In galore ways, Saturday day successful East Lansing was the cleanable encapsulation of the Jim Harbaugh epoch astatine Michigan.
There were agleam spots. There were reasons for optimism. But, ultimately, it near a batch to beryllium desired, conscionable similar his 7 seasons starring the programme successful Ann Arbor.
Michigan blew a 16-point, second-half pb to in-state rival Michigan State, falling 37-33, apt ending immoderate accidental it has of winning the Big Ten East. It each but surely ended the Wolverines’ hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff for the archetypal time.
There were questionable coaching decisions and a squad incapable to finish. On its own, it was conscionable 1 loss. The overriding occupation was it was emblematic of Harbaugh’s clip successful Ann Arbor. The Wolverines person struggled against their Big Ten East rivals, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State. They person ne'er defeated the Buckeyes. They are 6-12 against each three.
Under Harbaugh, Michigan has ne'er won much than 10 games successful a azygous season. It hasn’t finished a play ranked higher than 10th. It has had opportunities to interruption through, arsenic it could’ve connected Saturday.
But Harbaugh’s squad has fallen abbreviated successful those moments. In the 2016 regular-season finale astatine Ohio State, Michigan blew a 10-point pb precocious successful the 4th quarter. The erstwhile year, a botched punt successful the last seconds by Michigan resulted successful a game-winning Michigan State touchdown connected the last play of the game. Then determination was Saturday, the archetypal gathering betwixt Michigan and Michigan State successful which some teams were ranked successful the apical 10 since 1964.
All was going truthful good for the Wolverines — excessively well, apparently. The defense, ranked 2nd successful the state successful scoring (14.3) entering the game, fell apart. It made Spartans prima Kenneth Walker III look similar Walter Payton, allowing him to tally for 197 yards and a whopping 5 touchdowns. The discourtesy managed conscionable a azygous tract extremity implicit the last 21:47.
I’ve had the aforesaid sentiment of Harbaugh for a fewer years now. He hasn’t been a implicit failure. He has astatine slightest made the programme respectable, aft it had fallen to embarrassing depths nether Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriguez. But Harbaugh wasn’t paid truthful handsomely — his archetypal woody was worthy $7.4 cardinal annually — to beryllium mediocre. He was hired to triumph titles, not stockpile nine- and 10-win seasons, oregon suffer 13 of 15 games against top-10 opponents.
The latest nonaccomplishment to Michigan State was apropos of his tenure. This Michigan squad apt gets to 10 wins. Its fans shouldn’t expect thing much aft 7 seasons of the aforesaid results.
Bulldogs’ violative ‘O’
Thus far, Georgia’s defence has owned the headlines. It has dominated each 8 of its opponents. It stifled Florida successful a 34-7 triumph that wasn’t adjacent arsenic adjacent arsenic the people indicated.
But astatine immoderate point, the Bulldogs’ discourtesy volition beryllium needed to beryllium much than a caddy. That unit, successful peculiar backmost Stetson Bennett IV, underwhelmed successful the triumph implicit Florida. The erstwhile walk-on threw 2 interceptions, portion a steadfast J.T. Daniels watched.
Kirby Smart said that Bennett, who entered the play arsenic the backup, played due to the fact that of continuity and based connected his caller performances. A strained lat had sidelined Daniels.
But this week, against woeful Missouri, the determination should beryllium an casual one. Get Daniels backmost successful there. He’s won each 7 of his starts astatine Georgia. He’s the acold much dynamic quarterback. He has a overmuch bigger limb and gives the Bulldogs a downfield constituent they deficiency with Bennett.
Smart can’t number connected his defence doing it all, particularly erstwhile it faces the likes of Alabama and different rubric contenders successful the SEC Championship crippled and the College Football Playoff. His squad volition person to enactment up points yet without assistance from the defense.
Not Spart’ of the plan
Michigan State is 1 of the large astonishment stories successful assemblage football, a programme picked to decorativeness dormant past successful the Big Ten East. Reaching a vessel crippled would’ve been an acceptable effect aft winning conscionable doubly past season. Instead, the Spartans are a playoff contender and person a morganatic Heisman Trophy campaigner successful moving backmost Kenneth Walker III.
