of the ball, until seemingly forgetting how to play defense. A 96-yard touchdown drive by Ohio State was the difference in the end. And oh yeah, James Franklin, when you're facing the most important fourth-and-five of the season, don't have your best player Trace McSorley hand the ball off while facing single coverage and no deep safeties. Just saying.

Penn State isn't quite out of the Big Ten picture, or the CFP picture for that matter, but losing the conference tiebreaker to OSU and lacking a signature non-conference win is gonna hurt a bit. The Lions should be favored in all their remaining matchups, though, including back-to-back games against Michigan and Wisconsin.

Notable Games
#3 Clemson squeaked by Syracuse, and this was most notable for the fact that quarterback Trevor Lawrence got knocked out of the game with an injury, and last year's starter Kelly Bryant just announced his intention to transfer after losing the starting job. This left the quarterback position to reserve, who managed the game just well enough to pull out the come-from-behind victory and preserve Clemson's season. Lawrence should return; the injury just appears to be a neck strain. But Clemson may be just a breath away from an upset, should Lawrence suffer another injury. Clemson plays NCSU on October 20th, by the way.

#8 Notre Dame walloped #7 Stanford 38-17. Boo and/or yay.

#12 West Virginia is starting to make some noise; they beat #25 Texas Tech 42-34 and remain undefeated.

#17 Kentucky is still undefeated, beating South Carolina 24-10.

#19 Oregon beat #24 Cal, 42-24. Boo and boo.

#21 Michigan State looked sluggish in a win over 1-4 Central Michigan, 31-20.

#22 Duke finally lost, falling to Virginia 31-14.

Florida managed to beat Mississippi State 13-6. They're now 4-1 with their only loss to Kentucky, so maybe they're not as bad as we thought?

Indiana beat Rutgers by just one touchdown, 24-17, so maybe Indiana kinda sucks after all.

Purdue beat Nebraska 42-28, and I guess Nebraska actually also kinda sucks.

UCLA lost again, falling to Colorado 38-16.

Oddly Undefeated Teams
Kentucky, still, at 5-0. NCSU at 4-0 I guess? Colorado is 4-0.

Oddly Winless Teams
UCLA and Nebraska, still, at 0-4.
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