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Blue White Roundtable is Cautiously Optimistic

Enough rehashing of the Buffalo game. It's time to start turning our focus on Michigan. What better way to do that than with the Blue White Roundtable. Run Up The Score offers up the questions this week.

Reportedly, Penn State is playing some school in a mitten-shaped state this weekend.  Are any of you actually optimistic for the Michigan game?

I have no idea what to expect. I thought we had the better team in 1997, 1999, 2002, and 2005 and we lost all of those games. Today Joe reminded us that the last two times we went to Ann Arbor we lost on the last play of the game. I think this Nittany Lion team is better than the 2002 team. We're probably even with the 2005 team. So it's reasonable to assume we have a very good chance of winning this game.

I just don't know what to expect from Michigan this year and that's what makes me nervous. Is their defense as bad as it looked against Appalachian State and Oregon or was that just against a spread offense? Ryan Mallett is going to be good someday. Will it be this Saturday? If I knew what to expect from Michigan I would feel better about this game.

Okay, we all know that Penn State has lost eight straight games against Michigan since 1997.  Plenty of PSU fans blame the coaches' offensive game planning, calling it predictable and bland.  Fair criticism?  If the definition of "insane" is repeating the same act over and over again and expecting a different result, does this make our coaching staff absolutely crazy?

Yes, it is fair criticism. We saw Appalachian State and Oregon shred their defense by spreading them out and attacking the medium range to deep middle. So therefore I expect Penn State to come out just like they always do. Running up the middle and throwing to the sidelines.

Traditionally, when Joe Paterno goes on the road against a tough opponent he gets conservative so I expect nothing less this week. It's kind of funny actually. Our philosophy on defense is to keep everything in front of you and not give up big plays. The thinking is if you force the offense to take 10 plays to move down the field rather than 5 you have doubled the odds that they will make a mistake. Yet on offense we take an approach that requires 10 plays to move down the field thus putting ourselves in a situation we view as disadvantageous to the other team. I hope they open it up and challenge that Michigan secondary.

List three things Penn State absolutely must do in order to finally beat Michigan.

1.    Attack the Wolverine defense. I expect to see Andrew Quarless have a monster game. He can attack the middle of their defense and pick up huge chunks of yards. I'm fully expecting at least six catches, 100 yards and a couple touchdowns.

2.    Stop Mike Hart. If we can reasonably contain him that forces them to rely on their true freshman quarterback.

3.    Win the special teams battle. As bad as their defense is I think they match up well to stop us. We don't run a spread offense. So I see the matchup of our offense against their defense to be a wash. Likewise, Mallett showed the ability to throw a good deep ball against Notre Dame. He could hit Manningham and Arrington on a few deep throws and easily put up a few scores on us out of dumb luck. It's important we win the special teams battle to put our offense in a position for some easy scores and force their offense to go the length of the field. I really think this will be the difference in the game.

Lightning Round

Would you rather be facing a one-legged Henne or a two-legged Mallett this weekend?

Two-legged Mallett.

Your score prediction?


Do you see any upsets on the Big Ten horizon this week?

I think Iowa is going to beat Wisconsin.

In one word, tell us if the constant griping by Penn State fans about Big Ten officiating is valid.

In one word...Yes.

That's it so take it or leave it. Then go check out the other guys.

Run Up the Score
The Nittany Line
William Yurasko
There Is No Name On My Jersey
The Nittany Blog