Game Time: 5 PM EST | Wolverines vs Nittany Lions coverage
Opponent Blog: Black Shoe Diaries
Weather Forecast: Overcast and dry, mid-sixties and falling.
The two Devins put the minds of all in attendance on Saturday at ease, and Funchess found himself at home at wideout. MLive.com's post-game headline read "Funchess Explodes," so I hope he is OK for this weekend's game. Michigan got an -- what's the word -- efficient? Yes, efficient, victory against the Gophers but it didn't look that way at halftime with just a 14-7 lead and a sub-100 yard offensive performance. The athletic department then tried to excite an unexcited crowd into participating in a weird attempt at a Guinness world record for a sing-along at one venue. I'm not sure it worked because sending a text message inside Michigan Stadium on a Saturday is the harder than solving the origins of the universe.
Michigan relied on the passing game only when needed, and zero Devin Gardner turnovers happened during the game. He did fumble once but had the awareness to fall on it immediately. It wasn't a pretty game plan, but it kept Michigan out of trouble and the ball off the ground. Minnesota excelled at a couple things: time of possession and third down conversions. Michigan's defense let the Gopher offense stay on the field much too long, and the linebackers and safeties got mismatched against bigger tight ends for many of those conversions. Jake Ryan's presence in the middle of the field will fix some of that whenever he returns but in the meantime Michigan's weak zone coverage will have to be masked by more consistent quarterback pressure.
So here stands Penn State, a shell of its former self, with a capable coach and a novice at quarterback (again). The last game Michigan played against a first-time Penn State starting quarterback, Matt McGloin caught the already-struggling Michigan defense off-guard and ripped them to shreds. Whatever your feelings on Penn State's program and institutional malaise, the product on the football field is getting by as best it can without a whole lot of talent, and is even good in spurts. Allen Robinson is gifted but the Michigan cornerbacks can't let him outsize them. Blake Countess is quickly becoming the interception machine Michigan needs, but he hasn't become a full shutdown corner, which this defense needs even more.
Indiana caught Penn State off-kilter on Saturday, and used their rushing game more than their lethal passing game, and if the Hoosiers can open up such big holes at the line, Michigan has zero excuses to not rack up the yards with Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green. Taylor Lewan was spotted at right tackle on a few of Michigan's second half plays, so Hoke is clearly experimenting with getting a bigger push up front. Should Devin Gardner get sloppy with the football, he may not be so lucky to pull a win out of the fire in a place like Beaver Stadium.
Nevertheless, it was Michigan's most complete game since the victory over Notre Dame, and late Monday came word that Ondre Pipkins is done for the year, making pressure from the defensive line even more vital.
Happy Valley is a threatening place for late-day games, but Michigan's record there is surprisingly good. The 2006 team injured no less than seven Penn State quarterbacks (OK fine it was two), and the 1997 team demolished them in a night game. Both programs are much different since they last played in 2010, and expect a fight.
Student Journalism Shout-Out of the Week: Everett Cook (@everettcook) wrote a great column in The Michigan Daily discouraging Michigan Stadium from playing Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" ever again.