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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Paul Chryst

Wisconsin, and head coach Paul Chryst will need to game-plan specifically for edge rusher Chase Young if they want to have success on offense.

Overreactability: Top of Big Ten are continuing to stand out above pack

Editor’s note: College football is nothing without its fans, and its fans are nothing without their passion. In an attempt to capture that unique intensity and Overreactability, we’ve asked washed-up sports editor and Southerner Bremen Keasey to give us a weekly breakdown of college football happenings around the country like only a true fan could.

Listen, college football happened. There were a couple cool games but mostly this weekend just felt weak. Not a whole lot to offer. Still, I’m here to write about it and pick apart what any of this means, and hope that next week will be better.

Almost the Return of the Mack

The defending champion Clemson Tigers were supposed to breeze through their schedule once again this season. With All-American and hair legend Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, stud Travis Etienne in the backfield and a wide receiving core that seems like a video game cheat (especially Tee Higgins), it seems inevitable that they’ll return to the Playoff, and possibly go back-to-back. Sure, they lost a lot in their defensive front seven, but they have the talent to steamroll their ACC opponents.

But the script was almost flipped last Saturday in a trip to Chapel Hill.

The Mack Brown-led North Carolina Tar Heels almost had the moment of the season, scaring the No. 1 Tigers at home, running rampant through the Clemson defense. But the key word in this previous statement is “almost,” because a missed two-point conversion in the final seconds meant Clemson escaped by the skin of their teeth with a 21-20 win.

While some fans were confused by going for the win instead of playing for overtime, I want to celebrate Mack Brown here. This is a UNC team in the middle of a huge rebuild, and they really held the Tigers for most of the game. In fact, UNC had the lead for a large part of the first half. Their best bet was to try and win it on that one play, because like most teams in the country, they are not as talented as Clemson. While the play was snuffed out, the Tar Heels made the college football world hold its breath for a few seconds to see what fall out happened.

Now what is the fallout here for Clemson? Big questions might be asked on the offense, especially the offensive line, which seemed to have a false start on every single snap. Lawrence at times really felt the pressure in the passing game and the Tigers only averaged four yards-per-rush. Save for a typically superhuman effort from Tee Higgins, the Tigers did not have many explosive plays on offense. 

UNC’s defense also did a really good job of confusing the Tigers’ O-Line, and Chazz Surratt was a menace for the Heels. Clemson’s schedule is looking Charmin Ultra soft the rest of the way and they probably won’t get tested again until the Playoff.

But imagine what could’ve been if UNC pulled off that upset. 

Big Ten Beatdowns

Sure, Wisconsin didn’t have the game that most fans would’ve expected against Northwestern, but many other of their conference mates kicked a lot of collective butt.

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On Friday, Penn State went down to Maryland and had their students take over the Maryland student section while their players take over the field. The Nittany Lions thrashed the Terps 59-0 as quarterback Sean Clifford had nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Penn State added an additional 198 rushing yards, while Maryland mustered just 128 total yards. It was a smackdown that forces us to remember at one point this season, Maryland was ranked in the AP Poll. 

Meanwhile, Michigan, in its annual tradition, shutout woeful Rutgers 52-0. Their offense was able to get going this game (something that may I remind you didn’t happen against Wisconsin) as Shea Pattreson and Joe Milton combined for 335 yards through the air. As is typical in a game where you play Rutgers, Michigan held their opponents to 1.6 yards per rush. 

It was so bad, that Rutgers head coach Chris Ash got fired this weekend. Pretty rough considering just a couple years ago they lost 70-0 to Michigan. He was just starting to show signs of improvement!

Last but certainly not least, Big Ten West pre-season favorite Nebraska hosted No. 5 Ohio State in a game that potentially could’ve put the Huskers back in the national spotlight during the rebuild under head coach Scott Frost.

Instead, with College Gameday visiting Lincoln for the weekend, the Huskers got dumped on by Ohio State 48-7 in a game which was 38-0 at half time and didn’t even feel that close. Quarterback Justin Fields could do pretty much whatever he pleased against Nebraska as the Buckeye offense hummed to the tune of 580 total yards of offense. Meanwhile, Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez had a Quarterback Rating of 3.4 (on a scale of 0-100) with three picks. 

Fun sidenote, Nebraska has a tradition where fans let red balloons fly into the sky after the Huskers score their first points of the game. Those first points didn’t happen until there were 17 minutes left in the game. It was ugly.

Stagnant Standings 

None of the top teams played anyone particularly exciting or worrying. And that trend will stay for the next week, too. No. 5 LSU hosts Utah State, No. 6 Oklahoma travels to Kansas, No. 3 Georgia plays a 1-3 Tennessee, No. 9 Notre Dame plays Bowling Green and both Bama and Clemson have the week off. No. 4 Ohio State will travel to No. 25 Michigan State in a game with some slight intrigue, but considering the Buckeyes’ war path through their early season slate and Sparty’s inept offense, I’m not expecting any fireworks.

However, we finally have a Top 10 showdown, our first since way back in Week 2 when Texas hosted LSU. No. 7 Auburn travels down to No. 10 Florida in a big early game in the SEC. While based on recent results and the fact Florida is down to their second string quarterback, I expect Auburn to beatdown on the Gators.

Why am I saying all of this? Mostly because I don’t like the narrative of college football that just focuses on who is gonna make the Playoff.

Obviously, that is very important considering it decides the national champion. But we’ve also got a couple months to go before that decision has to be made with a lot of big games coming down the pipe. Bama has to play LSU and Auburn. Auburn also has to play LSU and UGA. Oklahoma will play Texas. Ohio State is yet to play Penn State or Michigan, etc., etc. Right now, the crazier stuff, much like in local politics, is happening down the ballot. 

For example, Minnesota right now is somehow 4-0, and has a weak enough schedule they can hit 7-0. There are no undefeated teams in the Pac-12 right now, which means chaos in that conference’s race. Wake Forest, one of the smallest schools in the “Power 5” conferences is undefeated and ranked No. 22 with a similarly soft schedule. There is a legit race between Boise State, UCF and an undefeated SMU for a big bowl game invite. 

What I’m saying, basically, is to be patient. It’s a marathon, not a sprint to enjoy all of college football has to offer. And I think the best of the year is yet to come.

How about that for some positivity? 

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