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Topic: ELA September 21 Breakdown

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ELA

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ELA September 21 Breakdown
« on: September 18, 2019, 02:25:57 PM »
Michigan State Spartans (2-1) at Northwestern Wildcats (1-1)
NOON - Evanston, IL - ABC
When the division reshuffling was discussed, the Michigan State athletic department stressed their desire to maintain playing Northwestern to appease the strong Chicago alumni base.  They may want to reconsider that.  Over the past three seasons the Spartans are 0-3 against the Wildcats.  Not only that but Northwestern, whose offense has been nothing special, has had the #1, #2, and #1 most points scored in a game against the Michigan State defense in each of those years (54, 39, 29).  They've done it by getting the ball out quickly and accurately, and negating the Spartan pass rush.  Michigan State substantially outgained Northwestern in each of the previous two, but Clayton Thorson sliced them up, with his second highest yardage total in each season, coming against Michigan State, but while completely abandoning the run game, having a COMBINED 72 rushing yards on 48 attempts (1.5 ypc).  The problem for Northwestern is that Clayton Thorson is gone, and Hunter Johnson has been bad.  His Total QBR of 15.0 is second worst among the 130 qualified FBS quarterbacks.  His lousy performance against Stanford looks even worse after seeing how bad Stanford's defense is, and even against UNLV last week, he failed to complete 50% of his passes.  So the typical Northwestern game plan may have to be thrown out the window, if it's based on quarterback accuracy.  The one positive is that they may have found another running back, which failed to emerge after Isaiah Bowser's injury during the Stanford game.  Drake Anderson, son of Damien Anderson, Northwestern star running back of the Gary Walker era, had 26 carries for 141 yards against UNLV.  Prior to that, the redshirt freshman had only appeared in 3 games, with a total of 14 carries.  Oddly he was Northwestern's leading rusher last year against Michigan State...with 12 yards on 5 carries.  Bowser is listed as the starter this week, with Anderson passing Jesse Brown for #2, but Bowser was also expected to play last week.  My guess is Bowser could have played last week, if it wasn't UNLV, and will go this week.  Anderson's emergence means he can have a slightly reduced workload, and the Cats have a solid 1-2 punch.  But if you are planning on beating MSU with the run game, that seems like a doomed strategy, unless you have Ohio State, Michigan or Wisconsin type talent.  Unless Johnson is able to get get that completion percentage up 10%+, and maybe more, the recipe Thorson used to beat MSU, won't work.
MICHIGAN STATE 21, NORTHWESTERN 14

Connecticut Huskies (1-1) at Indiana Hoosiers (0-1, 2-1)
NOON - Bloomington, IN - BTN
This is a matchup of two fanbases who'd probably prefer these two get together on the basketball court instead.  Indiana would settle for just getting Michael Penix back, after the offense stumbled last week against Ohio State.  Now to be sure, there is a difference between Ohio State, and a UConn defense that last year had the worst year for a defense, probably ever.  There are some signs of improvement, in shutting down an FCS opponent in Week 1, but then last week, holding Illinois' run game, which was one of the best in the nation last year, to just 130 yards on 3.7 ypc.  Stevie Scott would really like to see that 2018 UConn defense, which ranked last in the FBS in every Football Outsiders metric (and there are 12 of them), save two...where they were second to last, because he has really struggled to get off the mat to start 2019, reaching a boiling point with just 9 yards on 6 carries last week, but blame can be shared with an experienced offensive line that is simply not living up to its 2018 standard.  Their stuff rate is 25.0%, bottom 15 in the nation, and their passing down line yards push is dead last.  I expect them to find their footing against a Huskie defense that is getting better play out of their defensive line than anybody could have expected, although they've excelled more at getting to the quarterback.  The Hoosier line did a solid job protecting Peyton Ramsey last week, although their clear plan to just get the ball out led to a lot of short receptions, hence the 4.9 ypa.  For the Indiana defense, Connecticut features a slightly improved pass game, but they want to feed Kevin Mensah early and often, particularly coming off of a bye week.  He's averaging 25 carries per game, easily most in the AAC, but he's only picking up 3.4 yards per carry.  They are going to continue to feed him the ball, even when it isn't necessarily working.  However, once Mike Beaudry went down with an injury, Randy Edsall made the surprising decision to turn to true freshman Jack Zergiotis at quarterback, over redshirt freshman, and presumptive #2, Steven Krajewski.  Zergiotis was pretty impressive against Illinois, and now has two full weeks of first team reps.  Still, UConn only has positive signs when compared to the total dumpster fire they were last year.  This is still a team that lost at home to a lousy Illinois team, and I'm not going to overreact to how Indiana looked, without their starting quarterback, against Ohio State.
INDIANA 38, CONNECTICUT 14

