The Michigan Wolverines are back on the football field this weekend in a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Coming into the year, many of us believe that these were the two teams that posed the biggest “threat” to Ohio State in the Big Ten East, but a topsy-turvy 2020 for both programs has this more of a showdown near the bottom of the conference standings than anything.
Michigan is coming off its first win a month last weekend in a triple-overtime defeat of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. While that has not done a ton around these parts to improve morale of the fanbase as it pertains to the future of the program, a win is a win and we don’t apologize for those around here.
By far the biggest storyline coming out of the game was the emergence of quarterback Cade McNamara, who is expected to get his first career start on Saturday against Penn State. Michigan scored all 35 of its points in regulation with McNamara at the helm after he replaced Joe Milton in the second quarter and he appeared to be in command of the offense. We will see how he fares this week in practice where it stands to reason that he received the majority of first-team reps.
Penn State’s quarterback situation appears less certain with the team rotating between Sean Clifford and Will Levis in recent weeks. Neither has been particularly good and quite frankly, there’s a reason this team is winless coming into the final stretch of games in the truncated 2020 season.
But if there’s one thing that has turned even the most pedestrian of quarterback’s into stars this year, it’s a depleted Michigan defense that was not even really playing well when it was at full strength. They also have not forced a ton of turnovers, so that might be the biggest thing this game hinges on.
If Michigan is able to keep making whoever plays at quarterback for PSU look like they have all season long, they should be able to win this game assuming McNamara also plays well. We should not assume that and simply let things play out, but the film we he has put out there so far somewhat suggests what he brings to the table is sustainable.
Prediction: Michigan 28, Penn State 27
I expect a close game because frankly, neither of these teams is very good this year. It’s going to come down to Michigan’s defense in this one and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I believe they will play well enough to seal a victory in the end for McNamara and an ascending offense.
If Michigan loses to a very defeated Penn State squad, it would be another damning mark against this coaching staff.
Teams: Michigan Wolverines (2-3) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (0-5)
Date: Nov. 28, 2020
Location: Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Television: ABC (Dave Pasch, Mike Golic Sr. and Paul Carcaterra on the call)
Streaming: YouTube TV, Hulu, FuboTV (free trial link here)
Radio: 950 AM in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area, see affiliate stations here
Spread: Michigan -2, over/under 58.5 points (Vegas Insider)