College Football Preview-Week 8; Opposites Attract

2020 Week 13 College Football Watch Guide

There is a saying that opposites attract. Psychology books have been written about the theory. Scientists have studied it. Hey even Paula Abdul wrote a song about it, (if you are under 35 years of age and reading this, you might want to know that Ms. Abdul had an actual music career before becoming a judge on random TV shows. Want to really get your mind blown, youngsters? Google Paula Abdul and Lakers Girls). So, do opposites attract? Hey, we’re not scientists. We are college football people. What we do know is this weekend there are a lot of opposites matching up on the football field that make for some very attractive watching. Here is College Football Preview-Week 8.

College Football Preview-Week 8; Opposites Attract

Michigan (6-1) @ Michigan State (4-2); Sat 12noon Est Fox

Jim Harbaugh got a marquee win last week when the Wolverines dominated Wisconsin. They did it with a strong run game, and yes that includes quarterback Shea Patterson. He had 124 yards passing but he also had 90 yards rushing and touchdown. Running back Karan Higdon had another 105 on the ground and a rushing touchdown of his own. In fact, while Patterson came in to run the offense, it is not the throwing attack that has opened up, but the running game. The Wolverines are averaging more than five yards per carry this season and 217 yards rushing per game.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Michigan State can’t run the ball. The Spartans are averaging just over three yards per carry, which makes them 113th in the country. The only game this season where they got more than four yards per carry was in the loss to Northwestern. It does not help that running back LJ Scott has missed four games and is questionable for this weekend.

That means quarterback Brian Lewerke has to be able to throw successfully for Michigan State to be in the game. He has at least one interception in every game, but he does have a 60% completion rate and has thrown for more than 200 yards in nearly every game. Oh, back to that whole opposite thing; Michigan’s pass defense has given up only five touchdown passes all season. So whichever team is more opposite than the best opposite of the opposing team will, wait….I think we confused ourselves. Carry on and watch the game.

North Carolina State (5-0) @ Clemson (6-0); Sat 3:30pm Est ESPN

It’s a good thing Clemson is back on the football field. It gives their fans less time to complain on social media sites that this game is not hosting ESPN GameDay. It has been a point of absurd obsession this week. There must be something opposite to focus on. Like an actual football game.

The offenses are going to show us different things. Clemson running back Travis Etienne is only five yards away from passing his rushing totals from all of last year. He is averaging nine yards per carry and has 11 touchdowns already. He is in our top five of Heisman contenders. Clemson is getting 280 yards rushing per game, which puts it top five in the country.

North Carolina State, on the opposite hand, is going to be putting the ball up. At 335 yards per game in the air, the passing game is accounting for 68% of the Wolfpack offense. Quarterback Ryan Finley is completing a tick under 70% of his passes and is top 10 in the country in QB rating.

The Clemson pass defense is giving up more yards than it did last season, so the ballyhooed front seven will need to play big. This won’t be as easy as it sounds. The NC State offensive line has given up only two sacks all season, the tops in the ACC.

Mississippi State (4-2) @ LSU (6-1); Sat 7pm Est ESPN

The Bulldogs have not played since their win over Auburn on October 6th. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has been a little banged up so the time off is well-placed. He will be the most active quarterback the LSU defense has faced so far this season. He actually has more rushing touchdowns than he does passing (seven to four). Mississippi State is actually struggling to throw effectively. They need running back Kylin Hill to show up more.

While Mississippi State has been watching football, LSU had the opposite experience, making its way through Georgia. And facing Miami, Auburn and Florida prior to that. Nothing has been easy for the Tigers, but they have held up to this point. Every week, quarterback Joe Burrow is a question mark. To this point, he has delivered well enough. Against Georgia he only completed 50% of his passes but moved the offense for 200 yards passing and picked up another 66 rushing with two touchdowns. Can’t ask for much more than that.

So here is where it gets tricky Saturday night. LSU is getting at least 200 yards rushing per game. On the opposite side of the ball, Mississippi State is giving up an average of only 115 per game. The only game in which they have given up a rushing touchdown was to Kentucky’s Benny Snell. The two teams have split the last four meetings. And, hey, what is more fun than a Saturday night game in the Bayou.

Oregon (5-1) @ Washington State (5-1); Sat 7:30pm Est Fox

We go from the muggy Bayou to the opposite for the nightcap. Temperatures in Pullman are expected to be in the 50’s during the game, just the way the Cougars like it. Many of you have not been paying attention to Washington State, but you may remember the aerial attack with Luke Falk throwing 60+ times per game. Yeah, that’s yesterday’s news. Meet Gardner Minshew. He is throwing for 403 yards (on 52 attempts) per game, for 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions. The Cougars are the number one team in the country in passing yards per game.

Ironically his opposite number at quarterback, Oregon’s Justin Herbert is considered a Heisman candidate, even though his stats are considerably less gaudy. He is averaging 269 yards passing per game but is running a very efficient offense. They are getting more than 10 yards per throw. Herbert has 17 touchdowns to only five interceptions and he has not committed a turnover in the last two games. Oregon won the game they had highlighted on their schedule last week when they beat Washington at home. They beat one of the better quarterbacks in the conference in Jake Browning in the process. Going on the road and defending against a gun slinging offense will be the opposite of what they have experienced so far this season.