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College football Week 9 takeaways: Where does Michigan go, Miami’s QB of the future and more

Six college football teams enter November with perfect records. Sorry, Michigan , SMU and San Diego State .

Our reporters break down Week 9, from the Big Ten to the ACC. Different directions for Michigan State and Michigan

The Michigan-Michigan State game featured both teams ranked in the AP top 10 for the first time since 1964, with both squads undefeated.

They both had strengths and weaknesses, but after the Spartans’ 37-33 win, we can make some extrapolations about both teams.

There are no debates anymore about Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III ‘s Heisman candidacy. Walker had 197 rush yards and five touchdowns, three of which came in the second half when the Spartans needed him most.

"I will say, three of his touchdowns today, I wasn’t expecting a huge play," quarterback Payton Thorne said. "On the first one, we were in the huddle, and I said, ‘Let’s just forget the red zone, let’s just score right here,’ and he did, so that was good. The other one was not a home run play, but as you see with him, any play could be a home run. The O-line was doing a good job, I’m sure he’ll give them credit."

As good as Walker and the Michigan State offense was in coming back from a 16-point second-half deficit, the Spartans’ secondary still has some issues. The Michigan State defense gave up 406 passing yards and three touchdowns to Michigan’s quarterbacks.

The defense is giving up 300.5 pass yards per game, which is fourth worst among all FBS teams. To reach the Big Ten championship game and ultimately the College Football Playoff, Michigan State will have to get through Penn State and Ohio State. The Nittany Lions are averaging 267 pass yards per game, No. 34 among all teams, while Ohio State is averaging 346.3 yards per game, sixth best in the country. Including its 37-33 loss to Michigan State, Michigan is 2-9 on the road against AP-ranked teams under Jim Harbaugh. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Michigan is now 89-2 in games that it led by 16 or more points at any point in the second half since 2004. After scoring on all but one of the six drives in the first half, Michigan scored on only two of its seven drives in the second half. Its final three possessions ended with a J.J. McCarthy fumble, turnover on downs and a Cade McNamara interception. Not taking full advantage of scoring opportunities ultimately cost Michigan.

On the bright side, Michigan’s passing game was one of the bigger question marks for the Wolverines. McNamara had his best game of the season. Plus, the Michigan secondary got torched by Michigan State in 2020, but was able to limit Thorne to 196 yards and no touchdowns.

The biggest takeaway from this game, though, is that for all the talk about how different this team is and that the leaders on the team have taken on more accountability, Michigan still hasn’t shown it can close an important game away when needed.

Michigan is […]

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