No time for silly words, let's jump right into the picks.
bscaff: My suspicion is that the Michigan front seven - even without Ojemudia and Glasgow - murders our O-line, and that Michigan - even with pedestrian running backs - pops a couple of runs against our D, most of whom were fitted for shoulder harnesses Week One. If that's the case, then Jake Rudock won't have to throw the football more than 7 yards beyond the line of scrimmage (unless it's to Jake Butt slipping behind our LBs) - which, way back in August, I'd hoped would be the great equalizer for Penn State in this game (i.e., the equalizer for our net loss of 20 yards when trading punts).
So why am I picking Penn State? Magic. "Feel". Karmic balance sheets. Other, assorted mystical...stuff.
Penn State 21 – Michigan 20
Matt: I wrote earlier this week that Penn State has a fantastic opportunity these next two weeks to make a statement with a big win, over a ranked opponent. I believe this is the weekend they get it. It's senior day, it's a Whiteout, and this team has had a week off to heal up, and refocus for two monster games. Michigan's running game is a much better matchup for Penn State's defense than the zone read of Ohio State or Northwestern, and the Wolverines have struggled mightily to run the ball of late. Jake Rudock has been good at QB, but this is by far the best defense he has seen during his recent run of success. PSU will struggle to do much against Michigan's solid defense as well, but I expect someone, whether it be Hackenberg, Barkley, or hell, even Mike Gesicki, to make a play when it's needed. Or maybe Anthony Zettel caps his PSU home career with another Pick 6. That would be cool too.
Penn State 17 – Michigan 14
Dan: Michigan is a more talented team, a more experienced team, and a better coached team. Penn State has the homefield advantage but the normal benefit granted by the officials in a home game has not existed at Beaver Stadium for quite a while. I'm curious to see if Penn State continues to stumble out of the gate or looks fresh and energized after a bye. But I don't see Penn State going four quarters against this team and beating them.
Michigan 23 – Penn State 10
Eli: Remember everything I said about Ohio State? Double it for Michigan. Our Lord And Savior Jim Harbaugh™ is the best coach that ever coached, and His Immaculate Conception Michigan™ is the best team that ever teamed. Our offense has actually kept us in all but two games this season? Irrelevant. Penn State is undefeated at home? So what? Penn State's passing defense is legit, and Michigan has depended on Jake Rudock to carry the offense with his arm for the last few games? Doesn't mean Jack Schitt. Penn State has the edge in turnover margin? Minor details. Michigan has been playing with fire lately against inferior opponents? They're Michigan, fergodsakes!
Think about it. A guy who's still looking for a signature win vs a guy with nothing but signature wins. Who do you think will win? The one whose seniors have endured what no other team in all of college football has. These seniors, the ones who kept this program together, the ones who stuck with this team when they were encouraged to bail, will not allow anything, or anyone, regardless of how Godly that person may be, to get in the way of going out with a bang in their last game at Beaver Stadium.
56 – 17
Tim: On paper, this should be a game Michigan wins due to their stout defense and the fact their offense is a little more consistent than Penn State's. However, college football is weird and with this game marking the final home game for several key players (including Michigan native Anthony Zettel) look for a team that's fresh from two weeks of rest to give a Michigan team that still may be catching its breath after a tough double overtime contest at Indiana a boatload of fits.
Penn State 17 – Michigan 16
Noel: This game is either going to be the best noon start game in years, or an unwatchable smash mouth disaster. Michigan's vaunted defense got shredded by the Fighting Diamonts last week, though PSU's offense rarely reaches the levels of consistent competency IU musters. Penn State's defensive line, on what is the final home game for Carl Nassib and Anthony Zettel (and, likely, Austin Johnson) is going to give Jake Ruddock some serious fits. However, a secondary that has ranged from solid to terrible, now without its best player in Jordan Lucas, will be mistake prone if the Wolverines go vertical. Expect heavy doses of Saquon Barkley against the Khaki Devil Magic Defense, and be wary of the deep ball with Jabrill Peppers playing center field at times. In the end, I think Penn State has a legit shot at the upset, but doesn't quite pull it out. A 17-13 UM win is my guess, but in what is likely Christian Hackenberg's last game as well, maybe John Donovan will set him loose. You know what? Screw it. My brother goes to Michigan. Fuck 'em. Hopefully it's Donovan's last home game either way.
Penn State 20 – Michigan 17
Nick: The number of people picking Penn State in this game is making me uneasy, because we're surely dooming the team by doing so. I just can't bring myself to disagree, though.
In a normal situation, on a neutral field, where all things are equal, Michigan murders Penn State, probably by 25 points. But that's not how football works. Sometimes you have to go into a big game with the odds stacked against you. And pretty much everything is working against the Wolverines in this game (aside from the literal odds, I guess). They're coming off on an emotional, double overtime win over Indiana. They have their biggest game of the season against Ohio State next week. They're on the road in what will be a more subdued Whiteout, but a Whiteout nonetheless. They're going up against a team with a strong defense and an affinity for the big play, after they've had two full weeks to prepare. All of these reasons are why I'm picking Penn State to win, not because I think they are the better team.
I think Christian Hackenberg is able to get loose just enough to make some big throws down the field, but this game will be won by the legs of Saquon Barkley. Barkley against a tired and somewhat faltering Michigan defense is a recipe for disaster for Jim Harbaugh. Saquon hasn't put up gaudy numbers over the past few weeks, but he also shredded another top defense (Ohio State) for 194 yards earlier this year. I think his running ability, combined with the strong Nittany Lion defense is enough to win a close, ugly game. The letdown, look ahead, trap game extravaganza will end poorly for Michigan.
Penn State 24 Michigan 20
Adam: Penn State 13 – Michigan 10
Bill: Michigan 13 – Penn State 10
Cari: Michigan 17 – Penn State 14
Jared: Michigan 28 - Penn State 17