It was always bound to happen. Though Michigan started the season with four straight wins, there were going to be some bumps for a roster so dependent on freshmen. Unfortunately, reality set in against Notre Dame, as the Irish handed the Wolverines their first two losses of the new season in a frustrating sweep at home.
There is no need to panic; the Wolverines are still ranked inside the top 10 and have plenty of talent and potential. However, last weekend’s losses are a good reminder that there are still plenty of opportunities for growth, both in figuring out how to break down a tough defense and in limiting mistakes that lead to damage.
Michigan gets a chance to turn things around with a two-game set against Penn State starting on Wednesday. The Nittany Lions are wineless thus far and have struggled to compete in three of their four games. If there ever was a series for Mel Pearson’s squad to bounce back from the year’s first rough patch, this would be it.
Series Info & How to Watch
Teams: No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (4-2-0, 5 pts) at Penn State Nittany Lions (0-4-0, 0 pts)
Location: State College, PA
Game 1: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 6:00 pm ET — ESPNU
Game 2: Thursday, Dec. 3, 6:00 pm ET — BTN+
Penn State finished dead last in the Big Ten preseason poll and have lived up to that so far. Sweeps against Minnesota and Wisconsin have left the Nittany Lions looking a step behind the rest of the competition, and 13 allowed goals in two games against the Badgers leave a lot of questions about the defense.
For Michigan, this will be an opportunity for the offense to get back on track. Against the Badgers, the team did not play perfectly, but eventually the Wolverines found ways to equalize (and win) after falling behind. That strategy did not work out against the Irish, with the scoring mostly stymied against a team that looks to be physical and slow play down.
This is not the strength of the Nittany Lions, and chances are the Wolverines are relishing the chance to show off some of their firepower once again. Look for Michigan to play aggressive and be more opportunistic in attack. Penn State may not be as bad as its record says (copy-and-pasted this line from a football post), but this one looks like a mismatch.