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Getting To Know Michigan’s Week 4 Opponent: Penn State

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We take a look at the 2016 Penn State Nittany lions

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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.

Linebacker injuries

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

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.

Up-Tempo offense

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.

Position Advantages?

Pennlive.com gives Michigan the edge at every position except running back, and calls the quarterback positions even. I personally give the edge to Michigan at each position. We’ll see soon enough.

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