No. 12 Michigan (8-2, 5-1 B1G) travels to Happy Valley on Saturday afternoon for a showdown with Penn State (7-3, 4-2 B1G) with East Division implications on the line.
The game is the first of a Big Ten East showdown doubleheader with this game set for noon and Michigan State vs. Ohio State set for 3:30 p.m.
For Michigan, they must beat Penn State and have Ohio State beat the Spartans to set a showdown for the Big Ten East Division title in next week's edition of The Game.
The Wolverines come into this game having flipped the script of what we have known about them all season. For the better part of the year, the defense has been elite while they scored just enough on offense. Last week, Michigan's offense exploded and the defense was exposed. They'll be looking to balance that out on Saturday.
Penn State features one of the best front sevens in college football and a quarterback that, while frequently hit, has NFL scouts grading him as a first-round prospect in Christian Hackenberg.
Hackenberg has been up and down at times at Penn State, but a lot of that has to do with his offensive line, which has struggled mightily in the last two seasons.
Michigan's defensive line is likely licking their chops heading into this matchup, but they are a bit banged up and looked tired last week. Indiana's offensive tempo will do that to a lot of people, but the Wolverines did not exactly have the full load of bodies to rotate.
Penn State is not nearly as quick and athletic offensively, so that will help. Chris Wormley and Maurice Hurst could feast on Saturday afternoon.
On the flip side, Michigan's offensive line and run game needs to get back on track. They have taken a step back in the last few games. The flashy passing performances of Jake Rudock the last few weeks have been fun, but Michigan likely doesn't want to get into a situation where they have to attempt 40-plus passes.
Expect this to be a low-scoring, physical game. Penn State is tough at home, but the Wolverines have gotten their scares at Minnesota and Indiana. It will be tight, but I have Michigan winning this game 20-14.
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Teams: #12 Michigan (8-2) at Penn State (7-3)
Date: November 21st, 2015
Location: Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania (106,572)
Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET
Radio: Michigan/IMG Sports Network (for a list of affiliates, click here)
Spread: Michigan -3.5
- Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard and Shannon Spake will be on the TV call.
- Michigan holds an 11-7 record over Penn State in the series' history and are 5-4 at Beaver Stadium.
- The Wolverines are 6-2 vs. PSU in games decided by seven points or less.
- U-M has lost three straight games on the road at Penn State.
- Tight end Jake Butt is 50 receiving yards away from 1,000 in his career. Has 38 receptions for 500 yards this season.
Hitting the Links: MnB's Michigan vs. Penn State Coverage
11-20 - MnB Roundtable Preview's Michigan vs. Penn State
11-19 - Behind Enemy Lines w/ Black Shoe Diaries
11-19 - Week 12 Vegas Lock: Potential Pummel in Pullman
11-19 - S&P+ Gives its Michigan vs. Penn State Prediction
11-19 - The Michigan Man Podcast Episode 282 w/ PSU Radio Voice Steve Jones
11-18 - Getting to Know the Penn State Nittany Lions
11-17 - Michigan Up to No. 12 in CFP Rankings
11-17 - The Michigan Man Podcast Episode 281 w/ Jon Jansen
11-17 - Big Ten Week 12 Odds: Expect Defense in Happy Valley
11-16 - Harbaugh: We've Got a Bounce in Our Step
11-16 - Freep Column: Michigan's Passing Game Peaking at Right Time
11-16 - Calculating Michigan's Odds to Win the Big Ten East
11-15 - Michigan Opens as a Favorite vs. Penn State
11-14 - Michigan vs. Penn State Set for Noon Kickoff
Week 12 College Football Television Schedule