Enough talk. Let's play the game. Right after the BSD staff talks about their predicitons.
Last week I expected Bradley to play it safe and let the offense win the game. Instead, the defense came out as aggressive as I think I've ever seen, blowing through the highly regarded Wisconsin line and sending six and seven guys at a time. This was in stark contrast to the Illinois approach and to be honest I'm torn as to which one will be more effective tomorrow. On one hand, a lot of pressure is sure to stall an already shaking offense into making a lot of mistakes. The alternative, forcing them to run 13-18 well executed short plays to score is bound to lead to several unforced turnovers and make it difficult for Michigan to keep up.
On offense, things will probably look the same. Michigan does in fact have a defense, but they aren't doing anything that sets them apart from any of the other squads Penn State has faced this fall. They currently rank 54th in total defense and 64th in scoring defense and they have proven to be very venerable in the secondary.
I'm slowly getting over the hesitation that was conditioned in me the previous two years and I don't know why this game has to be any different than the other 2008 games against poor competition. There isn't one matchup that has me even remotely worried and I think that's led to me being more confident than is probably healthy. I expect a fun game none the less as it's clear from the past that demons must be exercised.
Penn State 45, Michigan 7
As I said earlier this week, whether it's fair or not, beating Michigan for the first time in ten tries won't mean anything without Lloyd Carr on the sidelines. Not that I think he was some sort of awful person, but he looked like a dick and let's face it, sometimes that's enough. He coincidentally celebrated some of the most awful Penn State moments since 1997. And now he's gone. What's to hate about Rich Rodriguez? He "stole" a recruit? Big deal, happens all the time.
It's legitimately sad that this game means next to nothing. Lloyd's gone and Michigan is terrible by any standard -- even their big win against Wisconsin looks shabby now. But it'll be the end of The Streak, and the appetizer for next week's main course in Columbus. A decisive home victory against an overwhelmed Wolverine team will have to be enough to collectively hold us over until then.
Prediction: Penn State 38, Michigan 7.
Is there any chance Michigan could win this game? Sure. Rich Rodriguez could find holes to exploit in the Penn State defense. Daryll Clark could get pushed out of bounds and suffer a concussion when his head hits Pat Devlin's knee tearing his ACL to shreds. Evan Royster and Stephfon Green could fumble the ball away seven times giving Michigan easy scores. But it's not likely. On paper, this game should not be close.
My only hope is that the students don't get too excited about breaking the streak. I worry because they don't have the appreciation of 12 years of losing. They were all in grade school back when this thing started. I doubt most of them even know Tom Brady was their quarterback back then. There were some games where you can make the case we were robbed, but for the most part we got our butts whipped. And each time Michigan and their fan base treated it like we were just another team on the schedule. They don't hate us, and there is no reason why we should be disrespectful toward them. So I hope when the game is over the students won't rush the field or run down town and set State College on fire. Just walk out of the stadium and go celebrate. Start up all the "WE ARE" chants you want. Just don't be a dick.
Prediction: Penn State 45 Michigan 3