What we’ll miss with out Ohio State-Michigan, and what we’re watching as an alternative in faculty soccer’s Week 15

A 12 months in the past, within the aftermath of one other dominant Ohio State win over Michigan, a 56-27 shellacking that just about felt routine, there have been apparent questions on what “The Recreation” even meant anymore. The Buckeyes had gained 15 of the previous 16, the lone exception coming amid a misplaced 12 months with an interim coach. Was Michigan even able to making it attention-grabbing?

In August, when the Massive Ten shut down its season, The Recreation appeared destined for a hiatus, or maybe a respite for the Wolverines. In 2020, it might be stated, Michigan would not lose to Ohio State.

Then — what luck! — the Massive Ten returned. Ohio State was once more a playoff contender, and Michigan — oh, the much less stated the higher. However hey, a rivalry sport is the week you throw out the data, which Michigan would have been all too blissful to do that weekend. In a 12 months of utter chaos, we would nonetheless have The Recreation.

After which, it was off again, with the Wolverines the most recent program beset by COVID-19, with reportedly near 4 dozen gamers sidelined by the virus and phone tracing.

Now, right here we’re, on the penultimate Saturday of a season that has by no means felt fairly actual, once more robbed of one of many hallmarks of fall.

The rollercoaster experience for The Recreation mirrors a lot of what this faculty soccer season has provided — hints of hope, mountains of frustration, and ultimately, an empty feeling — a loss that, even for Michigan followers, stings in a approach no defeat on the sphere would.

As a substitute of Michigan-Ohio State, we received Ohio State vs. “the rule,” with the Massive Ten debating the legitimacy of an arbitrary metric it invented just some months in the past, again when the pandemic had solely dabbled in disrupting the soccer season, and the notion {that a} workforce won’t get six video games in appeared pessimistic. Now, the Buckeyes are in the Big Ten title game because the league appears to be like for one of the best ways to squeeze them into the playoff.

Maybe essentially the most jarring a part of all of that is that it isn’t really all that jarring.

Sure, we misplaced The Recreation. However we additionally misplaced so many different rivalries — BYU and Utah, Clemson and South Carolina, Florida and Florida State. As one-sided as all of them may’ve been in 2020, they’re nonetheless a part of the material of any season, and now, 2020 would be the 12 months the rivalry disappeared.

In August, the overriding thought was easy: Any soccer is nice. We’ll take what we are able to get.

Now right here we’re, and it feels fairly skinny. We have had our moments — Lane Kiffin pushing Alabama to the brink, Clemson and Notre Dame dueling into double OT, Coastal Carolina’s thriller in opposition to BYU.

However someway, it is nonetheless onerous to not miss these rights of fall like The Recreation, as lopsided as Ohio State-Michigan may’ve been. It is a little bit like a vacation fruit cake. You did not must get pleasure from it. It was comforting simply to comprehend it was there.

Checking in on the CFP’s different contenders …

Whereas Ohio State finagles its playoff path within the Massive Ten, the ACC rolled out the pink carpet for Notre Dame and Clemson, nixing any proposed make-up dates for Saturday, giving each groups every week’s trip to prepare for a convention championship sport and a rematch of the most effective contests of the 12 months. One workforce is a shoo-in for the playoff, the opposite may properly get in, too. However neither has to play Saturday to make that occur.

Texas A&M might most likely use a little bit résumé assist because it tries to leap into the highest 4, however the Aggies will not take the sphere this week, both. Jimbo Fisher lamented the very fact A&M could not work out a deal to play Ohio State, nevertheless it’s not like two groups can simply schedule a sport on brief discover. That might by no means work, proper, Coastal Carolina?

Cincinnati hoped it might crack the Energy 5’s stranglehold on the playoff, however the Bearcats needed to cancel their sport with Tulsa. On the brilliant aspect, the committee had no intention of inviting Cincinnati to the playoff anyway.

They will not make the playoff, however they deserve a watch

The ACC’s most fun matchup

We’re speaking about North Carolina vs. Miami, after all. The Hurricanes’ lone lack of the season got here to Clemson, and the Tar Heels is perhaps their next-best problem so far. The Canes’ Twelfth-ranked protection (per SP+) faces a UNC offense ranked fourth in SP+. Catch it at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN App.

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Sam Howell hits a wide-open Dazz Newsome for a 26-yard landing to extend North Carolina’s lead.

Oklahoma finally faces West Virginia (Midday ET on ABC/ESPN App)

This sport was initially set for Nov. 28 earlier than being postponed to this weekend. West Virginia is coming off of a demoralizing 42-6 loss in opposition to Iowa State, and is perhaps in for extra hassle in opposition to the Sooners, who’ve gained six straight and are taking part in their greatest soccer the previous month and a half after beginning 1-2.

A top-25 SEC matchup between Georgia and … Missouri? (Midday ET on SEC Community/ESPN App)

Missouri has been considered one of faculty soccer’s surprises this season — it is 5-3 and ranked No. 25 within the nation. Georgia has been itching to play since its Dec. 5 sport in opposition to Vanderbilt was postponed because of COVID-19 points inside Vandy’s soccer program. It made soon-to-be former AD Greg McGarity frustrated, however the Bulldogs shall be again on the sphere this weekend with their new-and-improved JT Daniels-led offense.

