Penn State Nittany Lions (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten East) at Michigan Wolverines (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten East)
3:30 pm ET, September 24, 2016 - ABC
Michigan Stadium (Capacity: 109,901 / Ann Arbor, MI)
Difference >25 in National Rank =
Difference >50 in National Rank =
Difference >75 in National Rank =
Difference >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 judgment.
Yes, it's way too early, but since it's Big Ten season, I figured I'd start too early.
I have to say, I was surprised there weren't more three- and four-Michigan logos here. The Wolverines are much better on offense in 2016 than they were headed into this matchup last season, but their defense isn't quite as good (it was a killer last season). That bodes not horribly.
Also, with how good (save last week's fluke) Penn State has been on special teams, I kind of expected more of a PSU swing in those categories--but those logos belie the earliness of this post. Penn State has had only four kickoffs returned--so that 122 ranking is a little inflated, since they've kicked off at least 14 more times than that. Similarly, punt return defense hasn't been something I track on here--I compare punt returns to punting itself instead--but PSU's punt return D has been stellar (when Blake Gillikin has allowed punts to be returned; only 3 have been returned, for an average of 1 yard) and they are 15th. Michigan, on the other hand, is 121st in punt return defense, but it's only because they've had 4 punt returns to defend, and they've averaged 17.5. Let's go, John Reid.
As for something else that stood out? Michigan's red zone defense. On paper, 33.33% is a great red zone defense number--but their opponents have only been in the red zone three times. They've allowed their opponents to score from outside the redzone, so that seems to be a key here.
What say you guys?