Game Preview: Penn State vs. Michigan
Following a much needed 31-14 win over Maryland last Saturday, the Penn State Nittany Lions are now looking to make it two in a row as they welcome in the No. 6 Michigan Wolverines.
After starting the season with a 5-0 record, the Nittany Lions had gone on a three game losing streak prior to the Maryland win.
They will now look to keep the momentum going against a strong Michigan team which comes into the game with an 8-1 record with their only loss coming against in-state rival Michigan State.
Like the Nittany Lions, the Wolverines also come into this one with a win as they crushed the Indiana Hoosiers 29-7.
The offense for the Wolverines has been the main story this season, as they’ve scored over 30 points in seven of their contests under offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.
Gattis was the former passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach for Penn State from 2014-2017 and Nittany Lions coach James Franklin likes how he changed the Michigan offense headed into this season.
“In years past it was similar [to Penn State]. This year, there’s been a change early in the season where they were run heavy and I think it was a blend of what Josh has done and this offseason with things that coach Harbaugh has done in his past,” Franklin said.
The Wolverines’ rushing attack is led by the two-man backfield of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum. who have combined for over 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns so far this season.
While the Wolverines star offensive players make their impact through the ground game, the Nittany Lions have relied on senior wide receiver Jahan Dotson who is coming off his best game yet with a school record 242 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Dotson joined fellow Big Ten wide receivers in David Bell of Purdue and Jackson Smith-Njigba of Ohio State, as they all went above the 200-yard mark making it more difficult each week to stand out.
“I know there’s a lot of talent at my position in my conference, let alone the country,” Dotson said. “Every week I gotta bring my A game.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions bring one of the top red zone defenses in the country into this game.
Penn State ranks fifth in red zone scoring this season and had a big day against Maryland as the defensive unit recovered a fumble and interception which was run back for a touchdown by Ji’Ayir Brown.
Brown feels that the mentality of the defensive players has been the main catalyst to the unit's success inside the 20-yard line.
“It’s the guys mentality going into the red zone,” Brown said. “Our mentality is not to let people score, the worst thing we can allow is a field goal.”
The Penn State Nittany Lions and Michigan Wolverines will face off at Beaver Stadium on Saturday with kickoff set for noon.
Logan Bourandas is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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