Penn State vs. Michigan Game Preview

Story posted November 12, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Christian Smith

Penn State hosts No. 6 Michigan this Saturday, Nov. 13 at 12:00 p.m in Beaver Stadium. Penn State is 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten, while Michigan is 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten. The game will be streamed on ABC.

The Nittany Lions are looking for their third straight victory over the Wolverines, as they took care of business last year in Ann Arbor, 27-17 and 28-21 in 2019 at Beaver Stadium. Michigan leads the all-time head-to-head series, 14-10.

The game will feature the first ever ‘Helmet Stripe’ at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State was able to end its three-game losing streak last week, as it defeated Maryland on the road, 31-14. Michigan, meanwhile, is coming off a bounce back 29-7 victory over Indiana.

Let’s take a look at each of these teams offensively and defensively, along with identifying some key players to watch.

No. 6 Michigan

The Wolverines are enjoying another big season, but in order for them to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive, they must win out, which won’t be an easy task considering they have Penn State and No. 4 Ohio State back-to-back on their schedule.

Jim Harbaugh’s squad is 8-1 primarily because of their explosive offense. The unit has put up 36 points per game for a total of 326 points on the season.

The Wolverines have a strong rushing game led by running backs Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, who have combined for 1,615 yards and 21 touchdowns so far this season. Corum, who is also a key receiver for Michigan, suffered an undisclosed injury a week ago against Indiana and his status for the Penn State game remains unknown.

Quarterback Cade McNamara has been battling injuries the past few weeks, but has still played well enough to lead his team to a victory last week versus Indiana.

Leading receiver Cornelius Johnson has been enjoying a big season for the Wolverines, as he has 25 catches for 426 yards and three touchdowns on the season.

Michigan’s defense has also played well this season, as the unit is only allowing 16 points per game.

Aiden Hutchinson and David Ojabo are both contenders for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Ojabo has a whopping eight sacks and four forced fumbles on the season, and Hutchinson has 6.5 sacks himself. Josh Ross leads the team with 61 tackles and Daxton Hill has 48 tackles on the season.

Penn State

James Franklin’s team is coming off arguably its best offensive performance of the season. Quarterback Sean Clifford is clearly playing much better and is starting to look like he did prior to his injury at Iowa a few weeks back.

The Nittany Lions offense is averaging 27 points per game, and are led by standout wide receiver Jahan Dotson, who is coming off the best single game performance for a receiver in Penn State program history.

Dotson, who had 11 catches for 242 yards and three touchdowns versus Maryland, has 71 catches for 932 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.

Parker Washington has also been key for the Nittany Lions offense, as he has 43 catches for 498 yards and two touchdowns this season. In addition, KeAndre Lambert-Smith has 27 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns.

The one offensive area the Nittany Lions have struggled in is the run game. However, Keyvone Lee and Noah Cain showed some promise last week, as they combined for 86 rushing yards.

The defensive unit has been strong for the Nittany Lions. Similar to Michigan, Penn State is only allowing just over 16 points per game.

Key defenders this season include Ellis Brooks, who leads the team with 69 tackles, along with Brandon Smith, who has compiled 61 tackles thus far.

Safety Ji’Ayir Brown has also come up big for Penn State this season, as he has 48 tackles and 4 interceptions on the season. Arnold Ebiketie has 46 tackles and leads the team with 6.5 sacks.

For No. 6 Michigan, it needs to win to keep pace with No. 4 Ohio State in the Big Ten East, while Penn State will be looking to get back into the CFP Top-25 rankings for the first time this season and add a third quality win to its resume. It certainly matters for Rose Bowl implications, folks.


Christian Smith a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email