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College Football Today: Can the Wolverines Beat OSU Again?

November 22, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Jim Harbaugh remains suspended for the Michigan Wolverines.
JMichigan keeps winning without suspended Jim Harbaugh. (Sports Illustrated)

FSU has lost star QB Travis Jordan (leg) for the rest of the season (and thus ends his college career); Utah QB Cam Rising says he’ll return next year; and Texas Tech QB Tyler Shough plans to enter the transfer protocol — for the second time in his college career. Here are some other stories we’re tracking heading into Week 13 action…

Game of the Season

The college football game of the season is nearly upon us.

On Saturday afternoon, the Michigan Wolverines square off against the Ohio State Buckeyes in a battle of 11-0 teams, both bearing down at spots in the College Football Playoffs. Needless to say, there is a ton riding on this one, and the gamesmanship between the coaches has already begun (in a very strange, almost passive aggressive way… see video below).

The big question for Michigan — again — is how they’ll fare without suspended Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. We know from history that former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick couldn’t win without Harbaugh, but so far the coach’s absence has not slowed down the Wolverines, winners of two straight against OSU.

As for the Buckeyes, they have to figure out a way to stop Michigan tailback Blake Corum and his nation-leading 20 touchdowns. One of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s top RB, he hasn’t been quite as effective as a senior (just 4.9 YPC), but he’s already surpassed his career best in TDs.

Corum really excels in the gym, so will likely fare very well at the Combine. However, given his injury history, there are questions about his durability and therefore his ability to be a bell-cow type of back. That may hurt him in the draft, so expect Corum to get picked towards the end of the second round.

UMass Shows Improvement

The Massachusetts Minutemen have long struggled with their football program, and have had virtually no success at all since becoming an independent school in 2016. So while normally a 3-8 record is hardly reason for celebration, when you consider that UMass had only won three times in total over the previous four years, it’s clear there’s been progress in 2023.

In fact, UMass heads into Week 13 having won two of its past three games.

Still, let’s be clear: this modest success has hardly turned the Minutemen into a solid bet (they are 2.5-point underdogs on Saturday against the 2-9 UConn Huskies as per odds at FanDuel).

But, hey… progress is progress.

UMass QB Taisun Phommachanh has had a real up and down season. The former Clemson and Georgia Tech backup was finally given a chance to start this year, and he really shone over his first four games, despite an injury that cost him three games in the midst of that run.

Since mid-October, however, Phommachanh hasn’t had the same level of success, although he’s been better over the last three games. Last week, for instance, he was solid on the surface (22-for-38 for 239 yards), but was picked twice to put a damper on his overall performance.

Okay, so Phommachanh is not an NFL draft prospect, but at least he’s finally getting his chance to start at the college level. Like his current team, that’s progress.

Maryland Slips After Great Start

Back to the Big 10, it looks like the Maryland Terrapins’ run of three straight seasons of improvement may end this year (in fairness, they have one fewer scheduled game, so the best they can do is 7-5 after going 8-5 last year).

But when they Terps got off to a 5-0 start, it sure looked like another season of progress in the Mike Locksley era. But since then, five losses in six games has turned 2023 into a bit of a disappointment.

On Saturday, Maryland wraps up its schedule at Rutgers. Weird stat of the day: For whatever reason, the Terrapins are all about interceptions, ranking fifth in the nation in picks for, and 12th in picks against.

Prospect hounds should keep an eye on Maryland safety Beau Brade. His draft stock has slipped, but he’s still a projected fifth round pick, and obviously has his backers…

Brade’s senior season has been a bit of a letdown after he racked up 85 tackles as a junior, but he really excels when situated close to the line of scrimmage, however, will need more work to play in the slot.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

Big Audio Dynamite would later be called Big Audio Dynamite II or just Big Audio. Here’s another track from the original lineup’s final effort, Megatop Phoenix, “Stalag 123,” which samples the theme from The Great Escape.

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