Judging by on field results this season, there’s really no good reason to be terribly nervous about Michigan’s offense and yet I have an unease because of Josh Gattis and his longtime familiarity with Brent Pry and his defense. Does Michigan have the personnel to translate his understanding to points? I’m not sure I believe they do. Between the noise and Nittany Lion defense, it might be too much to overcome, particularly if Sean Clifford and the offense come out with a fast start and make Michigan chase the game.
Penn State 24, Michigan 13
All this optimism is (surprise) making me nervous. Yes, Michigan’s offense has looked more than vulnerable in the past few weeks, but their defense should still be a strong test for Sean Clifford and Co. Clifford struggled against both Pitt and Iowa, and if he doesn’t get off to a strong start, we could be in for a nail-biter.
That being said, Penn State’s defense should be up to the task against Shea Patterson. The defensive line is looking like one of the nation’s best, and should be able to get a lot of pressure on Patterson. The defense, combined with it being a Whiteout, will do just enough to get the Nittany Lions past the Wolverines.
Penn State 20, Michigan 17
Michigan’s offense has stunk this year against any team with a pulse averaging 16 points per game against Army, Iowa, and Wisconsin, while averaging 44.7 points per game against MTSU, Rutger, and Illinois. On the road, their defense has not been good. Dom Brown’s crew has allowed just 11.3 points per game at home, but in two road games they have surrendered 60 points. Well, Penn State’s defense has played at an elite level and the White Out may be the toughest road environment in the B1G, if not the FBS.
On top of those trends pointing toward a Penn State victory, I expect this group of Nittany Lions to be very motivated on Saturday night. They are not happy about the 42-7 beat down they were handed by Michigan last season. Furthermore, with a win Penn State improves to 7-0 and could be knocking on the door of a top 5 ranking.
The biggest question mark for Penn State will be quarterback Sean Clifford. The first year starter has been lights out in four of six games, but against the two best defenses he’s faced - Pitt and Iowa - he has struggled. Cliff needs to bounce back on Saturday night, make better reads, have a better pocket presence, and hit his deep throws. I believe all of this will happen.
This game will be a tight battle to start. However, Penn State wins it going away in the second half.
Penn State 30, Michigan 14
Last week I pontificated on Kinnick and Kryptonite and boldly proclaimed a 3-touchdown win for the good guys. Some jittery quarterback play and questionable officiating later, and the Lions snagged a mere 5 point win.
Does being at home help? Of course. Does not-John O’Neill help? Of course.
But I’m in wait and see mode for the offense, officially. I think the defense does its job and the offense does enough, but I don’t think I can predict a huge win until I see it.
Penn State 24, Michigan 17
As a sophisticated, trained journalist I understand that I am to remain as objective as possible while evaluating these games. THAT BEING SAID. Lloyd Carr is the devil. Chad Henne and Mario Manningham belong in prison for robbery. Jim Harbaugh is a dork with no social skills. Shea Patterson has NEVER been a good college quarterback. Fullbacks are outdated. Josh Gattis was a product of JoeMo and Nick Saban. Greg Mattison got out while he still could. LaVert Hill made the wrong choice. Will Fries made the right choice. Penn State by 1,000.
Penn State 41, Michigan 10
I’m out and have a few brewskis in me, so I’ll keep this short: Michigan’s D while stout and problematic for PSU’s offense, has also given up an average of 30 points in their two road games. Michigan’s offense meanwhile has looked rough against any defense with a pulse. I think it’s close enough throughout, but with PSU hanging onto a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter and Michigan driving, the Lions come up with a clutch turnover that gets turned into a TD to put it away.
Penn State 31, Michigan 14
I’m getting this in at the last minute so going to keep it short. Penn State is a better football team than Michigan in every aspect and on Saturday the Nittany Lions begin to make their claim as the No.2 team in the Big Ten going forward in 2019 and beyond.
Penn State 34, Michigan 14
Let’s keep it simple. Penn State is playing at home. The home team is contractually obligated to blow out the visitor in this series. Before the season started, I would have guessed this would have been the year the contract was breached. After seeing how anemic Michigan’s offense is against anyone with a pulse, and I mean anyone with a pulse, I have no reason to fear a breach of contract. Oh, by the way, do you think Penn State’s players, most of which were present last season when Michigan players, fans, and staff, were taunting the Nittany Lions (weren’t they playing the Penn State fight song too at some point?) forgot what happened last season? I think not. And we know for a fact James Franklin and staff didn’t forget. Get ready for pain Michigan Man.
Penn State 84, Michigan 0
If you asked the pundits back in August, most would have expected Michigan to walk out of Beaver Stadium with a victory. Despite an offense that still had many questions to resolve and a huge departure of talent on defense, many viewed Michigan as the Big Ten favorite, a top-5 team, and a strong playoff contender. Not many would have given much of a thought of Penn State being ranked nine spots higher and a nine-point favorite.
While it’s nice to be in this position, Michigan will still be a challenge. It’s defense is capable of slowing down Penn State, and it has playmakers on offense that can make a decisive play if they remain in striking distance. Fortunately, we’ve learned this young and talented Nittany Lions team brings a business-like approach each week. They may still have some things to work out, but they will come out each week and consistently play hard, smart football. They’ll be looking to take care of business once again under the bright lights of Beaver Stadium.
Penn State will feed off the atmosphere and come out with an early score, and hang on to the lead as Michigan remains in striking distance. That will be until (and boy does it feel nice to finally be able to reasonably predict this) the offensive line and Noah Cain take over with a clock-churning drive to put the game away for good midway through the fourth quarter. The defense goes out and does its job to close out a satisfying victory against another ranked team.
Journey Brown joins Cain with a rushing touchdown and Clifford connects with Pat Freiermuth for another. On defense, Lamont Wade leads the way again with 10 tackles, Cam Brown has a momentum-swinging forced fumble and recovery, while Shaka Toney leads the Wild Dogs with two sacks.
Penn State 27, Michigan 13