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College Football 2018 Week 8 Preview
Saturday, 2018 October 20 - 10:26 am
Michigan takes on Moo U; NCSU's faces its biggest game of the season against Clemson; Penn State plays Indiana. Also, blog commenting is fixed? I think?

#6 Michigan at #24 Michigan State, 12:00 PM FOX
Well, here we are again. Michigan looks to be the better team. Michigan State will play like it's the Super Bowl and pull out every one of its bag of tricks. This game will be annoyingly close and I've learned not to hope for too much.

Except? Except? MSU really doesn't look great this year. Their one good unit is the run defense. Everything else is really iffy: the secondary is banged up, the offensive line is in tatters, and the receiving corps is hurting. One thing we can expect is that Brian Lewerke will be running for his life against the Michigan DL. Perhaps the most important aspect of this game will be Michigan's ability to prevent him from escaping the pocket. I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan frequently deployed Devin Bush as a spy to keep him from turning scrambles into yards.

The MSU run defense is for real. Except for a 78-yard Miles Sanders breakaway, MSU held Penn State's potent rushing attack to 127 yards on 31 attempts. (That being said, if Michigan can get 4 YPA on these guys and frequently get into third-and-short situations, I'll be okay with it.)

But it's hard to see how MSU will be able to run the ball themselves, without resorting to endless trickery. I'm expecting a lot of jet sweeps and option plays, and I'm expecting them to succeed maybe 20% of the time. But mostly Lewerke will have to be able to throw the ball to win, and we saw how well that went for Hornibrook last week.

It's MSU and they'll play above themselves, and the PSU win shows that you can't take anything for granted with these guys. But I just have a feeling....

Prediction: Michigan 31, MSU 11.

#16 N.C. State at #3 Clemson, 3:30 PM ESPN
This could be the premiere matchup of the day, believe it or not.

NCSU has come close against Clemson several times, and has fallen short each time. This time around the Wolfpack will face a defense that's an order of magnitude better than anyone else they've seen so far, along with a dang-near-unstoppable offense. NCSU will need to score in bursts just to keep up. Grinding out long drives is probably not a sustainable approach.

That being said, we've seen that Clemson is catchable on an off day, and this has the potential to be just that. They might be sluggish coming off a bye week. They might think they can cruise through the rest of a weak ACC schedule. And they probably haven't faced a passer of Ryan Finley's caliber yet this year.

I think NCSU can hang around. But in my head I don't think they have the horses to pull out the win.

Prediction: NCSU 24, Clemson 45.

#18 Penn State at Indiana, 3:30 PM ABC
Once upon a time, Indiana was kind of fun to watch. They had the up-tempo-est up-tempo offense of them all under OC Kevin Wilson, and every now and then they'd pull out a surprising win. Then Wilson left and Indiana brought in the down-tempo-est OC of them all, former Michigan OC Mike Debord, and now Indiana is both bad and boring.

They did manage to beat Virginia early on, and they hung tough for a while against MSU and OSU. But they only beat Rutgers by 7. QB Peyton Ramsey is only passing for 6.4 YPA, and as a team they're rushing for 150 yards per game. It's not an explosive team here.

Indiana is coming off a game in which they gave up 42 points to plodding, thumping Iowa. If the Penn State players haven't completely resigned after two tough losses, this should be a good rebound opportunity.

Prediction: Penn State 49, Indiana 13.

Games to Watch on TV
The Michigan game is at noon on Fox, and it's pretty much the only matchup worth watching in the early slate. Go Blue.

I'm giving the NCSU game the Game of the Week tag, partly because I feel like I have very few opportunities to do that. It's at 3:30 PM on ESPN. Penn State is on ABC at the same time. No-longer-unbeaten Colorado plays #15 Washington in an important Pac-12 battle, on Fox. Meanwhile #1 Alabama takes on Tennessee on CBS and that might be competitive? Tennessee is coming off a win against Auburn, and... ahh, never mind. Alabama will win in another blowout.

At 7:00 #22 Mississippi State plays #5 LSU on ESPN. At 7:30 #12 Oregon plays #25 Washington State on Fox. And at 8:00, there's another interesting Pac-12 matchup as USC plays Utah on the Pac-12 network. USC and Utah are both underrated a bit, I think.
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