Penn State football vs. Michigan Preview

penn state football

Penn State football will travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday to take on a 2-3 Michigan team and look to avoid an 0-6 start to the season. For two teams that are usually at the top of the Big Ten East standings, the rivals have struggled this year.

After winning the first game of the year, Michigan lost its next three and then needed three overtimes to escape Rutgers a week ago. I don’t think I need to go over Penn State’s first five games. I’m pretty sure everyone knows just how horrible it’s been.

Disappointing seasons aside, these are two teams that don’t like each other, so I anticipate a close game with high intensity. Let’s look into this matchup.


After Will Levis was benched in the third quarter last week, Sean Clifford came in and threw two touchdowns to put Penn State within 10 points heading into the fourth quarter. Obviously the comeback wasn’t enough to win the game, but I think it was enough to give Clifford his starting spot back.

The early offensive woes continued last week. In the first half this season, Penn State has scored seven against Indiana, six against Ohio State, seven against Maryland, six against Nebraska and seven against Iowa. I’m not the biggest trend guy, but it looks like they’re going to find a way to go into halftime with six points in the Big House. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

With Pat Freiermuth out, Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson will have to get involved to give Clifford some more down field threats. I think Jahan Dotson will keep his impressive junior season going with the absence of No. 87 and really step up in a big way.

Although the offense hasn’t been producing so far this season, it will have an opportunity to change that against a Michigan defense that has struggled. The Wolverines have allowed an average of 437 yards per game and 36 points per game. Not the best numbers. Hopefully getting benched is what Clifford needs to spark the offense.


The Nittany Lion defense is going to face quarterback Cade McNamara, who is getting his first start of the season for Michigan. McNamara came in for Joe Milton in the second quarter of last week’s win at Rutgers. He completed 27 of 36 passes for 260 yards with four touchdowns and led the team back from a 17-0 deficit.

Like Michigan, Penn State has struggled on the defensive side of the ball this year now allowing 36 points per game. It hasn’t forced turnovers and has tackled horribly making the average offense look like one of the best in the country.

Michigan’s offense is averaging over 30 points per game but has mostly been run by Milton. It’ll be interesting to see how the Wolverines play with McNamara starting. Brent Pry needs to get creative and draw up blitzes to pressure the sophomore quarterback.

Game info

Date: Nov. 28
Time: Noon ET
Spread: Michigan -1
Over/Under: 58.5

Prediction: Penn State 31, Michigan 30

Notes: I think this will be a very close, exciting game between the two underperforming teams. I predict a last second Jake Pinegar field goal to leave the Big House with the first win of the Penn State football season.