After a disappointing 44-24 loss at Indiana last week, the Penn State Nittany Lions head home to Beaver Stadium to take on the Michigan Wolverines. This will certainly be a tough matchup, as the Wolverines are ranked 18th in the nation and enter with a record of 5-0. Beaver Stadium is sure to be rocking with its sold out, white-clad crowd.
If you can’t get to a TV, the game is streaming live on ESPN/ESPN2
Below are some of my thoughts as we approach kickoff in this Big Ten Conference battle.
• Much of the talk surrounding Penn State so far has centered around the defense. The Nittany Lions are coming off a game in which they gave up 44 points and 486 yards of total offense to the Indiana Hoosiers. The Penn State defense will surely have its hands full with a potent Michigan offense, led by dual-threat quarterback Devin Gardner. If the Nittany Lions want to have a chance in this one, they are going to have to get pressure on the quarterback and play solid in the secondary.
• Penn State has had a lot of success on the ground this year with the combination of Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch. However, the running game was unable to get going last week, totaling just 70 yards at Indiana. Penn State has now dropped towards the bottom of the Big Ten Conference in rushing yards per game, but still possess a dangerous rushing attack. It will be interesting to see how the run game bounces back today against Michigan.
• Through all the ups and downs this season, true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg and the passing attack has been fairly solid. The Nittany Lions rank third in the conference in passing yards a game, averaging 279.4 yards per game. The Nittany Lions could easily find themselves in a hole early against the Wolverines. Due to that, there will be pressure on the passing game to produce. Hackenberg is coming off the best statistical game of his career, throwing for 340 yards and three touchdowns.
Despite the poor showing last week, Penn State should be ready to make this a close game. This will be an entertaining Big Ten battle in an electric environment.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nittany Lions come out on fire in this one and give the fanatic crowd plenty of reasons to get loud. This one really could go either way, though Penn State will need to play a near-perfect game in order to pull off the upset.
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