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BSD Prediction Roundtable: Michigan

The staff looks into their crystal ball for results against the Wolverines.

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Penn State has been stewing since getting embarrassed in Ann Arbor last year with a depleted defense. Now, they will try to take advantage of a depleted Michigan offense. James Franklin has been keen to settle old scores this year and Saquon Barkley traditionally shows up big in primetime, which should force the Wolverines offense to have to play more aggressively than they have been comfortable with thus far.

Penn State 31, Michigan 13


I don't know what it is, but I've felt great about this one ever since watching UM losing to Michigan State, and that feeling was emboldened watching the Wolverines barely escape Indiana. This Michigan offense is feckless and John O'Korn is a turnover waiting to happen. Penn State's secondary may be the best in the country and the team sure as hell hasn't forgotten about the ass whipping it received last year in the Big House. The combination of this defense, O'Korn, and the bonkers environment in Happy Valley makes me think blowout. Gotta go with my gut.

Penn State 38, Michigan 10


It's going to be a tale of two defenses; the question is, which one wins out? Penn State will take the W, of course, since it's a home game, and the Nittany Lions’s defense will easily stop O'Korn and the bumbling Michigan offensive line, but not without struggles with Penn State's run game and kicking.

Penn State 20, Michigan 13

Chris Lucia

I have vacillated wildly on this game. Prior to the season, I thought Penn State would win, as Michigan lost errybody. Then they beat Florida and looked good against their first four opponents, while the Nittany Lion offense - particularly the offensive line - failed to truly dominate most opponents, and my faith began to waver. Then they looked extremely pedestrian against Northwestern, and I began to think Penn State might lose.

But then, our own bscaff broke down how Joe Moorhead did virtually no play changes in the Northwestern game. Michigan lost to Michigan State, and needed overtime to escape Indiana. My faith was renewed, only to see advance stats indicating the Wolverine defensive line is going to live in Penn State’s backfield this week. GameDay, the whiteout, and an older team which has finally implemented their offense are all points in Penn State’s favor. I still think they win, but I am going to be extremely nervous all game.

Penn State 24, Michigan 17


I honestly don't have a great read on this game. I mean, I think Penn State will win, but have no idea what type of game it will be. Michigan's a well-coached team though, and defense travels so as much as I like to think Penn State will layeth the smackdown on the Wolverines, I think it'll be a decently close game before the Nittany Lions pull away late.

Penn State 28, Michigan 15


This game will be closer than some people believe, despite Penn State's offensive superiority. I think Penn State's defense provides the boost, getting a defensive touchdown late in the third, which helps them pull away in the fourth.

Penn State 27, Michigan 14


Michigan's front seven will make life hard for Saquon Barkley and the Penn State attack, but the Lions will do a better job protecting the ball, and that will make the difference in this one.

Penn State 20, Michigan 13


Both teams have killer, opportunistic, defenses that are bound to give the opposing team's offensive line fits Saturday night. I'm giving Penn State the edge due to the White Out and the fact that Michigan's offense lacks firepower. John O'Korn is prone to throwing a couple of picks that could give PSU's offense a short field to work with, and even though Saquon Barkley will likely be held in check, he will still get his big play or two for a touchdown and Trace will connect on his fair share of passes to his bevy of receivers (more so than O'Korn probably will, at least). Did I also mention the fact that Manny Bowen was retweeting Wilton Speight's quotes from last year about running the same plays eight or nine times and everyone on the team laughing earlier this week? Sounds like somebody's got revenge on their minds.

Penn State 24, Michigan 13


Welp, this college football season has finally begun. Now we'll get to see what kind of team we’re actually rooting for. This is kinda exciting.

PSU 24, Michigan 18


The Michigan defense will be Penn State’s best opposing unit to date. The Wolverine unit is first in the country in total defense, and second in S&P+, behind Alabama. Their defense is no joke, and I’d venture out a guess that this is the best defense The Nittany Lions have faced since, well, Michigan’s defense last season.

