The No. 9 Michigan Wolverines take on the Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium Saturday at noon. The Wolverines head into the matchup with an 8-1 record, which has them at No. 6 in current CFP projections. Michigan is one of four teams in the top six in the CFP with at least one loss.
The last time the Maize and Blue won in Happy Valley came during Jim Harbaugh’s first year as head coach in 2015. Michigan was close in 2019 after attempting a comeback that came up just short. But the Wolverines went on to play some of their best football of the season after that game. With another attempt to take down the Nittany Lions on the road, what will it take to get over Penn State?
The game has been split for the majority of the week, but current odds put the Wolverines as the 1.5-point favorite. Regardless, all signs and predictions point to this being a close game. While the Nittany Lions don’t have the edge a night game at home usually gives them, they still present a difficult task for the Wolverines.
But the Wolverines have played well all season, even in their one loss. Penn State has struggled through three of its last four games, and recent quarterback injury has been detrimental to the Nittany Lions the last few weeks. Regardless, they’ll play Michigan tough, but what will determine who will win? Will it be Michigan and the ground game or Penn State and its passing threat?
The Nittany Lions look like they have caught a break with running back Blake Corum potentially out for the game due to injury, but that doesn’t mean they are exactly in the clear. Hassan Haskins has been solid, if not better, and has taken on a heavier workload.
Meanwhile, Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford’s current season numbers outpace Cade McNamara’s by some significance, but this appears to be a result of having an unreliable ground attack. The Nittany Lions have been put in a position this season that relies heavily on their passing threat. What offense will meet the most success? Michigan’s more balanced threat or Penn State’s pass offense?
It looks like this game could go either way, even with Michigan just barely being the favorite, so what will be the key then to taking down the Nittany Lions? I think being aggressive, but clean with its passing offense will give Michigan an edge. The Wolverines also have one of the best offensive lines in the country and should push Penn State around, allowing Haskins to go to work. Michigan’s defense has been incredibly reliable this year, and having Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo put pressure on Clifford will force them into situations that could create turnovers and mistakes.
The Maize and Blue have been reliable on both sides of the ball and that should be enough to get out with a win. What do you think Michigan needs to take down Penn State? Let us know in the comments!