The Big Ten has multiple Games this week that have national title implications. This one surprisingly does, as Michigan still has a slight chance of winning the Big Ten. But first, the Wolverines have to travel to Penn State. Playing in Happy Valley, the Wolverines are a -4.5 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The one worry for Michigan is that they can’t look ahead. The Wolverines host Ohio State next weekend and that Game could end up deciding the Big Ten East. If Michigan wins out and Ohio State beats Michigan State this week, the Wolverines would take the East. But beating Penn State at Penn State won’t be easy, especially after how Michigan has looked in its last two road Games. UM escaped both Minnesota and Indiana.
And the one thing Penn State can do is win at home. The Nittany Lions haven’t lost at home yet this year, although none of those wins have come against teams with winning records. Still, Penn State has the defense to contend with Michigan.
These teams have battled in recent meetings with the home team winning five of the last six. Last season Michigan won 18-13 in an extremely defensive Game. This one will likely be the same.
UM’s defense has slipped a bit recently, but this is the type of Game they could dominate. against relevant defenses, Penn State continues to struggle. Christian Hackenberg has 13 TDs and 3 INTs on the year and is only completing 54.2% of his passes. He could have some more issues in this Game after going 21-of-40 for 205 yards and a pick last Game at Northwestern, a 23-21 loss. Most of PSU’s success has come through the ground Game with Saquon Barkley, who’s averaging 6.3 yards per carry for 7 TDs on the year. If Barkley finds room, they’ll have a chance and Michigan has struggled stopping the run in recent weeks.
On the other end, Michigan will take the same approach against a mediocre run defense. But still, the Wolverines have their own issues on offense, despite a recent run of success. Jake Rudock has picked up his play the last two weeks with eight touchdowns and 777 yards, but a lot of that can be attributed to playing against poor defenses. Will he be able to do that against a Penn State team looking for an upset? Before those two huge Games, Rudock hadn’t surpassed 200 yards since opening week. And because of that, the Wolverines will probably stick with their running attack, led by De’Veon Smith, although they haven’t really had much success doing that as of late.
This is one of the last chances for Hackenberg to live up to his name and this would be a nice showcase for him against a top defense. If Michigan’s road struggles continue, Penn State will have decent shot at the upset.
The home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between these schools and the Nittany Lions are 4-1 ATS in the last five overall.
Our Pick – When we use the full seasons worth of data, Our mode comes up with a very low scoring Michigan win by 4, right on the number. However, when we run this Game using only the last 4 Games, we get a much higher scoring result AND Penn State on top.
This shows us that the Michigan defense may not be all it was cracked up to be and it gives the home dog Penn State a very realistic chance at gaining a little revenge for last years setback to the Wolverines. Penn State +4