Staff Predictions: No. 14 Penn State vs. No. 5 Michigan

No. 14 Penn State is set to travel to Ann Arbor to take on No. 5 Michigan at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Nittany Lions’ track record at the Big House is brutal. Still, our staff is split on whether or not James Franklin’s team can make it out of Michigan Stadium with a win to spoil the Wolverines’ college football playoff aspirations.

Andy Mollenauer (0-1): Penn State 24, Michigan 20

Both offenses are nearly identical on the stat sheet, with the Nittany Lions scoring slightly more points per game. While Michigan’s defense looks considerably better than Penn State’s, the Nittany Lions might be able to afford not finding the end zone if Jake Pinegar steps up like he did against Iowa. Stepping into the Big House as the away team is like walking into a hornets’ nest for any visitor, but Penn State should take this one in a close game.

Will Pegler (3-2): Penn State 27, Michigan 25

This is a scary Michigan team to face on the road. Penn State’s defense will need to come up with big plays in this one, because nothing will come easy for Trace McSorley and the rest of the offensive unit. The Wolverines’ defense is first in the nation in yards allowed under the leadership of big-time players like Devin Bush and Chase Winovich. Despite all of this, I see the Nittany Lions just barely escaping the Big House with a win. KJ Hamler will score a touchdown in his return to his home state while Trace McSorley will do what he always does and find a way to make plays.

Derek Bannister (6-2): Penn State 27, Michigan 23

I’ll probably be wrong about this, but that’s okay. The whole idea of Michigan going on some sort of revenge tour this season is incredibly stupid. Lavert Hill saying that Penn State “disrespected” Michigan last season is absolute bologna, considering the fact that Michigan players were laughing  about Penn State running the same play again and again after the 49-10 Michigan win in 2016 against the Nittany Lions. Don Brown’s comments about thinking about last year’s 42-13 loss at the hands of Penn State when he wakes up every morning are cute. It all seems to me like it’s meant to get the Wolverines fired up despite the lack of a real storyline here. I believe that if Penn State has a real shot here if it can copy the script that worked for Notre Dame in week 1.

Brian Bachman (4-2): Penn State 23, Michigan 20

Are we sure Michigan is that great? Its two “signature” wins come against two teams not inside the current College Football Playoff or AP Top 25 and they were dominated by Notre Dame early in the year. The Wolverines are definitely a good team and should be favored at home, but many seem to think they’re some dominant team who belongs amongst the top tier of college football. I’m not ready to go there, as their offense and ability to throw the ball is still a big question mark.

If Penn State is able to catch the football and actually recover a fumble, I would expect the Nittany Lions to make this really interesting down the stretch. Look for a signature Trace McSorley game in one of his final big tests in the blue and white. James Franklin and Co. will need their strongest gameplan of the year, but for some reason, I have a feeling it will finally be Penn State playing spoiler for someone else’s season.

Anthony Fiset (4-2): Penn State 28, Michigan 24

I’m not completely sold on Michigan as a College Football Playoff team this year. The best game the Wolverines have played so far was a one-touchdown loss to Notre Dame. That’s it. This Penn State team is marching into Ann Arbor with nothing to lose after two straight home losses gashed its Playoff hopes, so now it’s time for the Nittany Lions to spoil Michigan’s fun. The Big House is imposing, but I don’t think this game will end up a blowout like last time (*shudders*). Both teams rely heavily on the ground game, and despite Michigan’s clear edge on defense, I still think that the Nittany Lions will ruin the Wolverines’ season on Saturday. As we all know, there is one resounding truth of college football: shit happens.

Michael Kresovich (3-0): Michigan 25, Penn State 20

Mario Manningham tore out and stepped on every Penn State fan’s heart in 2005 when he caught the game-winning touchdown as time expired. Penn State has just one win over Michigan on the road since that game. The Wolverines have rattled off seven wins in a row after dropping its season opener to Notre Dame. I really would like to see Penn State spoil Michigan’s College Football Playoff dreams, but Michigan’s defense is too much for Penn State to overcome, especially at the Big House.

Matthew Fox (6-2): Michigan 31, Penn State 17

I think this is going to be a rough one for Nittany Lion fans. Michigan’s defensive front is going to cause Penn State’s running game all types of problems, but the ground game is Penn State’s bread and butter. If they have to rely on the aerial attack, they’re going to be in for a long night. I don’t doubt Trace McSorley in the slightest. His receivers on the other hand…yikes.

Matt DiSanto (3-2): Michigan 27, Penn State 20

My heart wants to pick Penn State to win this game, but my brain is saying otherwise. The Nittany Lions are only 3-7 against Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Saturday’s matchup against one of the best defenses in college football won’t make winning any easier. With Trace McSorley possibly fighting an injury on an offense that’s lost its swagger, I feel like the odds are stacked against Penn State.

Ethan Kasales (6-2): Michigan 38, Penn State 31

The quarterback duel between Trace McSorley and Shea Patterson will be extremely fun to watch, but I think Penn State’s lack of depth at defensive tackle is what will ultimately undo any chance of an upset in Ann Arbor.

Mikey Mandarino (5-3): Michigan 28, Penn State 14

I really don’t think the Nittany Lions have much of a chance to do anything in Ann Arbor, and think this game is more likely to end in another Michigan blowout than a Penn State win. James Franklin’s program definitely doesn’t have anything to lose, but that’s not all that relevant to me because Michigan does. The Wolverines’ defense is really, really good, and Penn State hasn’t looked all that inspiring in its last four Big Ten games.

Elissa Hill (6-2): Michigan 28, Penn State 24

As naive and optimistic as I am, I just don’t see the Nittany Lions pulling this one out — even after last year’s White Out beatdown of the Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh has finally figured out his quarterback situation, and this Michigan team is out for revenge against any team they can get its hands on, especially the Nittany Lions. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve picked against Penn State since I started doing these intermittently in 2016. As someone who cares way too much about this stupid sport, I hope I’m wrong.

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About the Author


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