The college football world has complained all season long about the lack of competition Michigan has faced, minimizing their dominance over their much inferior competition thus far. Well, that’s all about to come to an end on Saturday. The biggest Big Ten game of the season is officially in the batter’s box and now we get to have our questions answered as Penn State football awaits.
No. 3 Michigan will walk into a rambunctious Beaver Stadium to take on No. 10 Penn State in what’s advertised to be as good of a defensive showcase as we’ll see all season.
The Wolverines hold the nation’s top scoring defense currently, strangling their opponents to an average of six points a game. The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, have quite the unit themselves, ranking third in the country with a mere 11 points given up on average.
Much like the Ohio State vs. Penn State game a few weeks ago, this is matchup that will set the landscape in the conference standings leading into the postseason, greatly impacting both programs. A win for Penn State keeps their playoff hopes very much still alive, and a win for Michigan may very well catapult them to No. 1 in the new CFP rankings this upcoming Tuesday.
With how weak the Wolverines have scheduled this season, a loss for them can derail their chance at the playoff, and they know it.
It’s hard to imagine a game of this altitude won’t feature some unexpected chaos, so today we’re going to predict just how crazy this one will be.
Let’s jump in.
3. Michigan rushes for under 100 yards
That would be the number of yards that the Wolverines ran for on Penn State last season. Michigan was all about their ground game a year ago with their two-headed monster in the backfield: Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, running over just about every team they played. That number has lived in the heads of the players and coaches in Happy Valley all offseason.
One year later and the Nittany Lions have a chance to respond. They’ve been statistically the best run-stopping team in college football this year, allowing just 60 yards a game. The stout defense is led up front by their projected first round pick, Chop Robinson at defensive end. Robinson injured himself in the Ohio State game three weeks ago and has missed the last two contests, but is expected to return to the lineup against Michigan.
This is a huge boost that will put the unit over the top.
Michigan hasn’t been as effective in the run game as they were last year, either. They’ve shown weakness in their offensive line’s ability to run block, and I believe that will be where Penn State takes this game over. Robinson is about to earn himself some NFL money in this one.