If you pick Michigan to win this one, it must be based solely because you root for the Maize and Blue. This Michigan team has given me no reason to pick them to win this game. IF, and that's a big if, they win Saturday, it will be either because Penn State self-destructs or because this Wolverine team does a complete 180.
The thing that's scary is that Penn State is equipped to attack all of Michigan's weaknesses on both sides of the ball.
The Nits have a mobile quarterback, who in reality will be the first real mobile quarterback the Wolverine defense has played so far. Drew Stanton can run but, like I said before the MSU game, this season he doesn't have too many designed runs … Michael Robinson does. Robinson running the option isn't a kind thought, because Michigan's perimeter defense and outside contain has been lackluster the entire season. Robinson isn't a great passer but honestly, again, he will not have to be. Craig Krenzel never had a ton of talent but intangibles and running ability combined with a darn good defense won him a title at Ohio State. Robinson has all three as well.
The Michigan defense, pretty much the entire year, has failed to shut down a running game from a top tier program. They have struggled big time to keep outside contain and last week they gave up a huge run that even the guy working the Goodyear Blimp knew was coming. And the Lions will put a speedy guy like Derrick Williams or Justin King back there to bust a big play.
Michigan's pass defense has been good this season, but both starting safeties (Willis Barringer and Brandent Englemon) are likely out for this game, which, with Ryan Mundy out as well, brings the Wolverines down to their 4th and 5th guys back there, Brandon Harrison and Jamar Adams.
Last but not least, how is the Michigan offense going to score enough to win? Rueben Riley and Mike Kolodziej could not handle Minnesota's Steve Davis at defensive end. That leads me to believe Tamba Hali and Matthew Rice will not be a pretty sight either.
Chad Henne has faced pressure all year which hasn't been helped by dropped passes and receivers not getting open. Did I also mention Penn State has the conference's best secondary? This Wolverine offensive line will have to have its best game of the year pass protecting, and Henne will have to play his best game of the season as well. I can't see Mike Hart running for over 100 yards either. Only one back has done it this year, Northwestern's Tyrell Sutton, but he only averaged three and a half yards a carry doing it. Laurence Maroney couldn't even run on these guys.
Bottom Line: call this a doomsday outlook but the film and stat sheet back it all up. Penn State will have to play its worst game of the year and Michigan its best to win this football game. Also, Michigan playing at home this season has offered little advantage. The Wolverines will have to take advantage of every single opportunity the Lions give them. If it offers some hope, Penn State has turned the ball over more than anyone in the conference this year and is also one of the most penalized teams. However, Michigan hasn't capitalized on opportunities against far less impressive defenses, so they give me no reason to believe they will this time around. Penn State 24, Michigan 13
Former Michigan quarterback Michael Taylor adds: "Penn State's front seven is strong; their linebackers are very strong. Their defense keeps them in games. And on offense -- they get their playmakers the ball in key situations and let them make big plays -- Mike Robinson, Derek Williams, Justin King." Derek Williams has had three touchdowns on the ground in the last two games on sweeps and reverses, and PSU runs King on reverses as well similar to how Michigan has used Steve Breaston when he is healthy.
So, Michael Taylor, what does Michigan have to do to play better tomorrow? "The basics: block better on offense, tackle better on defense. And Chad Henne has to go though his progressions when he drops back."
And remember what MT said yesterday: "... remember nobody has blown them out. It'll be a good tussle this Saturday, another 4th quarter game.
The GoBlueWolverine staff adds: We agree with Michael Taylor – but add that Michigan has to play better in the second half. It's the second half where Michigan has lost their games this year. Whatever it takes to do that – making adjustments, having key players be better rested for later in the game – Michigan has to at least ‘play to a draw' in the second half to win the game. That said, we predict a close game, right down to the wire.
Turel's PSU Prediction; MT Chimes In
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