Preview: Michigan vs. Penn Shtate

My GOD are bye weeks terrible.  I mean, really, what the hell am I supposed to do on Saturday in the fall without Michigan playing?  And then they come back into a night game, which I'm all for, except I'm not in college anymore, which means that my typical Saturday night starts at around 8:30 and ends around midnight...which is the exact timing of the game.  Compound this with the fact that it is also Halloween and I don't have kids, meaning that I want to go out and get hammered in a ridiculous outfit, and you've got a conundrum.  The deciding factor will likely be my wife, who will be dressed as a 1920's flapper type person, and will want to go show off her iparty shopping skills in front of her friends and drag me along as well.  I will be going as a camo-hunter, with the added bonus of smelling like dirt because that particular outfit has been in a bag with...dirt...in it for the past 8 months.  Oh, the bag also contained a little puck that is designed specifically to smell like dirt so that the rest of your clothes can also smell like dirt.  Hunting shit is cool.  8th year in a row now for this outfit.  I do not like costumes.


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via www.tacomaworld.com

SPEAKING of Halloween, remember when Smarties had little shards of glass in them that one year?  I still can't eat those little things because of that.  I envision little sharp as hell shards of glass just ripping my esophagus as I swallow the sugar dust that those candies reduce to.  HORRIFYING.  It was no big deal for me to give up Smarties because those things suck anyways.  I would ask you, however, what level candy could theoretically have a remote chance of containing shards of glass but you'd eat it anyways?  Would you do it for a Reese's Cup?  How about a Snicker's?  What about Swedish Fish?  In thinking about this, apart from being very hungry for chocolate, I believe that I'd continue to eat the Hershey's bars regardless of glass-shard content.  Other things I can get my fix pretty easily, but solid chocolate to me might as well be solid gold if solid gold were delicious.  Can't have Snickers?  Just go to Milky Way and add some peanuts.  Nobody likes Kit-Kat bars anyways, so you're clear there.  These things I think about while I write these previews.

So yeah, Michigan inconveniently plays Penn State in a night game at Happy Valley this weekend.  I've always been fairly impressed with the Penn State white-out, and I expect this game to be as raucous as that crowd will get all season, and probably until Alabama rolls into town next year.  I don't know why Penn State crowds always seem to reserve an extra gear for Michigan and Ohio State.  Pick on Illinois next time; they're certainly more of a threat (hey-o! oh wait I think I insulted myself).  Vegas likes us with 1.5 points.  Had you told me that would be the line going into this season, I would have called you crazy.

Penn State History

Penn State currently makes up one third of the triumvirate of "storied" programs out of the Big Ten, coupled with Ohio State and Michigan.  This will move to "quadumverate" or whatever you might call that when Nebraska joins next year.  Penn State has won two National Championships in 1982 and 1986, both falling under Joe Paterno's tenure, which has lasted approximately as long as the Sun's tenure as life-giving star to Planet Earth.  Penn State began playing in the Big Ten in 1993, and has accumulated 3 Big Ten championships during that time period.  Penn State recently has been either really good (2005) or really bad (2010) with very little in between.  Some point to JoePa's declining years as reasons for this, and they may be right.  He has all but admitted that he doesn't recruit anymore, and it's anybody's guess as to how much he actually runs of the program.  He has, however, secured his all-time wins record into eternity, and Penn State continues to be a nationally relevant team, so really I'm not sure the old man needs to step down quite yet.  It should be mentioned that Joe was friends with Bear Bryant, who died very shortly after giving up coaching.  I can't find the article now, but JoePa has admitted that the prospect of quitting, with Bear in mind, is a scary one indeed, and I can't blame him.  I think college football is much better with JoePa in it, and hope he coaches until he's 140, or the sun goes out.  Which, really, it's possible man.

Penn State Today

Offense

Relevant Charts:

Catagory National Rank
Scoring Offense 20.3 ppg/99th
Total Offense 337 ypg/82nd
Rushing Offense 128 ypg/86th
Passing Offense 208 ypg/71st


The numbers...they are not so good.  Penn State has played a good schedule to date including some tomato cans, some decent conference opponents, and some elite squads.  These numbers are not a paper tiger, or a paper fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillar as the case may be.  They are what they are:  this Penn State offense suffers from a nearly complete inability to run the ball and a freshman quarterback who does things that freshman do when a defensive tackle from Alabama is running full bore to crush your sternum on 3rd and long.  Robert Bolden will likely be out for the game...or will he?

"We are going to go with Mac to start," Paterno said. "There is an outside chance Bolden will be OK, and we will see how it goes. Mac is good enough to get the job done."

Joe...keeping it close to the vest...

With the will-he-won't-he-he-might-but probably not finally dying down with consensus pointing to Bolden being out, Michigan will be preparing to face Matt McGloin at quarterback this Saturday night.  Who is Matt McGloin?  Glad you asked!  There's a whole post about it!  We know nothing about McGloin except that he's a walk on with some legs on him who will throw a great touchdown fade one play, then huck it into triple-coverage the next.  Given Michigan's track record with walk-on/position changing quarterbacks (cough...SILLER...cough...PURDUE) it might be wise to give McGloin some respect here. JoePa has confidence:

I thought McGloin -- poor kid, I always kill his name -- when Mack went in the game, I thought he had to go in there with very little preparation," Paterno said. "I thought he did a very good job. Obviously, the first play was a great one. And I think he got carried away on the second one when he threw the interception. But I thought he did very well under the circumstances and will get better if he has to play more.

