The game of the year has arrived. Penn State Football hosts Michigan, with a chance to revive flickering College Football Playoff hopes.
Michigan enters what promises to be a raucous Beaver Stadium for Saturday’s noon kickoff, as the. No. 3 team in the nation, but No. 10 Penn State can play its way back into the conversation nationally by pulling off the upset.
For this week’s version of Behind Enemy Lines, we talked to Angelique S. Chengelis who is the University of Michigan beat writer for The Detroit News
Your Initial thoughts on Penn State vs Michigan
First off, it will be nice to finally see Michigan tested against a ranked opponent.
Here it is, second weekend in November and the Wolverines really haven’t been pushed at all, as most know. Penn State is going to give them the test they’ve needed.
Also, as someone who enjoys watching great defense, this should be a fun one with both defenses playing at a high level this season. (This doesn’t count, but the very FIRST thought about Penn State-Michigan is ice cream and the Penn State Creamery.)
Who on Offense should Penn State be concerned about?
Not going to say quarterback J.J. McCarthy, because that’s obvious, and people know what running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards can do, so a player to keep an eye on is tight end Colston Loveland.
He is extremely athletic and physical and has been a bigger factor the last four games.
While receiver Roman Wilson has been McCarthy’s go-to this season, Loveland could be the weapon Michigan goes to against this defense.
What did you take away from last year’s battle
That was peak Michigan run game with 418 yards, and it’s really amazing how different the run game is a year later.
It would be wrong to completely focus on Corum and Edwards and ask, ‘Why aren’t they running as hard or effectively?”
The decline in production certainly partly is on them — don’t forget Corum leads the nation in 16 rushing touchdowns — but this offensive line is not the Joe Moore Award-winning line of the last two years.
Last year’s game was last year’s game, and Penn State is better equipped to defend against this line and run game.
For those who don’t follow Michigan what makes this matchup very interesting
Well, since the focus in No. 3 was the Michigan run game, let’s say J.J. McCarthy against the best defense he has faced all season.
He has three interceptions, all coming in Game 3 against Bowling Green, and hasn’t thrown one during Big Ten play.
McCarthy did take three sacks last week against Purdue and keeping him clean has been a priority, but the line will have its hands full against the Penn State pass rushers.
The other key to McCarthy is the fact he can run and that has to be respected.
With the recent news of the sign stealing does that change how the game is viewed
That’s a great question and not sure how to answer it.
The players said they heard some trash-talking during the Purdue game last Saturday and that was at Michigan Stadium, so they certainly will hear plenty from the crowd at Beaver Stadium. That will be expected.
It has been a major storyline since Oct. 19 and will continue to be heading into the game, but once the game starts, you have to imagine the players on both sides will be focused on the on-field action.
What is one reason why Michigan remains undefeated against Penn State
This has been a unique Michigan team in that it really does seem to enjoy playing on the road.
That doesn’t mean the Wolverines will beat Penn State, but this is definitely not a group intimidated by road environments.
In the end, it will be how J.J. McCarthy does against this defense and how Drew Allar does against the Michigan defense. McCarthy is in his second full season of starting and is 21-1 as a starter and experience is tough to beat.