FACTS & STATS: Site: Beaver Stadium (107,282) -- University Park, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Michigan 3-2, PSU 3-1. Away Record: Michigan 2-0, PSU 1-2. Neutral Record: Michigan 0-0, PSU 0-0. Conference Record: Michigan 1-2, PSU 1-2. Series Record: Michigan leads, 10-5.
GAME NOTES: The Michigan Wolverines will try to avoid another late-season collapse, as they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in Big Ten play this weekend at Beaver Stadium.
The Wolverines are in a similar situation to the 2009 season, when a 35-10 loss to Penn State began a downward spiral. Michigan was an identical 5-2 heading into last year's Penn State matchup, which jump-started a season- ending five-game slide. The Wolverines are hoping to avoid the same fate and end a current two-game losing streak that includes a 38-28 loss to nationally- ranked Iowa on October 16th.
PSU meanwhile, put a halt to a two-game game slide of its own with a 33-21 triumph of Minnesota last weekend. It was the first Big Ten victory of the campaign for the Lions, who had dropped back-to-back decisions to Iowa and Illinois.
This is the 16th all-time meeting between Michigan and PSU on the gridiron, with the Wolverines holding a 10-5 edge in the series.
Thanks to the dynamic play of QB Denard Robinson, Michigan has one of the most potent attacks around, averaging 250.4 ypg through air and an even better 281.6 ypg on the ground. A dual-threat, Robinson has been equally as effective with his legs as his arm, throwing for 1,319 yards and nine TDs, while rushing for 1,098 yards and nine more scores. He has completed 67.8 percent of his tosses, in addition to eclipsing 100 yards rushing six times. Unfortunately, Robinson is listed as questionable for this weekend with an undisclosed injury suffered last game versus Iowa. Prior to being injured, Robinson had rushed for 105 yards and thrown for 96 and a score versus a tough Iowa defense. Tate Forcier stepped in after Robinson left and he threw for 239 yards with a TD versus two INTs. He would get the nod if Robinson was unable to go this weekend. Three players have already cracked 300 yards receiving, so the Michigan QBs have several options in the passing game.
On the defensive side of the ball is where Michigan has had issues this season, allowing 441.0 total ypg. The pass defense has been especially bad for the Wolverines, who are giving up 296.3 ypg through the air. The team has also surrendered 14 TDs on the ground, so that part of the defense hasn't fared much better. Last game, Michigan was put in several bad spots with turnovers by the offense, but the defense still did little to resist Iowa. The unit surrendered 383 total yards, including 248 passing and three TDs on 17-of-24 tosses. Jonas Mouton has done his part for the defense and he leads the club with 63 stops and a pair of INTs.
QB Matt McGloin stepped in after starter Rob Bolden was knocked out of the game and he threw for 76 yards and two TDs to lead PSU over Minnesota. McGloin, listed as the third-stringer, was inserted ahead of Kevin Newsome, who received a few snaps in the second half. Bolden threw for 130 yards and a TD before leaving after a hit midway through the second quarter. The freshman has struggled at times this season, but figures to still be the starter if healthy this weekend. WR Derek Moye, though, may prefer a change of QBs, as he hauled in a pair of TDs from McGloin last weekend. He leads the team with 25 receptions and 458 yards, but had caught only one TD pass from Bolden. The ground game even started to get moving last weekend, as Silas Redd rushed for 71 yards on nine carries, while Evan Royster went for 62 yards and a TD on 10 totes. Royster is the main threat in the backfield, leading the team with 450 yards on the campaign.
PSU's defense gave up some yards (433 total) last weekend to Minnesota, but the unit stepped when called upon. The Lions kept Minnesota just a 7-of-21 effort between third and fourth downs, while limiting it to only a 26-of-49 showing on pass attempts. PSU did give up 299 yards through the air, but the pass defense has been strong for the most part this season, allowing only 187.9 ypg through the air. D'Anton Lynn led the defense with 10 stops and an INT last weekend, and he now has 41 stops and two picks to his credit.
The Wolverines had an extra week to prepare for this bout and should have come up with a good enough gameplan to come out on top. Michigan also has more weapons that should play a factor in the decision as well.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 34, Penn State 24