No. 2 Penn St hosts No. 19 Michigan trying to stay unbeaten
No. 19 Michigan (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) at No. 2 Penn State (6-0, 3-0), Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC).
Line: Penn State by 9 ½.
Series record: Michigan leads 13-7.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Nittany Lions have won 15 of 16 since they were hammered 49-10 in Ann Arbor last season. Now they can deal a major blow to the Wolverines’ playoff chances by handing them a second loss. Michigan needs a win to keep up in the crowded East Division.
Penn State’s offensive line vs. Michigan’s front seven. Despite having a Heisman Trophy caliber running back in Saquon Barkley, the Nittany Lions have mustered just 39 and 95 yards rushing — at a combined 1.8 yards per carry — in the last two games. The team has also flip-flopped right tackles with 14 sacks allowed since Big Ten play started. This front five has to be better in both areas against the nation’s top overall defense. Michigan’s blitz packages have been hard for other lines to deal with and have helped the Wolverines force an FBS-best 47 3-and-outs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan: QB John O’Korn. After a second straight game where he struggled to complete passes, O’Korn said he needed to be better after the Indiana win. He’s completed just 26 of his last 55 passes for 256 yards, and in his last prime-time game, against Michigan State, tossed three interceptions. He’ll need to throw with caution into Penn State’s talented secondary.
Penn State: QB Trace McSorley. If Michigan sells out to stop Barkley, OC Joe Moorhead will call McSorley’s number like he did against Northwestern. McSorley was accurate and efficient and picked the Wildcats apart with short and intermediate passes that kept drives moving. He’s much more comfortable doing this in his second year running the offense.
FACTS & FIGURES
Barkley leads the country with 217 all-purpose yards per game. . Penn State has outscored opponents 76-0 in the first quarter. ... Twenty-six Nittany Lions have recorded a tackle for a loss. . Opponents are converting just 20 percent of third downs against Michigan’s defense. . Michigan is 6-4 at Beaver Stadium. . Penn State is 6-7 in White Out games.
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