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Pick - Analysis
Penn State hosts Michigan Saturday fresh off a 44-24 loss to Indiana. Michigan is currently a -2.5 point road favorite at 5 dimes sportsbook with a total of 51.
For Penn State, this is their biggest home game of the year, also being Homecoming and a 'White Out' for the fans. That's about the only two things going for the Nittany Lions in this one, as they already have two losses, one at home to UCF and last weekend's loss to the Hoosiers. Things are about to get real for PSU, who face undefeated squads in back-to-back weeks.
The best chance Penn State has to win this game is to force turnovers. Michigan had trouble with Akron and Connecticut because they turned it over way too much in poor situations. Last Saturday, the Wolverines started slow against Minnesota, but went on to win by 29 points with the help of zero interceptions from quarterback Devin Gardner.
Gardner threw eight interceptions in the first four games of the season, which is not what you want to see. He was smarter and more conservative against the Gophers, and will need that to continue in this game. Michigan will ride the ground game of Gardner (318 yards, six TDs) and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (397 yards, seven TDs) early on. If that works, the field will start to open up for receivers Jeremy Gallon and Devin Funchess.
Penn State's defense has yet to stop anyone of relevance, so it's going to be on them in this game. They are coming off a fourth quarter in which they allowed 23 points to Indiana. Not exactly the confidence you want going against the Wolverines.
As seen last week, freshman QB Christian Hackenberg still has a ways to go. Even though he finished with 340 yards and three touchdowns last week, completing just 54.5 percent of his passes is not ideal, especially against Indiana. The competition will only get tougher and pretty soon those incompletions will turn into interceptions. Outside of WR Allen Robinson (621 yards, five TDs), the Nittany Lions don't really have another receiver that can make a difference. They'll run the ball as much as possible with Zach Zwinak. While he does have eight touchdowns on the year, Zwinak has only surpassed 100 yards once.
If Penn State can't force any turnovers, it's going to fall on the offense to consistently move the ball, which may be asking too much. It's not like Michigan has a dominant defense, but they are better than the Hoosiers.
The Wolverines are only 7-19-1 ATS in their last 27 road games and 1-4 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win. The Nittany Lions are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games and 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine conference games. The last time these teams played was in 2010 when Denard Robinson ripped apart PSU for 191 rushing yards and four total TDs. However, in the last seven meetings between these teams, Michigan is just 2-5 ATS.
The public still has the Indiana game on their minds. The betting trends a sportsbook.com show 78% of the action has come in on the Wolverines in this one.
The line is creeping towards +3 in this game and at that number, we could have an interest in Penn State. Where Michigan has the edge in this game is on the offensive side of the ball. They have a very good offensive yards per point number of 10.2 which simply means this is an offense that moves the ball with ease.
Defensively, their numbers are even. Remember, Michigan almost lost to UCONN and Akron. Our score prediction model has this one a 26-26 final, which would match up with everything else we like to look at. What would worry us here, is Penn States ability to go toe to toe in a shootout type of a game. But the numbers say Penn State +3 (if you can get it)
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