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Michigan’s keys to victory against Penn State

See what Michigan has to do to come away with a victory this weekend in Happy Valley.

Syndication: DetroitFreePress Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press

After the Michigan Wolverine’s first loss of the season, the margin for error has disappeared. Every game is a must-win now, and this weekend’s game in Happy Valley against the Penn State Nittany Lions may be the toughest challenge of the year. Penn State is 6-3, but very easily could be 9-0 and was ranked in the top five just a few weeks ago. Don’t let the fact they are unranked fool you; they’re a very talented team and this has all the markings of a Big Ten slugfest.

Let’s take a look at what the Wolverines need to do to come out on top.

Limit Jahan Dotson

Wide receiver Jahan Dotson is arguably Penn State’s most dangerous offensive weapon. Dotson averages 13 yards per reception and has 932 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Penn State doesn’t have much of a run game. Their rushing attack ranks 13th in the Big Ten, rushing for 106 yards per game. The Nittany Lions are going to attack Michigan’s secondary, and Dotson should get plenty of targets. Limiting his production will be crucial in order to win this game.

Avoid costly mistakes

In Michigan’s one loss this season, there were numerous mistakes made by the Wolverines that haven’t happened in other games this year. Against Michigan State, Michigan had the ball near midfield up by three about midway through the fourth quarter with a chance to make it a two-score game and essentially put the game away. There was miscommunication on a handoff which led to a fumble, which the Spartans turned into the game winning touchdown.

These mistakes are the difference between wins and losses in big games like this, and Michigan can’t afford to let them happen again.

Capitalize in the red zone

Penn State has a good defense, allowing 16.7 points per game, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten. Michigan has struggled to produce touchdowns in the red zone as of late, which was a big difference in the loss to Michigan State. Because of Penn State’s strong defense, there may not many opportunities in the red zone this weekend. When the Wolverines get there, they need to come away with touchdowns.