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- 2021 College Football Preview – Michigan Wolverines Vs. Georgia Bulldogs - December 31, 2021
1) Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0) defeated Vanderbilt Commodores 59-0
If there was any question about Alabama being #1, question answered. The Commodores were the best defensive team in the country (statistically). They also called out Alabama all week (motivation Coach Nick Saban did not have to provide). Some advice, never poke a sleeping bear (or elephant in this case). The result was complete dominance from start to finish on both sides of the ball. The offense racked up 677 total yards, 496 of it on the ground (7.5 yards per carry). The defense looked possessed, only allowing 3 first downs and 78 total yards. They also created two turnovers. Maybe this is exactly what the Crimson Tide needed to get them focused.
2) Clemson Tigers (4-0) defeated Boston College Eagles 34-7
This was not an easy game. Don’t let the final score fool you. It was tied 7-7 going into the fourth quarter. The Tigers used the running game in the fourth to take control and win the game. The running game got it done and all 342 yards were needed. But a possible chink in the armor? The passing game was sub par at best, with only 110 yards and two interceptions by Kelly Bryant (his worst game). The defense saved them though, holding up their end of the deal until the offense found itself, giving up only 238 total yards and creating two turnovers. The passing game needs improve before it catches up to them.
3) Oklahoma Sooners (4-0) defeated Baylor Bears 49-41
The Sooners were in a dogfight against the Bears. Despite their 0-3 start, Baylor played inspired ball. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was efficient (13 for 19) with three touchdowns. The running game was rolling with sophomore Abdul Adams (164 yards and a touchdown) and freshman Trey Sermon (148 yards and two touchdowns). They were able to put some distance between themselves and Baylor by pounding the ground game. The defense was both good and bad. They absolutely shut down the running game, allowing only 60 yards. However, they had no answer against the passing attack, getting burned for 463 yards. Was this a blip on the screen or a crack that could widen?
4) Penn St Nittany Lions (4-0) defeated Iowa Hawkeyes 21-19
What a nail biter this was. Going to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa at night has not been kind to ranked teams over the years. When the Hawkeyes took the lead on Akrum Wadley’s 35 yard touchdown run with 1:42 left it seemed like another victim would be claimed. But Nittany Lion quarterback Trace McSorley (248 yards, a touchdown and one interception) had other ideas, leading his team down the field throwing the game winning touchdown with no time left to wide receiver Juwan Johnson (seven catches for 92 yards). Running back Saquon Barkley put on a show, rushing for 211 yards. The defense was good statistically (273 total yards given up) but couldn’t get the late stop. Luckily the offense bailed them out.
5) Washington Huskies (4-0) defeated Colorado Buffaloes 37-10
The Huskies went on the road to Boulder and beat Colorado without much trouble despite not playing their best. A tough road win moved them up one spot. Quarterback Jake Browning had a rough game (11 for 21, 160 yards, one touchdown, and an interception). He’s been so good though, I’ll cut him some slack. He’ll need to be better going forward. Running back Myles Gaskin finally had a breakout game after struggling through the first three, exploding for 202 yards on 7.5 yards per rush with two touchdowns. The defense bent (311 total yards) but did not break (only gave up 10 points). Creating three turnovers always helps, stopping any momentum the Buffaloes got going.
6) USC Trojans (4-0) defeated California Golden Bears 30-20
Another ugly win for the Trojans. Is this a pattern developing? This was the second straight game that the offense has struggled. That’s why they dropped a spot in my poll. Quarterback Sam Darnold looked very ordinary (26 for 38, 223 yards). He did throw two touchdowns but also another interception. The running game was worse, only gaining 133 yards (an anemic 3.5 yards per rush). They are on borrowed time. They better fix this or losses will find them. The defense was the reason USC is still undefeated. They bottled up the Golden Bears running game, giving up 113 yards. They gave up over 300 yards passing but had six takeaways. This does not look like the team I expected.
7) Wisconsin Badgers (3-0) Idle
Next game vs. Northwestern Wildcats
8) Georgia Bulldogs (4-0) defeated Mississippi State Bulldogs 31-3
This game was all about Georgia’s defense and how they dominated Mississippi State’s offense. For a team averaging over 300 yards rushing per game, holding them to 177 yards was crippling. Mississippi State relies on the run to set up their passing game. Georgia simply did not respect their passing game, giving up only 103 yards and picking off two passes. The offense was not great but well balanced (201 yards passing/203 yards rushing). Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm was composed and efficient (9-12 passing and two touchdowns). The running combo of Nick Chubb (81 yards) and D’Andre Swift (69 yards) made the most of their touches, averaging 6.2 yards per rush. This statement win got them moved up two spots in my poll.
9) TCU Horned Frogs (4-0) defeated Oklahoma State Cowboys 44-31
The most impressive win of the day for me. This win catapulted TCU into my Top 10. Since when does a defense give up 499 total yards and 31 points and gets the game ball? When the opposing offense is averaging over 600 yards of total offense and 54 points per game. Add in three timely takeaways to get the job done. The offense was good enough to support the defensive effort. Quarterback Kenny Hill, aside from one interception, played a very good game (22 for 33 passing and a touchdown). The running game was all Darius Anderson, rushing for 160 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. He put the game away with a 42 yard touchdown run with 2:37 left in the 4th quarter. A win like this could propel them to the Big 12 championship game and beyond.
10) Michigan Wolverines (4-0) defeated Purdue Boilermakers 28-10
How long can the Wolverines defense carry this team? They held the Boilermakers to 189 total yards, 8 first downs and 0-12 on 3rd down conversions. They almost have to be lights out because the offense continues it’s early uninspired play, being down 10-7 at the half as evidence. Quarterback John O’Korn was good late (18 for 26, 270 yards, a touchdown and an interception) but has to start better. Running back Chris Evans rushed for 97 yards on 6.2 yards per carry and two touchdowns. The total numbers on offense look good (423 yards) but are misleading. The offense must get on track to help their great defense. If not, it will eventually catch up to Michigan.