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BSD Prediction Roundtable: Penn State vs. Michigan

The 2023 Nittany Lions have one more chance to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


This is going to be an uncomfortable football game. After a brutal offensive performance in Columbus just a couple weeks ago, I’m left with just one thought: can it get any worse? My short answer is no. However, things will not be easy for Mike Yurcich. The group will keep Penn State alive in this one while the defense keeps it close, but a late, game-sealing drive will set up a field goal for the Wolverines for the win.

Gut-wrenching, but wow do I hope I am wrong.

Michigan 20, Penn State 17


If you’d checked in with me right after the OSU loss, or right after the Indiana win, I’d have said Michigan wins this going away. Not to say that Maryland (in November) is a high quality opponent, but Penn State LOOKED like a top 10 team against the Terps, which was definitively not the case the week before. The defense was aggressive (as usual), getting a ton of production from its depth, and the offense looked the best it has since the Iowa game. Michigan (alleged) cheating notwithstanding, they’re still a very good football team. More than competent QB play, stout offensive line, solid RBs, and a quality defense. Make no mistake that this will be an incredibly tough task for the Lions. But I think they’re up to it. For starters, the team does play better at home, particularly the offense. Compound that fact with the sudden aggressiveness the offense has shown, and the team is playing very complementary football.

The Wolverines will get some points, but the defense clutches up when it must, and forces a couple key turnovers. The offense, meanwhile, takes its success from last week into this game, and does enough to grind out the win.

Penn State 24, Michigan 21


As much as I was encouraged by last week’s victory over Maryland, I’m not quite convinced that the Penn State offense (especially the offensive line) will be able to consistently move the ball against this very physical Wolverine defense. On the other side of the ball, the Nittany Lions should be able to hold back Michigan for the most part, but J.J. McCarthy’s scrambling ability may be the difference.

Michigan gets a couple of big pass plays in the second half, and gets some key fourth quarter stops to officially end the bid for the CFP.

(Please be wrong, please be wrong, please be wrong)

Michigan 21, Penn State 17


I think Penn State is a great football team. I truly do. I also wrote in the preseason that I was in prove it mode when it came to Michigan/Ohio State. So, here we are. They’re in prove it mode and I think Michigan is an outstanding team.

I so badly want Penn State to win this game, probably as much as any game I can ever recall. But despite the way the offense played last week, I still have my doubts about their ability to beat an elite defense. Similarly, I’m worried about a secondary that’s gotten a little leaky the past few weeks against a mobile and mostly accurate passer.

Ultimately, I think Michigan does the “wear you down” game better on Saturday. I liken this to a lower scoring version of last year’s Ohio State game. In the end, I hope I’m very wrong.

Michigan 26, Penn State 17


Sign-stealing scandal aside, I don’t think we really know how good Michigan is. Their rushing attack has been held under 4 yards per carry in the last three games against Indiana, MSU, and Purdue. The key will be getting pressure on JJ McCarthy. If Penn State can make Michigan one-dimensional on offense, this is absolutely winnable.

I don’t have any illusions that Penn State’s offense will be able to score at will on Michigan. Drew Allar will need to stretch Michigan’s defense with some downfield shots. It’s going to be tough sledding for the offense, but they should be able to put some quality drives together.

The crowd will be another key. The time of day doesn’t matter. Michigan always gets rattled by the crowd at some point when they come to Beaver Stadium.

This is our last chance in the four-team playoff era. Time to put all the cards on the table. Sure, Michigan is the favorite and the fanbase seems resigned to another loss, but where’s the fun in predicting that?

Penn State 23, Michigan 20


The problem against Ohio State was that the offense wasn’t dynamic enough to keep the Buckeyes defense on their heels. While there have been some strides made in the last couple weeks as far as attacking vertically go, I don’t have faith in this offense to have much better luck against a defense as good as Michigan’s.

Michigan 24, Penn State 13


This is essentially the last game of Penn State’s season and the first game of Michigan’s. It’s hard to predict how the Wolverines will respond to true adversity, which makes it quite hard to predict this game. I’m oddly all the way back in on Penn State’s offense after last week, but it’s hard to shake just how badly the Nittany Lions got pummeled last year — and just how anemic Yurcich’s group looked against Ohio State. The Nittany Lions absolutely have a path to winning this game. Use the crowd to make a splash play early, trust your defensive front, throw the kitchen sink at them with your offensive game plan, and hold on for dear life. But, I wouldn’t put any money on that to happen.

Michigan 20, Penn State 17


Drew Allar and the PSU offense appear to be turning the corner at just the right time. Now, I’m under no delusion they will move the ball with the level of ease they did on Maryland, but I expect Drew to continue to take more chances downfield and try to get that explosive pass play, because Michigan is not a team you can methodically march the ball on. Having Chop Robinson back is so clutch as well, and there’s a real opportunity for PSU’s vaunted pass rush to expose Michigan’s semi-shaky (as of late) pass protection. I also will go out on a limb and say that PSU will keep the Michigan ground attack relatively in check this year, especially with Blake Corum not quite like his 2022 self. That being said however, it’s hard for me to shake the feeling that JJ McCarthy is going to come up with a clutch play or two that ultimately makes the difference in putting the Wolverines over the top. There is certainly a chance PSU pulls off the upset with a raucous Big Noon home crowd behind it, but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to see it to believe it.

Michigan 24, Penn State 20

Jared (Originally Appearing in the Game Preview)

I’m feeling much more hopeful about this game after practically counting Penn State out following their offensive performance at Ohio State and a lackluster game against Indiana. However, the offense finally showed some flair last week and Allar seems completely dialed in after a season of growth with some bumps along the way, and not enough help from his receiving crew. I’m just still not at the point where I have confidence the offense can consistently move the ball against a defense of Michigan’s caliber.

This will be a battle of the nation’s top two defenses. However, Michigan seems to have a more balanced and reliable offense that will have a little more success moving the ball than when the Nittany Lions are on offense. Perhaps Allar takes another big step, or the defense is able to come up with a score or two, or Singleton and/or Hardy are able to break a return that ends up deciding a close game. There are paths to victory, but none that make me overly confident until I see it happen.

Michigan 23 , Penn State 17