No. 19 Michigan Wolverines (5-1 SU, 2-3-1 ATS) vs. No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions (6-0 SU, 4-1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Saturday October 21st, 2017. 7:30PM (EST)
Where: Beaver Stadium University Park, P.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MICH +9.5/PSU -9.5
Over/Under Total: 45
One of the top matchups of the weekend will take place in Happy Valley when the no. 19 Michigan Wolverines meet the no. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions inside Beaver Stadium. Last week the Wolverines barely kept their Big Ten title hopes alive with a 27-20 overtime victory at Indiana. I do not think the Wolverines have much of a chance in the Big Ten with their head to head loss to Michigan State who is 3-0 in conference play combined with the fact both Ohio State and Penn State are still undefeated in conference play as of today. However for those that still hold hope for Michigans chances, this Saturdays showdown with Penn State will be the ultimate opportunity to climb back into the Big Ten title discussion.
As we look deeper into this weeks matchup, this game obviously boils down to a battle of the defenses. Michigan is currently ranked as the top overall defense in the FBS yielding just 223 yards per game. Penn State owns the best scoring defense in the FBS holding opponents to just 9 points per game. The Nittany Lions have not given up more than 19 points in a game this season and their home splits have been even better allowing just 7 points per game. Michigan on the other hand has been just as dominate especially in terms of total yards. They have given up 14.7 points (8th in FBS) per game but have not given up more than 20 points in a game all season. Therefore, it is safe to say that the defenses have been terrific for both teams and will be very important towards gaining a win on Saturday.
Obviously I believe Michigans defense has the biggest challenge this week and odds makers agree as the Nittany Lions are near double digit favorites for this contest. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is rightfully in the discussion as the best tailback in the country. He leads the team with 649 yards on the ground with 6 touchdowns and also leads the team with 29 catches for 395 yards with 2 additional scores in the passing game. Additionally quarterback Trace McSorley has produced strong results by completing 67% passing for 1,597 yards with 13 scores and just 4 picks. Collectively, the Penn State offense has had a lot of success especially in comparison to Michigans struggles on the offensive side of the football.
Throughout the season, the play at the quarterback position has been at the forefront of the Wolverines struggles on offense. Former starter Wilton Speight struggled by completing just 54% passing with 3 scores and 2 picks before he went down with a vertebrae injury. John OKorn has stepped into the starting role in recent weeks but has not produced. In fact, OKorn has strengthened the quarterback issues by completing 54% with just 1 score and 4 picks. Since OKorn took over the reins two weeks ago, the Wolverines offense has barely averaged over 300 yards per contest, they have turned the ball over 5 times, they lost to Michigan State in a 14-10 offensive nightmare, and barely squeaked by Indiana last week. Therefore a road trip to Happy Valley, is not exactly the best timing for this Michigan offense.
The good news for Michigan fans is that their defense is good enough to give them an opportunity even against a complete team like Penn State. The Nittany Lions offense while talented does not present the biggest mismatch advantage in terms of talent or scheme over the Michigan defense. I actually believe that the defenses are going to be the big storyline in this game as I insinuated at the start of this preview. Barring a lot of turnovers, I can see this game being close into the late stages. For that reason, I think the points are an advantage in a game that I expect to be really low in terms of scoring. However, the best play should be the under.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take under 45. Where are you betting this game? Bet it for FREE by taking advantage of a 50% welcome bonus offered to new players at Bovada Sportsbook