College GameDay is back in Happy Valley for the biggest home football game of the year.
This season’s White Out figures to be a spectacle of epic proportions — much like others before Saturday’s game have been. We break down the visiting Wolverines, who come in after an overtime victory over Indiana in Bloomington.
Michigan comes into Saturday’s clash with a record of 5-1 ranked No. 19 in the country. The Wolverines took a tumble after losing to then-unranked Michigan State two weeks ago with plenty of questions about how the team’s offense will be able to make ground against the fearsome Nittany Lions defensive unit.
However, there are a handful of Michigan defenders the Nittany Lions should be worried about. Here’s one in particular:
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) October 17, 2017
Incumbent starter Wilton Speight is likely done for the season after suffering an injury against Purdue, so Huntingdon, PA, native John O’Korn will be the man to lead the Wolverines into battle against the Nittany Lions. He’s got some pocket mobility, along with a penchant for theatrics.
John O’Korn double flop — softest thing all season pic.twitter.com/PsprP63bcR
— Pick Six Previews (@PickSixPreviews) October 8, 2017
In five games so far this year, O’Korn’s accounted for 563 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions — three of which came against Michigan State. His receiving corps is stout, led by reception machine Grant Perry, who leads the Wolverines with 18 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones has had a slow start to his year, but has seemingly unlimited potential as both a receiver and a return man. He’ll man the punt return duties against the Nittany Lions, where he could be dangerous.
Michigan’s truest offensive threat is on the ground, where Ty Isaac and Karan Higdon have combined for 826 yards and six touchdowns — with Higdon accounting for five of those scores on the ground. The two complement each other perfectly and should each receive a good number of touches on Saturday as the Wolverines attempt to move the chains with the ground game.
Though the Wolverines may have faults on the offensive front, its defense makes up for any weakness whatsoever. The unit is as ferocious as it is athletic, led by standout defensive tackles Maurice Hurst and Rashan Gary. Here’s a quick look at what Gary is capable of as a defender:
— Athlazon (@athlazon) September 18, 2017
Alongside the dynamic duo — which has combined for 55 tackles, two sacks, and 10 tackles for loss — is junior end Chase Winovich, who’s tied with linebacker Devin Bush for sacks with five apiece. He’ll be a force if left in one-on-one situations, which is extremely likely given Michigan’s interior presence.
The Wolverines feature a pair of former Penn State commits in Khaleke Hudson and Lavert Hill; both players are starters who figure to play a significant role in Saturday’s contest. Hill is tied with Tyree Kinnel for the team interceptions lead with two apiece, while Hudson’s racked up 22 tackles, three TFLs, two sacks, and an interception as a sophomore.
The unit leads the NCAA in total defense, third down defense, and opposing pass efficiency, posing arguably the toughest test quarterback Trace McSorley and Co. will have to face all season. Also, let’s not forget kicker Quinn Nordin, who’s 14-16 on the season.