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College Football 2019: Week 8 Preview
Sunday, 2019 October 13 - 3:40 pm
Hey look, a super-early update! Michigan beat Illinois in a see-saw affair. N.C. State defeated Syracuse. Penn State squeaked by Iowa.

Michigan 42, Illinois 25

It's hard to say whether I'm happy or sad about this game. On the one hand, Michigan nearly doubled Illinois' yardage, 489-256, and never trailed in the game. On the other hand, Michigan let Illinois score 25 straight points after blasting to a 28 point lead, putting the outcome seriously in doubt. After Michigan's second fumble, I questioned whether Michigan deserved to win the game.

But then Shea Patterson put together a 10-play, 79-yard touchdown drive to all but seal the outcome. That included a 15-yard penalty on Illinois, and a fourth down conversion, but still... it was an important drive at a key point in the game, and the offense seemed poised and confident. Maybe that's a good sign for the future.

I still find Patterson is missing reads, or making them late. He still seems hesitant to keep on zone-read running plays; in one case, a zero-yard run by the tailback might have been a touchdown run for Patterson, if he had kept. On passing plays, he hangs on his first read too long. Even if he has time in the pocket to get to his second or third read, sometimes he finds them too late, allowing the defender to make a play on the ball. I can chalk some of this up to still being in the first year of a new system, but... there's not much time left to improve here, and the daunting last half of the season won't give him much room for error.

I should point out one play that was a beauty, though. Out of a zone-read look, Patterson saw the linebacker release the tight end and stay at home to stop the quarterback run. Patterson correctly read the play and threw the corner route to the now-open tight end. This is the sort of run-pass-option game that we'd hoped for all season. We got just a couple of tastes of it Saturday, but it's a slightly encouraging trend.

Next week Michigan gets Penn State, and I'll talk about that in a separate section below.

N.C. State 16, Syracuse 10

This wasn't very pretty. N.C. State's only touchdown game on a trick play, a double pass in the second quarter. Quarterback Bailey Hockman got the start and threw for a respectable 205 yards, but State's drives were frequently stalled by untimely sacks and mistakes. State managed just 104 yards rushing on 34 attempts.

But the defense played decently. Despite giving up 300 yards passing, State gave up just 41 yards rushing, thanks largely to eight sacks. Those sacks were frequently drive-killers. State's defensive line is starting to assert itself, and that might be the saving grace for the last half of the season.

Next week: N.C. State at Boston College, 12:00 PM ACCNX

BC has had a weird season. They had a good opening win against VT, and they played close against decent Wake Forest and Louisville teams. But they only beat Rutgers 30-16, and we know how bad Rutgers is.

The up-and-down nature of this team is largely because of its porous defense, which is giving up 476 yards per game. But there's talent on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Anthony Brown has nine passing touchdowns on the season; tailback A.J. Dillon has 745 rushing yards and six touchdowns. It'll be a strength-on-strength matchup as they go up against State's defense, which is 5th in the country in rushing yards allowed.

It's really a matter of whether State can control the ball and maintain drives on offense. They'll need another good game from Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston, who have become a pretty good 1-2 punch in the running attack. I think receiver Emeka Emezie will find himself with a lot of room in the secondary, as well, and a big play here or there might be the difference in the game.

Prediction: N.C. State 38, Boston College 27.

Penn State 17, Iowa 12

As predicted, this was a defensive battle. Iowa's defense is legit; Penn State's defense was held to just 294 yards, while Iowa racked up 356. Sean Clifford struggled in the passing game, and Penn State shot itself in the foot with eight penalties for 80 yards.

But Iowa turned the ball over twice, with the killer coming in the fourth quarter, as Nate Stanley threw an interception in Iowa territory. Penn State scored a touchdown on the ensuing 35-yard drive. Iowa scored a touchdown on its final drive, but Penn State was able to run out the clock after that.

So, I dunno. We saw some cracks in the PSU team; Clifford didn't seem comfortable, and the defense gave up a few big plays. Much like Michigan, Penn State got a win against a quality opponent, but finds itself with a lot to correct before the meat of its schedule comes up.

So let's talk about...

#16 Michigan at #7 Penn State, 7:30 PM ABC

One thing for sure: Beaver Stadium will be lit and loud for this night game. Something probable: it will be a defensive struggle. Whose offense will string together enough plays to score? Which defense will prevent big plays?

I can easily see PSU receiver K.J. Hamler rip Michigan for a big gain on a crossing route. I can also see Michigan receiver Nico Collins win a jump ball on a bomb. But it'll be a matter of which team can avoid sacks and holding penalties, as both defensive lines will be terrors in the pass rush.

And in that respect, it's hard to be optimistic about Michigan's chances. Michigan's offense is less consistent and not as well put-together as Penn State's at this point in the season. Combine that with a rowdy home-field advantage for the Lions, and this game seems to have all the ingredients for an important Penn State victory.

Prediction: Michigan 13, Penn State 21.

Last Week's Big Surprises

No doubt about this one, the shocker was #3 Georgia losing to unranked South Carolina, 20-17 in double overtime. Part of the shock was the way it happened: South Carolina misses a long field goal in the fourth quarter which could have been the game winner. Georgia gets intercepted in their first overtime possession, but South Carolina misses a 33-yard field goal. South Carolina makes a 24-yard field goal in the second overtime, and Georgia misses a 42-yarder, ending the game and putting a huge dent in Georgia's playoff hopes. There may be other one-loss teams around the top of the rankings, but losing to an unranked three-loss team is kind of a backbreaker.

Games to Watch on TV

On Thursday, UCLA plays Stanford at 9:00 PM on ESPN; despite this being a game between two struggling teams, you never know what kind of impact this will have in the wacky Pac-12 race.

On Friday, #4 Ohio State plays at Northwestern at 8:30 PM on FS1. Now, Ohio State will probably blow the doors off of Northwestern, but this has the makings of a trap game for OSU, as they might be looking ahead to a big matchup against Wisconsin a week later.

On Saturday, we'll get to see if #3 Clemson can hold off a high-powered Louisville offense at noon on ABC. #9 Florida will face the new SEC giant-killer, South Carolina, on ESPN. N.C. State's game against Boston College is on the ACC network.

At 3:30 PM, #12 Oregon plays #25 Washington in an important Pac-12 matchup on ABC. A pretty-good Duke team plays a pretty-good Virginia team on the ACC network.

At 6:00 PM, #17 Arizona State plays #13 Utah, though I don't know where that's going to be televised.

At 7:30 PM, your obvious Game of the Week is #16 Michigan at #7 Penn State on ABC.

If you're up late, you can catch Arizona at USC at 9:30 PM on the Pac-12 network.

Permalink  1 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: sports


Comment #1 from Dan (Guest)
2019 Oct 15 - 1:12 pm : #
Great summaries of the games as usual, Ken. Penn State struggled in a lot of phases, but I was encouraged that our offense was able to grind out yards and eat clock in the 4th quarter. We haven't seen much of that under Franklin, and it has cost us some games. So, it was good to see, especially on the road against a quality defense.

As a side, if you haven't seen the video of the Pat Freiermuth non-touchdown, you have to check it out. It's not the worst call in history, but it's quite possibly the worst replay overturn in history. Whatever happened to the standard of indisputable evidence?

I'm excited for the game this week! I won't be able to watch it live (at least not the first half), but I'll catch as much of it as I can, and will probably be sweating bullets for the whole evening.

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