We’re heading into Week 4 of the faculty soccer season, and issues are about to get severe.
That’s as a result of we’re getting into the thick of convention play. No more preseason video games serving as glorified scrimmages. Every matchup now issues in the quest for convention championship video games and doable postseason glory.
The No. 4 Wolverines (3-0) have rolled via the early a part of their agenda and seem intent on protecting their Big Ten crown, however the Terrapins (3-0) are desperate to make a commentary and function gamers like Greg China-Rose who do not know the which means of “quit.”
Greg China-Rose’s adventure to Maryland
“Big Noon Kickoff” and Tom Rinaldi inform the tale of Greg China-Rose’s adventure from walk-on to starter with the Terrapins.
But that is not all we’ve going in this weekend. Here’s what we’re having a look ahead to watching in a few of the largest matchups on Saturday.
Young: In faculty soccer, simplest rival enthusiasts and media care that “You Played Somebody.” Three cupcakes to start out the yr reasons other folks like me to yell, “They ain’t played nobody!”
But through December, when that very same workforce is hitting 9 or 10 wins? That’s the way you fundraise.
But in case you lose to a cupcake — put cash in the bag — you are gonna catch a load of cream filling on your face like a clown. You may just additionally lose your activity. Like the Rolling Stones taught us, “Don’t play with cupcakes ‘cause you’re playing with fire.”
See: Nebraska (paid $1.423 million for a loss to Georgia Southern), Arizona State ($1.5 million for a loss to Eastern Michigan). If you get an advantage for being bowl-eligible, why would not you agenda 3 wins the usage of other folks’s cash? You would. You undoubtedly would.
Now that the Wolverines have eaten their dessert sooner than the primary route, let’s have a look at if they have got room for his or her greens — i.e., Maryland.
Last season, the Wolverines have been a two-touchdown favourite in opposition to the Terps and received 59-18. I need to know if Michigan simply will get up for Maryland or if this recreation is a harbinger of convention video games to return, because it used to be a yr in the past.
Is Michigan’s agenda too cushy for the CFP?
RJ Young examines how excellent the Michigan Wolverines have appeared up to now this season.
Litman: How does J.J. McCarthy appearance in his first convention get started? Last week, Michigan close out UConn, 59-0, and the first-year beginning quarterback finished 15 of 18 passes for 214 yards via virtually 3 quarters. There used to be just one passing TD the entire recreation, which didn’t come from McCarthy, however he didn’t throw an interception both.
The Wolverines rushed for 6 ratings, together with 5 from operating again Blake Corum, and utterly ruled Jim Mora’s Huskies. Michigan had more first downs (26-2), more overall yards (465-110) and didn’t even permit UConn to succeed in the purple zone.
Maryland involves Ann Arbor with a top-20 offense (499.0 yards in line with recreation) and a top-30 scoring offense (40.3 issues in line with recreation). Can veteran quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (Tua’s brother) check the yet-to-be-tested UM secondary? Can the Terps’ protection get drive on McCarthy and drive him to make errors?
Even if Maryland can do the ones issues, to have any hope of an disenchanted it has to forestall committing consequences. Through 3 video games, Maryland is the second-most penalized workforce in the nation, averaging 10.3 in line with recreation. Michigan, in the meantime, has dedicated the second-least quantity at 2.7.
Young: When Lance Leipold used to be employed to train Kansas in May 2021, I believed athletic director Travis Goff nailed his alternative to turn KU soccer from embarrassing to spell binding.
Leipold has made Goff (and me) appearance excellent, first with a win at Texas final season, and now with a 3-0 get started for the first time since 2009. It’s no longer honest to mention that Duke, additionally 3-0, items the problem West Virginia and Houston did to the Jayhawks, however it’s honest to mention they’re strolling right into a recreation for the first time in over a decade with drive to win.
I’ll have an interest to learn the way the Jayhawks reply to expectancies no longer that they may be able to compete, however that they may be able to win.
Litman: A vintage basketball matchup!
You have to like that either one of those groups are 3-0 and led through up-and-coming head coaches Mike Elko (Duke) and Lance Leipold (Kanas). Last yr round this similar time, the Blue Devils beat the Jayhawks, 52-33, then didn’t win some other recreation. KU has already surpassed final yr’s win overall of 2 video games.
Litman: How does Michigan State reply upon getting beat up through Washington final week? The Spartans have been ranked No. 11 heading into that street matchup and fell out of the AP Poll following a 39-28 loss.
Michigan State didn’t play neatly in any segment of that recreation — it couldn’t run the ball (it had simply 42 overall dashing yards) or offer protection to quarterback Payton Thorne — and Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. threw for just about 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Spartans have so much to scrub up sooner than heading into its Big Ten agenda.
Young: As I wrote in our staff picks piece this week, stay your eye on Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim, who rushed for more than 200 yards in opposition to Colorado and has put in combination 12-straight 100-yard dashing performances courting again to 2019.
