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College Football 2018 Week 11 Recap
Tuesday, 2018 November 13 - 2:33 pm
Michigan beat Rutgers; N.C. State lost to Wake Forest; Penn State beat Wisconsin.

Michigan 42, Rutgers 7
This was not quite the shellacking I'd hoped it would be, but I guess I can't complain. Rutgers had zero passing yards in the first half. Their only score came on an 80-yard run from their speedy running back, due to a run-fit bust by several players. It doesn't seem indicative of a systemic problem. Take out that run and Rutgers only rushed for 113 yards on 32 attempts.

On offense, Michigan didn't show much new stuff from the playbook, and mostly protected Shea Patterson by having him handoff instead of running. With backup QB Dylan McCaffrey out with a broken collarbone, a little bit of conservatism can be forgiven. What we did get to see was Patterson having a crisp and efficient day through the air, despite swirling wind conditions. Getting those passing reps should pay dividends down the road.

N.C. State 23, Wake Forest 27
Welp. We saw the return of Bad Wolfpack here, as State only managed to run for 47 yards, against an injury-ridden Deacons defense that was giving up over 200 yards a game rushing over the season. If you can't run the ball, you can't sustain drives: this is what helped lead to a 6-16 third down conversion rate.

Meanwhile, opposing offenses have clearly woken up to the fact that State's pass defense is nearly nonexistent; the secondary is just too prone to giving up big plays. N.C. State had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and failed to hold it. Wake Forest's game-winning possession featured passes of 5, 6, 22, 15, and 32 yards... from a quarterback making his first start.

With three winnable games remaining, NCSU will look to salvage the rest of the season, but this is a disappointing stretch when it appeared early on that this could have been a special year.

Penn State 22, Wisconsin 10
This was a good bounce-back game for Penn State, and the winning formula turned out to be Miles Sanders, rather than Trace McSorley (who's still dealing with a sore knee). Sanders rushed for 159 yards on the day, and it felt like that was due to making the running game a point of emphasis.

It certainly didn't help Wisconsin that starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook was held out of the game due to a concussion suffered in their game against Illinois. Wisconsin backup Jack Coan only managed 60 yards passing on the day, and Penn State was able to tee off against a one-dimensional Wisconsin offense. Wisconsin's only touchdown came on a 70-yard rushing play.

That play was a bust that got corrected later in the game. At some point I might picture-page this play (you can watch the video here), but the gist was that Wisconsin was playing their bread-and-butter power game (pulling a guard and an H-back). Penn State's DL was slanting playside, but linebackers Koa Farmer and Jan Johnson failed to read the pulling guard and fill the backside gaps. Farmer tried to dive in but was caught up in the wash; meanwhile Johnson got embarrassingly flattened by Wisconsin's pulling guard. Penn State freshman safety Jonathan Sutherland had a chance to make a play as well, but was hesitant attacking the play. It's just a matter of the small fundamentals that can make a difference sometimes; in this case, the message to the linebackers needs to be to read their keys properly and attack the play.

Anyway, with two relatively easy games remaining, Penn State should finish 9-3 and head to a respectable bowl game. As my friend Dan said in the first blog comment I've had on this site in four years, the future looks bright for Penn State... providing they can fix their coaching mistakes, and maybe find a few receivers that can catch.

Notable Games
Three highly ranked teams passed some tests this weekend. #1 Alabama blanked #16 Mississippi State, 24-0. #2 Clemson beat #17 Boston College 27-7. #5 Georgia beat #24 Auburn 27-10.

#6 Oklahoma barely got by Oklahoma State, 48-47. (There's the Big-12 "No Defense Allowed" rule again.) #19 Texas beat Texas Tech 41-34. There's still some drama left in the Big-12, which I'll break down in my next post.

#10 Ohio State beat #18 Michigan State 26-6 in an ugly slog of a game that featured a Michigan State safety and a fumble-six. Ohio State mostly won by punting Michigan State into terrible field possession, and without a functional running game, MSU couldn't escape the shadow of their own goalposts.

#11 Kentucky lost to Tennessee, which means I'll probably stop talking about Kentucky now.

Northwestern clinched the Big Ten West by beating #21 Iowa 14-10. They still have two conference games remaining so it's possible they'll head to the Big Ten Championship game at 7-5 or 6-6. Minnesota might actually prove to be a challenge. (Illinois, not so much.)

The Pac-12 South got a little bit of clarity, but not much. UCLA and Colorado lost, so they're eliminated; but there are four teams that are theoretically still alive (Utah, USC, Arizona, and Arizona State). USC lost to Cal 15-14, so now they have the most unlikely path of the four (I'll break that down also in my next post). Utah beat Oregon 32-25, by the way, and I only mention that because I never mind seeing Oregon lose.

Ken's Top 10
#1. Alabama 10-0
#2. Clemson 10-0.
#3. Michigan 9-1.
#4. Notre Dame 10-0.
#5. Georgia 9-1.
#6. Oklahoma 9-1.
#7. Washington State 9-1.
#8. LSU 8-2.
#9. West Virginia 8-1.
#10. Ohio State 9-1.

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