Michigan comes into this one undefeated and ranked third in the nation, but untested, as the Wolverines have rolled all their opponents to date. But, UM has not played a ranked opponents with their best win coming against, UNLV?
History tells us that Michigan is as good as advertised though however, as they have only lost one regular season game going back to 2021 and much of last season’s team is back for another go around in Ann Arbor.
With all the rumors and accusations swirling around Michigan the past few weeks, and a possible Jim Harbaugh suspension looming, the Wolverines will need to rely on the veterans in that locker room to keep them focused this week.
On paper, this is an equal matchup of two of the best teams in the nation, as they both rank in the top five nationally in offense and defense. Michigan averages just over 40ppg while only allowing six points per game.
The Nittany Lions will need a better offensive output then what they put forward in Columbus three weeks ago, and potentially last week’s blowout of Maryland provided a glimpse of just that ahead of the game with Michigan.
Quarterback Drew Allar may have turned a corner during the win against Indiana when he finally threw his first interception of the season, but then tossed a game winning deep ball to wide receiver Keandre Lambert-Smith.
Allar followed that up with maybe his best game of the season, completing 25 of 34 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns.
Against Maryland, Allar was taking shots down the field, looked quick and decisive and seemed to be building a connection with transfer wide receiver Dante Cephas.
Cephas stepped up in the absence of Harrison Wallace, catching six passes for 53 yards and two scores.
The narrative going into Saturday seems to be we’ll get another rock fight like we saw against Ohio State, with two elite defenses but this one is going to come down to quarterbacks and which one can move the chains on third down and make the big throw in the red zone to get six points on the board.
Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy has been in the Heisman conversation this year and had led the Wolverines offense as the running game hasn’t been as dominant as it was in the past two seasons. He is coming off a game vs Purdue where he threw for 335 yards. He has been incredibly efficient this season, completing nearly 75% of his passes which keeps Michigan on schedule and ahead of the chains.
This game could be higher scoring then some anticipate as both offenses might be able to move the ball through the air better than most expect. It will still come down to third downs and red zone play, and after Penn State went one of sixteen on third downs in the loss against Ohio State, that will be an ever-bigger point of emphasis Saturday.
Michigan ran for 418 yards on Penn State’s defense last season, and many believe that is a number that has stuck with Penn State all off-season and revenge could be on their mind this weekend.
The Nittany Lions come into this game tops in the nation against the run, so something will have to give.
On the injury front, Penn State hopes to get defensive end Chop Robinson back as well as wideout Harrison Wallace. They were both seen at practice Wednesday night during media availability and Franklin said he remained ‘hopeful’ they would be available Saturday.
A raucous home crowd and a loose and aggressive Drew Allar will be the keys to success against Michigan while the defense does what it has done all season.