Difference <25 in National Rank = Push
Difference >25 in National Rank =
Difference >50 in National Rank =
Difference >75 in National Rank =
Differences >100 in National Rank =
Note: The Redzone TD% and Redzone TD% Defense are calculated by me and not ranked by the NCAA. Determining who has the advantage in these categories is strictly my arbitrary judgement.
More analysis after the jump.
The Michigan rushing attack against the Penn State rushing defense is the proverbial irresistible force against the immovable object. Something has to give. The cat-and-mouse game between Rodriguez and Bradley should be fun to watch. Watch how Penn State uses their defensive ends and linebackers to counter the zone read option play, and then look for Rodriguez to adjust. Whoever can keep ahead of the other team's adjustments should win the day.
Penn State sucks at returning kickoffs, and Michigan isn't very good at covering them. Something tells me Michigan's numbers will look better after this week.
Advantages for Michigan
Once again, Penn State will be at a disadvantage in special teams. Other than when Michigan is punting the ball, there is no huge advantage for the Wolverines. And frankly, if Michigan wants to exploit their advantage in punting the ball six times on Saturday I'm okay with that. If Michigan has to punt six times I like our chances.
I must say in doing this exercise I'm surprised by Michigan's offense. I honestly did not think they were that good, but there are the stats. They are 8th in the country in rushing, and lead the conference in scoring. They have played some pretty questionable defenses, but then Penn State has played some questionable offenses too.
Advantages for Penn State
The Michigan defense is not that great. Notre Dame picked their secondary apart, and Indiana rushed for almost 200 yards. A balanced offense like Penn State should be able to adjust to what the Wolverines are doing and move the ball. The question for Penn State will come in the redzone. They have struggled to score touchdowns once they march down the field. If they're settling for field goals they run the risk of letting Michigan hang around too long.
On defense it looks to me like Michigan might be a little one-dimensional. The rushing game is great, but the passing game is meh. Look for Penn State to stuff the box and force Michigan into some long yardage situations on 2nd and 3rd down. Odrick and Ogbu should stuff the middle of this offensive line pretty easily. The key will be with how Bradley uses the defensive ends and outside linebackers. This will be the toughest test yet for Jack Crawford, Jerome Hayes, and Eric Latimore. And getting Sean Lee back will be huge. If we have Lee on one side and Bowman on the other with Hull roaming the middle I'll feel good about Penn State's chances.
I think it's interesting to see Michigan struggling in the redzone like they are. It kind of lends itself to a theory I have about spread teams having difficulty finishing off drives down on the goal line when you have to get tough and punch it in. It may also mean that Rodriguez is a coach that likes to gamble and go for it a lot on fourth down in that territory. If that's the case, they're still not as good as Penn State at scoring touchdowns in the redzone. (BSD: DELETE! DELETE! Math error on my part made Michigan's numbers look worse than they actually are. I can't pull anything over on the readers anymore.)