Boston College Eagles (2-1) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (0-1, 1-1)
NOON - Piscataway, NJ - BTN
When you go to make a schedule, Boston College appeared to have done it the right way.  Aside from their one FCS game, the Eagles play three Power 5 programs.  But...one is an ACC mandated game against Notre Dame, and the other two are against probably the two worst Power 5 programs, in Kansas and Rutgers.  The plan with off the rails last Friday night with a shocking home loss to the Jayhawks, that was buried on the ACC Network, off Saturday, so most people didn't even know it until they turned on Gameday on Saturday morning.  Boston College, which spent several years wasting an elite defense with an incompetent offense, suddenly has a defense problem.  They opened with a win over Virginia Tech, but that win is looking worse, and the Eagles gave up 28 points to a Hokie team, that only scored 24 points last week against Furman, and was trailing 14-3 midway through the 3rd quarter.  The Kansas loss really was alarming though.  The Jayhawks were coming off a 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina, and put up 48 points and nearly 600 yards of offense in Chestnut Hill.  Boston College was up 17-7 after the first quarter, and then was outscored 41-7 over the final three quarters.  That is good news for an abysmal Rutgers offense, fresh off being shut out by Iowa, but with a bye week to prepare.  That's par for the course for the Scarlet Knights, who have averaged less than 9 ppg in their last 15 games against Power 5 teams, with their high water mark being 17.  As bad as the Eagles' defense is, Rutgers would have to vastly surpass their recent trends to have a shot.  Plus, as poor as Boston College is, they have forced 6 interceptions, which is tied for most in the nation.  In case you thought Rutgers' 6.27% interception rate in 2018, which was highest in the nation was bad, get a load of their 8.62% rate through two games this year.  The Scarlet Knights should move the ball, but its hard for me to look at those numbers and see how Rutgers fixes their interceptions problem this week.  Boston College forces at least 3 turnovers, and Rutgers isn't good enough to overcome that.
BOSTON COLLEGE 31, RUTGERS 24

Miami(Ohio) Redhawks (1-2) at #6 Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0, 3-0)
3:30 - Columbus, OH - BTN
I know I only skip FCS matchups, but man this seems close to that.  Skipping past the typical "stay healthy, get the backups some reps..." are there actually any goals for this Saturday?  Justin Fields missed a lot of passes high last week.  After completing 76% of his passes over the first two weeks, Fields completed just 58% last week.  The flip side to that is that for the third consecutive week his run attempts dropped, from 12 in the opener, to 9, and down to just 4 last weekend.  That tells me he's getting more comfortable in the playbook, and in the pocket.  That he's forcing some additional throws where before he was just running.  This is his last week to figure out that sweet spot in between, because after this the Buckeyes go to Lincoln, host Michigan State, go to Evanston, and host Wisconsin over the next month.  The biggest surprise for Ohio State has been the improvement Greg Mattison has made to the defense, particularly in his area of specialty, the defensive line.  A year ago the Buckeyes defensive line ranked outside the top 100 in passing downs.  On standard downs they were fine, but struggled on passing downs.  This year?  They are #3 nationally in the same metric, #1 in stuff rate, at or behind the line of scrimmage, and #5 in sack rate.  The result of that has been a defense that has improved from #64 at 5.6 ypp allowed, to #6 at 3.6 ypp allowed.  An Ohio State with a defense should terrify Big Ten fans, a year after they won a title with a defense that was in the bottom third of the league in ypp, because the offense looks to be right where it was a year ago, but with an even better run game.  Really the only question left is whether Justin Fields can succeed as a passer when he HAS to do so.  We won't learn anything on that front this week.  So what does Miami do well?  They don't pass often, but they've been good at hitting the deep ball.  But they are completing just 56% of their passes, on a MAC low 21.0 apg.  They'll have to hope for that again, because there's no way they can sustain a drive with one of the worst run games in the MAC.
OHIO STATE 48, MIAMI(OHIO) 10

Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-1) at Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1)
8:00 - Champaign, IL - BTN
Nebraska had the type of bounceback performance they needed last week, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.  But this game is absolutely no fun.  Illinois isn't good, but they have more talent than a team that just lost to Eastern Michigan, it's on the road, under the lights.  Granted, Nebraska fans always travel well, and Illinois is giving out free tickets.  Just how pro-Illini the crowd is is TBD.  Illinois' defense has been slightly better so far this year, but I'd expect a heavy bend but don't break appraoch against a Cornhusker team that has struggled big time in the kicking game to start the year.  The Huskers have used three kickers, and they've combined to miss 4 of 6 field goals, with a long of 36, and only one attempt longer than that.  They have a missed PAT for good measure.  There's been no word that Barret Pickering is healthy yet, but the addition of walk-on Matt Waldoch from the school's CLUB soccer team this week is probably a bad sign.  I'm most interested in seeing what's real in the matchup between Illinois' run offense vs. Nebraska's run defense.  A year ago the Illini were #6 in the nation a 6.1 ypc, this year so far they are #9 JUST IN THE CONFERENCE, at 4.2 ypc, against terrible competition.  I'd only expect that to go down.  Conversely, Nebraska's run defense was horrible last year, #109 in the nation allowing 5.1 ypc, but so far this year, just 2.2 ypc, 8th best nationally.  So what is for real?  Nebraska's run defense probably isn't what it's been so far, but it's clearly improved, but Illinois' inability to run the ball is legitimately concerning.  Against a UConn team that had probably the worst defense ever last year, Illinois mustered just 3.7 ypc, and picked up 50 yards on one play from the backup RB, so just 2.4 ypc otherwise.  Granted they were playing that game without Reggie Corbin.  He returned against Eastern Michigan and reeled off 144 yards on 18 carries (8.0 ypc).  The issue is that nobody else is stepping up, and Brandon Peters is not a running threat at the quarterback spot, as A.J. Bush Jr. was last year.  Last year the Illini had three running backs who each had 60+ carries, and each averaged 5.5 ypc+, plus a quarterback who ran for 733 yards in just 8 complete games.  This year, Corbin is back, but Dre Brown, Ra'Von Bonner and Mike Epstein have failed to fill out that stable, and Peters doesn't require a spy.  The Husker pass defense is still suspect, allowing the most yards per game, 2nd most per attempt, but have compensated with 5 interceptions, 2 more than any other Big Ten team.  Brandon Peters' pass efficiency has been solid.  SMall sample size, but he's 6th in the Big Ten, ahead of guys like Shea Patterson, Nate Stanley, Brian Lewerke and Josh Jackson.  I think he helps them stay in the game, but Nebraska pulls out a win in a sneaky tough environment.
NEBRASKA 31, ILLINOIS 26

***BIG TEN GAME OF THE WEEK***
#11 Michigan Wolverines (2-0) at #13 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0)
NOON - Madison, WI - FOX
As expected, one of these offenses rolls into this game with the Big Ten's highest completion percentage (76.9%), 3rd in passing ypa (9.2) and passing ypg (299.5); while the others passing offense limps in at 11th in completion percentage (60.9%) and ypa (7.1) and #12 in ypg (226.0).  Granted I think we assumed it would be flipped, but Jack Coan has looked outstanding through two games.  Yes, it's South Florida and Central Michigan, but in terms of defense, they really basically on par with Middle Tennessee and Army a year ago in terms of S&P+, with the 2019 numbers not available yet.  In terms of bye weeks, early ones are generally not preferred, but for Michigan this year, this is probably the rare time where the early bye is welcomed.  This looks like an offense that needed the extra week both to get healthy (Patterson and Peoples-Jones) and hammer out the issues from Week 1 and Week 2.  It all starts with the offensive line and Patterson.  Preseason we thought Michigan had the best quarterback in the conference, and if not the best offensive line, then 1-b to Wisconsin's 1-a.  Patterson's struggles have already been noted, but Wolverines fans are hopeful his oblique injury is better after a week off.  The offensive line issues are puzzling.  The Wolverines are #11 in the Big Ten in rushing ypa at just 3.8, ranking among the bottom 25 in the entire FBS, in terms of Power Success rate (#12 in Big Ten) and standard down sack rate (#13 in Big Ten).  The most concerning is that 55.6% power success rate, meaning the Wolverines are basically a 50/50 coin flip on converting a 3rd or 4th and 2 or less.  Now they face a Wisconsin run defense that rivals Michigan State for the best in the nation thus far.  In fact, Wisconsin has the only defensive line that is grading out higher than the Spartans' thus far.  Michigan has the weapons, the line and Patterson just need to step up and let them make plays.  The Badgers have the opposite issue.  Their line, expectedly, ranks #1 in the nation in Power Success Rate and Sack Rate.  But how really are their skill players aside from Jonathan Taylor, and is Jack Coan for real.  The Badgers ran the ball well enough a year ago, 183 yards on 6.3 ypc, led by 101 from Taylor.  But Wisconsin was completely one dimensional, and once Michigan made it a two score game in the 3rd quarter, it was game over, because Wisconsin could not throw the ball at all.  Alex Hornibrook was 7-20 for 100 yards, a meaningless touchdown with 3 minutes left down 38-7, and 2 picks.  His Raw QBR of 0.9 was the 4th worst single game of any quarterback in the FBS last year.  Coan looks like he has grown by leaps and bounds, but I still question how much the Badger receivers can challenge this elite Michigan secondary.  If they can't Wisconsin has already proven that running the ball well, alone, isn't enough.  If Michigan can get a lead, it may start to snowball like it did last year, but I can't fully buy into the Michigan offense, until I see Patterson and the line deliver on the preseason hype.
WISCONSIN 28, MICHIGAN 24
« Last Edit: September 20, 2019, 01:17:30 PM by ELA »

