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This Week at The Wolverine Den
Michigan @ Pennsylvania State
November 21, 2015 - 12:00 p.m. ET
Michigan returns to the road on Saturday with an important trip to Happy Valley to battle the Penn State Nittany Lions. It is the annual White-Out game at Beaver Stadium – a place that Michigan has not had success since 2006. The Nittanies are looking for a Florida bowl game and a strong finish to a season. They are 7-3 this year, with losses to Temple, Ohio State and Northwestern. But they are undefeated at home and are looking to spoil Michigan’s chances of reaching the Big Ten Championship game.
PSU has one of the best defenses in the nation – yielding the fewest passing yards in the Big Ten while leading the nation with 42 sacks. DE Carl Nassib has 15.5 sacks on the season and 20 tackles for loss to lead the country. But he is not alone as 7 Nittany Lion players have multiple sacks on the season. Linebackers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell continue the historical “Linebacker U”. The secondary has 9 interceptions on the season.
Steak & Eggs
The PSU offense has been a disappointment this ear. Jr QB Christian Hackenberg was expected to have a big year. He will likely enter the NFL draft and be one of the top quarterbacks selected. But this year, he has only completed 54.2% of his passes for 199 yards per game. His is not the most mobile and is not a great passer outside the pocket. Michigan sacked Hackenberg 6 times in last year’s game. But given time, he can be one of the best quarterbacks in college football. True-Freshman RB Saquon Barkley has been a force this year. He is 3rd in the conference in rushing and averages over 6 yards per carry. Chris Godwin is the top receiver.
The Wolverine Den Trivia
Jake Rudock threw 6 touchdown passes last week against Indiana to establish a new single game record for a Michigan quarterback. Whose record did he break?
With two games to play, Michigan has their destiny in front of them. A win over Penn St coupled with an Ohio State win over Michigan State and The Game will be for the Big Ten East title and a trip to the Big Ten Championship game. But winning on the road in the Big Ten is not easy. Especially in November. Especially against a large crowd dressed in white. But the Wolverines have found a way to victory on the road in the Big Ten. Happy Valley will be no exception. The game figures to be a defensive battle with both teams looking for a break, field position, turnovers – something to turn the tide. Look for Michigan to play conservatively early and then open up the offense as needed. The Michigan defense will bounce back with one of their best games and then take that momentum in to The Game.
Michigan lead the all-time series 11-7 but haven’t won in State College since 2006.
The Wolverines are a 4 point road 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 in the 4th quarter, 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.