The Gophers are considered one of simply two groups averaging more than 300 rush yards in line with recreation this season. The different is an academy workforce (Air Force).
The Gophers are my pick out to constitute the Big Ten West in the Big Ten identify recreation.
Why Minnesota is a top-10 workforce
In the preseason, RJ Young predicted Minnesota would win the Big Ten West and play Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship.
Young: The pitcher’s duel between Wazzu quarterback Cameron Ward and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix should be amusing. Both arrived at their new techniques this yr as ballyhooed transfers and had been paired with offensive coordinators they’re more than a little bit acquainted with. And each have already led their techniques to wins in opposition to top-25 groups.
This recreation must serve to turn out who can problem Washington, Utah and USC for Pac-12 supremacy when the time comes.
Litman: Which Nix are we getting this week? While the Oregon quarterback has been inconsistent all through his occupation, he had a stellar efficiency in final week’s 41-20 beatdown of BYU. Nix went 13-for-18 for 222 yards with two passing touchdowns and ran for 3 more.
How will he carry out in opposition to a stingy Washington State protection? The Cougars are permitting simply 12.7 issues in line with recreation, and the team is led through senior linebacker Daiyan Henley, who leads the Pac 12 in sacks (4) and is fourth in tackles (30). In final week’s win over Colorado State, he had 13 tackles and 3 sacks. Can he get to Nix and drive him into making errors?
Litman: Now that the Buckeyes have reached Big Ten play, do we see more of Jaxon Smith-Njigba? This is my query each and every week given how other the Buckeyes’ offense appears to be like when he’s wholesome and starring along C.J. Stroud. And that’s announcing so much, taking into account OSU scored 77 issues on Toledo final week.
Young: If the Badgers are going to mount a rate for the Big Ten West identify, there’s no higher time to take action than in opposition to the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes. But that’s a tall order, even for a Jim Leonhard protection.
Ohio State additionally has crushed Wisconsin 8 instances in a row.
The Buckeyes fell simply 13 yards shy of the college file (776) for yards in a recreation final week in opposition to Toledo, and they have been in a position to do this with Stroud and TreVeyon Henderson sitting for many of the recreation.
Alongside USC quarterback Caleb Williams and Georgia QB Stetson Bennett, Stroud has established himself as a Heisman front-runner. Through 3 video games, he’s handed for 941 yards, 11 TDs and 0 INTs whilst striking in combination a 208.6 passer score.
Young: I believe Laken that this recreation may just get unpleasant. The Wildcats had been all however putrid offensively with Okay-State quarterback Adrian Martinez passing for simply 306 yards — 4.6 yards in line with final touch — via 3 video games.
After watching Brent Venables’ protection methodically dismantle Nebraska in Lincoln, it’s onerous to look how Chris Klieman pulls out a win in opposition to an Oklahoma workforce this is, as soon as once more, charging towards the College Football Playoff.
Young: After watching the Trojans lose two times as many video games (8) as they received (4) final season, Lincoln Riley has a possibility to compare final season’s win overall sooner than the month of September ends.
He’s carried out that with remarkable quarterback play from Heisman contender Caleb Williams, but in addition in spite of the protection’s efficiency. Last week Fresno State quarterbacks mixed to finish 21 of 30 cross makes an attempt for 257 yards, and operating again Jordan Mims rushed for 114 on simply 15 carries.
Facing an undefeated Oregon State brimming with self assurance, I need to see if Alex Grinch’s protection establishes an identification that may be counted on to hold it to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Litman: The Riley-Williams educate is transferring proper alongside this season. USC is 3-0 and is scoring more than 50 issues in line with recreation. Williams has considered one of the highest quarterback scores in the nation (190.49) and has thrown 8 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. While an evening recreation in Corvallis may well be an early lure recreation for the new-look Trojans — USC is only a 6.5-point favourite — Williams merely has too many choices out broad and will pose the hardest check the Beavers’ protection faces all yr.
Litman: How does Washington appearance per week after pulling off one of these dominant win over Michigan State? Will it disregard Stanford, or be ready? These sorts of video games are at all times tough for groups that spend such a lot time getting overvalued for large video games.
Young: After knocking off top-25 opponent Michigan State final week, Kalen DeBoer’s Huskies don’t seem to be sneaking up on someone. With Michael Penix Jr. main the league in passing and a protection overflowing with self assurance, I, like Laken, need to see if Washington is excellent sufficient to problem for the Pac-12 identify with a goal on its again.
And right here’s only a amusing be aware: The general collection between those techniques is tied at 44-44-4.
Laken Litman covers faculty soccer, faculty basketball and football for FOX Sports. She up to now lined faculty soccer, faculty basketball, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and the Olympics at Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. Her first ebook, written in partnership with Rizzoli and Sports Illustrated and titled “Strong Like a Woman,” used to be revealed in spring 2022 marking the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX.
RJ Young is a countrywide faculty soccer author and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.
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