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College Football 2018 Week 12 Recap
Friday, 2018 November 23 - 11:37 am
Michigan beat Indiana; Penn State beat Rutgers; N.C. State routed Louisville.

Michigan 31, Indiana 20
Well, it wasn't always pretty. Michigan had plenty of offense but saw drives stall in the red zone, resulting in a record six field goals for new starting kicker Jake Moody. I mean, it's not often you see 507 yards of offense resulting in just 31 points. That includes a gritty 257 yards rushing on 50 attempts, with no long runs to pad those numbers. So while it's nice to see the Michigan offense executing efficiently, they're going to need to pay off that execution with touchdowns instead of field goals against OSU.

Defensively, there were a few hiccups; most worrisome was Indiana's ability to get receivers free on crossing routes against Michigan's usual man coverage scheme. Indiana frequently had a slot receiver subtly pick off the outside receiver's defender; that's not illegal but some people think it should be. Michigan shut that down later by dropping someone into a middle zone. Hopefully that's good practice for the OSU game, as the Buckeyes run very similar passing concepts over the middle.

And then there was the real ugliness, which came in the form of a cheap shot by Indiana guard Simon Stepaniak, who jumped on Chase Winovich while he was already on the ground. This injured Winovich and took him out of the game. Harbaugh said after the game that initial X-rays were negative, but losing Winovich for OSU would be a huge setback.

Later, Indiana's Cam Jones hit Michigan player Berkeley Edwards with his helmet, drawing a targeting penalty and an ejection. Edwards was motionless on the field for several minutes and was eventually taken off on a cart; he appeared to have suffered a significant concussion, but thankfully wasn't seriously injured.

I mean, I dunno, man. That kind of play reflects on the coaching staff for IU, and the mentality that they instill in their players. It's dirty. It's trashy. And Michigan will remember that come next year.

Penn State 20, Rutgers 7
Uh. This was an ugly game all around, featuring just 556 yards of offense, 11 punts, and five turnovers by the two teams combined. Penn State's defense performed admirably, but the offense seems to be out of gear, especially when it comes to McSorley's passing. A lot of three-and-out sequences included one successful play and two incomplete passes.

But a win is a win, I guess? With one more, Penn State is likely to be the third or fourth bowl selection from the Big Ten; that could land them in the Peach Bowl (which is considered a New Year's Six bowl even though it's played on December 29th); the Outback Bowl is also possible and wouldn't be disappointing. The Gator Bowl is probably the worst outcome.

N.C. State 52, Louisville 10
Louisville sucks this year, so there's not a lot of takeaways here. State had 518 yards of offense (translating to 52 points; see, Michigan, that's how it's supposed to be done). Louisville, for its part, had 411 yards of offense, but was only 3-12 on third down and had two turnovers, killing a bunch of potentially promising drives.

State has two likely wins remaining to be had against UNC and ECU; that would mean a nine-win season and a possible trip to the Camping World Bowl, which sounds terrible but is actually the #2 bowl for the ACC. (This used to be the Blockbuster Bowl, then the CarQuest Auto Parts Bowl, then the MicronPC Bowl. Naming bowls after their current corporate sponsors is a practice which really must end.)

Notable Games
#10 Ohio State almost lost to Maryland, but prevailed 52-51 in overtime as Maryland failed to execute on a well-designed two-point conversion attempt. A loss would have guaranteed Michigan a division title and would have taken some air out of The Game. As it is, it's probably better for Michigan that OSU won. A team with nothing to lose can sometimes be dangerous. As it is, I think this game hurt OSU in a number of ways. For one, they'll have to spend the week shoring up fundamentals instead of installing new wrinkles for Michigan. For another, the game exposed the glaring weaknesses in Ohio State's defense (linebackers getting lost, mostly), which Michigan might be uniquely poised to attack.

#3 Notre Dame cruised by #13 Syracuse 36-3.

#9 West Virginia lost to Oklahoma State 45-41. I thought this would have triggered a bunch of interesting three-way tie scenarios for the Big 12, but I didn't realize that the conference instituted a division-less playoff system (since last year) that sends the top two teams to a playoff game. So WVU can still control its own destiny.

Meanwhile #15 Texas beat #16 Iowa State 24-10, so Texas also controls its own destiny to get into the Big 12 championship; they'll just have to beat Kansas next week.

Nebraska beat Michigan State 9-6, which is just plain hilarious. Combined stats for the two teams: 537 yards, four turnovers, 12 punts, 40% pass completion rate.

#22 Northwestern beat Minnesota 24-14, so at least there's no chance of an
embarrassing 6-6 team getting into the Big Ten Championship game.

#19 Utah beat Colorado 30-7, eliminating a number of the chaos scenarios for the Pac 12 South. Oregon beat Arizona State 39-21, providing some further clarity. Meanwhile UCLA beat USC 34-27, which (a) is hilarious and (b) eliminates USC from contention. The Stanford-Cal game was rescheduled to December 1st due to the California wildfires.

#20 Boston College somehow lost to Florida State, 22-21. This helps N.C. State, actually, by moving BC down on the list of ACC bowl selections.

Ken's Top 10
#1. Alabama 11-0
#2. Clemson 11-0.
#3. Notre Dame 11-0.
#4. Michigan 10-1.
#5. Georgia 10-1.
#6. Oklahoma 10-1.
#7. Washington State 10-1.
#8. LSU 9-2.
#9. UCF 10-0. (Grudgingly.)
#10. Ohio State 10-1.
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