We’re truly into the exciting part of the season now! Here are my week five Midweek Musings:
#12 West Virginia 42, #25 Texas Tech 34
I expected this to be one of the best games of the week, and it didn’t disappoint. At halftime, West Virginia led 35-10 and Tech was onto their backup quarterback. But the Red Raiders rallied, and it took a Mountaineers’ interception on a potential tying drive to ensure the win for West Virginia. Coach Dana Holgorson told ESPN after the game, “I focused all week on starting fast. I guess I forgot to tell them there was a second half.”
West Virginia has a good team. Will Grier is definitely one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and their defense shouldn’t be overlooked. They have three very winnable games coming up- Kansas, Iowa State, and Baylor- before facing Texas.
As for Texas Tech, they suffered a scary injury as quarterback Alan Bowman suffered a collapsed lung. As of Monday morning, he was still in the hospital. Bowman, of course, was already replacing McLane Carter, injured in week one against Ole Miss. Best wishes to Bowman for a speedy recovery, and to the Red Raiders next week against TCU.
Clemson 27, Syracuse 23
Clemson narrowly avoided being upset by Syracuse for the second year in a row, but their quarterback saga is the bigger story. After coach Dabo Swinney announced that freshman Trevor Lawrence had wrested the starting job from incumbent Kelly Bryant, Bryant announced he would sit out the remainder of the season and transfer. Lawrence started the game but suffered a concussion in the second quarter and did not return. Freshman Chase Brice entered the game, going seven of 13 for 83 yards and an interception. He also completed a 20-yard pass on 4th-and-6 to keep the game-winning drive going. Sophomore running back Travis Etienne carried for a career-high 203 yards and three scores. This wasn’t the best game I’ve seen from the Clemson defense, but a slightly off week from them is still better than a good game from a lot of teams.
When Lawrence’s injury happened, people immediately started speculating about the possibly of Bryant returning to the team. However, ESPN is reporting that Lawrence has cleared concussion protocol and is likely to start Saturday against Wake Forest.
Syracuse has a good opportunity to get back on track, with games against Pitt, North Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest coming up in the next five weeks. (They have a bye week after the Pitt game).
Michigan 20, Northwestern 17
The Wolverines completed the biggest comeback of the Jim Harbaugh era after trailing 17-0 in the second quarter. At halftime, the score was 17-7. I don’t know if somebody made a Starbucks run for the defense or what, but Northwestern could not get anything going on offense in the second half. Two Quinn Nordin field goals made for a 17-13 score in the fourth quarter, and Karan Higdon rushed for his second score of the game with 4:30 remaining.
Success in the run game, and the Wildcats’ lack thereof, was the difference. The Wolverines averaged 4.3 yards per rush to Northwestern’s 0.8. Michigan’s leading rusher, Karan Higdon, ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns; leading Wildcats’ rusher John Moten IV had 36 yards and a touchdown.
It’s only fair to mention that Northwestern is dealing with the recent retirement of their top running back. Jeremy Larkin was diagnosed with cervical stenosis, and is currently serving as an assistant student coach for the team.
Michigan does have one big problem area to clean up: discipline. The Wolverines were penalized 11 times for 100 yards. They were lucky their lack of discipline wasn’t more costly against Northwestern; if they repeat this performance against a ranked opponent, it will almost certainly come back to bite them. They have a tough stretch coming up after next week, too: while three of their next four games are at home, they face Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan State on the road, and then Penn State after a bye week.
#5 LSU 45, Ole Miss 16
The Rebels were called for delay of game on the first play from scrimmage, and it didn’t get much better from there. (Maybe Eli Manning’s propensity for delay of game penalties can be traced back to Ole Miss?) The Rebs made Michigan look disciplined, with 17 penalties for 167 yards; at one point, late in the second quarter, they actually had more penalty yards than yards of offense.
The Tigers, on the other hand, racked up 573 yards of total offense en route to their fifth win of the season. Don’t expect a repeat performance anytime soon, though. After a trip to Gainesville, they face Georgia at home, Mississippi State at home, and then Alabama after the bye week.
Texas A&M 24, Arkansas 17
By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the Arkansas special teams disaster against North Texas. If not, enjoy. This weekend, the Aggies returned the game’s opening kickoff for a touchdown. What is going on during special teams practices in Fayetteville?
Those are my week five Midweek Musings! Don’t forget to check throughout the weekend for all of our college football coverage.