Their conundrum comes when you consider that Penn State’s defense this season is substantially better than the unit The Wolverines faced last season. The offense this season is substantially better than the unit The Wolverines faced last season as well. The offense, as a whole, has been more efficient so far in the first six games of the season than it was all of last season, even after it found its stride. Against a team like Michigan, efficiency is more valuable than explosiveness, as picking apart at their best unit, little by little, eventually leads to the floodgates opening.

There is a unit that I didn’t bother to mention, and this is the Michigan offense. The reality of the matter is that their offense will be inconsequential to this game. They’re not going to win by getting into a shootout with Penn State. They’re going to win it by scoring defensive touchdowns, giving themselves good field position, and forcing the Nittany Lions to make mistakes.

All that said, there is one thing that does give me pause for this game. The last time Michigan played Indiana into an overtime thriller, they came to Happy Valley and won 28-16. What eases that concern for me, though, is the the last time a good team with a good defense and a mediocre offense came into Happy Valley and gave me pause, that team lost by four touchdowns.

Penn State 56, Michigan 17


(originally appearing on PennLive)

This Penn State team has not forgotten last year's beatdown in Ann Arbor, the last regular season game it lost. The Lions are coming off a bye while the Wolverines are coming off back to back close games, one a loss to in-state rival MSU, the other an overtime win in Bloomington. Penn State is also a two-score favorite, which may seem high considering James Franklin is 0-3 against Jim Harbaugh. But this is a night White Out game that's been circled on every team member's calendar, despite the weekly "1-0" mantra Franklin has fostered. This game should be a good one ... if you're a Penn State fan.

PLAYER(S) ON THE SPOT: The offensive line. Michigan's defense under Don Brown is fierce and fearsome. They'll throw all sorts of different looks at opposing offenses, and while they don't tend to bring the eight defenders up to the LOS as other teams might in order to stop Saquon Barkley, they can do with five what others need six or seven to accomplish. The line needs to be good enough to know their assignments, keep their blocks just long enough for Trace McSorley to make his read, and solidify the outside so that Barkley can break free, either in the run or pass game. This should be their toughest test of the year.

DON’T BE SURPRISED IF … one-time Penn State commits Quinn Nordin and Lavert Hill make plays for the Wolverines. Nordin especially should make a splash, as the Penn State defense will likely feast on an underwhelming UM offense that should have to settle for field goals.

PREDICTION: Penn State jumps out to an early lead with a score on special teams or due to a short field from a defensive turnover or punt return for significant yardage, and Michigan is never able to catch up. The UM defense is good, but Penn State will feed off the crowd and go for over 400 yards on offense … with Tommy Stevens more involved than we've seen him. Michigan's defense scores more than their offense.

Penn State 28, Michigan 13


(originally appearing in the Game Preview)

I’ve had a much harder time settling on a prediction for this game, and that trend will likely continue in the coming weeks. The issues that gives me the biggest pause is Penn State’s offensive line being overmatched, which is a major key for any game of football, at any level. Fortunately, Penn State is the more well-rounded team. With Michigan’s offense struggling, the Nittany Lion defense should be up to the task of limiting the amount of points allowed so the offense can outscore them, even if they don’t have their best performance.

As previously mentioned, I expect this game to come down to the performance of McSorley and spreading the ball out to a deep and dynamic group of passcatchers. It seems likely that Michigan will sell out to stop Barkley on the ground and keep him in the backfield on passing downs, meaning McSorley will be able to get the job done even against a stellar secondary. If McSorley is on, Penn State should be able to win by a couple of scores. If he has a rare off night, it’s going to come down to the wire.

I’m not going to bet against McSorley as he’s proven time and time again. He tosses two touchdowns- one to DaeSean Hamilton, and the other to Saeed Blacknall, who always seems to find the end zone in games like this. On defense, Grant Haley sets the tone with an early interception, while Jason Cabinda feeds off the frenzied White Out crowd with a 13-tackle game that includes a sack and a pass breakup. Up front, Curtis Cothran has himself a night with 3.5 TFLs while Shareef Miller and Shaka Toney combine for a late-game sack to help seal the victory.

Penn State 28, Michigan 16