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College Football 2018 Week 6 Preview
Friday, 2018 October 5 - 4:52 pm
Michigan hosts Maryland; NCSU hosts Boston College; Penn State has a merciful bye.

Michigan vs. Maryland, 12:00 PM ABC
Maryland is a difficult team to figure out; on the one hand, they beat a turns-out-to-be-pretty-good Texas team, but then they were blown out by a not-good-at-all Temple team in a game where they had only 195 yards of offense and zero offensive touchdowns.

Maybe the variability can be explained by the coaching turmoil, as D.J. Durkin was jettisoned for abusing his players, and journeyman O.C. Matt Canada has taken the interim reigns. Canada usually runs a trickery-filled offense full of pre-snap motion and odd alignments... Michigan will need to be sound in its defensive assignments.

The Maryland defense seems to be decent (except when playing the dreaded Temple Owls, I guess). It features a backfield-terrorizing Antoine Brooks at outside linebacker; a key matchup will be him against the Michigan tight ends, who will need to either block him in space or challenge him in pass coverage.

I think Michigan could have some success running the ball, as the defense seems schematically similar to Nebraska and we all see where that went. If we see a sustained drive in the first quarter by Michigan featuring a slew of successful running plays, I'll start to breathe easy about this game.

Prediction: Michigan 28, Maryland 13.

NCSU vs. Boston College, 12:30 PM ACC Network
Boston College is one of those pesky always-pretty-good-but-never-great teams, kind of like the Iowa of the ACC. They're usually sound in their schemes but sometimes plodding. This year they've beaten a pile of weak opponents (including Temple, cough cough) and lost to a not-very-good Purdue team. Star running back A.J. Dillon is questionable for the game, also. I don't think BC will be able to match N.C. State's athletically. The key matchup will be State's front seven against whatever tailback B.C. trots out.

Prediction: NCSU 30, Boston College 16.

Penn State: Bye
PSU gets a bye week to recover from its tough loss against Ohio State, and they'll need the extra time to prepare for Michigan State next week.

Games to Watch on TV
Kind of a bum week; no real premier matchups. In the noon-ish time slot, we've got the Michigan game on ABC and the NCSU game on the ACC network. There's also the Red River Rivalry game (#19 Texas vs. #7 Oklahoma) on Fox; I guess this is your Game of the Week. Northwestern at #20 Michigan State on FS1 is something to keep an eye on, too.

At 3:30, #5 LSU plays #22 Florida on CBS. Florida is perhaps underrated; their Kentucky loss doesn't look nearly as bad now as it did when it happened. So that could be interesting. Florida State plays #17 Miami on ABC; everyone expects a blowout win by Miami but it's a rivalry game so who knows. At 4:00 Indiana will probably get demolished by #3 Ohio State on Fox. Indiana has become much less interesting since bringing on former Michigan OC Mike Debord... his playbook is, shall we say, uninspired.

At 7:00, #13 Kentucky gets a real test against Texas A&M on ESPN. Will the Cinderella run continue? At 7:30, Mississippi State could give #8 Auburn a challenge; that's on ESPN2. Meanwhile, Nebraska and UCLA will both probably remain winless; Nebraska plays #16 Wisconsin on BTN, and UCLA plays #10 Washington on Fox. Watch one of those games just for the schadenfreude, if you like.

At 8:00, #6 Notre Dame plays #24 Virginia Tech. VT beat Florida State and previously unbeaten Duke, but the FSU win is really less impressive in hindsight, and Duke is still Duke. So this one might be a blowout win for Notre Dame, who's found an actual quarterback in junior Ian Book. Notre Dame and Michigan are in the uncomfortable position of rooting for each other the rest of the season, since wins on both sides will raise the stature of their opening-week game.




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