Undefeated after five games for the second time in four years, the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in Big Ten play on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.
The Wolverines opened conference play last week with a 42-13 blowout over Minnesota, snuffing out some of the talk about their easier schedule to start the season.
Saturday’s homecoming game marks the heart of Penn State’s schedule, including back-to-back games against ranked opponents, with a trip to Ohio State next week. The Lions will field freshman upstart quarterback Christian Hackenberg and top receiver in the Big Ten Allen Robinson.
Robinson leads the conference in receptions (38) receiving yards (621), and is second in receiving touchdowns (5). Hackenberg is second in the Big Ten with 1,367 passing yards and tied for third with eight touchdowns.
Michigan will counter with duel-threat quarterback Devin Gardner, who’s totaled 1,354 yards and 14 touchdowns from scrimmage.
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The matchup could come down to the running backs. Michigan’s Fitzgerald Toussaint is eighth in the Big Ten with 397 yards, but tied for second with seven rushing scores. The Nittany Lions send out Zach Zwinak, a senior with 369 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Junior Bill Belton has backed-up Zwinak for 284 yards and two scores off 43 attempts.
Both defenses have played on par football, with Michigan notching 10 sacks to Penn State’s 11. Each has surrendered just over three yards per carry, and roughly six yards per pass.
The schools last met in 2010, a 41-21 victory for Penn State that has since been vacated. The game featured 418 total rushing yards as Penn State raced out to a 28-10 first half lead, and held off a late Michigan surge. In that same game, former Nittany Lion Evan Royster also broke the school career record for rushing yards.
The game kicks off at 5 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast by ESPN, or watch a live online stream at Watch ESPN here.
Betting Odds: Michigan favored by 1.5 points.
Over/Under: 51 points.
Prediction: Michigan 37, Penn State 17