Michigan Football heads to Happy Valley on Saturday night for a make-or-break showdown with the No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions with Big Ten East implications on the line.
To say that the Wolverines’ season is on the line would probably be an understatement. If the expectation in Ann Arbor is to win Big Ten Championships, this is one they need to find a way to win. The problem is that signature wins have eluded the program so far under Jim Harbaugh.
There are a variety of reasons for this, but the fact of the matter remains that if this truly is a program on the rise back to national prominence, they have to win this game. The dropped one they should not have a few weeks back to Michigan State and now the margin for error is minimal, if it exists at all.
Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkey combine for the best quarterback-running back combination in the Big Ten, but Michigan’s defense is the toughest they have faced to this point. The Nittany Lions can score with the best of them, but defense travels and Michigan absolutely has the horses to keep this a low-scoring, ugly game.
And that gives them a puncher’s chance.
John O’Korn cannot play like he has the last two weeks. He has to not only protect the football, but also make plays and move the chains. To expect him to be Andrew Luck would be unwise, but him rising to the occasion would be a huge development.
This has the feel of a game that comes down to a long kick late, and Michigan has the advantage there with Quinn Nordin. Weird things tend to happen on Saturday Night Football and the Wolverines are usually on the wrong end of it.
Not this time.
Prediction: Michigan pulls off the upset, winning this one by a score of 16-14
Call me crazy, have my head examined, whatever you’d like to do.
Here’s the essential info for the game:
Teams: No. 18 Michigan Wolverines (5-1, 2-1 B1G) vs. No. 2 Penn State (6-0, 3-0 B1G)
Date: October 21, 2017
Location: Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania (106,572)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Radio: Michigan/IMG Sports Network (for a list of affiliates, click here)
Spread: Penn State -9.5, O/U 44.5
- Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor and Tom Rindali are going to be on the television call for ESPN
- Michigan leads the all-time series by a 13-7 margin and are 6-4 at Beaver Stadium
- Jim Harbaugh is 2-0 against Penn State in his career at Michigan
- The Barstool Tailgate will be in attendance for this game. The home team is 0-7 when Dave Portnoy and company are in town.