Michigan Wolverines (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Pennsylvania State Nittany
Lions (4-3 SU, 2-5 ATS), Week 9 NCAA Football, 8:00 p.m. EST,
Saturday, October 30, 2010, Beaver Stadium, University Park, Penn.,
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Mich -2.5/PSU +2.5
Over/Under Total: 53
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After a bye week off to refocus their efforts the Michigan Wolverines
hope to stop their two-game losing streak in the Big Ten Conference
when they travel to Beaver Stadium in University Park to take on the
Penn State Nittany Lions in a battle for bowl-eligibility Saturday on
Michigan is following the same script they wrote last season, running
out to a 5-0 start against mid-major non-conference opponents only to
fall flat on their face once the Big Ten season kicks off. Back-to-
back losses to Michigan State (34-17) and Iowa (38-28) have dropped
the Wolverines from the rankings and now the Maize-n-Blue must find a
way to get the ship back on course before another bowl season passes
them by again.
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is starting to hear the murmurs calling for his job again in University Park, thanks to the Nittany
Lions 4-3 record this season. The Lions did get a 33-21 victory over
the lowly Minnesota Gophers last weekend, but dont be fooled because
they were outgained by the Gophers (433 to 351 yards), only went 2-
for-10 on third-down and certainly didnt dominate play the way the
score would indicate for their only win in the Big Ten so far.
With both teams in big need of a victory to improve on their post-Christmas Day bowl position in the conference standings, it should be
a great contest of contrasting styles and schemes on national
television Saturday night.
Most bookies seem to think Michigan is the more polished team right now, since most books opened the game with the visiting Wolverines as slim 1.5-point favorites. Most of the early
money is in agreement too, since most of those same offshore
sportsbooks have moved the point spread up to Michigan -2 or even
minus 2.5-points already.
The Wolverines issue is defense, as in they dont play any, so maybe even the Nittany Lions with their young quarterbacks can run up big
numbers on their home turf. I say quarterbacks because starter Robert
Bolden was knocked out of the game last week against Minnesota with a
concussion, and might not play (questionable), so Matthew McGloin
could get the call again this week. McGloin threw two touchdowns and
an interception in relief of Bolden last week, but his 5.8 yards per
catch average certainly isnt going to get the Michigan defense to
back off the line of scrimmage.
Michigan had an extra week to work on their defense, and they
certainly need it as they enter the game ranked 104th overall in
total defense allowing 441 yards per game and 80th in points allowed
at 28.4 per game.
But Michigans best defense is their offense, and the week off should help them get dynamic quarterback Denard Robinson back on the field
after a shoulder injury knocked him out of the Iowa game two weeks
ago. Backup Tate Forcier is very capable and did a good job of
keeping the Wolverine offense running at full steam, but their mind-
boggling numbers like 532 yards of offense each week (2nd) and 36
points per game (17th) is more of a product when Robinson is behind
Penn State has a solid defense that has played a lot of extra
football each week due to the struggles of a young QB on offense, and
the Lions 143.9 yards per game allowed on the ground each week is
going to be put to a major test with just a weeks preparation for
the Wolverines option attack.
The Nittany Lions will be trying to extend a small two-game win streak in head-to-head play with the Wolverines, winning last years
game in the Big House in easy fashion, 35-10 (as 3.5-point
favorites). The year before at home in Beaver Stadium the Lions
blasted the Wolverines 46-17 and covered as large 24.5-point favorites.
Prior to the last two years it has been all Michigan in this series,
winning eight of the last 10 and three of their last four visits to
Beaver Stadium. The Wolverines also enjoyed a 6-2 ATS advantage in
those games as well, including a 4-0 ATS mark on the road until the
46-17 debacle I already mentioned in 2008.
Michigan is just 7-19 ATS in their last 26 Big Ten games, and just
4-13 ATS in their last 17 games as the listed favorite (0-4 ATS as a
road favorite). But Penn State is just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games
as an underdog, but a strong 6-2 ATS in their last eight as a home dog.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Without a better idea if Bolden in going to play for
Penn State or not, I cant advise putting a side bet on this game at
this time. If he plays, I like the home dog here. But if not, Im not
so sure the Nittany Lions can score enough to stay ahead of the
Wolverines on offense.
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