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College Football 2018 Week 8 Recap
Monday, 2018 October 22 - 5:58 pm
Michigan stuffs Sparty into a Sparty-hole; NCSU gets demolished by Clemson; Penn State scrapes out a win.

Michigan 21, Michigan State 7
It looked for quite a while like it was going to be another one of those fluky MSU games, where some bit of random variance causes Michigan's hopes to implode. In this case, it was a Chris Evans fumble of a rain-soaked ball at Michigan's own 7 yard line, leading to a trick play touchdown by MSU. The five Michigan possessions before that: 3 plays and punt, 4 plays and punt, 3 plays and punt, 5 plays and missed field goal, 3 plays and punt. Although Michigan's had scored early and its defense looked dominant, suddenly the game was 7-7 and feeling scary. Then Michigan fumbled again on its next drive.

But. The defense held on MSU's next two possessions, and when Michigan got the ball back after that, it took all of one play (a 79-yard pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones) for Michigan to regain the lead. And with the way the defense was playing, that lead felt insurmountable for the Spartans.

MSU had a total of 94 yards of offense on the day. That includes 15 yards of rushing. MSU was 0-12 on third down conversions. To say Michigan's defense was suffocating would be an understatement. This was a complete dismantling.

On offense, Michigan did just enough. Shea Patterson looked tentative on some passing plays, but he managed the game well, especially in key conversion opportunities where he ran the zone read in textbook fashion. Meanwhile, the offensive line continues to impress. Michigan put up 183 yards on the top rushing defense in the country, and without a bunch of long runs to pad the stats.

So. Let's put to bed all the stuff about Michigan's inability to beat ranked teams on the road, and let's start talking about the very real possibility that Michigan might be competing for the national championship this year (knock on wood). That didn't feel possible after week 1.

N.C. State 7, Clemson 41
Sometimes, all you can say is: \_(ツ)_/ . N.C. State simply couldn't compete athletically with Clemson's dominating lines. Ryan Finley threw two interceptions and only managed to complete a handful of passes downfield; the rest was dink-and-dunk stuff, and that's not going to get it done against this kind of opponent.

Eh. Maybe it was too much to expect. I'd at least hoped the game would be competitive for a half. Instead it turned into a rout well before halftime. But that's happened to most of Clemson's opponents so far.

The good news is that State should still be favored in all of their remaining matchups, so a high quality bowl game and a successful season is still within reach.

Penn State 33, Indiana 28
Penn State came out very flat in this game. The halftime lead of 17-14 seemed very tenuous. And just when it seemed like the Lions could relax with a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, James Franklin inexplicably called three consecutive pass plays with 4:30 left on the clock, allowing Indiana to conserve its timeouts. Indiana received the punt and promptly went 85 yards for a touchdown; they then recovered the onside kick and had a legitimate chance to hand PSU yet another ridiculous fourth-quarter loss.

Indiana crumbled on its last drive, fortunately, and Penn State now has something to build on, instead of what would probably have been a soul-crushing and season-ending defeat.

Trace McSorley had a fairly quiet day passing, completing just 20 of 37 passes for 6.6 YPA, with one interception. But he accounted for 107 of PSU's 174 rushing yards, while Miles Sanders kicked in 72. It's clear that McSorley's rushing ability is critical to keeping Penn State's offense alive.

Meanwhile, somehow the Mike Debord Indiana offense ran up 554 yards of offense on the PSU defense, which... yikes. IU only had 330 yards of offense against Iowa, and hey by the way, PSU gets Iowa next.

Notable Games
The news really starts and ends with one outcome: Purdue demolished #2 Ohio State 49-20, and the world rejoiced. All of OSU's flaws were exposed in this game: their penchant for giving up big plays, their inability to run the ball, and quarterback Dwayne Haskins' inaccuracy under pressure. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm just handed the rest of the Big Ten a brilliant blueprint on how to bring OSU down.

Suddenly the Big Ten West is looking complicated. #19 Iowa blanked Maryland 23-0; #23 Wisconsin righted the ship and beat Illinois 49-20; Northwestern hung on to beat Rutgers 18-15; Nebraska finally got its first win in an impressive 53-28 takedown over Minnesota. There are now four teams with one conference loss in the West. None of them have easy paths for the rest of the season, and they might all beat each other; but it's also possible that a team like Iowa could win out and give the East a run for its money in the conference title game.

#5 LSU beat #22 Mississippi State 19-3; the LSU-Alabama game in two weeks will be fun to watch.

#25 Washington State beat #12 Oregon 34-20. The Pac-12 is a complete mess. WSU still has to play Washington, and both of those teams have yet to play Stanford. Oregon with two conference losses might still win the North. Meanwhile in the South, Utah crushed USC 41-28, and they might now be the favorites to win that division... although, there are four two-loss teams in the South, so who knows.

Ken's Top 10
#1. Alabama 8-0
#2. Clemson 7-0.
#3. LSU 7-1.
#4. Notre Dame 7-0.
#5. Michigan 7-1.
#6. Florida 6-1.
#7. Georgia 6-1.
#8. Texas 6-1.
#9. Oklahoma 6-1.
#10. Iowa 6-1.

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