If JoePa gets his name right, this kid might be pretty good.  With McGloin in the game, Michigan can probably expect a heavy dose of tailback Evan Royster, who continues to be pretty good for Penn State.  He has been dogged this year, however, by an inadequate offensive line that have reduced his YPC to 5.11, or 12th in the Big Ten.  Denard, for comparison, has 8.0 YPC, and Michael Shaw has 5.53.  Penn State as a team is averaging 4 YPC, 10th in the Big Ten. 

Michigan, meanwhile, seems to have found something in Kenny Demens; at least enough to warrant some hope for the middle linebacker position this season.  Whether his play - which was a significant upgrade to Ezeh in the Iowa game - remains at a high level is a question mark.  However, Michigan's run defense could actually stand up to the Penn State rushing game in the perfect storm of "hey, Middle Linebacker!" and "Penn State can't run the ball."  Here's hoping anyways.

Michigan will likely force Penn State into third and long at which point McGloin will have the option to throw deep into double coverage, or take the under route and hope that the receiver YAC's his way to a first down.  Michigan:  just tackle the dude.  Short of the sticks, preferably, kthnxbai.

Penn State Defense

Catagory National Rank
Scoring Defense 18.4 ppg/21
Total Defense 331 ypg/31
Rushing Defense 143 ypg/52
Passing Defense 187 ypg/29

 

Healthy Denard Robinson, plz.  Penn State has been absolutely battered with injuries this year on the defensive side of the ball, and currently stands to play a lumbering DT at DE, some walk on dudes in the secondary, and various states of triage in other areas.  From the mgoblog preview:

The DE issues have been so severe that 310 pound freshman DT Jordan Hill started outside against Minnesota and played most of the game. He was not good, providing zero pass rush and looking like a train trying to double back when the Gophers ran misdirection against him. If he plays much against Michigan he'll be crazy vulnerable on the read option. Penn State is experimenting with freshman Fortt as a standup DE, but he's 230 pounds and should be crazy vulnerable to getting donkeyed by Lewan or Dorrestein. Absent Crawford, Penn State is picking its poison.

Cosign.  The defensive line situation at Penn State should yield a big day for Robinson and company; they're allowing 143 yards on the ground as it is and they haven't seen anything close to the Michigan rushing attack ranked in the top 10 nationally.  If Michigan can avoid turnovers, they should and will be able to move the ball on this defense.  Putting it in the endzone is another story....

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RUN AWAY!  RUN AWAY!

Michigan will also get the services of David Molk back this week, which should provide stoutness in the middle where senior Ollie Ogbu is likely the best true defensive tackle that Michigan will face this year.  Michigan should be able to abuse whichever defensive end is the more inexperienced on the read option, which will open the throwing lanes for Denard considerably.  If there is a game left on the schedule with the potential for the fireworks we saw the first 5 games of the season, this is it.  Just stop throwing to the other team.

Special Teams

Don't kick field goals.  I think that's really about it.  Just don't kick field goals.  Also, meet your new Space Emperor.

Key Matchups

David Molk vs. Ollie Ogbu:  This will be an entertaining matchup to watch as two of the conference's best at their respective positions are matched up against each other.

Demens vs. Annointed or Enigmatic?  Which Demens will show up?  The one who garnered tons of praise after Iowa?  Or the one that apparently wasn't good enough to beat out Ezeh in practice?

Denard Robinson vs. It was totally his shoulder throwing those picks:  Stay healthy kid.

Gametime Drink of Choice

I'm going to be at a Halloween party, at which I assume there will be a keg.  Wooo keg beer.  Also: beer pong.

Beer_pong_scene_medium

wooo beer pong.

Alternate Programming

The 13 days of Halloween on ABC Family.  You think you're immune to that shit now until it's 8:30 on a Thursday and you realize that you just watched the entire Spiderwick Chronicles movie, and found it entertaining.  It's like cocaine, these children shows...

Inanimate Object Threat Level

Glowing Hot Red.  Insofar as one can point to a single game and says "your tenure and legacy hangs in the balance" um, I'm pointing to this one.  I will also be at a party at which there will be several haunted props with which to embarrass myself by throwing, kicking, chewing, or glaring at menacingly.  THAT STUFFED BLACK CAT HAS SASSED ME ONE TOO MANY TIMES.

Recommended for Survival

Find a bunker and sit in it until the game is over.  You then will have two choices:

IF WIN:  Go outside, drink the rest of the night, and start looking into different bowl scenarios

IF LOSE:  I guess start looking West towards Jim Harbaugh and Stanford with as much wistfulness as you can muster.  And don't get on the internets.

Elsewhere

Wolverines vs Nittany Lions coverage

Wolverines vs Nittany Lions preview

Black Shoe Diaries

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