The Penn State Nittany Lions enter Saturday’s game with a record of 3-2 and face their toughest competition so far. The Michigan Wolverines are 5-0 and ranked No. 19 in the country. The Wolverines have a potent offense led by dual-threat quarterback Devin Gardner.
As Gardner goes, so go the Wolverines. The team has looked great at times this season and very average, especially Gardner, at others.
In its first real test of the season, Michigan faced Notre Dame in a primetime matchup. Gardner was in top form, throwing for 294 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 82 yards and scored a touchdown, helping the Wolverines pull off an impressive 41-30 win over the Irish.
However, just a week later, Michigan struggled against a poor Akron team, almost losing at the end, but ultimately winning by just four points. Gardner threw three interceptions in that one. The Wolverines also struggled on the road against Connecticut during the next week, pulling out a three-point victory. Gardner really had a poor game against the Huskies, throwing for just 97 yards and two interceptions.
For the season, the junior quarterback has thrown for 1,036 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He’s also ran for 318 yards and six touchdowns. He can make plays with his legs on both designed runs and when the play breaks down and he must scramble.
The Penn State defense could certainly have it’s hands full Saturday night with Gardner and the Wolverines. The Nittany Lions have struggled to stop opposing offenses at times this season. In Week 3, they gave up 507 yards and 34 points to Blake Bortles. In their last game at Indiana, the Nittany Lions had trouble stopping the Hoosiers, giving up 486 total yards and 44 points.
In order for the Nittany Lions to pull off the upset against Michigan, the defense is going to have to step up and keep Gardner under control. While the Wolverines are undefeated so far in 2013, they have shown flaws.
If Penn State can put pressure on Gardner and cause him to make mistakes, as he’s done at times, then there could be an upset in the making on Saturday.
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