Penn State Michigan Football Pick

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Penn State

vs.

Michigan

Big 10

College Football Pick

9/24/16

Penn State wants to again become a force in the Big Ten and to get there, it starts with a road win at Michigan. Obviously, that is no small feat, going into the Big House and taking down a top-five team in the country led by Jim Harbaugh.

But throughout the years, these Games have been fairly close, although most of them haven’t been with Harbaugh. Even last season, UM didn’t have a super convincing win in Happy Valley, taking the Game just 28-16 and only having a five-point lead late in the Fourth quarter. Two years ago, in Ann Arbor, Michigan won just 18-13 and before that, was the incredible 43-40, Four-overtime thriller that the Nittany Lions won.

If Penn State could compete in this Game, it may be considered a success as Michigan has been dominant at home under Harbaugh. Either way, this matchup will be far from easy for the Wolverines.

For starters, Penn State’s offense is noticeably better than a year ago when they averaged just 23.2 points per Game with Christian Hackenberg at QB. Hackenberg was brutal last meeting (which was often the case), completing 13-of-31 passes for 137 yards.

Trace McSorley, a sophomore, has looked decent in the opening few Games, standing out with 332 yards against Pittsburgh. That said, this offense, if possible, wants to run the ball more than pass. Saquon Barkley has looked solid in the opening Games, scoring Four touchdowns in that Pitt loss.

But finding room to run in this Game won’t be easy, nor will trying to pass on this vaunted defense with two of the best defenders in the nation in Jabrill Peppers and JOurdan Lewis.

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To win this Game, or even cover, Penn State will need to show up on the defensive side, which is how they stayed close a year ago. The Lions held Michigan to 2.9 yards per carry as a team and forced QB Jake Rudock to beat them through the air, which he did. And expecting this PSU defense to step up may not be a good projection after they allowed an enormous 341 rushing yards and three TDs against Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago.

Obviously, that’s not going to cut it against many teams. However, the jury is still out on the Michigan offense, which has had multiple creampuff defenses to start the season, notably Hawaii and UCF, maybe two of the worst in the country. Still, Wilton Speight has looked good under center and that’s about all you can ask from him. The Wolverines will likely focus on the running Game after what Pitt did to this Penn State front line. Whether it’s Chris Evans, De’Veon Smith or Ty Isaac, all of them could get the job done.

If the Nittany Lions want to cover, they need to get a steady ground Game going, while also containing Michigan on the ground. Both of those are tall tasks, but at the least, having a rushing attack may be the most possible route after Saquon Barkley averaged 4.5 yards per carry a year ago. The tough part will be stopping the Wolverines after giving up 42 points in their last road Game.

Our Pick – The series history here tells us Penn State can compete. The current line is Michigan -19. Had you given Penn State 19 points the last 10 Games in this series, they would be 10-0 against the spread (winning 4 straight up).

The average margin of victory in this short series (1993) is less than a field goal, regardless of the location of the Game. No respect has been givien to Penn State by oddsakers or the early bettors. We’ll give them some though. Penn State +19

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