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Big Ten Football 2020: Week 7 Recap and Week 8 Preview
Tuesday, 2020 December 8 - 5:56 pm
Michigan vs. OSU is cancelled! Penn State wins again.

Michigan vs. Maryland: Cancelled
Michigan vs. OSU: Cancelled!

Well, the big news just came in. The Game has been called off due to COVID-19 cases on the Michigan team.

There's a lot of griping on Twitter that Michigan is using this as an "excuse" to avoid what would have been an embarrassing loss. What Twitter doesn't seem to get is that two things can be true at the same time:
  • Michigan legitimately has too many COVID cases to field a team, and is putting the health and safety of its players first.
  • Michigan knows it would have lost by a large margin to OSU and some fans are glad to see the game cancelled.
That is to say, just because Michigan is afraid of being embarrassed doesn't mean that the COVID concerns aren't real.

So now the big questions are: Will the Big Ten bend its rules to allow OSU into the Big Ten title game, even though Indiana could claim that it deserves the East title because it followed all the rules and played its full schedule? Will OSU be able to hurriedly schedule a sixth game this weekend? And of course, will Michigan fire Harbaugh or (as is rumored) grant him a three-year extension with a lower base salary and more performance-based incentives?

Michigan still might have a post-season matchup against, probably, Illinois or Purdue; but even that's questionable given the 21-day window for quarantining for positive cases.

Penn State 23, Rutgers 7
This was more like the Penn State we'd expected to see all season: a suffocating defense and a punishing ground game, with some efficient passing by Sean Clifford sprinkled in. I think Rutgers had 33 yards at halftime. It wasn't a thing of beauty, but perhaps Penn State is starting to find its footing. Rutgers caveats apply, of course, but a win is a win.

Penn State vs. Michigan State, Noon ABC
It might be that Michigan State's win over Northwestern was something of an anomaly, or that Northwestern's wins over its hapless Big Ten West foes weren't all that impressive to start with. After a 52-12 drubbing by Ohio State, Michigan State is now a 15.5 point underdog to Penn State.

That seems generous, though. Yes, I know I just said that Penn State has found its footing, but at the same time, MSU is the type of defense-heavy team that can give Penn State trouble. This could be a low-scoring affair that comes down to field position, special teams, and turnovers, and that raises red flags for me with the way Penn State has been operating.

The keys to winning are to play conservative, mistake-free football, and to not be the team that shoots itself in the foot. Because believe me, one of these teams will.

Prediction: Penn State 23, Michigan State 14.

Games to Watch on TV
Well, the Penn State game is at 12:00 PM on ABC, as I mentioned. I think there's only one game with significant post-season implications: #22 Washington at #23 Oregon at 4:00 PM on Fox (probably). #17 North Carolina at #10 Miami, at 3:30 on ABC, features two ranked teams, but both are already eliminated from the ACC playoff. Cincinnati-Tulsa would have been a surprisingly interesting game with the AAC title on the line, but that game was also cancelled for COVID. So, yeah. Not much football left to watch.
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Posted by Ken in: sports

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