The biggest game in college football this week is a Big Ten showdown between the no. 5 Michigan Wolverines and the no. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions. The Wolverines won last year’s meeting 21-17, although the Nittany Lions won their last trip to Ann Arbor in 2020 27-17. In this year’s meeting, Michigan is favored by seven points with an over/under of 51.5 points.
With last week’s 31-10 road win over Indiana, the Wolverines have moved to 6-0 on the season. More importantly, they are 3-0 in Big Ten play, with wins over Maryland and Iowa after cruising through their non-conference schedule. Michigan also has a favorable schedule until the second part of November if the Wolverines can survive the Nittany Lions.
Of course, Penn State is also unbeaten this season at 5-0. James Franklin had to win ugly last week, beating Northwestern 17-7 to get to 2-0 in Big Ten play. But the Nittany Lions have road wins this season over Purdue and Auburn, so they’ve proven that they’re capable of beating good teams on the road.
The Lion Pride
Despite only scoring 17 points last week, the Nittany Lions rushed for 220 yards in the win over Northwestern, which is no small feat. Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen both had 21 carries in that game, as they continue to form a 1-2 punch in the Penn State backfield, with each averaging over five yards per carry on the season.
Naturally, the Nittany Lions will still need senior quarterback Sean Clifford to show up in a big game, as he’s been steady but unspectacular this year but only completed 10 of 20 passes last week.
Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, they’ve been one of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten this year. The Penn State defense got burned through the air against Purdue in the season opener but has since allowed no more than 14 points in a game.
In fact, Penn State is allowing less than 80 rushing yards per game while collecting 13 sacks and 11 takeaways in five games.
Likewise, Michigan is one of the top defensive teams in the country, holding five of six opponents to 14 points or less. Even the three Big Ten teams the Wolverines have played are only averaging 17 points per game against them.
Maryland had some success with 27 points against the Wolverines a few weeks ago, but they also turned it over three times, while the Michigan defense has also amassed 22 sacks in six games.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Wolverines are going to run the ball until somebody proves they can stop them. Blake Corum is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and 122.5 yards per game this year, with that number increasing to 166.7 yards per game against Big Ten opponents with an average of nearly six yards per carry in conference games.
When the Wolverines need to throw the ball, they can with J.J. McCarthy, who has connected on 78% of his passes with nine touchdowns and just one interception.
Low and Slow
Taking the under on 51.5 points might be the best bet in this game, as both teams are strong defensively and will run the ball, which should drain the clock and limit possessions.
But when push comes to shove, the Wolverines are more explosive offensively and playing at home. Bet on Michigan to win and cover the spread against Penn State.
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