Penn State at Michigan Prediction Roundtable

Sep 17, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State University students wave their pompoms during the fourth quarter against the Temple Owls at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Temple 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O
Sep 17, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State University students wave their pompoms during the fourth quarter against the Temple Owls at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Temple 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O /

Penn State heads on the road this week to take on the Michigan Wolverines in an important Big ten Conference battle. 

The non-conference portion of Penn State’s scheduled is now complete. Up next is a very tough matchup in Ann Arbor. The Nittany Lions begin Big Ten play with a battle against the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan is a double-digit favorite in the game, having crushed its first three opponents of the season. Strong on both offense and defense, the Wolverines are one of the top teams in the country.

Penn State has shown a lot of improvement on offense this season, but the main struggle has been on defense. Injuries have plagued the unit, particularly the linebackers. Against the Wolverines, defensive coordinator Brent Pry will likely be missing all three of is starting linebackers.

It won’t be easy, and few are giving the Nittany Lions a chance, but that’s why they play the game.

Check out the VBR staff predictions below.

Site Expert Barry Leonard Jr.

This one has a chance to not be very good for the Nittany Lions and their fans. A matchup that was already tough before the season began is even tougher now with all three starting linebackers missing. The Penn State defense will certainly have its hands full with a Michigan offense that ranks fourth in the nation with 53 points a game.

Quarterback Wilton Speight and his talented receivers could be in store for a big day. Running backs Chris Evans and De’Veon Smith are likely licking their chops knowing that Penn State has been gashed on the ground this year.

If there’s a bright spot in this one, it’s the Penn State offense. The Nittany Lions, led by quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley have shown an ability to put up points in a hurry.

Last week, Michigan struggled at the start and went down big early to a Colorado offense that runs a similar scheme to Penn State. I’d expect the Nittany Lions to be in this one early, perhaps even holding a slight lead at the half.

However, in the end, the Wolverines will likely get some big plays from Jabrill Peppers and be too much for the Nittany Lions to handle.

Penn State 28

Michigan 45

Contributor Corey Hunter

Penn State won last week and that’s the bottom line. However, it was one of the emptiest feelings after a win I’ve had leaving Beaver Stadium.

Temple is a decent team, don’t get me wrong, but if PSU wants to run with the “big dogs” of the Big Ten, that’s a team they needed to put away at the half. And yet, Temple hung around long enough to keep the final score in doubt until the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

As much as I love the PSU offense (minus the turnovers), I don’t see how they can score enough points to keep up with a Michigan offense that ranks 4th nationally in points scored and a defense that has allowed just four successful third down conversions on the year.

Michigan is looking at this game as a barometer of where they are not only in the Big Ten, but also nationally. With the likely return of All-Big Ten cornerback Jourdan Lewis and the dynamic capabilities of Jabrill Peppers, Penn State will have its hands full. Expect the Nittany Lions to have their hands full with the team speed Michigan, as well as the pass catching capabilities of tight end Jake Butts (especially with their injury-riddled linebacking group).

In the end, my preseason prediction of a loss at the Big House seems destined to happen no matter how I wish for the opposite. I think Penn State will score, but the defense won’t be able to contain Michigan’s offense for the game’s entirety.

Penn State – 24
Michigan – 37

Contributor Shane Lunnen

This is a bad week for Penn State to be missing its starting three linebackers.  In fact they might be missing five starters on defense Saturday if Grant Haley and Evan Schwan are also out.  Michigan, on the other hand, is just getting healthier.  Senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis could be back this weekend for the Wolverines.

In order for the Nittany Lions to have a chance to win this game, the first thing they will have to do is limit turnovers.  The offense has shown signs over non-conference play that it can be really explosive. However, it has shot itself in the foot multiple times.  The turnovers definitely cost them the Pitt game.

The one place Michigan could be vulnerable is going against a spread offense.  Last week, Colorado’s spread offense got out to an early lead and was even leading early in the third quarter until Michigan took over and ran away for the win.  Penn State has to get out to a fast start against the Wolverines and Joe Moorhead needs to use all his weapons available.

The last time I remember the Nittany Lions being this big of an underdog was 2013 in the season finale at Wisconsin.  Penn State came out on top that game, but I just don’t see that happening this week.  Michigan has too much talent and will simply overwhelm Penn State.  I still think Penn State has an upset in them later in the year (think Iowa or Michigan State).  This game doesn’t have that feel to it.

Michigan 45
Penn State 20

Contributor Marty Leap
This weekend Penn State will travel to the Big House to do battle with the fourth ranked Michigan Wolverines. Other than Ohio State, Michigan is probably the best team Penn State will play this season. So, Saturday could be ugly.

If the Nittany Lions are going to have any chance at the upset they must hold nothing back on offense. I want to see Joe Moorhead throw the kitchen sink at the Michigan defense and open up his playbook. In my opinion, Penn State’s passing attack has a slight advantage against the Wolverine defense so I believe Penn State’s offense could have some success Saturday.

Penn State will need to get Saquon Barkley and the rushing attack going, though. And, unfortunately, I do not see this happening against Michigan’s front seven. I will be pleasantly surprised if Penn State tops 100 yards rushing on Saturday.

Defensively, things could be ugly. Penn State will be without all three starting linebackers on Saturday, and cornerback Grant Haley’s status is unknown as well. The Wolverines’ quarterback play is not the best, but with weapons like Jake Butt and Jehu Chesson they have the play makers to make things happen.

The biggest issue on defense though will be stopping Michigan’s rushing attack. Last week Colorado had success doing this due to their big defensive tackles inside. However, Penn State does not have said defensive tackles.

I believe Penn State’s offense will do enough to put up some points and give Michigan fits for two or three quarters on Saturday. However, the Wolverines are simply too talented.

Michigan 41
Penn State 28