The seventh-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions will host No. 16 Michigan on Saturday night in a key Big Ten Conference battle.
Here are two writers’ predictions for how the game will turn out.
As with last week at Iowa, the Nittany Lions will be involved in a physical matchup with Michigan and can’t flinch. For all the talk about the Wolverines’ inconsistent offense, the visitors still are a force on defense. The Lions must be able to run the football, and their receivers have to find separation against Michigan’s aggressive press coverage.
The Wolverines have been generous with turnovers, giving the ball up 13 times, including nine lost fumbles, and the Penn State defense needs to add to that figure, plus control the runs of quarterback Shea Patterson.
This will be closer than the last three Penn State-Michigan games, but a solid performance by Sean Clifford, a defense capitalizing on opportunities, and the “Whiteout” atmosphere will lead to a Lions win.
Prediction: Penn State 27, Michigan 17
In the last three iterations of the Penn State-Michigan matchup, the home team has won by an average of 34.33 points. While I don’t think Penn State is going to win by five scores Saturday night, there is a clear talent discrepancy between these teams (at least that’s how it’s looked in recent weeks).
Penn State went into Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium last week and proved that it has if not the best, then one of the top three-to-five defenses in the nation. The Nittany Lions also boast an offense that’s plenty capable without the number of weapons they have at running back, wide receiver and tight end to go along with a four-minute offense with the ability to ice games.