Michigan looks to hang in Happy Valley with No. 2 Penn State

By PHILLIP LUTZ, Sports Editor

 

No. 19 Michigan (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) at No. 2 Penn State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten)

When: Saturday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Penn.

How to watch: ABC

The Michigan Wolverines will be tested as they face their biggest challenge of the season Saturday when they travel to Happy Valley to play the No. 2 Nittany Lions at 7:30 p.m.

The unbeaten Nittany Lions are good in all facets of the game and will show the true nature of the Wolverine team.

Michigan comes in as 11.5 point underdog as they face coach James Franklin and his Heisman candidate running back Saquon Barkley. It is the first time Michigan has opened as a double-digit underdog under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The 6-0 Nittany Lions bring in a high powered offense and a fast crushing defense.

Penn State has an accurate quarterback in Trace McSorley who has so far this season has thrown for 1597 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. He is also proficient running the ball with 178 yards on 72 attempts and has scored four rushing touchdowns.

He is not the story for Penn State, though, as Saquon Barkley has stolen the national spotlight and is a rushing threat and a receiving threat. Barkley has rushed 102 times and has 649 yards and six touchdowns. He also has 395 receiving yards and two touchdowns — one of which went for 85 yards.

Michigan has been subpar so far this season and has eked out five wins and one loss. They have no real flashy players this year and are now running on a backup quarterback in John O’Korn.  O’Korn has been on a roller coaster ride so far this season with one good outing against Purdue.

O’Korn has 563 yards and has completed 45 of the 82 passes he has attempted. He also has thrown for a touchdown and thrown four costly interceptions.

The Wolverines have a three headed monster at running back with Ty Isaac, Chris Evans, and Karan Higdon. Isaac has rushed the ball 68 times this year for 403 yards and a touchdown. He has also fumbled the ball. Chris Evans has rushed 67 times for 252 yards and has two touchdowns. He has also fumbled the ball this season. The new front runner for the job is Karan Higdon who has rushed the ball 70 times for 401 yards and has five touchdowns. He has been the power back that the Wolverines have needed and is not afraid to get the tough yards the team needs.

With all the talent on this roster for the Wolverines most of the impact so far has been from the defensive side of the ball. Only two returning starters from last year remain on the defense in Mike McCray and Maurice Hurst. This defense is very young and has a small amount of experience and they have shined every week. They are the reason the Wolverines have a 5-1 record. This defensive team also has five interceptions and eight forced fumbles. They are fast at every position and very well coached by defensive coach Don Brown.

This game is easily broken up by a couple matchups. Linebacker Devin Bush and Khaleke Hudson must contain Barkley for Michigan to have a chance.

Michigan’s offensive line needs to have a good game to give O’Korn a chance in the pocket. If not, it could get ugly for the Wolverines.

Staff Picks

Phil: Michigan 17, Penn State 10

Jack: Penn State 20, Michigan 10