Maybe a three-game streak will do the trick the second time around.
No. 16 Michigan (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) will test its mettle against another ranked road opponent when it visits No. 7 Penn State (6-0, 3-0) at 6:30 p.m. CT Saturday night, but do a few confidence boosters along the way make the outlook any brighter this time around for the Wolverines?
Let’s take a closer look at one of the best matchups college football has to offer in Week 8.
When and Where: Michigan at Penn State
- Location: Beaver Stadium (University Park, Pa.)
- Date: 10/19/19 (Saturday)
- Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
- Coverage: ABC
Follow the Heavy on Betting for all the latest betting news, odds, and picks
Winning inside Beaver Stadium isn’t just about beating a ranked opponent for Jim Harbaugh’s team. The Michigan head coach needs to prove his players can march into hostile territory — Saturday will be “White Out” night for Penn State — and come away successful.
Under Harbaugh, the Wolverines are just 1-9 against top-10 opponents and haven’t won in seven tries as the underdogs. They also dropped to just 1-6 against ranked opponents on the road.
But enough with the history. Michigan has enough to worry about in the present, like if it can get star rusher Zach Charbonnet going early on in the game. Last week he was able to work in tandem with Hassan Haskins, who led the team with 125 rushing yards against Illinois, but consider the Illini something of a fluke. They are just one of three Big Ten teams giving up more than 400 yards per game.
The Nittany Lions, however, are no pushovers. They give up just 53.8 yards per game to the run and haven’t allowed an opponent to score more than 13 points all season. It could prove difficult leaping that many tiers of difficulty in one week.
Penn State Outlook
Quarterback Sean Clifford and the gang are chugging along as the nation’s ninth-most effective scoring offense (42.0), even if a pair of 17-point outings stand out a bit on the ledger. What stands out more, though, is the Nittany Lions’ defense that has been so devasting against opposing offenses this year.
Penn State is allowing just 8.2 points per game and 259.7 total yards per game with a front seven has been difficult to crack, especially under pressure. The Hawkeyes were just last week left with their wheeling spinning in front of a home crowd, losing two-to-none in the turnover battle and allowing seven tackles for a loss. If the run block is successful yet again, Michigan will have no choice but to lean on Shea Patterson’s arm.
The once-believed savior of Michigan football, Patterson hasn’t exactly tossed his name in the Heisman race this season with nine touchdowns, three interceptions and four lost fumbles accompanying his 1,246 passing yards. He has slightly favored Ronnie Bell as his top receiving target with 20 catches, but five Wolverines have more than 100 receiving yards and seven have caught touchdowns this season.
Betting Odds & Trends
- Michigan (+9) vs. Penn State
- Over/Under: 47.0
*All odds are courtesy of Odds Shark
- 2-8 ATS in last 10 games
- 5-1 SU in last 6 games
- 1-7 in last 8 games on the road
Penn State Trends
- 4-2 ATS in last 6 games
- Total has gone UNDER in 4 of last 5 games
- 6-0 SU in last six games
Head to Head
- Ohio State is 6-4 OU in last 10 meetings
- Both average 26.2 points over last 10 meetings
- Total has gone OVER in last five meetings at Penn State
Don’t allow last week’s 42-25 thumping of Illinois mislead you about Michigan’s offense. Iowa stalled them for just 10 points two weeks ago, and Penn State poses a far greater challenge defensively. If the Nittany Lions’ defense holds up, the Wolverines could be depending on their own unit to stand tall as well against an attack that is just as formidable.
Pick: This isn’t the moment Harbaugh changes the narrative — if that moment ever comes. Take the Nittany Lions for the win and to cover the spread, but trust their fortress of a defense and go with the under.