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Open Thread: Big Ten Football Game of the Week

#16 Michigan travels to Beaver Stadium for a massive game against #7 Penn State

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Ohio State at Penn State Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Michigan will roll into University Park, Pennsylvania hoping to grab what would be their biggest road win of the season. It will be an enormous challenge on both sides of the ball for Michigan. Penn State is ranked 4th in the nation in Total Defense. They are elite or close to at all three levels of their unit. Michigan’s offense its going to need balance to score on them. It ranks 73rd in passing offense and 80th in rushing offense. The season is at it’s halfway point and I think its safe to say that Michigan simply does not have a very strong offense overall.

Game Stats:

  • Where: University Park, Pennsylvania
  • When: Saturday, 7:30PM ET
  • Channel: ABC
  • Spread: -9 Penn State

Jim Harbaugh is going to need to use some creativity if he plans to score enough against Penn State. Otherwise the more likely alternative will be Michigan’s defense keeping this a very low scoring game. A similar strength Iowa defense held Penn State to 17 points last week. Could this Michigan offense score 17 points on this Penn State defense? That prospect seems a little bleak based on Michigan’s offensive performance so far this year.

Penn State will have a sellout crowd and a whiteout in prime time as they welcome the Wolverines. This Penn State offense struggled against a very strong Iowa defense last week but made plays when it mattered most to get a victory. I would lean more towards Penn State’s performance against Iowa than any of their other games as an indicator of what we might see against a ranked Michigan team. It does help Penn State that this is a prime time home game in front of a sellout crowd.

Their are many key players in this game on Michigan’s side but I will discuss just one in quarterback Shea Patterson. He has been serviceable for the Wolverines. However when the competition was at it’s stiffest against the likes of Wisconsin and Iowa, he fell a little short. Combining the stats of those 2 games, he was 28 of 58 for 366 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INT. That level of play probably won’t get it done against this foe. Patterson will face the same level of pressure and pass coverage as he did in those two games. He has to have a better performance and limit his turnovers to give his team a chance.

The most important player for the Nittany Lions in this tilt has to be running back Noah Cain. Cain was very key for Penn State against Iowa due to the Hawkeyes limiting the Penn State pass game. He rushed 22 times for 102 yards and a TD. Penn State needs Cain to make great reads and cuts like he did in the Iowa game in order for pressure to be taken off of QB Sean Clifford. He’ll need to be a rushing threat to the Michigan defense in order to open things up for Clifford in the Run/Pass/Option scheme.

Overall this game has the makings of a lower scoring affair. Both defenses are their team’s strength but Penn State is at home and has a far better offense.

Prediction: Penn State 20 Michigan 10

Leave your thoughts on the game of the week below, leading up to the game and afterwards!