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This Week at The Wolverine Den
Pennsylvania State @ Michigan
October 11, 2014 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Michigan and Penn State have been traditional powerhouse teams in college football. But recently, neither team is proud of their program. For Michigan, since Lloyd Carr retired at the end of 2007, the team is 43-39. They have not won the Big Ten Championship since 2004 and there is continual discontent among the fan base. For Penn State, they are still suffering through the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal and the impact of NCAA probation. PSU has only 72 scholarship players on the team with about 40 walk-ons. They vacated 112 wins from 1998 – 2011. But the team will be back to full scholarship next year, and are eligible for a bowl game, if they qualify, this season. Penn St is 4-1 in 2014 with a win at Rutgers and a loss at home against Northwestern. It is a critical game for both teams if they have hopes of making it to post season play.
The Nittany Lions are led on offense by sophomore QB Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg was a 5-star recruit and surprised many by committing to Penn State after the sanctions were announced. He is averaging 302 yards passing this year. But The Nittany Lions have a weak offensive line. The team is averaging only 101 yards per game rushing and Hackenberg has been sacked 14 times. He is a pocket passer so pressure up the middle is the key to slowing him down. The top receiver is DaeSean Hamilton, who leads the Big Ten is receptions.
Deep Fried Turkey
Deep Fried Veggies, cheese, and more
Defense is where the Lions have excelled this year. They are top in the Big Ten in rushing defense (60.2 yards per game allowed) and in scoring defense (only 14.6 points allowed per game). LB Mike Hull is the leading tackler in the conference. The defensive line is good and will be tough for Michigan to run against but PSU is vulnerable to a mobile QB so it will be important to scheme effectively for the Wolverines.
The game is expected to be close and low scoring, and Penn State’s kicker, Sam Ficken, is one of the best in the league.
The Wolverine Den Trivia
In the first-ever meeting between Penn State and Michigan, Tyrone Wheatley rushed for 192 yards as Michigan beat the Nittany Lions 21-13. Who were the starting quarterbacks in that game?
For Michigan, this is a critical game before heading into the bye week. Night games at the Big House have been special and the crowd has been the 12th man. But this year’s crowds have been a disappointment. Fans are understandably unhappy with the performance of the team. But not selling out the stadium and the constant booing of the home team is contributing to the win-loss record. We need a Michigan crowd that provides an advantage for the home team. Michigan can win this game. The offense matches up well against PSU and the defense will play better than last week. The loss of Derrick Green is significant but it will give De’Veon Smith and others a chance to step up.
Michigan leads the all-time series 10-7 and has been victorious over Penn St in 5 of the last 6 played at the Big House.
The Wolverines are a 1 point favorite.
Great Moments in Wolverines - Knitting Lions History
- The 1997 game pushed Michigan to the #1 ranking for the first time that season. PSU was also undefeated, ranked #2 and were playing at home. It was the “pinch me” game as Michigan stormed to a 24-0 halftime lead outgaining the Lions 289-34 in the half. You couldn’t even see Mt Nittany that day.
- Michigan shut out Penn State 27-0 in 1998 – the first time PSU had been shut out in some 20 years. Just for good measure, we shut them out again in 2001 20-0.
- Derrick Alexander’s punt return gave Michigan a 14-10 lead in the very first meeting between these traditional powers in 1993. Then on first-and-goal at the one yard line, Penn State was stopped four straight plays by the stout Michigan defense to preserve the win. It was Michigan’s 1000th game and Archie’s inspiration.
- Mario Manningham’s reception was a “walk off” TD on the last play of the 2005 win against undefeated Penn State.