No. 4 Michigan begins Big Ten Conference play Saturday at the Big House against Penn State. It hasn’t been easy sledding for the Nittany Lions in the early going. They got off to a good start week one beating Kent State 33-13, then dropped a close game to Pittsburgh 42-39, and won a nail-biter last week over Temple 34-27. None of those teams are of the caliber that Michigan is. I expect a convincing victory by the Wolverines, but then again, once Big Ten play starts anything can happen and close games can spring up out of the blue.
Let’s get to know the 2016 Penn State Nittany Lions
Franklin Era vs. Michigan
Penn State head coach James Franklin is 0-2 against Michigan thus far in his career. The Wolverines won 18-13 in 2014, and 28-16 in 2015.
All three Nittany Lions starting linebackers are injured. Nyeem Wartman-White has a torn-acl, Brandon Bell was on crutches after last Saturday’s game, and Jason Cabinda has missed the last two games and is expected to miss this one. This could set up a big day for Jake Butt, and make it easier for the run game to get past the second level on defense as well.
Harbaugh respects Penn State
Harbaugh on @RichEisenShow about Penn State: Very good football team, familiar with QB, RB, DL. First league game, in for FB fight.— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) September 20, 2016
Third Down Efficiency
Michigan’s third down defense is No. 1 in the nation, allowing just 4 conversions in 38 attempts, while Penn State has converted only 9 of 33 third downs on offense.
Haven’t stopped the run, have stopped the pass
Penn State defense ranks 92nd against the run and 22nd against the pass.
Michigan will be facing yet another hurry-up attack when they face Penn State’s offense. The offense has been on the field less than 27 minutes per game. Michigan loves to win the time of possession battle, and that should transpire again Saturday.
Penn State players to watch
QB Trace McSorely: 828 yards passing, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
RB Saquon Barkley: 258 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns
WR Mike Gesicki: 9 receptions, 158 yards, 1 touchdown
WR Chris Godwin: 18 receptions, 220 yards, 1 touchdown
S Marcus Allen: 21 tackles