So week seven continues on, and the playoff stakes have not lessened from Tuesday’s action. Playoff lives, and opportunities for a couple teams to begin building a case and a record worthy of redeeming the number one seed. Let’s put it all under the microscope.
TEXAS vs. MIAMI
The Longhorns, after an 0-3 start, have totally reversed course to find themselves riding high on a three game win streak. The biggest reason for the turnaround has been the resurgence of quarterback Walker Mills, who proved last week, he can do more than run the football. Granted, he racked up 118 yards on the ground, but he also aired it out for 217 and four touchdowns with no turnovers. He’s a dual-threat, and with guys like receivers Scooby Lewis, Ray Conley, and Lord Helix around him, he’ll continue to prove capable of making big plays through the air. On the defensive side of things, Jimbo Smithers is beginning his own resurgence from the safety position. He snagged an interception a week ago, as did corner Terrence Top. This Texas defense has begun to get into the routine of suffocating the opposition, especially with plays from guys like linebackers Howard Cook and Jeffrey Stewart Jr. in the backfield. This defense is suffocating, and this offense is overwhelming. Watch out.
The Miami Hurricanes stunned Auburn last week, and if they can do the same to the Longhorns tonight, then Miami will get back to .500 in-conference, and set up a major date with the Florida Gators next week. But first, they need to get through Texas, and that means defending home turf. Quarterback Jose Bueno was effective last week, as was receivers Crane Rashad, and Maximillian Mack. This offense will go as far as Bueno takes them, and that means he’s got to avoid turnovers, and make the smart plays, like not getting sacked, and his track record makes that aspect difficult to accomplish. The defense frustrated Auburn, and will need to work extra hard to do so against Mills tonight. That means linebackers Justin Thyme and Jesse Horrigan have to play like they’re defensive player of the year candidates tonight, the same being true for a defensive line of Johnathan Jacobs, Barney Gumble, and Devin Rogers. Unfortunately, that’s a bit too much to ask of anyone.
Final: Texas 42, Miami 31
notre dAME VS. mICHIGAN
This game is everything for both teams, but Notre Dame especially. A win tonight, opens the door for them to potentially knock Oregon out of the playoffs depending on a Ducks’ loss next week and a Notre Dame win. The Fighting Irish, though, have their work cut out for them defensively. Offensively? Not as much it would seem. Quarterback Leo Asiata faces a defense that gave up 52 points, and the Irish boast a tailback in Vidar Lund who has really come on strong over the last couple of weeks. Receiver Thaddeus Jefferson has established himself as a receiver who can make a big play downfield for the Irish, something many expected would be Albert Saenz in that role. And, tight end Alistair Kye has been instrumental in getting Lund some rushing room off the edge. Defensively, I’m not sure this secondary is ready for the challenge they face in a Michigan passing attack. Let alone the fact that the quarterback ran for over 100 yards last week, something he’s never done. Safeties Zeus Williams, Wilhelm Schumacher, and Minkah Solo have to make sure nobody gets behind him, and then linebackers Shoto Pence and Aaron Davis will have to make sure they can keep Anthony Robertson III out of the middle of the field. Not an easy task at all.
Michigan’s playoff lives are also at stake, and are only the case due to a major win last week over Nebraska, where quarterback Dewey Ainge scampered for 121 on the ground, and then lit up the night sky for nearly 500 passing yards and a handful of touchdowns. Tailback Michael Williams also eclipsed 100 yards, and receiver Anthony Robertson III looked how many thought he would have for the extent of his career. The unsung heroes, though, are tight end TJ Walker and receiver Trey Greer, who have each stepped up and made crucial plays down the stretch this season. This defense, on the other hand, gave up 52, and tonight will be tasked with slowing Vidar Lund. Defensive tackle Barkivious Oswald has offered precious little as far as being able to stop the run in its tracks up the middle, and as offered even less as a pass rusher. That’s put pressure on the ends with Atlas Zervos and Jay Washington to make those plays, as well as linebackers Ty Palmer and Isaiah Mercia II. Michigan is going to have to find a way to drop eight into the box, and hope it’s enough to at least slow Lund, and that Asiata misses big throws over the top with the pressure, or it’ll be a long night.
Final: Notre Dame 31, Michigan 24