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2:00

SEC Now’s crew thinks that the boldness and momentum of Missouri’s offense shall be a menace to Georgia coming off a break.

What else is price watching:

Army-Navy (Midday ET on CBS)

In a traditional 12 months, Military-Navy will get this weekend all to itself, however do not let the extra crowded schedule maintain you from watching one of many few bits of real custom the 2020 season has offered. Military nonetheless has a shot on the Commander’s Cup, with a rescheduled sport in opposition to Air Power set for subsequent weekend. However this additionally serves as a chance for Navy so as to add a small silver lining to an in any other case misplaced season.

Let-down video games for BYU and Coastal Carolina?

The Cougars and Chanticleers would not be the primary of us to go away Myrtle Seashore with a hangover, and after final week’s epic end by which Coastal Carolina held off BYU on the 1-yard line on the sport’s last play, it is honest to surprise what’s left within the tank for the 2 upstarts from exterior the Energy 5. Neither workforce will get off straightforward both, as Coastal has a highway journey to Troy, the place the pesky Trojans shall be trying to finish Cinderella’s season, whereas BYU hosts the stout protection at San Diego State. Each groups stay within the combine for a New 12 months’s Six shot if they’ll win out.

West Coast showdown

This marks the primary time USC and UCLA have confronted off when each had a profitable file since 2015. The Trojans stay undefeated, even when it has taken just a few miracle comebacks, whereas Chip Kelly’s Bruins lastly appear to be discovering their stride. A win for UCLA would match final 12 months’s whole in half the video games. Catch it at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

Beneath-the-radar sport of the week

Lyles: Rutgers vs. Maryland (Midday ET)

Hear, I am not essentially going to take a seat right here and inform you to look at this soccer sport. I care about you, reader. Nevertheless, with one other week of cancellations and postponements, time may be made for 2 groups which have proven enchancment this season (not that the bar was set excessive). I am keen and able to maintain this sport open in one other window simply to see which of those groups is best.

Hale: Nevada at San Jose State (10 p.m. ET on CBSSN)

The Mountain West hasn’t gotten a lot love this season, due to late begins — each huge image (the league kicked off in late October) and on sport day (with plenty of 10 p.m. ET kickoff occasions). However the Wolf Pack and Spartans are having distinctive seasons, with San Jose State among the many handful of remaining unbeatens. Coach Brent Brennan has performed a terrific job turning round a Spartans program that hadn’t had a profitable season since 2012, and former Arkansas QB Nick Starkel has appeared robust working the offense (66% completions, 11 TDs, 3 INT). Nevada will not be a simple win, although. The Wolf Pack’s lone loss got here at Hawaii by simply 3, and QB Carson Strong has been, uh, robust this season, with 21 TD passes. It is one other late kickoff, nevertheless it needs to be one price staying up for.

Participant to look at

Lyles: Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson

Patterson is the participant none of us anticipated to be invested in — however now at all times wish to know what he is doing subsequent. On Nov. 17 in opposition to Bowling Inexperienced, he rushed for 301 yards and 4 touchdowns. On Nov. 28, he hit the nationwide highlight with 409 yards and eight touchdowns in opposition to Kent State. This week, Buffalo performs Akron (2:30 p.m. ET on CBSSN), one of many worst groups within the FBS. Can Patterson set extra data?

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Jaret Patterson rushes for 8 touchdowns and 409 yards in Buffalo’s 70-41 win in opposition to Kent State.

Hale: Northwestern LB Paddy Fisher

Think about this state of affairs: The Massive Ten modifications its guidelines, permits Ohio State to play for a convention title, after which the Buckeyes lay an egg in opposition to Northwestern. OK, it isn’t significantly doubtless, however Northwestern’s protection is legitimately good, and that begins with Fisher within the center. Saturday’s sport in opposition to Illinois (midday ET on ESPN2) needs to be little greater than a tune-up for the Wildcats, nevertheless it’s additionally an excellent likelihood to get a take a look at Fisher (58 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 2 QBH) and the remainder of the gifted D earlier than it tries to decelerate Justin Fields. That features linebacker Blake Gallagher, who leads the workforce with 8.5 tackles for loss, and nook Greg Newsome, who has 9 passes defended in simply six video games.

Upset of the week

Lyles: Baylor over Oklahoma State (7 p.m. ET on ESPNU/ESPN App)

I have not beloved what I’ve seen out of Oklahoma State this season — the Cowboys have gone 2-3 after 4 straight wins to open the season. Baylor is barely 2-6 on the 12 months, however with a restricted pool for potential upsets, I will throw this one up within the air and hope the Bears discover ways to run the soccer this week.

Hale: Memphis over Houston (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU/ESPN App)

The Tigers have been an enigma this season. After a robust 5-2 begin, the offense has disappeared. Brady White and Co. struggled to eek out a 10-7 win over Navy two weeks in the past, then struggled mightily in opposition to Tulane in a 35-21 loss final Saturday. White entered the season as one of the vital famend QBs exterior the Energy 5, however his current work has been removed from spectacular, as he accomplished simply 54% of his throws with 4 TD and three INT. It is all out of character for a QB and an offense used to way more explosiveness, and maybe Houston’s protection (ranked 97th nationally in explosive-play fee allowed) is the reply. Memphis is 25-2 at house over the previous 4 seasons, so the underdog standing Saturday is perhaps simply the spark the workforce wants to finish its offensive funk.

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