Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Michigan
James Franklin’s Nittany Lions head to Ann Arbor for a 3:30 p.m. showdown with No. 4 Michigan on ABC. The Wolverines lead the all-time series 12-7 and have won the last two meetings between these storied programs, and across the board, our staff thinks the maize and blue come out on top this Saturday.
Robbie Rockwell: Michigan 42, Penn State 28 (season record 1-0)
Michigan is one of the best teams in the nation for good reason and it’ll prove that this weekend. While the Wolverines struggled for a while against Colorado last Saturday, they’ll come to play against against Penn State and they’ll come out strong. I predict a pretty decent offensive showing from the Nittany Lions, but Trace McSorley still can’t overcome his turnover troubles, which will lead to a defensive touchdown and good field position for Michigan. On the other side of the ball, there’s simply too many injuries for the blue and white to stop this offense. Michigan’s experienced offensive line will dominate Sean Spencer’s young defensive line, so watching this game won’t be fun.
Anthony Colucci: Michigan 47, Penn State 24 (season record 1-0)
Playing at the Big House, the only college football venue bigger than Beaver Stadium, is never an easy task, but this year will be even more of a challenge due to Michigan’s extensive talent and experience all over the field. The Wolverines have been so dominant in every facet of the game in their first three outings that they will have a field day against Penn State’s depleted defense and mistake-prone offense.
I expect Penn State to put up a strong fight, especially early in the game, but as the things wear on, quarterback Wilton Speight, Swiss army knife freak athlete Jabrill Peppers, running back Chris Evans, and the rest of the talent-laden Wolverines will eventually take over and capitalize on the many opportunities that Penn State gives them. Regardless of what the Nittany Lions have shown fans through three games, this isn’t Kent State, Pitt, or Temple — this is Michigan — and Penn State just lacks the depth and experience this time around to pose a serious threat to the Wolverines.
David Abruzzese: Michigan 49, Penn State 35 (season record 2-1)
This one will be a shootout, but the glaring holes in Penn State’s defense will be difficult to overcome. Michigan has some serious playmakers, but none better than tight end Jake Butt. Without someone like Brandon Bell to cover him, quarterback Wilton Speight and Butt could torture the Lions all afternoon.
Jabrill Peppers figures to have a field day on the defensive side of the ball. There’s just not much more to say. I’m hoping for a miracle.
Joe Pickard: Michigan 42, Penn State 24 (season record 1-0)
Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan squad is just too good for Penn State to beat. Playing in Ann Arbor, against the fourth-ranked team in the nation, isn’t going to be easy in the first place, let alone with the team’s lengthy injury list on defense. Penn State will put up a fight in the first half, but a tired defense will not be able to keep it competitive in the second half. Hopefully Penn State makes it out with no more injuries and there’s growth out Trace McSorely in his first Big Ten test. Here’s to at least covering the 18-point spread.
Chris Weigl: Michigan 42, Penn State 20 (season record 0-0)
An injury-plagued defense is going to be too much for their offense to overcome. Michigan comes in riding its senior-filled roster, which is firing on all cylinders, and that alone is going to be enough to quiet down the inexperienced Nittany Lions.
Dylan Coughlin: Michigan 45, Penn State 28 (season record 1-0)
If there’s any chance for the Nittany Lions to pull off the miracle upset, they need to value the ball and limit turnovers. With McSorley leading the FBS in fumbles (eight), that just won’t happen with the speed of Michigan’s defense. Although the Wolverines have been susceptible to giving up the big play (four touchdowns of 34+ yards the last two weeks), I think Penn State hits them for a big play or two. I see the Nittany Lions hanging with them for the first quarter and a half of the game, then Michigan’s talent and experience will be too much at the end of the first half and it’ll dominate the rest of the way. A garbage time touchdown helps Penn State cover the spread. Yay gambling!
Steve Connelly: Michigan 56, Penn State 21 (season record 2-1)
Penn State’s offense has been clicking so far this season, but it’s not playing well enough to keep up with Michigan on the road. This will be the first real tough atmosphere McSorley faces this season, but the Nittany Lion offense should be able to put up a couple scores. On the flip side, Penn State just has too many injuries to stop a Michigan offense that’s putting up 53 points per game through three wins this season. If Penn State can keep it close, that’ll be a positive for this young team.
Ethan Kasales: Michigan 41, Penn State 24 (season record 2-1)
Michigan has won six of the last seven games against the Nittany Lions in Ann Arbor. Jim Harbaugh’s maize and blue know how to put points on the board, so likely not having any starting linebackers will be a huge blow to Penn State’s chances. I don’t see the Wolverines pulling away until midway through the third quarter, though, as Saquon Barkley and Chris Godwin should put together solid showings in the Big House.
Lexi Shimkonis: Michigan 45, Penn State 17 (season record 3-0)
You don’t care about my football take, but here we are again. I’m still coming off the personal high of correctly predicting last week’s score and to be honest I think I’ve peaked. Any rational Penn State fan you talk to probably agrees that a loss is in the Nittany Lions’ future this Saturday, but that’s okay because it’s Michigan in Ann Arbor and we’re prepared for it. It’s one of those games you need a hyped White Out crowd in Beaver Stadium to even get the Wolverines to overtime and take the W, and a 3:30 kick in Michigan is just going to mean a beating for Penn State. I don’t even think Harbaugh will do anything crazy, which is perhaps the boldest prediction here and also the most disappointing. To bring it back to layman’s terms, it looks like we’ll all be making our own coffee on Monday morning after the Wolverines make quick work of a limp Penn State defense in Ann Arbor.