NCAA Week Nine: Michigan vs. Penn State

The offensive attack could be a long way this week. (Paul Battaglia/AP)

PSU: 2010 record – 4-3
MICH: 2010 record – 5-2
Spread: Michigan by 3
Where: Beaver Stadium
When: Saturday, 8:00 PM on ESPN
Last time met: Oct. 24, 2009 – Darryl Clark threw four touchdown passes, three of which went to Graham Zug. Evan Royster added 100 rushing yards in a 35-10 win on the road. 156.5

Opposing player to watch – QB Dernard Robinson: Michigan was on a bye last week which allowed Robinson to get healthy. Robinson is one of the most electrifying players in college football and can break off a big run at any moment. He is averaging 156.5 yards rushing per game this season. Robinson looks to run before he looks to pass and his numbers clearly reflect that. He has also been successful through the air, passing for 1,319 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. The Nittany Lion defense will have to spy on Robinson on every play to try and keep him in the pocket.

Offenses: The Nittany Lion offense finally decided to show up this week against Minnesota. Matt McGloin filled in for the injured Robert Bolden, who is still sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. McGloin tossed a pair of touchdowns in just over two-and-a-half quarters of work. McGloin looks to be the starter this week against Michigan. The passing attack looked very solid with McGloin under center last week. The Nittany Lion receiving core had 206 yards receiving and made it very easy for McGloin to be successful. The running game was also very strong, compiling 147 rushing yards. Surprisingly, Silas Redd led Penn State with 71 yards rushing while Evan Royster only had 62. Redd is has become a bigger part of the Nittany Lion rushing attack in recent weeks. They really have a three-headed monster at running back with Royster, Redd, and Stephon Green. Still, the key to success against the Wolverines will be the play of McGloin. He looked good last week, but let’s not forget that it was against a bad Minnesota defense. He battled for the starting job all spring, so he has plenty of experience with the first team offense. Next to Iowa, Michigan is the best team that the Nittany Lions have faced this season. McGloin will need time in the pocket to have a good game and the offensive line will have to be stellar in dealing with the pass rush.

Everybody knows that Denard Robinson is one of the most dangerous players in college football. However the Wolverines have four very good wide receivers that can help him if he chooses not to run. Roy Roundtree, Junior Hemingway, Darryl Stonum, and Martavious Odoms all have at 15 catches and 200 yards receiving. Roundtree leads the way with 395 yards on 33 catches and has caught two touchdowns. Hemingway and Stonum also have two touchdowns on the season. Michigan’s ground consists of Robinson who has 170 carries this season. The next closest is Vincent Smith with 70 carries for 325 yards. Robinson is certainly the prime ball-carrier for the Wolverines. He leads the Big Ten in rushing with 1,096 yards. However, Robinson is a mere eighth in passing with only 1,319 yards. It’s clear that he is not nearly as effective when he is in the pocket. That will be something that the Penn State defense will have to key on.

Advantage: With the big-play capability of Denard Robinson, the Wolverines have the offensive advantage. They also have a good receiving core, but so do the Nittany Lions. The impact of Robinson alone gives a significant advantage to Michigan in this game.

Defenses: The Nittany Lions’ defense play was very solid last week against Minnesota. Adam Weber is certainly no slouch at quarterback. Last Saturday, Weber became only the fifth passer in Big Ten history to pass for 10,000 yards. Penn State was able to force Weber to throw an interception. Turnovers are something that could be harder to come by nowadays with the loss of cornerback Nick Sukay. The Nittany Lions stepped up and played better against a dreadful Minnesota team. The main concern is still the secondary. They allowed three touchdown receptions to Da’Jon McKnights of the Golden Gophers. That type of play cannot happen if Penn State expects to have a chance against a team like the Wolverines. They will have to get pressure on Denard Robinson and force him to stay in the pocket. That will be one of the keys to defeating Michigan on Saturday. Robinson’s injury could force him to not play quite as much, but we will have to wait and see. Michigan’s backup Tate Forcier is plenty capable of carrying the offense. However he isn’t nearly as mobile as Robinson.

The Wolverine secondary is one of its weaker points. They have allowed 296.3 yards per-game throughout the air on the season. Michigan is sixth in the Big Ten in interceptions with seven this season. They don’t get many takeaways, so that is certainly an area that Penn State can try to exploit. The Wolverines also don’t get very much pressure to the quarterback. They only have 10 sacks this season and Penn State does have a decent offensive line. Defensive nose tackle Mike Martin is one of the bright spots on a bad defense. He commands a constant double time and can really fill up the hole. This could poise significant problems for the Nittany Lion rushing attack which is a strong suit. His play could be the only chance the Wolverines have at stopping the Penn State ground game.

Advantage: Penn State has the slight edge due to its recent play. They need to get a few takeaways if they want to upend the Wolverines.

Injury Report:
Penn State: OT Lou Eliades (Torn ACL) *Out for the season, LB Gerald Hodges (Leg injury) *Out for at least two more weeks, TE Garry Gilliam (torn ACL) *Out for the season
Illinois: S Supo Sanni (ruptured Achilles tendon) *Out for the season

Prediction: McGloin impresses once again and throws for 250 yards with three touchdowns. Derek Moye has two touchdowns against a weak Michigan secondary. Penn State prevails 27-17.

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