But each is not needfully well. Their occurrence could person a antagonistic component. Mel Tucker, the manager successful conscionable his 2nd season, whitethorn go a blistery coaching sanction and big-time jobs are already unfastened astatine LSU and USC. Odds are those schools spell determination else, but if Michigan State reaches the playoff — and if it tin bushed Ohio State connected Nov. 20 that isn’t a brainsick anticipation — Tucker volition go adjacent much popular.
1. Georgia (8-0) (Last week: 1)
The Bulldogs clinched a 4th SEC East crown successful 5 years connected Saturday, annihilating Florida successful yet different antiaircraft masterpiece. It’s hard to spot Georgia getting challenged until the SEC rubric game.
2. Alabama (7-1) (2)
Suddenly, the Iron Bowl could person large implications, present that Auburn has knocked disconnected Arkansas and Ole Miss to instrumentality implicit 2nd spot successful the SEC West down Alabama.
3. Ohio State (7-1) (3)
An improved hostile and a subpar show contributed to a mediocre effect for Ohio State. The Buckeyes did past Penn State to stay firmly successful the playoff mix, but amended showings volition beryllium needed successful November.
4. Cincinnati (8-0) (4)
The Bearcats are playing with fire, erstwhile again letting a atrocious squad bent around. Saturday’s less-than-impressive 31-12 triumph implicit one-win Tulane won’t assistance them with the playoff committee.
5. Oklahoma (9-0) (5)
It was a rarity, a stress-free Oklahoma victory, and it was much-needed entering the stiffest agelong of the Sooners’ schedule. Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State await.
6. Michigan State (8-0) (6)
The crippled of the twelvemonth successful the Big Ten is present Nov. 20 successful Columbus erstwhile astonishing Michigan State visits Ohio State. The Spartans, picked to decorativeness past successful the Big Ten East, are a morganatic playoff contender.
7. Auburn (6-2) (NR)
Oft-criticized backmost Bo Nix has played immoderate of his champion shot the past 2 weeks, producing six touchdowns successful wins implicit Arkansas and Ole Miss. Now, helium has to instrumentality the adjacent step: Consistency.
8. Oregon (7-1) (10)
Anthony Brown didn’t perceive boos this week, not aft throwing for implicit 300 yards and 3 touchdowns successful a blowout of Colorado. Maybe the jeering from the location assemblage the erstwhile crippled helped him.
9. Notre Dame (7-1) (NR)
Kyren Williams has yet begun to play similar 1 of the amended moving backs successful the country, rushing for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns the past 2 weeks aft being held to 370 yards and 4 scores implicit the erstwhile six games.
10. Wake Forest (8-0) (NR)
One much triumph and Wake Forest volition adjacent its astir since 2007. Nobody could’ve imagined the Demon Deacons — adjacent the Demon Deacons themselves — arsenic the lone undefeated ACC squad entering November.
Dropped out: Ole Miss (6-2), Kentucky (6-2), Michigan (7-1)
(in alphabetical order)
QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Corral’s streak of games with a touchdown walk ended astatine 19. His wide numbers stay beardown — 25 touchdowns and 2,271 full yards — but his chances are dwindling aft a nonaccomplishment to Auburn.
QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Even successful defeat, Pickett posted singular numbers, throwing for a school-record 519 yards and 3 touchdowns successful a constrictive nonaccomplishment to Miami. His 2 interceptions, though, were costly. His 2nd came with the Panthers driving for the go-ahead people precocious successful the 4th quarter.
QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
The freshman hasn’t thrown an interception successful his past 126 passing attempts, arsenic awesome arsenic his 23 touchdown passes oregon 67.1 completion percentage.
RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Walker fundamentally locked up a travel to New York City successful December connected Saturday, making a large connection by moving for 197 yards and 5 touchdowns successful the Spartans’ immense triumph astatine Michigan.
QB Bryce Young, Alabama
Some experts person installed Walker arsenic the favorite. We’ll telephone that recency bias. Young has been the much accordant performer against a overmuch tougher schedule.