ELA

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Re: ELA September 21 Breakdown
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2019, 09:52:12 AM »
All noon games except the GOTW are in

ELA

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Re: ELA September 21 Breakdown
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2019, 03:34:40 PM »
Lone afternoon game in

ELA

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Re: ELA September 21 Breakdown
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2019, 09:47:10 AM »
Prime time game in

Brutus Buckeye

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Re: ELA September 21 Breakdown
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2019, 11:41:34 AM »


I think Miami puts an early scare into OSU. They aren't taking this game seriously at all. Maybe they didn't take the Cincy game seriously either, but they were at least "saying the right things." Instead they have spent this entire week like "yeah, this one's a dud. Sorry guys." 

Redhawks catch the Buckeyes napping in the first half. 
1919, 20, 21, 28, 29, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 42, 44
WWH: 1952, 54, 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 67, 68, 70, 72, 74, 75
1979, 81, 82, 84, 87, 94, 98
2001, 02, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

fezzador

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Re: ELA September 21 Breakdown
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2019, 12:45:51 PM »
I don't know... Miami isn't very good at all.  They did land an early haymaker or two against Iowa in the season opener, but Iowa tends to play close-to-the-vest early in the season, and it did turn into a laugher in the second half.

The Redhawks may play a little more spirited because it's a huge in-state game for them, but the Bucks could rest their starters all game and OSU would still win by at least 3 scores.

If Miami puts up points, it's because they're in garbage time.  They can throw a little bit, but they don't run very well at all, and their defense is pretty average even by MAC standards.

My guess is that OSU puts up 45 without breaking much of a sweat, but they could hang 65+ if they really wanted to.

ELA

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Re: ELA September 21 Breakdown
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2019, 01:17:40 PM »
All picks in

Brutus Buckeye

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Re: ELA September 21 Breakdown
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2019, 09:09:30 PM »
I don't know... Miami isn't very good at all.  They did land an early haymaker or two against Iowa in the season opener, but Iowa tends to play close-to-the-vest early in the season, and it did turn into a laugher in the second half.

The Redhawks may play a little more spirited because it's a huge in-state game for them, but the Bucks could rest their starters all game and OSU would still win by at least 3 scores.

If Miami puts up points, it's because they're in garbage time.  They can throw a little bit, but they don't run very well at all, and their defense is pretty average even by MAC standards.

My guess is that OSU puts up 45 without breaking much of a sweat, but they could hang 65+ if they really wanted to.

Yeah, I'm just sayin'... 

The last time that the Buckeyes were this nonchalant in the build up to an Ohio Mac game, the Bobcats showed up in "OS-WHO?" t-shirts, Rufus kicked Brutus' ass before the game, and Solich had a lead going into halftime. 


1919, 20, 21, 28, 29, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 42, 44
WWH: 1952, 54, 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 67, 68, 70, 72, 74, 75
1979, 81, 82, 84, 87, 94, 98
2001, 02, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

 

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